It’s about time to pick a name for your precious new bub, and you can’t wait to look through the endless lists of baby names to find the perfect one. Well… not quite endless. According to naming laws, there are actually over 80 banned baby names in Australia!
We can easily see why certain names banned, while others seem okay, if a bit odd. Yep, the moniker that is immortalised on your little one’s birth certificate is serious business, so you might want to familiarise yourself with the banned names before you get too attached to the idea of announcing that Mister Monkey Nutella Officer is now earthside!
Now, we get it – you want your child to have an original name – one that is as special and unique as they are. But, in order to avoid making your baby a criminal before they’re even born, or if you’re just curious, we’ve got all of the banned names right here.
For fun, we’ve also included some of the most interesting banned names in other countries, like Iceland and America.
Banned baby names
So, what exactly made the list of baby names that are in violation of naming laws? Well, first up, we’ve got self-explanatory no-gos like “Adolf Hitler,” and “Osama Bin Laden.” We know you saw those coming, so let’s move on to some less obvious ones.
Official title or rank names
Making up over half of the banned names list are ones that are an official title or rank. These include (but aren’t limited to) Admiral, Baron, Cadet, Captain, Chief, Corporal, Duke, Emperor, General, Lady, Madam, Major, President, Prime Minister… you get it!
It’s probably for the best, as it would be a bit strange to have baby Prime Minister grow up to be Prime Minister Prime Minister. Definitely weird. Even weirder? Trying to combine ranks and titles to make one name… like, say, Major Messiah Minister. Although, that does kind of have a nice ring to it!
King is also on the no-fly list, as is Prince, after a law was passed sometime in 1995 prohibiting the use of titles as part of a baby name. Yep, there can only be one Prince William, apparently.
So, if one of these official title names are on your baby names list, we are sorry to say that you might need to go back to the drawing board.
Religious baby names
Maybe no religious parent would name their little one God even without its presence on this list, but atheists are out of luck too.
There are a number of banned baby names in Australia that fall into the “religious” category. Of course, we’ve got “God” and “Christ,” and there’s also “Satan” and “Lucifer.” “Jesus” is not on the list, although why that’s so different from “Christ” we’re not really sure.
Next up, we’ve got slurs, curse words, and insults. We know, you’re thinking “aw shucks, looks like the name I picked out won’t work after all.”
We get it! Scrotum was our top choice too. In addition to that, you can’t name your little one Bonghead, Chow Tow, Panties, Thong, Virgin, Snort, Smelly, Sh**head, or Stompie. Sorry parents, but these are all banned in Australia (for a, hopefully, obvious reason).
Another illegal name is “Australia,” so you’ll have to show your Aussie pride in another way.
Finally, we’ve got some random ones, mostly brand names or symbols. 50, Nutella, @, Harry Potter, Facebook, iMac, Ikea, Maryjuana, and Monkey are all banned.
And yes, monkey is the only animal name that is officially illegal in Australia (it’s also illegal in Denmark). So, if you realllly want to call your child “Kitten”, “Tiger” or “Emu” – go right ahead (maybe don’t call your child “Emu”, just saying).
Why are these baby names prohibited?
Essentially, these names have been banned to protect children against careless and harmful names which could lead to embarrassment at best and discrimination and severe bullying at worst. According to Naming laws in Australia rule that a child’s name must:
not be obscene or offensive or contrary to public interest;
(no racial slurs, names that include sexual, alcohol or drug references or infringements on the rights of another;
be short and easy to write (In NSW, under 50 characters);
not include symbols without phonetic significance such as N@talie, Da!sy, J#ke) or use numerals;
not include or resemble an official title or military rank recognised in Australia such as King, Lady, Father, Prince, Sir or Admiral.
use English letters only;
not be similar to a recognised body, organisation or trademark; and
In Queensland, the name can’t include a statement, like Save Mother Earth or Down with Capitalism.
Some states and territories mandate that the name can’t be similar to a recognised body, organisation or trademark.
Of course, there are some examples that manage to slip through the cracks! In September 2023 an Aussie journalist made headlines when she named her third child “Methamphetamine Rules” as an experiment for work.
She was shocked when she was able to legally register the name, explaining “People think there’s a specific blacklist of names, but there’s not – there’s just legislation that says it can’t be obscene or offensive, too long, there are character limits, it can’t use symbols or be an official rank or title. But all of those things are open to interpretation by the staff at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each state”
She has since changed her son’s name to something more conventional.
What baby names are banned in other countries?
Before you start thinking, “Sheesh! why does Australia have such strict naming laws around baby names?” let us assure you that our sunburnt country is not the only one boasting a long list of banned baby names. From New Zealand to Iceland and beyond, here are some of the illegal names around the world.
In the past, New Zealand has rejected first names, such as “4Real” “Queen Victoria” and twins names “Benson” and “Hedges”. Since 2001, the baby names most commonly rejected are “Justice” and “King.” “Mafia No Fear” was also requested (and rejected) – though only the once.
In Iceland, the name “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116” was attempted by parents Elisabeth Hallin and Lasse Diding in 1991, who claimed it was pronounced “Albin.” Ermm, nice way to play with the Icelandic alphabet there, guys! Needless to say, they weren’t able to get it approved. Apparently, the reason for the unusual choice of baby name was to protest a fine, imposed in accordance with the naming law in Sweden.
In Argentina, the name “Messi” is banned, due to the famous Argentinian football player of the same name.
In Saudi Arabia, parents cannot name their daughter “Linda”, “Alice” or “Elaine”. These are all banned as they have been deemed “too Western.” The name Amir is also on the banned baby names list as it means “Prince” and Saudi Arabian citizens cannot name their children anything that relates to royalty. Malek – which means King, is also off the list for the same reason.
Sorry parents but if you were thinking that “Cyanide” had a nice ring to it, you are fresh out of luck. The poison is one of the names banned across the pond – in fact, a U.K. court intervened after a British woman named her twins “Cyanide” and “Preacher.”
Malaysia decided “007” should be illegal, though “James Bond” is still fair game. Chow Tow (which means smelly head) is also on the illegal list in Malaysia – just as it is here in Australia.
In America, the specific name “1069” has been banned since a man tried to use it in 1976. Odd, especially since Elon and Grimes had no legal issues naming their baby “XÆA-XII” in May of 2020, claiming that the hodge podge of symbols was pronounced “Ex-Ash-A-Twelve.”
If you thought using foreign names could be a workaround for naming your child something that is banned in Australia, you might still want to do some research before you choose baby names that could get you kiddo in hot water during vacation. In Japan, the name Akuma is prohibited because it means “devil”. Apparently two parents tried to use the name for their son in 1993, but the government stepped in.
Here’s an interesting one! While “Sarah” is perhaps one of the most traditional and popular names around the world, moroccan parents who are fans of the monikers unfortunately have to choose a different name for their kids. This is because the have to pick a name from a government-approved list that fit the “Moroccan identity.” Sarah, being a Hebrew name, does not pass the test.
What are all of the banned baby names in Australia?
We weren’t able to go over them all in detail, so here’s the full list of banned names in Australia. Parents, we’re so sorry if this ruins your perfect baby name idea!
Akuma (Japan: Devil)
Amir (Prince in Saudi Arabia)
Chow Tow (means smelly head)
Malek (means king)
Osama Bin Laden
So whilst it’s always fun to test the boundaries of something, maybe your child’s name isn’t the place to experiment. Let’s stick to Annie, Sam and Max instead of Australia, Satan and Medicare (seriously, Medicare?) In any case, we hope these banned baby names gave you a little chuckle, taught you something, or at least made you feel better about your own name.