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Illegal baby names could be banned because of their meaning, while others are prohibited because of the way they’re written.
Nearly every country in the world has naming laws, making some baby names actually illegal. These laws are usually made to protect a child from being given an offensive or embarrassing name.
This year, Tesla founder Elon Musk and musician Grimes welcomed their first child into the world – with the name X Æ A-12. Yes, really.
What does the name mean? After the news broke of this unusual name, the parents took to twitter to confirm the meaning behind the name.
As Grimes explained in the thread, “X, the unknown variable. AE, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence). A-21 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft. No weapons, no defences, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent. + (A=Archangel, my favourite song).”
Of course there have been plenty of unusual baby names over the years. Such as Jamie and Jools Oliver’s child River Rocket, or Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North.
But we haven’t seen one quite like this before. It brings up questions like, are there baby name rules (opens in new tab) stopping you from calling a child something this obscure?
It turns out that yes, indeed there are. Although X Æ A-12 isn't actually strictly illegal in the state of California, it's very unlikely to be accepted by the state. As a family attorney told People magazine,"In California, you can only use the '26 characters' of the English language in your baby name. Thus, you can't have numbers, Roman numerals, accents, umlauts or other symbols or emojis. Although an apostrophe, for a name like 'O'Connor,' is acceptable."
He explains that if the new parents have actually filled out the birth certificate with this name, "with the odd numbers, dashes and symbols, it will be submitted and then rejected and they'll be asked to submit it again."
Grimes confirmed on Instagram (opens in new tab) recently that they have in fact changed it and according to TMZ, the changes have now been finalised on the child's birth certificate. On the certificate, it says that the baby's first name is "X" and their middle name is "AE A-XII" and the last name is "Musk".
The couple have said to pronounce their child's name differently, however. Grimes says that is pronounced "X A I" and you just say the letters, while Elon Musk said during a podcast interview that the "AE" in the baby's name was pronounced "Ash".
By using capital letters rather than numbers, the couple have been able to work around the Californian rules around baby names.
Perhaps it's for the best, but it's not only names with "odd numbers, dashes and symbols" that are banned. In many parts of the world, some names we consider to be fairly regular are in fact illegal.
These are some of the names that are actually illegal in some parts of the world…
In Iceland, parents have to choose their baby’s name from the Personal Names Register, which offers 1800 names for each sex. Any exceptions to this have to be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee and will only be approved on the basis that they can be easily incorporated into the Icelandic language and contain letters in the Icelandic alphabet.
There is no “C” in the Icelandic alphabet so any names with this letter in them are automatically banned.
This one’s not really very surprising. Lucifer is synonymous with the devil so naturally, there are quite a few countries who have banned this name – including Iceland and Germany.
Prince, King and Royal
Bad news for any big-time fans of the royal family out there - in countries like America and New Zealand it’s illegal to give your child one of these names.
In New Zealand, this is because it’s illegal to give your child a name that sounds like a official title. So this means that Saint, Princess, Empress and Bishop are also all off the table.
We all love a spot of social networking in our spare time, but evidently parents in Mexico took it a little too far. In Sonora, which is in Mexico but borders the American state of Arizona, officials released a list of names that were rejected by the government because they could lead to bullying.
Also on the list were: Yahoo, Email, Twitter, Virgin and Sponsorship.
In Portugal, it’s illegal to give your child a name that’s a shortening of another one. But also in this case, the child couldn’t be called Thomas because it’s illegal to give a Portuguese child a non-Portuguese name. So, they would have to be called Tomás.
In fact, in 2017 there was an 82-page document created with all the names that were made illegal in Portugal. They also included: Adelle, Colin, Daniel, Frankie and Harper.
Harry Potter and Hermione
Unfortunately for the Harry Potter fans out there, these are two names that are banned by some countries around the world such as Saudi Arabia and Mexico.
However, they’re not banned in the UK and in the early 2000s when the films first came out, Harry Potter-inspired names were some of the most popular baby names (opens in new tab) out there.
This one comes from the UK. In Wales in 2013, a mother tried to name her child after this deadly poison. Why? She thought it had a “positive aura” around the name, since it was what killed Adolf Hitler.
The case went to court and in the end, it was decided that the baby’s older half-siblings would name the child.
Speaking of, this is naturally also a named banned by many countries around the world, including Germany. And while the UK doesn’t have any strict laws around names, a name is likely to be rejected if it causes offense, so this one probably also wouldn’t fly over here.
The same goes for other names such as Osama Bin Laden and Stalin, both of which are banned in many countries around the world.
Single letter baby names are illegal in Switzerland, as one set of parents found out when they tried to give their baby this name.
In the words of the Swiss court who made the decision, “J is not OK” as a name.
In France, naming your child Prince William is apparently just as embarrassing as naming them Strawberry or Mini Cooper. According to a French court, these names have been banned as they could lead to a lifetime of mockery.
Australia has a handful of rules for naming children, including laws banning names that are likely to cause bullying or be offensive, as well as ones that are really long, or are used as slang terms for genitalia. Along with LOL, Batman and IKEA also make the list in Australia.
Linda, Alice, Sandy and Lauren
These are just some of the 50 baby names banned by Saudi Arabia on the grounds that they don’t reflect the culture or religion of the Kingdom, or are “blasphemous” in some other way.
Yes, someone actually tried to name their child this in Sweden. Apparently this name, which was a protest choice from the baby’s parents, is pronounced as “Albin”.
In countries like Mexico, Sweden and Australia, this superhero can’t be taken as inspiration for baby names. It’s one of the top illegal baby names in these countries actually, as under the guidelines that it would lead to bullying. Superman, Robocop, Terminator and James Bond are also off the table.
Who doesn’t like this chocolaty-hazelnut spread on toast? But for a baby, maybe not. This name was banned in France, after a judge ruled it as illegal.
Chow Tow (Smelly Head)
In Malaysia, there are plenty of names that are banned for being “undesirable”. These include names that are animals, insults, numbers and food. Because of these rules, Sor Chai (Insane) and Woti (sexual intercourse) are also off the table.
As well as being banned in the UK, the name Monkey also won’t be allowed in Denmark. It’s not one of the 7,000 approved baby names and when it was first submitted for approval, it was quickly made illegal by Copenhagen University’s Names Investigation Department and the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs.
Other names not to have made the list include Anus, Pluto and Jakobp.
So with this list of illegal baby names, we're not too surprised that Elon Musk and Grimes had to alter their new baby's name.