Other countries' naming laws are much stricter and way weirder — New Zealand says no to names with backslashes and Germany forbids names that don't clearly ascribe gender. But the United States' first and fourteenth amendments afford us surprisingly lenient policies around naming our kids.
This means the pursuit of life, liberty and, well, terrible first names is a constitutional right. When it comes to giving a lifelong label to a human being, though, the old adage sticks: Just because you can, does not mean you should.
In January, a French couple's choice for their daughter got the axe. "It is contrary to the child's interest to have a name that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts," the judge pronounced. Though companies in the U.S. have petitioned to protect their trademarks, the law only protects competing industries, of which a child is not. So, alas, Americans continue dubbing their tykes after their favorite brands. Recent chart-climbers include: Cartier, Chanel, Dior, L'Oreal, Armani, Nike, Piaget, Porsche, and Mercedes.
In Tennessee, a judge told two parents that they couldn't name their kidMessiah. The parents had gone to court in August 2013 requesting to change the child's last name, but instead the judge said they should also amend the first name. To her, it just wasn't an OK name for a mere mortal. Her request to deny Messiah his birth name was later overturned because of religious bias, and the child joined the ranks of several thousand others with the name. (In 2014, it was in the top 300 most popular names.)
When an Arizona couple named their baby Isis, they were thinking of the Egyptian goddess and mother of Horus, whose maternal and magical spirit were highly revered by the ancient people. But everyone knows that Isis' mythology has been trumped by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the group known for, a whole host of horrible events in the news the past few years. So, maybe choose another name whose history hasn't been usurped by violence and hatred?
Cannons kill people, but babies generally do not — so why name your child after a destructive weapon of war? Sure, it may sound kind of hardcore, and more than 600 others the name annually, but parents get to pick one — one! — first name for their child. But it also is part of a trend to name kids after weapons: Colt and Remington are also currently climbing the charts.
When two Harlem-based brothers, Winner and Loser Lane, were born, it was like their destinies were cut out for them. Except that Winner became a criminal while Loser became a detective. Not so much. In this very weird naming case, the irony is almost (almost) worse than the names themselves!
One couple in San Francisco named their child Hashtag, which begs the question: Why? Unless they founded or are a huge fan of the rotary phone, this is one name that simply shouldn't be allowed. Ever. What's next? Retweet and Quote?
We're not joking. A Chinese couple wanted to dub their son "@." But at least they had a sweet reason (and not his lifelong torture in mind): In Chinese, @ is pronounced "ai-ta" which is very similar to a phrase that means "love him." In the U.S., you also can't use numerals or symbols. But, like Harper Seven Beckham's parents did, you can spell them out. Phew!
New Jersey's Adolf Hitler literally takes the cake. An infamous white supremacist couple named their son Adolf Hitler Campbell — and his poor sister JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. Guess what? The kids' names still haven't been changed. But though the parents have the legal right to choose these monikers, the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services ended up taking the children after reports of abuse.
Social media users, take heed. Recently, Mexico banned the name ! We get it: It's one thing to have your tot's picture all over the network. It's another to have them the same name. (Though an Egyptian dad also dubbed his girl and got away with it. Perhaps she can befriend the Israeli tot named Like?)
Several kids have been named Lucifer, but one Utah child's parents actually believe he's the anti-Christ. It's just poor form to brand your child with the name of Satan. Plus, what if he ever wants to become a priest?
Okay, this one was deemed illegal. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii was born in 1999 in New Zealand. At age 9, her parents split and the family went to court. When the judge found out she hated it, he made her a ward of the state so she could rename herself. (In the U.S., this one would likely be banned simply because of laws limiting the number of characters.)
We hate to rag on celebrities, but you knew this one was coming. Cardinal directions — and bad puns! — should probably not show up on birth certificates. (As should not colors and fruits.) That's like naming your kid Yes, No, Up, or Down.