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12 Typical Baby Names That Are Banned Around The World

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Bernhard Lang via Getty Images


If you were Anderson Cooper and you’d been born in Germany, you wouldn’t be Anderson Cooper, because Germany is just one of a surprising number of countries with strict baby-naming rules and regulations. In some instances, as in Italy and Sweden, the motivation is humane -- trying to spare the child embarrassment, ridicule and bullying in the increasingly wild and wooly international baby-name environment. In fact, some of these are not long-standing strictures, but relatively recent ones.


anderson cooper

Pictured: Anderson Cooper

No surname names are allowed in Germany, nor are names of objects or products. And also forget little German Taylors, Tobys, Rileys or Quinns, as all names must be gender specific.


alicia silverstone

Pictured: Actress Alicia Silverstone whose son's name is Bear

Both Alicia Silverstone and Kate Winslet would have had to find another name for their baby boys if they had been living in Malaysia, where the names of all animals, fruits and vegetables are banned.


carolina herrera

Pictured: Designer Carolina Herrera

This name would be out in Iceland because C is not a letter that exists in the Icelandic alphabet. As of 1991, the Icelandic Naming Committee decides whether a new given name is acceptable.


duke ellington

Pictured: Musician Duke Ellington

New Zealand bans names that ‘could cause offense to a reasonable person’, which includes such other titles as Prince, Princess, King, Major, Sargent and Knight.


elaine seinfeld

Pictured: Julia Louis-Dreyfus who played Elaine on "Seinfeld"

Elaine, as well as Alice, Sandy, Laura and Linda are specifically tagged in Saudi Arabia, fitting into the category of names that ‘offend perceived religious sensibilities, are affiliated with royalty or are of non-Arabic or non-Islamic origin.


hermione granger

Pictured: Emma Watson who played Hermione in "Harry Potter"

This is one of the names forbidden in the Mexican state of Sonora in an effort to prevent possible bullying. Also on their (obviously recent) list: Harry Potter, James Bond and Lady Di.


john f kennedy portrait

Pictured: President John F. Kennedy

No, you couldn’t use the surname of a notable namesake -- even one who famously said, “Ich bin ein Berliner”—if you were christening your kid in Berlin.


khandi alexander

Pictured: Actress Khandi Alexander who plays Maya Pope on "Scandal"

Though there were close to four thousand baby girls named Maya born in the US last year, you wouldn’t find a single one in Saudi Arabia, where she’s another one singled out for exclusion..

Mona Lisa

mona lisa

Pictured: The Mona Lisa

This, for some reason, is one of the names explicitly included on the forty-one-page list of banned names in Portugal.


sarah jessica parker

Pictured: Actress Sarah Jessica Parker

In Morocco, it’s no for the Sarah spelling, viewed as the Hebrew version, but yes for Sara, as that is the Arabic version: for the most part Arabic names must be used in Morocco—although a fee can be paid to use certain off-list names, such as Adam.


tom cruise

Pictured: Actor Tom Cruise

In Portugal, no nicknames are allowed on birth certificates, so Tomás would be OK, but not Tom. It’s also on the books there that children’s names must be traditionally Portuguese, a full name, and not unisex.


violet affleck

Pictured: Actress Jennifer Garner and daughter Violet

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck would have had to rethink the name of their first child if she had been born in Malaysia, where nature names are frowned on.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Sonora is a Mexican province. It is a state.

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