Banned Baby Names: No Toms in Tomar

If you were Anderson Cooper and you had 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.


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.

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


15 Responses to “Banned Baby Names: No Toms in Tomar”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

JH Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 11:14 pm

I follow some of these rules, but that’s just because I prefer gender specific names, no last names as first….basically more traditional names. However, I wouldn’t really like the government telling me I couldn’t name my child what I wanted.

mill1020 Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Shocked to see my name specifically on this list! Wow, Saudi Arabia is strict.

mel_finch Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 2:11 am

A lot of this makes sense, especially in Germany, where everything is gender specific so it would be a real pain if you couldn’t tell someone’s gender from their name. But some of these are pretty strict – and, like JH, I’m not sure I’d like someone telling me what I can’t name my kid.

TaylorBlueSkye Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 2:15 am

This is a very interesting post. Unfortunately every single name you mentioned being forbidden in Germany is not forbidden, so I wonder about the other countries.

Toby isn’t even considered unisex here, Taylor, Riley and Quinn are, but unisex names ARE allowed. Before 2008 you only had to have at least one gender specific middle name, so it could have been Taylor Riley Quinn Toby Schmidt or whatever. But since 2008 you don’t even have to have that, so Riley Schmidt would be fine on it’s own.

It is true that it is usually not allowed to use surnames as firstnames. But there are many many examples, especially in the northern German dialect or with American names where it is totally allowed. In Northern Germany it is just the tradition, with American names it’s new influences from TV, Celebrities and all that. Kennedy is a name that is totally used. The other thing is, that we would just never want to use German surnames, it would just be totally weird, it would sound weird. Sometimes rules are just about traditions, we don’t name our Kids Table, and we don’t name them Schröder.

The rules in Germany aren’t strict, usually it is “names must be real names” which doesn’t say you can’t make them up, they just have to be approved of not being ridiculous.

And this leads to why I believe naming rules are right. A name is just such an important thing you carry around your whole life with you. Germany just puts the right of the child growing up okay higher than the right of free choice of their childs name for the parents. (And most names still get approved…)

There are still many stupid names in Germany, but there are lines that should not be crossed.

So yes, you cannot call your child Honey Boo Boo in Germany, no Shooter, no Darling Froo Froo, no Adolf Hitler.
And I believe these kids will be thankful for that. Because there are always stupid parents out there and sometimes the state is also there to protect a child from them.

TaylorBlueSkye Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 2:22 am

Oh and in my just given name examples, Honey and Darling probably even would be allowed, just very ridiculous.. Boo Boo and Froo Froo would not.

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 4:06 am

New Zealand (and Australia) don’t ban titles as names because they are “offensive”, they are banned for being titles (I guess with the thought that they may be used misleadingly or fraudulently in the future).

jackal Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 7:29 am

Er, no. Whilst naming your baby something with a C might be a bit stupid in Iceland since you are correct in saying that it is not really in the alphabet, it is not banned. I was quickly able to look up all the names beginning with C that are currently on the mannanafnaskrá (the list of previously approved names), you can see it here if you are interested:

A lot of those would be terrible choices, but sure, go for it. I have no doubt that Carolina would be approved by the committee.

jackal Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 8:08 am

I also take slight issue with the way this post is presented. Of course it’s just for fun, but it’s like “these are such totally normal names, and those countries are so strict, we in America have so much more freedom”. Well, OK, let’s do a quick comparison of Iceland and the USA when it comes to the issue you highlighted, letters that are not in the alphabet.

Are Americans in Iceland able to use letters like W, C and Q? Yes, there are no restrictions for children born of two non-Icelandic citizens.

Are Icelanders in the USA able to use letters like Þ, Ð and Æ? No, they would not be permitted to do so if registering the birth in the USA.

Are American-Icelandic couples in Iceland able to use W, C and Q? Yes, the only restriction placed on such couples is that the child must have at least one name that complies with Icelandic naming rules. (This means that ONE of their child’s names must not contain a Q. Not so restrictive.)

Are American-Icelandic couples in the USA able to use Þ, Ð and Æ? No.

Are Icelanders in Iceland able to use W, C and Q? They are allowed to use W and C, but not Q.

Are Americans in the USA able to use Þ, Ð and Æ? No.

So which country is more restrictive on this issue? And can you please add a slide for our Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð, stating that he wouldn’t be allowed the name Davíð in the USA?

indiefendi Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 9:33 am

I think my name might be banned in Germany, I have a word name ironically spelled the German way! Hahaah.

America hasn’t officially banned names but I know that if you name your kid Lucifer, Hitler, etc. your child will be taken from you!

miloowen Says:

April 11th, 2014 at 9:37 am

Personally, as a teacher, I wish we had sensible naming rules. We have students whose parents have just strung letters together without regard for phonics or any difficulty that their child might face in school.

I would never want to be named Duke or Bear or Apple. Or Chandelier, one of my students. Another student was Tequila. Another was Klamidia. Another Nauticaa. Why?

Mothers prefer home child care by people they know, trust – Northern Star | Baby Care Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 4:04 pm

[…] Banned Baby Names: No Toms in Tomar – Baby Name Blog … […]

victoriavs Says:

April 16th, 2014 at 10:18 am

You cold of mentioned Poland where the name has to be gender specific, no unisex names except for Maria which for boys can only used as a middle name. You also can’t name your baby after a geographical location.

Family demands answers after newborn dies in CFS care – CTV News | Baby Care Says:

April 18th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

[…] Banned Baby Names: No Toms in Tomar – Baby Name Blog … […]

Jagienka Says:

April 28th, 2015 at 5:17 am

No unisex and surname names- I see nothing wrong with this.

SoDallas3 Says:

August 18th, 2015 at 2:02 am

This post is ridiculously inaccurate! On the German Charts last year, Tayler (b), Sascha (b), Jamie, Maxi (g), Noah (g), Jona (g) all appeared in the top 500, so this whole thing is beyond silly.

It is true that Germans are quite traditional when it comes to naming and gender is typically recognised through naming. Culturally using last names or word names is also not done and that’s because it would make no sense in

Also, as an Australian I can say that we do not use titles names: Duke, Countess, Queen etc. because we’re part of the Commonwealth and under actual rule by a Queen. Not only does it prevent forgery, I believe they feel it would be considered disrespectful to the Monarchy also.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.