Forbidden Baby Names

When a name like Talula Does The Hula from Hawaii gets banned, it makes big news. But there are lots of other names that, now and since the beginning of recorded name time, have quietly been relegated to the forbidden list.  No judge may have pounded a gavel, no name-sensitive Napoleon decreed a law against outlandish names as he did in France.  But these names have nevertheless been shunned by parents in the Western World – and sometimes even by those who’ve been unlucky enough to be born with them.


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As the murderous biblical brother, Cain was for centuries a name that was off the table, while Abel was quietly (too quietly, in our opinion) still used. While naming your son Cain might put negative ideas in his head – watch the baby! – you might consider cognates Kane or Kean, Irish surnames that mean “ancient.”

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47 Responses to “Forbidden Baby Names”

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Noetje Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 3:30 am

I can’t help it… I have a thing for Lucifer as a middle name..

Maple10 Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 7:10 am

Good reminder to research your names before you use them. Regarding Cohen, people should care about the name’s meaning, for their child’s sake. People will assume that child is Jewish or ignorant. If you like the sound, use Bowen, Rowan, or Conan.

freeoscar Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 7:15 am

Regarding Dick, I’ve seen people in comments say “Quit being a Richard” instead of Dick so their comment won’t be removed. I believe Urban dictionary even has Richard means “Long for Dick”.

I’ve avoided Richard in all my lists. In the 50s Peter was what Dick is now.

You never know what will be the new slang for certain terms.

Dantea Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 7:18 am

I know a wonderfully artistic, sweet, and intelligent boy named Lucifer. It’s a beautiful name.

murp Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:00 am

“Current Pope Benedict has helped restore the name, which means blessed, to glory.” Really? Debatable. I really like the name and prefer it to Benjamin, but would never use it now that it is associated with this unpopular pope.

name-obsession Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:16 am

Since this is a “forbidden” names list, I would knock off Mary.
A name that feels “forbidden” to me is Pandora. Sure, I think it’s really pretty, but it’s connotations alone would set it up for trouble. Can you imagine being a teenager teased about “Pandora’s box”? Yikes!

vanessaaball Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 9:23 am

My husband and I had the Jude vs. Judas discussion many times. I don’t associate them as my husband does. He won and we did not use the name, and I am still saddened by it.

I do know someone that has 2 sons named Zeus and Judas. He explained that he was purposely mockimg Christianity with his name choices.

Pansy Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 10:37 am

I’m really surprised that Jemima isn’t on this list. It seems that every few months there’s a debate about that name on the forums. It’s far more “forbidden” than Mary or Bridget.

klcalder2 Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 10:41 am

I love Jude. Both the name and the little boy I used it for.

I don’t think the list is meant to be names that are forbidden now, but names that have been unusable now or in the past.

tikicatt Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 10:58 am

Don’t count this list out – if you are currently named a forbidden name the forces of society can change your name. My great uncle Adolph who died last year aged 89, changed from being called Adolph to A.J. (Adolph Johannes) as I recall sometime in the early 80’s. I know family members still called him Adolph – but socially everyone else called him AJ. Interesting to me that it took so long after WWII for the change.

My father is named Richard and always, always has been called Dick. He is 77. He got a “job” at 70 and he decided he wanted to be called Richard. He is Richard now. Really old friends call him Dick – but most have switched to Richard. My mother calls him Chard.

So all this to say – you can get to a late point in life and if your names ends up forbidden, it can change!

Lola Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 11:01 am

Mary, Bridget & Benedict are fine in my book, I know people with those names and tthey’re lovely. I’ve got to second Lucifer as a middle, what a lovely sound & meaning it’s got. And, IIRC, Lucifer was forbidden to use His Angel name after his fall.

Pandora is one I don’t think should be forbidden, it’s so pretty! I’d happily use Pandora, up front OR in the middle!

GoodHope Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 11:04 am

Perhaps including Mary and Bridget illustrates how perceptions of unusability change over time?

Still, aside from those two (Bridget is on my short list, and I’d use in a heartbeat), I wouldn’t touch any of these with a long pole.

Mischa Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 11:23 am

Bridget, Benedict and Mary would be the only names I would consider. The rest are too loaded with negative associations and bad energy.

Sarah.Jane Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 11:25 am

I know a seven year old boy named Cain, unfortunately he is poorly behaved so he does nothing to make the name more appealing.
I have seriously considered Judas, as a Christian it would be a controversial choice, but there is more than one Judas in the bible. Judah seems incomplete for some reason.
My little sisters name is Bridget, she was named after a multitude of Bridgets in our family tree. She also never had to share he name with anyone else. She likes it, but she didn’t as a teenager.

little.lottie710 Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Bridget and Mary are nice names, if I met a Bridget or Mary I wouldn’t laugh or scowl like I would if I met a Lucifer or Cain.

emilymaryjane Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Another famous Dick. Dick Smith technology stores are named after the starter of the business

thetxbelle Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I have a feeling Princess is banned not because its a title in some countries but because its an outlandish name and a lot of countries arent as relaxed about that as the US is.

I’m also surprised to see Jemima since the racial connotation is still strong in the states. Outside the US Im sure it’s different.

thetxbelle Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I meant surprised to not see.

miloowen Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Richard/Dick just makes me sad. My first boyfriend was Dick and my best friend’s brother was Dicky. And I have always loved Dickon as a nn for Richard.

Cohen has been discussed and rediscussed. I recommend the Irish surname Cohan (as in George M) as a perfectly acceptable substitute.

Biblical names that I would never consider using on a real child are Ahab, Jezebel, Delilah, Cain, Saul, and Uriah.

Because there was a second disciple named Jude, as well as Judah Maccabee, I think there are plenty of positive associations with the name.

Being from New England, of course I know the “Bridget” associations for Irish maids, just as many Scandinavian cooks were known as “Mina”. Still, I really like both Brigid and Benedict.

The picture for Sambo and the post about Sambo gives me pause. Yes, the story had some racist overtones, but they were not deliberately racist nor were they about African-Americans. The setting was India, the little boy was Indian, and the story is actually an Indian fable. The racism in the story is from the colonialism of the author using the word “black” (as the English did) to describe an Indian native. The great writer and educator Julius Lester has done a good deal of research into the story and back story, and then came out with his own version, Sam and the Tigers, which is a wonderful book. I’ve used it many times in my lectures and courses on children’s books.

I would hope that we can reclaim Jemima from the stupid syrup. Living here in the deep, deep South, there are many African-Americans who still use their “slave” names and have totally reclaimed them as their own names. I’ve had students named Addonise, Keziah, Keturah, Lecomas, and many other Greek, Roman, and Biblical names that obviously originated as “slave” names. These kids wear their names proudly as family names. So I think we can reclaim Jemima and I hope we do, it’s a great name with a lovely meaning.

shinysarah11 Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I went to high school with a boy named King and to college with a girl named Princess. I don’t understand the ban on that. My name, Sarah, means “princess”, yet there is no issue with that.

encore Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 10:04 pm

My favorite part of this is that there were more Adolf’s and Dick’s. Just made me laugh.

mmljar Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 10:33 pm

This just goes to show how culture specific these things are! Here in Australia we wouldn’t blink at many of these but have our own Names-To-Avoid. I would’t consider using the names Jonah, Nigel, Fanny, Dorcas, Colleen (all were once common) because of negative connotations. Keturah, Jemima, Mary, Benedict and Bridget wouldn’t even be noticed here as innapropriate and some are up and coming in popularity. The rule against Princess exists here also and it is not about it sounding silly (though I think it does) but goes towards the prohibition against representing yourself as a different rank in early society (think of a conman calling himself ‘Earl Lastname’ and pretending to be an aristocrat). This was a common fraud in colonial times and legislators worked against that.

thetxbelle Says:

February 4th, 2012 at 12:25 am

@mmljar I agree it really is culturally specific! There are some French names I see on the boards that no one I know would consider, for a lot of reasons as they are seen as absurd or detrimental in France.

This used to really baffle me but I’m learning to accept that in the US and other places they’re just names.

Poppy528 Says:

February 4th, 2012 at 2:32 am

Wait what’s wrong with Saul?!?

Lucifer is just horrid. Sorry to all who like.

OliviaSarah Says:

February 4th, 2012 at 7:45 am

The reasons behind a lot of these aren’t valid enough in my opinion not to use them.

Sure – Adolf, I wouldn’t use. Jezebel? probably not. Whilst I do like them both, the poor kid would be hammared for having either of them.

As for Cohen, I think it’s a little unfair to be told by society you cannot use a name you love simply because it is not allowed in a religion you do not practice. However, I would not use it simply out of respect.

I know a little girl named Princess. Poor kid.

Lucifer is awful anyway, in my opinion. But then again, I’ve never been a big fan of ‘Luc-‘ names, even on girls.

Also to add to the list – Lolita and Pandora. Such lovely names, but I would never dare touch them.

amymorgan777 Says:

February 4th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Most of the names on here I would never use…except for Mary, Bridget and Benedict. I think those are totally usable to those who enjoy them. I had to giggle when I saw Princess was on the list. I used to have students who where sisters names Princess, Passion and Precious. Craziness…(shudder) :/

miloowen Says:

February 4th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I’d be interested to know why Nigel is a no-no in Australia when it’s such a typically “English” name….

Saul was such a horrid character in the Bible, that’s why. That’s why I wouldn’t use Jezebel (human sacrifices, anyone?), Ahab (her loser husband), and Delilah (betrayed Samson and then the Tom Jones song). Poor Uriah was just a schmo, being cuckolded by David and then sent to his death….

As for it being “unfair” that Cohen is a name many Jews (including me) object to, as the great Jimmy Carter once said, “There are many things if life that are unfair.” As I’ve said before, change the e to an a and you get Cohan, sounds the same and nobody objects.

minorbeatrice Says:

February 4th, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Agree with what Murp stated. Current Pope Benedict is not a good namesake, if you ask me.

mmljar Says:

February 5th, 2012 at 1:12 am

@ miloowen

Nigel is a definate out because it means a person with no friends (as in “don’t be a nigel no friends” or “it was embarrassing I felt like a real nigel”. I think the term started being used in the 80’s ~ not sure of derivation??? Any aussies who can help me out?

afmastro Says:

February 7th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Call me a renegade. To me, Mary is fashionably unfashionable.

I never knew Bridget was once forbidden. I personally like the name and know a couple of lovely people named Bridget.

Kyri Laina Says:

February 22nd, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Kaine is also a good variation of Cain.

LyssieLauren Says:

March 7th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I agree with all but Cain and Judas, sorry guys there is no such thing as bad luck names! Now naming your child Princess or Lucifer is a NO! I mean really people, “Princess go to your room!.” And as for Lucifer the child would get picked on. There are no bad luck names but there are BAD NAMES!

My oldest brother was names Kayne and i grew very fond of the name since he passed away. And his son is names Antonie (NOT Anthony!) Antonie Able, which is very cute.

And Judas PLEASE! Judas is not a “in” name for this generation but Jude is a very cute middle name. Example my cousin is Brooks Jude.

chapitaism Says:

March 13th, 2012 at 10:23 am

This is the kind of names I am expecting to see in a list that is about “banned” names. Religion is a subject that people take so seriously, and I understand why all these names are banned for most of the people. I believe that most parents doesn’t want to give their children a name that would cause bad reactions in people who will interact with their precious children. Some people would add thier personal believes to names, and they would get banned, for example, that will be my Peter or Thomas or Cesar or Herod. I understand they sound perfect, are beutiful, perfectly usable, but I didn’t like personalities of these characteres in Bible stories, that’s why I would never ever use them. But it’s fine if others use them, I really don’t care, just not for my children.

jessieo Says:

March 20th, 2012 at 9:07 am


Hi, fellow Aussie here, yes nigel no friends! or sitting by yourself often you will hear ‘Don’t be a nigel!’ Definitely a no go in Australia. I know plenty of Cain/Kanes in Oz though, not taboo here as far as I know. Think it’s just cultural difference.

jessieo Says:

March 20th, 2012 at 9:12 am

I couldnt help out with the origin of ‘Nigel no friends’…sorry 🙁

firsttime Says:

April 2nd, 2012 at 8:34 pm

whats wrong with Mary??????

I really love it!

akky3210 Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 3:55 pm


On the Princess topic: I volunteer childcare for the local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and one day we had a little girl come in named Queen. Her older brother? King.

TheGriffon Says:

April 4th, 2012 at 2:33 am

Cian/Kean and Cathan/Kane are NOT cognate with Cain. Cognates are parallel developments of an ancestral word stem in related languages. They are similar in form, but not always meaning.

E.g. the Norse names Freyr and Freya are cognate with Dutch vrau, German frau (ma’am) and English (from Latin) prior (the head of a priory), all from a stem meaning represented in English by “fore”. Thus Freyr, Freya, frau and vrau are at their root honorifics, equivalent to “Lord” and “Lady” (i.e. a hausfrau is the “lady” of the house, Freya is “The Lady”, Freyr Ingwe is “Lord” Ingwe).

Cian/Kean is from a Celtic root meaning ancient, Cathan/Kane from a another Celtic root meaning battle (implying the sense of Kane is probably fighter/warrior), while Cain is from a Semitic root producing words meaning “acquire”, “brought forth” etc, (“with the help of the Lord I have gotten a man”). There is no connection besides morphic similarity. Of course names being what they are (almost or completely disassociated from their root meanings) you can feel free to spell Cain, “Kane” or “Kayin”, Cayen or any other way you like.

edenlyla13 Says:

April 6th, 2012 at 11:54 am

I love Bridget it’s lovely

PinkPenguin87 Says:

April 6th, 2012 at 9:22 pm

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I really wanted to name her Delilah, but coming from a Pentecostal family, I knew it wouldn’t fly. In fact, when I mentioned it to my parents, my Dad (who is a pastor) had a fit, so I nixed it. Then I was considering the name Kennedy, just because I think it’s so cute, but when I looked it up and discovered it means “baby with an ugly head” it was out, too. I ended up going with Rebecca, nn Becca, and it really fits her.

Maerad Says:

June 9th, 2012 at 8:55 am

I’m Jewish, and I wouldn’t find the first name Cohen offensive. Although I’d find it a little odd, especially as it is ONLY a last name within Judaism – I’d probably think the parents hadn’t done any research.

I really really like the name Mary (being Jewish does kind of knock it off my list though).
I also love Bridget. I could cope with Benedict, although I think I would go for Benson or Rueben if I wanted another name that gave the nn Ben.

In the UK Jemima isn’t as taboo – I know 2 Jemimas in fact, but I was surprised not to see it on this list for the US.
I also like Delilah, I think it’s more acceptable than Jezebel, but I can’t tell you why!

The others can stay banned. Especially Princess, even without the laws in certain countries, I think it’s a silly name.

catloverd Says:

June 23rd, 2012 at 9:57 am

Wow, some people are so disrespectful…..

MamaMaassy Says:

August 8th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I have to laugh, because as a Christian, I should be offended by Lucifer as a name, but Cinderella has made me love it – the mischievous cat and the adorable mice calling him “Roocifee”. I think it’s darling.

Chubbericken Says:

November 14th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

My husband and I like Goliath but nixed it because he was defeated by David… Any thoughts?

Rawkard | Bad Baby Names Says:

March 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am

[…] I can’t even. While the name is still banned in New Zealand, some contemporary children in the U.S. are named&#823… […]

dannilynnalexis Says:

June 4th, 2013 at 10:12 pm

My daughter went to school with twin boys whose middle names were Kane and Abel. It was a different spelling of Cane but still, Kane and Abel, really??

Judas baby | rachelketelaars Says:

February 23rd, 2017 at 10:53 am

[…] This morning I sms’d my dad, trying to write “Hi Dad” , auto-correct interpreted it as “Judas”. Interesting that. […]

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