Sunday, October 8, 2023

Banned Names by J. S. Marlo



Seasoned Hearts
"Love & Sacrifice #1"
is now available  
click here 



There are lots of parts in a novel. The setting, the plot, the twists & turns, and let's not forget the characters. The author wants the readers to love them, hate them, cry for them, cheer for them... The last thing an author wants is for the readers not to feel or care about the characters at all.

Bad and/or good, characters need to be three-dimensional, but they also need a name that fits them. Once a reader sent me a message about a book I wrote. She told me she hated it, so I asked what exactly she didn't like about the story. She said the story was awesome, the plot kept her up at night, and she loved the characters, but she hated my hero's last name because she couldn't pronounce it. So it wasn't the book she hated, it was my hero's name, which prompted her to leave a 3-star review without any explanation.

I guess you can never please everyone. My hero's name is still the same, I happen to like it, but I do spend lots of time looking for the right names, which brings me to today's topic. Banned names.

Many countries don't allow parents to give names that are embarrassing, misleading, controversial, offensive, obscene, or unreasonably long to their child. Some have rules about the letters/numbers/symbols allowed or not allowed, and some force the parents to choose from a pre-approved list. And some countries ban certain names.

In the United States, among the names that are not allowed, you'll find: King, Queen, Jesus Christ, III, Santa Claus, Majesty, Messiah, Misteri Nigger, @, 1069.

In Iceland and Denmark, parents must choose from a pre-approved list or seek special  approval.

In New Zealand, these are some the names that were rejected by the registration office: King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Duke, Royal, Empress, Messiah, Saint, General, Major, Justice.

In Sweden, there's no Elvis, Metallica, Veranda, Superman, or IKEA. Well... there are IKEA stores, many of them, but no IKEA baby.

In Germany, you can't name your child Adolf Hitler.

In Mexico, among the many forbidden names, you'll find: James Bond, Harry Potter, Hermione, Robocop, Lady Di, Rocky.

In Malaysia, children can't be named after colours, flowers, animals, or food.

In France, these are among the names that were rejected by the registration office: Nutella, Mini Cooper, Fraise (it translates to Strawberry), Joyeux (it translates to Happy).

Bottomline: Before giving your character an unusual name, make sure it is allowed in the country from where that character hails.

Happy Reading & Stay Safe.

J. S.


  1. Naming characters is fun. There are times when I try nine of ten names before I hit on the right one. Reading about the taboos in many places was interesting

  2. In France, still in the seventies, families had to choose among the names of Catholic saints, which created some conflicts in Bretagne (Brittany) where Breton and Celtic names were in favor. It seems the laws have changed for the best. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Entertaining and enlightening. Thank you!

  4. Flowers? what a strange category to ban! No Floras, Rosas or Poppies? Interesting post. :)


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