When it comes to baby names, the New Zealand government believes that mother and father do not always know best.
The country’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages released a list of 77 banned baby names this week, fueling speculation about just what kind of people would try to name their child Christ or Lucifer.
Yes, 18 of the names on New Zealand's banned list have been used on actual human children in the good ole U.S. of A, according to the Social Security Administration’s database from 2011, the most recent year for which records are available. Pamela Redmond Satran of the baby name website Nameberry cross-referenced the two lists and discovered that some of the forbidden Kiwi names are actually quite popular in the U.S.:
King, 722 boys
Justice, 544 girls and 502 boys
Princess, 301 girls
Justus, 247 boys (Justus is actually an ancient Roman name, not merely a word name)
Major, 196 boys
Royal, 147 boys and 34 girls (Royale and Royalty are also used for both genders)
Duke, 146 boys
Baron, 130 boys
Honor, 98 girls
Queen, 50 girls
Christ, 46 boys
Knight, 36 boys
Majesty, 26 girls and 21 boys
Saint, 23 boys
Lady, 16 girls
Rogue, 15 boys
Lucifer, 8 boys
Master, 8 boys
Other names on the New Zealand list mercifully don’t show up on the U.S. rolls: Anal, we are pleased to report, is not a name. (Though parents experimenting with “unique” spellings of the upward-trending girl’s name Annalise have come up with some that are perliously close to Analease – beware.) Mafia No Fear and 4Real also have not been used here... yet.
New Zealanders may accept, even welcome their government protecting its littlest citizens from bad names. Other countries have similar controls, like Sweden, where the government has rejected such monikers as Superman and Metallica.
Not so in America, where we consider it literally a birthright to name kids whatever we darn well please. (Looking at you, parents of Moxie CrimeFighter, Kal-El and Pilot Inspektor.)
“The right to choose a name that reflects your individual and cultural beliefs and values is rooted in the very foundation of America – I can’t imagine the U.S. ever legislating name choice, nor do I think that would be desirable,” said Satran, whose website Nameberry tracks baby name trends.
She points out that many of the banned New Zealand names have been used by celebrities. Donald and Melania Trump have a son named Barron; director Robert Rodriquez named one of his sons Rogue; musicians Zac Brown and Ziggy Marley both have daughters named Justice; and Duke has been used by Diane Keaton, Giuliana and Bill Rancic, and makeup mogul Bobbi Brown.
More power to them, Satran said.
“Most cases of name regret stem from families leaning too heavily on expectant parents to use this name or not use that name, but it really makes people unhappy,” she said. “A name is one of the few things you can control about your child and choosing one is an involving and deeply personal process, so the baby’s parents are the ones who should have the ultimate choice.”
Of course, “name regret” takes on a different meaning when your parents actually name you after the Prince of Darkness. Maybe those little Lucifers will end up using Luke as a nickname… or move to New Zealand.