Baby Bogans: What Names Can You Legally Get Away With?

Hurricane. J’Adore. Couture. Excel. Burger. Google. Tron. Hippo. These are some of the baby names that were successfully registered in Australia in 2012. No really. Even more astoundingly, each name was registered more than once. Occasionally though, the Registry Of Births will refuse to register a name. Here are the rules you need to be aware of if you’re planning to saddle your offspring with a ridiculous moniker.

Baby picture from Shutterstock

Choosing your child’s name is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. In some cases, it’s also a strong indicator that you may be unfit for the job. (Hippo? Really?) If you’re planning on something avant-garde/insufferably trendy, there are a few rules you need to be aware of. Below is an overview of what you can and can’t get away with in Australia.

The Registry Of Births in each Australian state will not register a proposed name if it falls under the following categories:

Obscene or offensive

We can’t argue with that one really. That said, certain English vulgarisms have perfectly inoffensive meanings in other languages, so this does seem somewhat discriminatory.

Unreasonably long

Pablo Picasso was actually Christened ‘Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad’. In Australia such self-aggrandising pomposity isn’t allowed. Again, this does seem somewhat unfair towards certain cultures.

Consist of symbols without phonetic significance in the English language

Does anyone remember when the pop star Prince changed his name to a weird ankh-like symbol in the early ’90s? Hilariously, he then changed it back again after people started calling him ‘Squiggle’. If he lived in Australia, this embarrassment could have been avoided.

On another note, the reference to ‘phonetic significance’ is intriguing — does this mean symbols that do have phonetic significance are acceptable? To find out, we contacted the Registry Of Births in NSW and asked them whether we could call our child $. Terrifyingly, they said they weren’t sure but we were welcome to try our luck!

Resembles an official title or rank recognised in Australia

The jape played by Major Major Major Major‘s dad in Catch-22 totally wouldn’t have worked in Australia. Tch, eh?

Is contrary to the public interest for some other reason

This is a catch-all restriction which covers names that may leave a bad taste in the public’s mouth — stuff like ‘Hitler’, ‘Stalin’ and ‘Matthew Newton’. Of all the rules on the list, this one seems to be the most subjective. Personally, we’d put all of the names at the top of this article on the list.

Contain brackets or diacritical marks

In other words, if you want to give your kid a badass heavy metal umlaut, you’re going to have to move to Scandinavia.

Apart from the above rules, it appears that almost anything goes. If you’re determined to ruin your child’s life, check out these weird monikers from the Baby Centre website for inspiration. (For the record, I named my three daughters Penny, Alice and Claire. Traditionalism rules!)

What’s the weirdest name you’ve ever encountered? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


67 responses to “Baby Bogans: What Names Can You Legally Get Away With?”

Leave a Reply