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

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 freakonomics podcast (9th APR13) was about strange names. Interestingly, the person they spoke to (a social researcher of some description) said that they had found that your name doesn’t predict your success (or lack of). So people with strange sounding names aren’t at all disadvantaged, in fact you can argue the opposite, since they are more likely to be remembered.

    A strange name does predict how strange your parent’s are though, which can influence you success in life.

  • An English symbol with phonetic significance – and isn’t unknown when used in names – is ‘ when used to represent a glottal stop. There are several others, including thorn (looks like a ‘y’ with a cross through the tail, pronounced ‘th’) and diphthong symbols like ae and oe. You could probably argue that a schwa would be included, too.

  • Only Bogans are stupid enough to think names of high end cars etc, are excellent..!
    On the plus side, it does single them out from a crowd..! 🙂

  • Seems a bit odd that diacritcal marks are not permitted, I would wonder if that is some holdover from filling out the birth certificate using a typewriter and forwards in using a non-unicode database/software for today’s system.

    Also windows is terrible at inputting diacriticals, at least OSX has a sensible way of inputting them – there are option-key shortcuts for the combining diacritical marks. I mean even iOS set to english keyboard can input them trivially.

  • The real question is, is it illegal to call your child:

    Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (whistle) Northcott Edwards Harris (fires pistol, then ‘whoop’) Mason (chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff) Frampton Jones Fruitbat Gilbert (sings) ‘We’ll keep a welcome in the’ (three shots) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat (sings) ‘Don’t Sleep In The Subway’ Barton Mainwaring (hoot, ‘whoop’) Smith?

    Because if it is.. >:C

  • I remember years ago reading a news article about one country (some south or central american country… I think it may have been Venezuela) where the government was running a campaign to discourage parents from giving their children ugly or “indecorous” names. Apparently the most recent census there had found a significant number of people with names like Adolfo Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Vagina Fernandez and Venerea Rodriguez. Yes, the names have stuck in my memory to this day, even if the name of the country hasn’t 😛

  • The refusal to accept standard diacritical marks from other languages really surprised me. For a start, many surnames have these and removing the accent gives you a completely different name both in sound and “meaning”. For example, Faure [pronounced for] and Fauré [fo-ray] in French. So does this rule mean that parents with foreign surnames can’t even register their own surname correctly if they have a child in Australia, let alone a preferred Christian name?

    I think that particular rule is far more discriminatory than the rule prohibiting vulgarisms (“That said, certain English vulgarisms have perfectly inoffensive meanings in other languages, so this does seem somewhat discriminatory.”)

    For example, in Norway/Sweden, a popular male name is Dag (sounds like Doug). If you were Scandinavian and had moved to Australia you would probably not choose to give your boy that name, for the obvious reason that it would always be mispronounced and he would be open to ridicule. Similarly, if I were naming a child in a foreign country I’d be checking very carefully that the innocent English name I’d chosen wasn’t offensive/embarrassing in my new homeland. That’s not discrimination, that’s common sense of the When in Rome variety.

  • I heard a story about a woman who named her daughter Yvonne who got upset whenever the nurse staff said her name. She kept correcting them, “It’s not ee-von, it’s why-vone-ee!”

    • I know someone who’s mum picked the name “Melanie” out of a name book without having heard it before. Her name is now said “Mel-ay-nee”. And now she needs to tell that story each time someone asks why its not pronounced “Mel-uh-nee”.

  • Doing maintenance for the housing department I see bogan kids every day. Every house has at least one Edward, Bella or Jacob. Usually both. Sad times we live in.

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

    Sigh. As usual, Lifehacker has got it wrong. In fact, the regulations (not necessarily laws) say that the registrar MAY refuse to register a name. In fact, if the registrar does refuse, they can then be called upon to justify that decision before a magistrate.

    It is simply not the case that there are a set of laws or regulations that stop you giving your child any name you like. There are some laws and/or regulations that form the basis for a registrar to refuse a name. That is all.

    Also, once you are an adult you can call yourself anything you like, and you do not have to use anything such as a deed poll to change your name. You just start using it in place of, and not as an alias to, your former name.

    • “…you can call yourself anything you like, …” *as long as there is no intent to defraud.
      I’m an ex Commonwealth Public Service Personnel Manager and a case was brought to our attention of a person in the USA with a fiendishly difficult to pronounce Polish name who called himself ‘Smith’. For some reason he was prosecuted for fraud, but it was ruled that legally, you can pronounce your name whichever way you wish to – much like the name Sidebottom in England is pronounced Siddee Both Om (pronouncing it Side Bottom would be just TOO rude) or the name Death is pronounced Dee Ath.

    • The Birth Registration Statement is pretty clear cut in its wording: “Names That Cannot Be Registered. Proposed Names That Cannot Be Registered: (followed by the above list)”

  • So what happens if you’re from Zimbabwe and want to call your son Ju!akta? It’s like frickken “Johno” here!

    The ! is actually a tongue click. Would he be Juakta (which I think mispronounced becomes toilet??) which also makes him sound Indonesian!

    All because we’re too dumb to use charmap.

  • Used to work with children and was exposed to many silly, silly names. Rainbow, Tiger, Precious Flower, Brumby, Satan, Pebble, Stormy and Lightning (siblings), Alpha Romeo. I could go on.

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