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.

    Shania , Harmony, Destiny, Trinity .....

      Do you frequent a lot of strip clubs? Just curious :-P

        A pretty good strategy for naming a girl is to pretend that you are the person behind the microphone at a strip club:

        "Gentlemen, hope you are all having a good night tonight, remember to tip your waitresses, now give it up for Destiny!"

        Its pretty easy to pass/fail a name by doing that.

          Hmmmm...."Gentlemen, hope you are all having a good night tonight, remember to tip your waitresses, now give it up for Hippo!"

          Yeah.. You're right. Doesnt really work...

          And nothing gives you that warm, new parent glow like imagining your innocent, yet-to-be-born daughter stepping out onto the stage in a strip joint as an adult.

    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.

    Couldn't help but laugh at you throwing Matthew Newton in there. Good one.

    We call these names bogan but bogans call it being original, and the sad part is most aren't even original. Reminds me of this:

    So I can call my kid "#!"?

      Yes, but young Hashbang may run into trouble every time he's asked to enter his name followed by #.

        Hasbang is the greatest name ever. I have to name something Hashbang, maybe a dog. I'M NAMING SOMETHING HASHBANG

        I was thinking "shebang"

          Shebang does sound more like a Bogan name. Easier to see how the other kids will tease them in school.

          Ricky Martain fan?

    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.

    I read somewhere that this couple names their twin boys Benson and Hedges! And another set of twins Shawn and Sean.

      I really hate people that think that's funny.

      There's a Neo at my kids daycare. I actually think that's kinda cool though.

        Neo is the name I usually give when I'm ordering fast food on the phone. I'd say 90% of the time they write down Neil. Not quite as cool.

      I personally know two brothers (not twins) who are named Jeffrey and Geoffrey.


      Since you've got a login for lifehacker, you can actually edit your original comment. It's the pencil icon in the top-right corner of your comment.

      You can't PM through lifehacker though, so I have to look like a douche by pointing this out to you publicly :P

        Aaaaah thanks! My life is so much better now that you've publicly pointed this out to me. I've been enlightened. Lol

    My childhood friend is a mad bogan and named her kid Thor, we suspect after their dog.

    Cool, I'm allowed to call my son Pilot Inspektor if I want to pull a "Jason Lee"!

    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

      After reading all that, I heard a dry, monotone Monty Python voice in my head saying "...Silly Party"

    So no Bobby Tables then...

    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 :P

      Ah, I think was the story. It was actually Panama, not Venezuela. Unfortunately, you have to register on the site to read the full thing.

    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.

    !XOBILE ~ Russell Peters

    My mate, (nurse) was yelled at for writing the child's name down as Kate, when the mother promptly reminded the staff it was K8.

      I've seen La-a

      Pronounced La dash ah.

    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.

      These are the people contributing most to our population growth

    Then there's the American version - the 2^7 spellings of Crystal:

    C/K [H] R I/Y S/Z T [A/E] L [L] [E]

    Last edited 12/04/13 8:36 pm

      It should be 2^6 x 3, but updating it to accommodate extra vowels:

      C/K [H] R I/Y S/Z T [A/E/I/Y] L [L] [E] = 2^6 x 5 = 320

      I tried a few different combinations and found Facebook profiles for all of them

    "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.

      " 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)"

        What BRS? Reference please. Certainly not on any that I can see, and the regulations are quite clear. In Victoria (, for instance:

        "Parents can usually choose any given name for their child. However, the Registrar can refuse to register a prohibited name."

        Note the word "can". It is at the sole discretion of the Registrar, and his decision can be referred to a magestrate.

          It was NSW. I have the Birth Registration Statement document in front of me. The above extract is word-for-word.

    My wife's name is spelled Chloë. My son's name is Jacen. Is that too bogan for you?

      Yes, Jacen is a bogan name.

        Actually, Jacen is a character in the Star Wars EU ...

      Jaçen would have been better!

        certainly brings to mind a fantasy character in a game, maybe a werewolf

      How is it pronounced? Jay Sen or Jack En?


        Though Jack-En was the pronunciation of that face shifter dude from Game of Thrones, right?
        So, I was kind of not so unhappy about people pretending to say it that way.

    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.

      Charmap doesn't help with pronunciation or social acceptance, which these regulations are in place to ensure ...

    Timely article as my wife is now 13 days overdue to have our baby.

      Which reminds me that Our-Kylie and Our-Jason are popular names for the children of subeditors.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now