Naming the Fishes

A Blog For Name Lovers Everywhere

Update: Forbidden Names

Cain_leadeth_abel_to_death_tissotI’ve recently started a topic discussing the pros and cons of forbidden names, a lot of interesting opinions have come up so if you haven’t already have a look and maybe add to the discussion!

Here is the link:

The Pros And Cons Of Forbidden Names

Also agent99, a poster on Nameberry has started another thread along the same lines, this time about people’s own experiences with forbidden names.

Parents of babies with “forbidden” names, have you had any bad experiences?

On another note I shall be updating this blog with more posts within the next couple of weeks. (I had this awkward realization recently that I have three essays due soon…So lately I have been working on that).


10 comments on “Update: Forbidden Names

  1. waltzingmorethanmatilda
    March 3, 2013

    Interesting thread … of course in Australia we literally do have forbidden names, so if the government doesn’t forbid you to use a particular name, like Lolita or Lucifer, then they are okay. I tend to think – if it’s legal, do what you want, and really if the name does cause your child hideous problems as they get older, it can always be changed.

    I did notice that people’s arguments for not using certain names weren’t always very logical. For example, Aunt Jemima syrup and Uncle Ben oats both use racial stereotypes, but nobody is suggesting that the name Ben should be forbidden. Similarly, Aunt Jemima is a “mammy” stereotype, and so is Aunt Chloe from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, yet Chloe is an acceptable name (so is Tom!).

    I’m sure you can think of other examples that don’t really make a lot of sense.

    • namingthefishes
      March 3, 2013

      I agree, but I think its partly because these names are more obscure than Chloe and Ben. Unfortunately we live in a world with a lot prejudice and names are not immune to it…

      Lucifer for example has a lovely meaning “light bringer” however the name has been wrongly associated with Satan because of misinterpretation.

      There was some comments in the thread that made me cringe a little bit, but I did say it was a discussion and people have shared their opinions. I was hoping for people to think about some of the pros of using these names, but in some cases its been quite negative.

      Oh well…

      • waltzingmorethanmatilda
        March 4, 2013

        That argument that the name is more obscure makes no sense – if it’s too obscure, it obviously needs to be used MORE not LESS!!!! Otherwise it will become more and more obscure and unusable.

        Of course in Australia we have our own controversial names – Anzac, Azaria, Bevan, Ned Kelly, Duke …

        I was surprised you listed Dick as a bad name, but not Fanny. My cousin Richard goes by Dick, always has, and it’s never been an issue for him. However, I do know a couple of people named Fanny, born in Europe where Fanny is a normal name, and they’ve had to change it when they migrated to an English-speaking country.

      • namingthefishes
        March 4, 2013

        As I said in the first post I only listed the names that the nameberry blog talked about—as examples to discuss. It doesn’t mean I necessarily think its true. :]

        (That argument that the name is more obscure makes no sense – if it’s too obscure, it obviously needs to be used MORE not LESS!!!!)

        Yes it doesn’t make sense, but people still use it. I’m all for advocating more unusual names, they can be quite refreshing and increase the name pool. People need to be more aware and accepting of names of other cultures… This reminds me of the name bias survey conducted by Today Tonight (that aired tonight).

        As for Fanny, I think it depends on where you live really. For example Jemima would fare better being used in Australia and the UK compared to the US due to the racist connotations there. Same goes for Fanny, but I think the imagery associated with it is fading as our vocabulary evolves. I doubt the last two generations know what it means.

        Anyway you look at it, this discussion about forbidden names is interesting and a bit hot…

      • waltzingmorethanmatilda
        March 5, 2013

        Sorry I should have it clear I understood you were only quoting from the thread in regard to the silly arguments people use; I didn’t mean to suggest they were your own opinions (it’s fairly obvious they’re not).

        And it was wrong for me to say “you listed” (I mean you did list it, but only because someone ELSE listed it first – gosh this is getting really complicated …. )

        I know the word fanny is not really used by younger people, but of course if you move here (or to the UK) as an adult, you’re really much more worried about what adults think of your name, especially potential bosses, colleagues and clients. The former Fannys I know, or know of, were basically informed their name wasn’t acceptable and would make dealing with customers or even getting a job a bit of a nightmare.

        You can see the reaction the name gets on this British TV show, admittedly the surname combination makes a difference. It would be fairly unpleasant to get this reaction from people IRL (especially if it went on day after day).

      • namingthefishes
        March 5, 2013

        Thats fine, no harm done. Thanks for the link, hopefully in the next couple decades or so the inappropriateness of Fanny fades. Those people did not deserve the criticism.

  2. Blue Juniper
    March 9, 2013

    Jemima would probably fare better in Australia, not because of the “diluted” racial connotations, but also because for most Australians Jemima is a doll on the long running childrens show ‘Play School’. But I guess this also works against her a little, as it almost makes her seem like quite a young girl’s name here, and hard to picture on a grown woman.

    In any society, “forbidden” names really come down to the associations they hold for that particular society. I guess it’s just a matter of recognising what names are problematic in the society/societies you live in, then deciding if it’s still a name that you are comfortable using, and that your child would feel comfortable to have.

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2013 by in News and tagged , , .
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