illegal names in the us

The No-Go Zone: A Deep Dive into the 50 Illegal Names in the US

In the land famed for its boundless freedoms, there exists a lesser-known frontier of restrictions that might surprise many: illegal names in the US. While Americans cherish their right to choose, the government does set boundaries, albeit few, on what you can name your child.

This article delves into the intriguing nooks of naming laws, spotlighting the stories and rationales behind some of the nation’s banned names.

Understanding Naming Laws in the US


In the United States, the legal framework governing the naming of individuals is surprisingly decentralized. Unlike in many countries where national laws dictate what names can or cannot be used, in the US, this authority largely rests at the state level.

This decentralized approach means that while there are some common restrictions across the country, specific regulations can vary significantly from one state to another.

The most common types of restrictions that exist across states are aimed at preventing the use of numerals, symbols, and characters that fall outside the standard 26-letter English alphabet.

For example, names containing @, !, or 123 are generally not accepted. The reasoning behind such restrictions is twofold: firstly, to avoid administrative issues and confusion in record-keeping systems, which are often not designed to accommodate unusual characters; and secondly, to prevent potential embarrassment or harm to the child who must live with the chosen name.

Additionally, most states prohibit names that could be considered offensive or obscene. These restrictions are more subjective and can vary more widely between jurisdictions, but the underlying principle is to protect the welfare of the child and maintain a certain level of public decorum.

It’s important to note that while these restrictions may seem straightforward, they are not without their grey areas. The interpretation of what is considered offensive, for example, can be highly subjective and vary significantly between different cultural or community standards within the US.

This can lead to inconsistencies in how naming laws are applied and even legal challenges from parents wishing to name their child something that falls into a legal grey area.

Despite these restrictions, the US is known for its relatively liberal stance on naming. There is a wide latitude given to parents, reflecting the country’s emphasis on individual rights and freedoms.

This freedom allows for a vast diversity of names and reflects the multicultural fabric of American society. However, when names do run afoul of the relatively few restrictions in place, it is usually for reasons that touch on technical limitations, potential harm to the child, or broader societal norms.

Examples of Banned Names in the US


The heart of this exploration lies in the stories of names that have crossed the invisible lines of legality. From the outright bizarre to those that challenge technical limitations of state databases, here are a few names that have faced the gavel:

1. @ – Symbols not allowed in many states.
2. 123 – Numerical names are generally prohibited.
3. Adolf Hitler – Rejected due to historical associations.
4. Robocop – Copyrighted names are often contested.
5. ! – Punctuation marks are not accepted.
6. True Love – Phrases are sometimes deemed inappropriate.
7. Cannabis – Drug references are typically banned.
8. Anus – Offensive or vulgar names are prohibited.
9. Batman – Names associated with copyrighted characters can be contested.
10. Lucifer – Considered offensive in some jurisdictions.
11. Messiah – Has been contested for being potentially offensive.
12. King – Titles that could confuse or mislead are often rejected.
13. Queen – Same as above, titles can be problematic.
14. Prince – Titles can lead to administrative issues.
15. Jesus Christ – Religious names can be sensitive or controversial.
16. *** (Asterisk)** – Symbols are generally not allowed.
17. Empire – Potentially misleading or grandiose names are discouraged.
18. Virus – Negative connotations can lead to rejection.
19. Hell – Offensive or problematic names are avoided.
20. Anal – Vulgar or inappropriate names are not accepted.
21. Poop – Considered inappropriate or offensive.
22. Satan – Names with negative religious associations are controversial.
23. Killer – Names that imply harm or violence are often banned.
24. Hitler – Names with negative historical associations are avoided.
25. Slave – Names implying subjugation or discrimination are prohibited.
26. Master – Can be problematic due to implications of dominance.
27. Terrorist – Names that imply violence or terror are rejected.
28. Covid – Names associated with tragedies or negative events can be contested.
29. Insane – Names that could be considered offensive or insensitive are avoided.
30. Sex Fruit – Bizarre or inappropriate combinations are not accepted.
31. . (Period) – Punctuation marks are not valid naming options.
32. Chaos – Names with inherently negative meanings can be problematic.
33. Voldemort – Copyrighted or culturally sensitive names might be contested.
34. Daemon – Spelling variations of controversial names are scrutinized.
35. Mafia – Associations with crime or criminal organizations are avoided.
36. Arsenic – Names with harmful or toxic associations are prohibited.
37. Führer – Names with negative historical or cultural associations are banned.
38. Hashish – Drug references lead to rejection.
39. Nazi – Historical associations that are negative or offensive are avoided.
40. War – Names that imply violence or conflict can be problematic.
41. Error – Names that could cause administrative or technical issues are avoided.
42. Hades – Names with dark or negative mythological associations can be contested.
43. Zero – Numerical names and names implying insignificance are avoided.
44. Ransom – Names implying crime or violence are not accepted.
45. Rebellion – Names with connotations of conflict or resistance can be problematic.
46. Revolution – Names implying upheaval or radical change are scrutinized.
47. Assassin – Names associated with violence or crime are prohibited.
48. Genocide – Names with associations to atrocities are strictly avoided.
49. Pandemic – Names associated with global crises or negative events are discouraged.
50. Anarchy – Names implying disorder or lawlessness are often banned.

Each of these examples highlights a unique aspect of the naming laws in place, from technological limitations to societal norms and legal protections.

Notable State-Specific Restrictions


State-specific restrictions on naming in the United States add a layer of complexity to what parents can name their children, reflecting the diverse legal and cultural landscapes across the country.

While the federal government does not impose naming laws, state-level regulations can vary widely, creating a patchwork of rules that govern naming practices. Here are some notable examples of state-specific restrictions:

1. California

No Diacritical Marks: California’s naming laws are strict regarding the English alphabet, allowing only the 26 characters without accents or diacritical marks. This restriction impacts parents who wish to include cultural or linguistic nuances in their child’s name.

2. Kentucky

Laissez-Faire Approach: Kentucky stands out for its relatively relaxed naming laws, with fewer restrictions on the inclusion of unique characters or symbols. However, names that are deemed offensive or that contain obscenities are still off-limits.

3. Massachusetts

Character Limitation: Massachusetts imposes a character limit for names, including spaces and punctuation. This restriction can affect parents who prefer longer names or multiple middle names for their children.

4. New Jersey

Adolf Hitler Case: New Jersey garnered attention for a case where children were removed from their home partly due to their names, including Adolf Hitler Campbell. This case highlighted the potential for naming disputes to intersect with other legal and welfare considerations.

5. Minnesota

No Numerals or Symbols: Minnesota’s laws prohibit the use of numerals and symbols in names, emphasizing the need for names to be easily includable in the state’s record-keeping systems.

6. Nevada

Characters Limit: Nevada restricts names to characters that are available on standard keyboards, excluding emojis, pictograms, and symbols not commonly used in written English.

7. Texas

Accents and Diacritical Marks: Texas allows the use of accents and diacritical marks in names, reflecting its diverse population and acknowledging the cultural significance of such markings in names.

8. Hawaii

Use of Apostrophes: Hawaii is unique in that it allows the use of the okina, a type of apostrophe that is significant in the Hawaiian language, acknowledging the state’s cultural heritage and linguistic practices.

These state-specific restrictions showcase the variety of approaches to naming across the United States, reflecting each state’s unique demographic, cultural, and administrative considerations.

While the overarching theme in U.S. naming laws leans towards flexibility and parental freedom, these examples highlight the nuanced ways in which states navigate the complex terrain of naming rights, balancing individual freedom with practical and cultural considerations.

The Controversy Around Naming Rights

Naming Rights

The debate over naming rights in the United States balances personal freedom against societal norms and child welfare. At its core, it questions the extent of individual expression versus the government’s role in safeguarding the community and the child’s future well-being.

1. Freedom vs. Regulation

Americans value the right to self-expression, including naming their children. However, government intervention can occur when a name is deemed potentially harmful or offensive, sparking controversy. This clash underscores the tension between personal liberties and societal responsibilities.

2. Cultural Impact and Diversity

Restrictions on naming can conflict with cultural traditions, particularly when they limit the use of non-English characters or diacritical marks. Critics argue that such restrictions overlook America’s multicultural identity, promoting a uniform culture at the expense of diversity.

3. Child Welfare Concerns

The argument for naming restrictions often focuses on protecting children from potential negative effects associated with unconventional names. Opponents, however, argue that these protections shouldn’t infringe on cultural or personal expression rights, highlighting the subjective nature of potential harm.

4. Legal and Societal Dynamics

Legal battles over names delve into defining offensiveness and harm, with courts navigating subjective societal norms. These cases spotlight the challenge of balancing state authority with individual rights, amid evolving societal attitudes toward diversity and identity.

Social and Legal Implications

The social and legal implications of naming rights in the U.S. underscore a delicate balance between personal freedom and societal standards. Names tie deeply to identity and cultural heritage, making restrictions a contentious issue. Legal battles over these rights highlight inconsistencies in enforcement and the subjective nature of what’s considered harmful or offensive.

As societal norms evolve, so does the debate over naming, reflecting broader themes of diversity, inclusion, and change. This ongoing tension challenges both individuals and legal frameworks to navigate the complex intersection of identity, expression, and community values.


Illegal names in the US offer a window into the complex interplay between individual liberties and societal norms. As culture evolves and new names emerge, the dialogue around what constitutes an acceptable name continues. This ongoing conversation not only reflects changing values but also reaffirms the significance of names in our lives and communities.

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