It’s all in a name

7 May 2013

Having a baby and stuck for a choice of name? Let the eminently sensible and well-adjusted people of New Zealand help you out. Their government has just released a list of names parents wished to call their kids but were banned from doing so by an overbearing and meddling state. Luckily they’re still legal over here, though. So you could go for ‘4Real’ or ‘V8’ – or, if it’s your kinda thing, ‘Anal’. There were even kids about to be called ‘2nd’ and ‘3rd’ and ‘4th’, inspiration having deserted the parents. My favourites came from New Zealand a few years back. That’ll be the twins, Benson and Hedges. And then you know how people sometimes call their kids after the romantic places they were conceived? Like ‘Jamaica’ or ‘Asia’? Well try this one for size: ‘Number 16 Bus Shelter’.

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  • stick57

    My old sports teacher at an all boys’ school was called Richard Sole. Always amazed that his parents obviously didn’t ‘think it through’ when it came to his signature.

  • Teacher

    I tracked the downward trajectory of the state school in which I worked for nearly 30 years by the names of the children I taught. In 1982 they were: Emily, Richard, Claire, Suzanne, David etc. The last class I had to supervise for an absent teacher had 20 pupils in it all of whose names were either ‘non-native’ or mis-spelt English or made up/nonexistent names invented by the parents.

    In contrast, when I went to the graduation ceremony at my daughter’s top English university, every student except for four in the English faculty (150 graduands) had a name that was biblical, a British king or queen’s name or one to be found in either Jane Austen or Shakespeare.

    My son’s stated preferred names for children are Winston and Margaret and my daughter’s are (currently) Sebastian and Octavia (but then she studied Latin).

    Names are an interesting reflection of the times.

    • Eddie

      If your son calls his son Winston, people will think he is black!

      • Teacher

        Very, good point, Eddie. They wouldn’t actually think of looking at the kid – or considering his very English surname!

  • Sean Lamb

    Supaporn is a rather popular girls name in Thailand.

  • Andy Walsh

    It’s not much better here. When my eldest, Priapic Jr, started pre-school the social services were all over us like a rash.

  • Daniel Maris

    When it comes to names I like the old French system. Here’s a list of 200 names. You choose.

    If you want to give your son or daughter a ridiculous name with a ridiculous spelling at home, don’t expect our schools and agencies to use anything but the official name.

    • Eddie

      It’s still very like that in most countries. In Europe, only Britain seems to have aped the USA in going full-on for absurd names from silly baby naming books.

    • Andy Walsh

      Of course not. Our children are, after all, first and foremost the property of the state.

  • William Reid Boyd

    Dutch were forced to take surnames in 1811 by their French occupiers from which many esteemed inventions derive, including “van Kut” (well aren’t we all?)

  • The Red Bladder

    These things can can come about by marriage. My daughter swears that she once handled an insurance claim from a woman with the perfectly reasonable Christian name of Emma. Sadly she had married a man with the surname Royds! After nearly reducing her to tears I accepted that there is an unfortunate lady in this land so named!

    • Daniel Maris

      That’s an old one! Did she have a friend who helped her out called Anne Usol?

      • William Reid Boyd

        Both on Facebook …

        • Daniel Maris

          Don’t you mean Fay S. Book?

          • William Reid Boyd

            :) there is a Fays Book out there, but he’s French and scary looking.

            • Eddie

              There is a Dot Comm too – some old dear. She made a mint in the late 90s after being discovered by dot com companies and being featured in ads.

  • Gwaillor

    Few will ever surpass the late lamented foreign minister of South Korea, Lee Bum Suk.

  • Regislea

    Isaac Hunt – lived in Chepstow in the 50s.

    Richard Haire – think about it – friend of mine in Australia

    Superman Koon – Chinese colleague in Guangdong

    • JimmyC

      My daughter had a teacher called Miles Furlong – honest!

  • Nick

    Many years ago in Hong Kong I had a secretary called Fanny Pong. We had to take her aside for a quiet word…..

    • Eddie

      Oh yes, Fanny isn’t rude in the USA or the English-speaking world outside the UK…

      All those who have taught foreign students have lots of funny tales about names. My ex-students include a boycalled Titus who only used the first 3 letters of that name, and ‘Apakshit’.
      I also had 2 Turks in one of my summer school classes: ‘Tuna’ and ‘Can’…

  • Hexhamgeezer

    I always thought nick clegg sounded like a w!nn!t

  • ugly_fish

    Romantic places? “Rudyard” Kipling, anyone?

    “Secundus”, “Tertius”, “Quintus”, “Sextus”, etc., were common Roman forenames.

    A US colleague whose brother is a teacher in Alabama swears that one of his African-American students was named “Placenta”…

    • no name

      George Orwell was so taken with Kipling’s Rudyard that he actually visited the place on foot, as a pilgrimage of sorts.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair, but changed his name as he
        had a premonition that something terrible would be associated with the name

  • Icebow

    I used to know a registrar who refused to let a Chinese couple name their child ‘Pooey’ (however transliterated).
    I do think that ‘Singular Onions Galleyhawks’ has yet to be held a candle to.

  • DougS

    Is Ella (left) the best looking granddaughter in the country….or not?

    Be honest, you know it’s true!

    • Hexhamgeezer

      One of the best names for sure unlike the Freya’s and Oscars infesting this place.

      • Swank

        Or, in America these days, Forbes, Parker, Tyler, Madison (that’s a girl), Dexter (usually a boy; may be a girl), and Riley (a girl). Pretentious and pitiful. There’s a reason for it. It has to do with a misunderstanding of elites and a misguided attempt to ape them. Did I mention risible?

        • Eddie

          Madison is very American.
          In the UK, chav names include: Tyler, Jade, Conor, Dean, Kelly, Carly, Kylie and a great many copied from the USA – even silly double-barreled ones like Maisy-lee etc.
          Then we have our celebrities calling their kids nonsense like Tyger, Honey, Peaches, Geronimo, Apple (no oranges or bananas yet…).
          Then we have the old hippies who like stuff like Summer and India (none have called their daughters Winter or Pakistan yet either)
          Apparently, the most common boys’ name in France is Kevin (or was until Kevin Costner crashed and burnt). And the most common name of all (in various spellings) is Mohammed.
          Last year I went to Florence; the most common surname there is now not Rossi, but Hu. Chinese, innit (and they only have about 10 surnames to go round).

          • Geoff

            I always knew Eddie and Amanda would learn to get along …

            • Eddie

              We are the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor of now. We’re been divorced and remarried several time, y’know…

        • Daniel Maris

          Tyler, Taylor, Tulullah…how about Teeler? And Dollar came from toler…It’s an American thing…

          • Chris Morriss

            No, it came from the German coin, the Thaler.

    • OldSlaughter

      No. Hayley Atwell is. Or Sienna Miller.

  • Austin Barry

    “And then you know how people sometimes call their kids after the romantic places they were conceived?”

    Like mine: vehicular rather than Texan.

    • Daniel Maris

      Be funny if you were actually conceived on Barry Island…

      • Eddie

        Indeed. Florence Nightingale was indeed conceived and born in Florence. Her sister Parthenope was less lucky…
        Still, it could’ve been worse – Florence would have been born in Splott.

  • Eddie

    France has a law that says you cannot call a child a name that offendes the state – so no lists of FA cup winning teams for baby there then.

    In many countries, you cannot baptise a child unless they have a name approved by the Church.

    We in the UK have always been more free and easy – though I blame awful baby naming books and odious celebrity culture for some of the monstrous monikas around today. Despite not being a Christian, I am from a Christian culture and love a good solid Christian name. As I was telling my pet toad Mohammed…

    If you want to hear some really weird names however, just look at black Americans, especially the girls. I think they name them after their favourite shampoo brands.

    It’s like your pawn star name: take your first pet’s name and put it in front of your mother’s maiden name – and hey presto, you have your pawn star name! It works. Try it.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Fred Dobson?

    • Dicky14

      Pawn star? Derek from Cash Converters?

      • Eddie

        Yes, I know. But if you spell it with the o and the r, the Speccie censor flags your post for moderation! One has to think creatively to bypass such IT puritanism.

    • HFC

      Not always. My Mother’s maiden name was Trodd. No name of any pet I have ever owned works as a pornstar name with that! Monty, Sammy, Annie, Quinn, Garbo (don’t ask), Dennis, Tom …

      • Eddie

        Tippy Trodd – there you go! Ready for the fluffer already!

  • timothy evans

    There was a radio programme about this some years ago. A colonial officer described the naming of children in Africa that he officiated at. One family insisted on the first words in their Bible and so the child was named Cambridge University Press. The officer’s favourite was Penis Bonaparte.

    • Daniel Maris

      Petrol is a popular African name.

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