Would you call your kid “Number 16 Bus Shelter”? Someone did! Read on.

Everything that exists has a name.

I was inspired to write this blog after discovering the most outrageous name that has ever been legally registered with authorities. I will talk more about that at the end but first things first.


We are all known by the name our parents gave us (unless we changed it as an adult) Some names really suit the person, some don’t. Some names are short and some descriptive, like Theresa Green.  Common short names are easy to forget or to confuse. (Was it Tom or Tim?, Sally or Sarah?) Names can also be a liability if they are the same as a malicious or evil person. Who would want to be called Adolf or Vlad!

Names also convey a great deal about the person. In numerology, each letter of a name has a number and by adding these together until a single number is reached, it is then possible to reveal that person’s personality traits. For example a “3” person is good at verbal communication. A “7” person tends to be reserved and likes solitude. So you can see, a name is more than just a label. It has a dramatic impact on our lives in so many ways.


Elvis, Celine, Paris and Leonardo are so famous that their first name suffices – we know who they are. Because these names are also reasonably uncommon, they are easily remembered. During the days of the Hollywood studio system, the studios frequently made up names for their stars. This was to make them stand out and also make them more appealing to the public. The fabricated names were also designed to look good on posters. Richard Jenkins became Richard Burton. Issur Danielovitch became Kirk Douglas. Archibald Leach became Cary Grant. Vivien Hartley became Vivien Leigh and Norma Jean Mortenson famously became Marilyn Monroe. I also think it was a wise choice for Reginald Dwight to change his name to Elton John.

These successful film stars had a huge impact on the general public and countless babies were named Kirk, Cary, Marilyn, and Vivien in the hope, I’d imagine, that these kids would grow up to be as successful as their namesakes.

Fashions in names have been around for centuries. In Victorian times, Ethel, Mabel, Nellie and Bertha were popular female names. Men had names like Wilberforce, Theodore and Ernest. These names are a far cry from Brad, Luke, Liam, Mason, Emily, Olivia and Oprah, names that lock their owners to births since the 1980s. Each generation can be generally identified by their names. Having said that, many are timeless and have never dated. Names like Michael, James, Mary, Emma and Andrew have never really gone out of fashion.


Not only can a person’s generation be generally identified by their name, their nationality is also often found in their name. Boris and Olga are always linked to Russia. Manuel and Isabella to Spain. James and Emma are English. Pierre and Colette are French. Movies and books have been responsible for making these names cliches. In fact, the use of a name to illustrate a national characteristic has become a comedy tool. A great example is Manuel in the TV series, Faulty Towers. He is the bumbling Spanish waiter who ingratiates himself with his boss and refuses to take responsibility claiming he doesn’t understand English. A Colette will often be a sexually liberated character. Olga is often portrayed as a hard headed, no nonsense woman. Emma is polite and well mannered with an inner strength to allow her to overcome problems. Isabella is fun loving and a good dancer! There, we have just summed up the cliched national characteristics of Europe’s greatest nations. Oh, I forgot Helga and Fritz. They’re busy organizing things and doing it on time, as Germans are noted for.


It’s easy to change a given name if you don’t like it. Using a nickname is the easiest way to get around it, but a family name is another matter. For males, they have their surname for life. It is amazing how many men have followed a profession that is echoed in their surname.

Some surnames were created because of the family’s occupation. Taylor, Baker, Butcher are the obvious ones. However, for some strange reason, some people have been drawn to an occupation because of their name. It is as though they feel obliged to fulfill the prophesy of their name. James Waters is a swimming pool guard. Henry Carpenter is a builder. Peter Woods is a forestry worker. Hamish Ash is a fireman. Ron Gardener is – well, a gardener. Lord Judge was a lawmaker. Mr. Snowman authored a book on the Arctic. How about the unfortunate doctor with the name Gore? A writer called Lord Brain published a report titled Clinical Neurology. There is a BBC reporter called Mathew Correspondent and a dentist in the USA with the unfortunate name of Ken Hurt. Some names make people laugh when they are associated with a public position. Frances Crook is the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform.“I don’t think my surname has ever had any influence on me. I can remember my mother telling me Frances means freedom. I’ve always had a sense of responsibility towards fighting for freedom.”


It has been fashionable in the past few decades to have just one name, especially with singers. Madonna, Lorde, Beyonce, Adele, Rihanna, Pink, Sting, Shakira, Eminem, Bono, Cher and we must not forget Liberace, Prince and Sade. A number of movie stars have also used single names. Mexican performer, Cantinflas appeared in 55 films and French actress, Capucine lit up the screen in 35 films including the Pink Panther comedies. At around the same time, over in England, Twiggy was a supermodel. There are hundreds of one name stars in other areas of the entertainment industry and also in the sports field.

Capucine (youtube.com)

A number of famous animals have a single name. Dolly (the sheep) Jumbo (the elephant) Elsa (the lioness). Domestic pets, especially dogs, cats, birds and even fish are given single names. (my cats are called Socrates and Plato) Of course, we’ve all heard of Google, Facebook, Netflix, Yahoo, McDonalds – all single names in the commercial world. Even recent movies have gone for the single word title: “Frozen”, “Up”, “Sing”, “Moana” etc. The greatest Atlantic liners of all time, were single named vessels. The glamorous Mauritania, Olympic, Normandie, America, Rex and Lusitania were household names and who could forget the most famous ship in history also had a single name – Titanic!


What do you think of Batman Bin Suparman? It is the real name of a Javanese man. Then there is a Mr. Park with the first name of Jurassic!  In the USA a guy called McDonald married a girl from the Burger family. A sex offender called Mister Love was arrested in the USA. Again in America, the Stark County Sherriff arrested an offender called Donald Duck.

After losing a poker bet, a 22 year old Dunedin, New Zealand man legally changed his name to, wait for it – Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova. (seriously!)

The legal limit for a person’s name in New Zealand is100 characters. This guy  made it with an 83 character 16 word name! A Births Deaths and Marriages spokesman said the change of name was registered in March 2010. The name met the requirements of naming rules and the applicant paid the fee and completed the form correctly so his name was legally registered.

Under the Births, deaths and Marriages Act, names are not accepted if they cause offence to a reasonable person, are unreasonably long, or resemble an official title or rank.

In 2007, a New Zealand couple tried to register the name  ‘4Real Superman’ for their child but were turned down because it contained a digit. They settled for ‘Superman’!

What is it about some Kiwis and their stupid names? In 2008, a New Zealand judge ordered that a girl named ‘Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii’ be taken into court custody so she could change her name.

Names applied for and rejected by the authorities include, ‘Lucifer’ ‘Anal’ and ‘Mafia No fear’. However, the courts have allowed the registration of the distinctly silly, ‘Number 16 Bus Shelter’ and the equally ridiculous, ‘Midnight Chardonnay’. Poor kids having to cope with those names! I won’t mention the equally challenging names some celebrities in recent years have inflicted on their children.

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