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German First Names and Official Approval

Das Standesamt

In my book, The German Way, I wrote about "Names" for Topic 52. Here's an excerpt:

"Germans are used to being regulated in many areas of daily life that Americans might find rather repressive. Want to name your baby? Better pick a name that the local Standesamt (office of vital statistics) agrees with. If they don't agree to register the name you picked, you have to appeal the decision. By German law, a child's name has to meet two conditions: (1) it must reflect the sex of the child, and (2) it must not endanger the 'well-being of the child.' A German couple who wanted to honor their favorite actress, Whoopi Goldberg, by naming their child Whoopi had their application rejected because, among other thing, the name resembles the English expression 'making whoopee.' Another daughter from a mixed Chinese-German marriage was to receive the name Fae-Schüe. The Standesamt did not approve the name until it had first checked with the Chinese embassy to verify that the name was indeed a common Chinese name meaning 'snowflake.'
As a result of this kind of control, most Germans end up with rather conventional first names such as Julia, Julian, Phillip, Maria, Maximilian, Lisa, or Christian..." (THE GERMAN WAY, McGraw-Hill, pp. 96-97. Reprinted by permission.)

For the names that German parents chose (and the Standesamt approved!) for their sons and daughters in recent years, see: German First Names: 1997-2006. Also see our article on German First Names.

German First Names
Part One of this series: German first names (Vornamen).

German Surnames (Last Names)
Part Two of this series: German surnames (Nachnamen).

German Place Names
Part Three of this series: Place Names (Ortsnamen).

Glossary of German First Names
An annotated German-English glossary with English meanings for German names.

Germanic Genealogy - Contents/Inhalt
Our genealogy starting page. Lists all the articles, glossaries and link pages for tracing your Germanic roots.

German and Genealogy
A beginner's genealogy guide with hints for tracing your Austrian, German, or Swiss roots.

Links for German Names
A special collection of Web links related to names.

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