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What’s In A Name?

I was wondering if you and your loyal readers could help me out with a family debate about a subject. Names have been changed to protect the guilty (or, maybe innocent).

My husband’s cousin, Rick, and his wife, Cindy, recently had a baby boy. When they had announced their pregnancy they had indicated that they wished to keep the gender a secret. Although, many of us found out the gender (boy) because they told some family members, but not others. We do not understand the logic behind this either.

In any event, I consider Rick and Cindy to be nice people, and we couldn’t be happier for their new arrival. Throughout Cindy’s pregnancy, I had mentioned that if I have another boy, I would name him Matthew James. I even mentioned this at her baby shower when we were discussing names. I told her and everyone that aside from Alexander John (my only son’s name), Matthew James has been one of my favourite names since I was a little girl, and that if my husband and I have another boy, his name would definitely be Matthew James.

Fast forward to the big day. The baby is born, and my husband’s aunt and uncle (the new grandparents) make the big announcement. The baby is a boy, and his name is Matthew James. At first I was in shock, and I’ll admit, a little angry. But then I realized that I don’t own the name, and that if I do have another boy, I can still name him Matthew James.

The issue is this: Did Rick and Cindy breach any etiquette? Should they have said “hey, that’s a great name. Maybe we’ll use that if we have a boy” or are they within their right to stay quiet and not say anything? DH thinks that the proper thing to do would be to say “I love that name and we’d like to use it” but my SIL thinks that they have a right to do whatever they want and not tell anyone. DH thinks they acted sneakily, SIL thinks that they did not act sneakily and they are under no obligation to share any information about themselves.

I’d be really interested to hear what you and your readers have to say on the subject. I am curious to know if there was an etiquette breach.

The good news is the baby is healthy and everyone is doing well. 0319-18

This is a lot of drama over a name for a boy child that, at this time, is only a twinkle in your husband’s eye.  You claimed reservation of a name for a child that may never exist.   And you lost points claiming to love the name since childhood but did not use it to name your firstborn son.  Saying your preference for a name repeatedly does not establish ownership rights to that name but instead, in a twist of irony, your repeated use of the name “Matthew James” to the expectant mother likely caused her to realize what a lovely sound that name is for a boy and acclimated her to the name.

No etiquette faux pas by the new parents Rick and Cindy.

{ 70 comments }
{ 70 comments… add one }
  • shoegal June 7, 2018, 7:33 am

    I picked out a name for my son – a first and a middle name. My sister had a baby and wanted to use the middle name I had chosen to use as the middle name of her new baby. I said sure, who cares? She did ask and it only made sense to let her use it. I don’t own the name and I could still use it when my own son was born. Incidentally, I never had children.

    I don’t believe that the OP need consult Rick and Cindy if she had a son and still wanted to use the same name so why would Rick & Cindy need to consult the OP?

  • Bunny June 7, 2018, 7:35 am

    My parents were planning to name me Jessica. My cousin was born three months before me and was named Jessica instead. My parents found a new name they liked better, which I like better too and also incorporated my maternal grandmother’s name as my middle name, and none of us have ever looked back or cared the slightest whit, other than as a funny story.

    As admin says, the child you were “reserving” Matthew James for is purely speculative at this point and may never come to be. If you had actually been pregnant at the same time and announcing your intention to call your imminent new arrival Matthew James, then you might have reason to be peeved (despite their being no actual ettiquette blunder by Rick & Cindy either way). But you weren’t, so take the time to enjoy the new baby and source another name you like, should you have another son.

  • Girlie June 7, 2018, 7:47 am

    It’s entirely possible that they didn’t decide on the name until the baby was born. I’ve known at least one couple who had a name picked out for months, but when the baby came, they realized he looked nothing like what they imagined someone with that name to look like. They changed their minds and his name now suits him perfectly.

    At any rate, no new parents have to consult anyone on what they want to name their child. Often, it saves a great deal of strife and trouble on behalf of the new parents to not have to deal with everyone’s comments.

  • Queen of Putrescence June 7, 2018, 8:21 am

    There is no reason that the OP can’t still use that name if they eventually have a boy.

    Plus this is the main reason we did not share any baby names we had chosen until after the baby had been born. It’s hard for another couple to be inspired by the name you have chosen if you don’t mention it to them. If they use the same name after you have already had a baby with that name, they say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Plus as possessive as some can be of a baby name, we do not own that name.

  • viviennebzb June 7, 2018, 8:38 am

    Drop this as an issue, people. I know folks like to think they’ve come up with the most original name ever…forget it, you haven’t, and you wouldn’t own it if you did. Tempest in a teapot.

  • JD June 7, 2018, 8:43 am

    This is why we never told anyone the names we were contemplating giving our children.
    I’m of the opinion that the gracious thing would be to not choose a name you know someone is planning to name a baby on the way, but in the OP’s case, she wasn’t even pregnant, so she might never use it — she might only have girls from now on. I understand that she’s surprised that Cindy chose to use it without even saying she would, but Cindy isn’t required to ask permission. I do think it would have been more considerate of Cindy to have told OP she planned to use that name, though. It’s true that I’ve known someone who deliberately “stole” a name from a mother scheduled to give birth after her.

    My mom had only daughters, and our last name is French. My mom had a French first name picked out to name a girl that went really well with our last name, but when she mentioned it to a sister-in-law who was married to my dad’s brother, thus with the same last name, the SIL said, oh, please don’t use that name, that’s what I have always planned to name a girl when I have one! So my mom politely chose other names for us, always wishing she had never mentioned that special name she had really wanted, so she could have used it and my aunt could have just dealt with it. And my aunt, her SIL, went on to have nothing but boys.

    • NostalgicGal June 8, 2018, 12:23 am

      It is not that difficult to go to court and have your name legally changed if you want, and feel the name should have been used and one of you wants to carry it.

      My mother was all set on a particular first and middle name if she ever had a daughter, very unusual pairing of first and middle names. Her sisters finally outstubborned her and I did not get that name, though she still called me a diminuitive of that name for years, at times.

    • BeachMum June 11, 2018, 12:02 pm

      I will always feel grateful that I mentioned a list of names for our future baby to my SIL. One of the names I had chosen was the name of one of her mother’s husbands who had molested her. Had my second daughter been a son (we didn’t know), it would have been horrible to have given him this name. That said, not giving the final names (one for a girl and one for a boy) meant that we didn’t have to hear anything negative, but the feedback based on our list was useful.

  • Kry June 7, 2018, 8:53 am

    Last year my sister gave birth to a boy. She and husband gave the new child my sons middle name.
    I don’t mind (it is my favorite boys name.) and my son is happy to have this connection to his cousin.

    • sharon g June 7, 2018, 12:15 pm

      My family used random first names, and middle names are after someone. My grandfather, uncle, cousin, brother, and nephew all have the middle name “Jackson.”

    • JAN June 7, 2018, 12:30 pm

      My aunt gave my cousin the same middle name as me, because we were so close and my cousin (who is 17 years younger than me and almost like a little sister) and I have always loved it! Though we laugh because she and I were born in the same winter month and our middle name is name of a different month altogether.

    • Ryo's girl June 7, 2018, 12:40 pm

      Kids have it right don’t they?! They like having the connection so they see it as a positive rather than an insult 🙂

  • Dana June 7, 2018, 9:13 am

    It always surprises me the way people think they have exclusive rights to a name, especially for a child who hasn’t even been conceived yet!

  • Princess Buttercup June 7, 2018, 9:46 am

    I learned long ago that people love to copy me. I also have seen repeatedly that people will use names that they know someone else wants to use. If you want your kid to have a certain name that no close family or friends have, then do _not_ tell anyone that name. I don’t know why but I’ve heard of “name theft” sooooo many times.

    Unless your names was crazy unique then it’s likely someone else is also going to have that name somewhere so don’t stress the somewhere being closer than planned. Just smile that apparently your idea was so nice that they decided to copy it. I’d probably tell the story that I named their kid! Take the honor. 🙂

  • Dyan June 7, 2018, 9:51 am

    I never understood this, the baby would only be cousins or second cousins who cares if they have the same name, I think it would only be a problem if the MOTHER named both boys that…hahah and yes I know a guy whose mom called both sons DAVE (name changed)

  • bopper June 7, 2018, 9:56 am

    I think you should not announce names you like so nobody can steal them.

    • Kirsten June 8, 2018, 2:49 pm

      I think that names don’t belong to anyone and it’s not possible to steal them.

  • DGS June 7, 2018, 10:06 am

    No etiquette faux pas here, and no need to feel offended. If you have a Matthew James, you can share two Matthew Jameses in one family, and they may both be Matt’s or Matthes or M.J.’s or Jim’s or Meatball and Moose or whatever other nicknames they grow into as they start growing (happy and healthy) and developing their own personalities. Nobody has a monopoly on a given name.

    In Ashkenazi Jewish tradition, it is traditional to name after the deceased, so there are lots of people in the same generation with the same name or a variation of the same name. For instance, my son who is named after his late great-grandfathers shares his first name with a first cousin and a first cousin once removed, and his middle name is the first name of a first cousin on a different side side of the family. None of us mind, and in fact, all of us are honored to have named our children after our honored grandfathers, who were, all of them, outstanding human beings. Other families that try to minimize using the same exact name will use the same letter or a slightly different variation (e.g., Grandma Sarah having granddaughters name Sarah, Sara, Stella, Stephanie and Sadie) or will use a similar sounding male name (e.g. Grandma Sarah having a grandson named Samuel).

    I guess, I might feel differently if it was a made-up name that someone would use. A friend of mine named her daughter a portmanteau of her name and her husband’s name (think, Jacissa, after Jacob and Marissa, etc.), and her sister liked it so much she gave it to her own daughter. That might feel a little odd, as it’s not an actual name that exists, but still no etiquette breach. And certainly no etiquette breach with Matthew James, both names being classic and fairly popular.

    • Miss-E June 7, 2018, 12:40 pm

      My friend comes from a huge Irish family and the patriarch of this family was named Patrick (her grandfather) and there are Patricks and Patricias out the ear and everyone seems to manage just fine. Having the same name as your cousin is really not that serious.

      • Queen of Putrescence June 7, 2018, 1:59 pm

        My Dad was named after both of his grandfathers (and an uncle that died as a baby) and his first cousin born a few months before was named after the shared grandfather. They ended up at the same high school and were just known by their mutual first names and their different middle initials. They also had the same last name.

      • DGS June 7, 2018, 3:02 pm

        Exactly.

      • Celestia June 7, 2018, 7:32 pm

        All I can think is the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the father is introducing the extended family, and every set of cousins has three children, Anita, Diane, and Nick. Except for the only children – “Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nikki…”

      • Ai June 8, 2018, 11:00 am

        I really like the name Felix. However, I don’t think I will use it cause my grandfather is named Felix, my uncle (first born son of my grandfather) is named Felix, and my cousin (first born son of my uncle) is named…you guessed it, Felix.

        I won’t use the name Pedro, cause my dad goes by Pedro, and so does my brother. I myself am no exception; I am named after my grandmother. My name is VERY unusual everywhere else but Puerto Rico (though it’s not super common there either). Thus I also never understood the ‘name claim’ either.

    • Dyan June 7, 2018, 4:21 pm

      meatball and moose made me laugh out loud hahah thank you for that

      • DGS June 8, 2018, 12:02 pm

        True story – one of my sorority sisters in college dated a guy who went by “Moose” for about six months before it occurred to her that since she was bringing him home to meet her parents, she couldn’t very well introduce him to her parents as “Mom and Dad, meet my new boyfriend, Moose!” Everyone on campus knew and referred to him as “Moose”. His real name was a very classic male name (think, James, John, Charles, William, along those lines), but he was a big, burly football player type, so his nickname was “Moose”. (Incidentally, I am also married to a big, burly football player type, but he doesn’t have any such nicknames).

        “Moose” and my sorority sister are happily married almost 20 years later, with several beautiful children, and all of us who know him from college still call him “Moose”, including his wife. :o)

  • Deb June 7, 2018, 10:41 am

    Wow! It sounds like you went out of your way to try to call dibs on that name. I’m afraid all you succeeded in doing was looking like “that” person trying to make it all about you. At least, that’s what I got out of reading it.

    They had no obligation to get your approval on their name selection. So, no foul on their part. If you think they chose this name to spite you, you should reconsider the relationship.

  • Sarah June 7, 2018, 10:53 am

    Do you know how many Matthew James there must be in the world? Let it go.

  • Hallie June 7, 2018, 11:14 am

    This happened to my mother, I was the one who ended up with the duplicate name. My mom told her sister if she ever had a daughter she would name her D*****. Which in itself is a very unusual name, not a family name, and the odds of my aunt thinking of it on her own, slim to none. So of course my aunt has a daughter first and uses the name. A few years later I was born, and my mother used the name anyway and changed the spelling. So not only did I have the same name as my cousin, it was an unusual name spelled oddly. The thing is…..I LOVED my mother for that. She did what she wanted to do and damn the consequences. If you have a son, use the name. He will tell the story with pride because it shows you’ll stand up for what you believe in and will do anything for your child.

  • Michelle June 7, 2018, 12:04 pm

    I agree no etiquette breach, but having seen similar situations, I think it’s best to not repeatedly tell everyone what name you plan to use for a yet-to-be-conceived-child. If someone hears it and likes it they can/will use it. Same thing happened in a episode of SATC- Charlotte had a name picked for a girl, even had a pillow embroidered with the name, and another friend got pregnant first and used the name.

    I think it would have been nice if they couple had told you they planned to use the name, but some people get really “hung up” on names.

  • Dear! June 7, 2018, 12:22 pm

    I agree – no etiquette breach, but the whole situation sounds a bit weird.

    I have a cousin who named their children the exact same names as my sister and myself. Example, let’s say our names are Jane and Jenny. The daughter who was born after my sister is named Jane, and the daughter born after me is named Jenny. My sister’s name is pretty common, but mine is not, so we all found it a bit weird.

  • AFS June 7, 2018, 12:28 pm

    No new etiquette weigh-ins here, though I will point out that alleged baby name theft was the subject of a Sex and the City episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyqGMMWunds

  • AS June 7, 2018, 12:29 pm

    I was also thinking what the admin said – if you like Matthew James since childhood, why didn’t you name your first son that? Even if you have a second child (or more), there is no guarantee that any of them would be a boy. Or was Alexander John your top favorite names?

    Anyway, as others have said, you probably made the cousin fall in love with the name by constantly saying how much you loved it. If you have a son, there is no dearth of beautiful baby names in the world; or just name him Matthew James!

  • T-Belle June 7, 2018, 12:40 pm

    Boxing great George Foreman named all of his sons George (around 5 of them, I believe). My point is it works for some folks to have the same name in the same immediate family, so it doesn’t hurt anything to have same names within extended families as well.

    The cousins didn’t do wrong with choosing the name they did, and neither would the OP to also choose the favored name if the next son comes along.

    • Ginny June 8, 2018, 11:56 am

      This is exactly what I thought of 🙂

    • AMacQ June 8, 2018, 1:37 pm

      He also named one of his daughters a version of George too – I think it is Georgetta.

    • Kry June 11, 2018, 8:57 pm

      Didn’t Jerry Lee Lewis do that too?

  • Miss Jagger June 7, 2018, 12:44 pm

    My thought is that you have no claim over a name, especially if your own little Matthew James is not currently on the way. If you really love it, use it yourself when the time comes anyway.

    Two of my best friends had daughters within a few months of each other and both baby girls were named Caroline. They think it’s cute and can laugh over the fact that they both always loved the name and how much of a coincidence it is that they could both have baby Carolines at the same time.

    Glad baby Matthew is healthy!

  • Lara June 7, 2018, 12:52 pm

    It certainly would have been politic, let us say, for them to have at least let you know that they were considering using the same name. I can understand you feeling taken aback. However, they could have had all kinds of reasons for picking that name that have nothing to do with you, including the fact that they like the meaning of the names, or that they were the names of people they want to honor. It would have been thoughtful for them to have said something to you about it, to avoid misunderstandings, but they did not have the obligation to do so.

    I must admit that I don’t understand why you felt it necessary to tell so many people so many times what you planned to name the second son you may or may not have at some point in the future. Perhaps the moral of the story here is that if you have found a name you really love and plan to use, and you don’t want other people using it, keep it to yourself until the child is actually born (as this couple did).

  • retropink June 7, 2018, 1:18 pm

    In my family, I must have 4-5 cousins with the same first name. They were all named after our great-grandfather. We often have to specify which cousin we mean or we use a nickname. It’s a hoot!

    I also recently found out that if my siblings and I each had a baby boy, our first choice would’ve been our grandfather’s (very unusual) name. So picked because he really was the most wonderful man and we all loved him to pieces. We had a great laugh realizing there would’ve been 3 boys with the same unusual first name in our immediate family. Sadly, none of us had boys so the name was never used (except for pets.) All this to say, perhaps when a little time has passed maybe it won’t matter as much. And maybe if you do end up using the name, your little one will have an instant BFF.

  • mm June 7, 2018, 1:25 pm

    reminds me of the SATC episode with Charlotte’s secret baby name Shayla, which gets taken by another expectant mother in their circle. I can see why OP might be a little taken aback but Matthew James isn’t a unique enough name to get upset over. Take it as a compliment, and if the situation arises use the name anyway,

    • Devin June 7, 2018, 3:19 pm

      Two very common biblical names. I did a quick google and Matthew is currently the 29th most popular name this year for boys and James is 9th most popular. Maybe switch it up and call future boy baby, James Matthew? Or keep Matthew James. It’s likely by the time baby gets to school there will be nicknamed involved since it is such a common name.

      • Bada June 8, 2018, 7:20 am

        The names in the post probably aren’t the real names (too identifiable). But given OP’s use of classic names as placeholders, the Real Name is probably a classic one too.

  • Queen of the Weezils June 7, 2018, 1:28 pm

    I never understood being upset over names, especially ones as commonly used as “Matthew” and “James”. So second cousins have the same name! Does that really matter?

    I have an unusual first name and a very unusual last name and found out – to my surprise – that there was another person out there with the same name. Only the middle name varied. Turns out we were both named after the same person and that the cousins from which we are descended lost track of each other. I thought it was pretty cool, especially because we only found out because we used the same dentist and we had scheduled appointments on the same day, which caused confusion for the staff.

    It would have been *nice* if they had said something to you, but they weren’t being rude when they didn’t.

  • Queen of the Weezils June 7, 2018, 1:33 pm

    Side note: I’m reading a novel series based on late Roman Republic history, and their naming tradition is to basically name everyone in the family the same thing. For instance, Julius Ceasar is really named Gaius Julius Caesar. His father was named Gaius Julius Caesar. His sisters were both named Julia. You get the idea. I just imagine someone shouting “Hey, Jules!” and the whole family of multiple generations looking up.

    • Because I'm Courtney June 7, 2018, 3:59 pm

      I was thinking the same thing! They used a very limited selection of names too, so duplicate names abounded. They used to have nicknames for each other, but not everyone used the same nickname for the same person. So your name could be Gaius Julius Caesar, your family could call you one thing, some friends might call you something else, etc..

    • keloe June 8, 2018, 11:31 am

      Not only his sisters were named Julia – also his aunts, his daughter, along with presumably great-aunts and assorted cousins. At that time Romans had no female first names – all females were known simply by their family name, possibly with the nickname of their paternal line (Iulia Caesaris). If they had more daughters, they were called Older and Younger, or they got numbered.

      I think they had about 15 male first names to go around. At least no one got to call dibs 🙂

  • Ernie June 7, 2018, 2:08 pm

    This is one of those things where you need to remember that although the name is significant to you, if you put it out there to an expecting couple, it gets mixed into a fog of about a thousand other suggestions and thoughts on the matter. Then, when it comes out that they used your idea, you take it personally, but the reality is that you, at most, put it out into the universe as a good name. The truth is we all get our ideas from one place or another, and we have to remember that our own lives are only a small piece of everyone else’s experience and thought process.

    • AM June 8, 2018, 5:54 pm

      As a wise man once said, “originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.”

      I forget who that wise man was…

  • technobabble June 7, 2018, 2:26 pm

    From when I was a little girl, I’d always wanted a daughter named Jane. It was such a beautiful name to me, and when I ended up marrying a man whose grandmother was named Jane it was easy to win him over in the discussion about what we would name our future offspring. We never told anybody our hypothetical baby names. It took us a little longer than we had expected to get pregnant, and in that time, DH’s sister got pregnant and had a little girl. My niece’s middle name is Jane. DH was a little upset that his sister had “stolen” our pre-chosen name and was quite adamant that we still use it for our daughter (whom at this point was not yet conceived). I told him that we didn’t own the name, nobody knew we were planning on using it, and it’s a family name, so why wouldn’t SIL think to use it for our own daughter?

    A few months later we discovered we were also pregnant. Almost exactly 1 year after my niece was born (a week after her first birthday) I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Turns out, the name Jane didn’t suit her at all. We ended up giving her a totally different first and middle name than we had originally chosen way back when our daughter was a hypothetical, and her name fits her so much better than Jane ever would have.

  • sandisadie June 7, 2018, 3:25 pm

    In my genealogy work I’ve run across many families who lived in the same area, during the 1700s and 1800s in the U.S., who had the same first and last name. The older man was called Sr. and the younger, Jr. even if they were not related. This can cause confusion to a researcher. Other times they were called nick names which were used in official documents and even on tombstones. Also, sometimes there will be several people with the same first, middle and last name in the same family for generations. I think this was because families were honoring the person with the name just as people do today. So using the same names in families and circles of friends or communities is nothing new.

    • Queen of the Weezils June 8, 2018, 11:28 am

      The one that weirds me out a little is when parents name one child something, that child dies, and then they name a later child the same thing. I thought at first it was a problem with record keeping, but it has happened so often that it just can’t be.

      • lola June 11, 2018, 5:22 am

        That’s all up in my family tree from the 1800’s And earlier. We even have a relative who had a daughter with his first wife, and after she died he remarried and had a daughter with the new wife. They gave her the name of the first wife. And when wife number two died and he married wife three and had another daughter, yep she got wife number two’s name.

  • staceyizme June 7, 2018, 3:40 pm

    If you don’t want to run the risk of others using your ideas, simply don’t discuss them. Parents have been disappointed when names they’ve become attached to are claimed by other relatives. Brides have felt dismay when others have booked their venues, used their color scheme and tried to schedule a wedding in the same family on or about the same date. It’s a losing game to let it ruffle your feathers. (But the best defense is to exercise discretion wherever possible! Your ideas cannot be imitated if they are not known. When you have a child about to be born or you have a need to inform guests as to the date and venue for the wedding, THEN is the time to disclose additional details, in my view.

    • Miss-E June 8, 2018, 2:15 pm

      I think there’s a touch a control issues with stuff like this. Reminds me of the recent most where the OP was upset that her friend used the same wedding venue. Some things cannot be claimed!

  • Kate 2 June 7, 2018, 4:23 pm

    OP I think it is a little ironic that you saw firsthand how information that is supposed to be a secret gets shared around. You willingly told everyone your baby name and were surprised when it got “shared” and used.

    To be fair, they might have already been thinking of using that name, Matthew and James are extremely common boys names.

    I suspect OP you gave into a very human impulse all of us have, the urge to brag. You wanted to hear people rave over your name and I’m sure they did, it is a great name. But the next time you want something to be just for you to use, keep it private and secret.

  • Wild Irish Rose June 8, 2018, 8:40 am

    We did not disclose the names we picked out for either of our children, until after they were born. My thinking is this: If you don’t tell anyone the names you like or have selected, then if someone else uses them, it’s purely coincidental and nobody can complain. Besides, in a day and age when people tell EVERYTHING about themselves, I think it’s fun to reserve something for the realm of surprise.

    • Queen of Putrescence June 8, 2018, 9:14 am

      I completely agree. We did not find out the gender of our kids before birth. We wanted that surprise. We also did not tell anyone what names we had chosen. It was really fun making those phone calls.

      So many times we know the gender already. Then the couple shares the names before birth. There have been a few times that people we knew had to have a planned c-section. Basically the only news to share is that the baby and Mom are healthy, height and weight. I want more surprise!

      • Queen of the Weezils June 8, 2018, 11:30 am

        I want to know in advance – because I make baby quilts and I want to stitch the baby’s name on them!

  • Hannah June 8, 2018, 9:11 am

    While I understand the frustration, this is pretty ridiculous. A few years ago, my great-uncle Charlie died. And within a year of his death, he had two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. 2 boys, 1 girl. They were ALL named Charlie. All of them. Closely related, down to the year. I also have two cousins both named Andrew. Three of my cousins all share the middle name of my grandfather. Point being: it’s ok to have the same names in a family, because no one owns names. Not to mention that 1) They may have already chosen Matthew or James, and you mentioning it may have just given them the idea of how to pair it, and 2) Both Matthew and James are very common names. While Matthew James may sound beautiful, I imagine there’s literally hundreds, if not thousands of Matthew James in the world– it’s not like a unique, covetous thing you alone came up with; and even if it was, you choose to share it with someone who had far more use for it than you.

  • Amy J. June 10, 2018, 10:22 am

    You can always add a second middle name. Matthew James Donovan LastName or whatever.

  • NicoleDSK June 10, 2018, 2:05 pm

    ARe these family names?
    If not yes it is weird.

    That said there have been so many of these letters that my advice to the world is this: don’t tell people what you want to name your future kids

  • Alysoun June 11, 2018, 3:04 am

    Ah, get on with your life. I hate it when people say this, but “First World Problem”. There are a hundred million gazillion wonderful names in the world. How you raise your child will matter much more than what you call them.

  • lola June 11, 2018, 5:08 am

    I respectfully disagree that there was no breach of etiquette. It is tough to have cousins with similar names. I firmly feel if someone has mentioned they love a name you hold off on it. My brother and his girlfriend have a name picked out for their future spawn (far future) and it’s gorgeous. But my brother has always waxed poetic about it so my hands are off.

    I remember ther fuss when my uncle and his new wife named their child my name. A lot of bewildered family members and it quickly got confusing as to which one of us was being talked to/about.

    • admin June 11, 2018, 5:41 am

      “future spawn”?

  • Lynne June 11, 2018, 4:43 pm

    This happened to my mum when she was expecting me as well… she had told my uncle’s wife what name she was planning on using when she had her first child (me). They then named their child that… my mum was a bit miffed, but still named me the same thing 🙂 It doesn’t really matter all that much, and imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery anyway! I don’t mind at all that my cousin got “my” name first!

  • Catherine St. Clair June 15, 2018, 10:07 am

    Families often use the same name for various children. In my family we had: Edward, Ed, Eddie, Big Ed, and Little Ed. Reunions could get a bit weird if you forgot which variation of Edward the man used.

  • Wilson June 15, 2018, 11:24 am

    My mom had this happen to her too. She told her friend, her friend used the name when her daughter was born first. Mom didn’t want to look like the copycat. Ultimately, I was glad, because the name she had chosen turned out to be a really common (but pretty) name. The name I wound up with, I only knew three other girls while I was growing up that shared it. Now that I am much older, it’s still not commonly found in my age group, but in the younger generations there are LOTS of my name running around.

  • kj June 17, 2018, 11:05 am

    Just a couple of points that I don’t believe I saw addressed in the comments:
    – Regarding “When they had announced their pregnancy they had indicated that they wished to keep the gender a secret. Although, many of us found out the gender (boy) because they told some family members, but not others. We do not understand the logic behind this either.” The “logic” is that they probably shared with a trusted family member (like Rick’s mother), who turned out to be not as trustworthy as they had hoped. I don’t think it’s odd to try to keep the gender a surprise to the world at large while letting those in your closest circle know, although it often doesn’t work out as planned.
    – Did you ever consider that as you were at Diane’s baby shower going on about how wonderful Matthew James was as a name, she was sitting there thinking “wow, they are probably going to be mad when they realize that is the name we’ve already chosen”? Why do you assume they “stole” the name when it’s very common and could have been on their short list the entire pregnancy?

  • Aprobe July 14, 2018, 10:33 pm

    It’s not bad but it is super wierd. Like the same first and last name? Good grief. Be a little original.

  • Mietzie July 16, 2018, 2:28 pm

    My first pregnancy, I wanted the name “Erik” if I had a boy. My brother-in-law told me how he hated that name and despised a boy in school with the name. They fought and ever since he couldn’t stand it. When my child was born, it was a boy. I named him “Conrad”. No one knew anyone named Conrad so no one had a problem with it. My second pregnancy I decided to hell with him, I would name a boy “Erik”. But…I had a girl. We named her “Stefanie Erika”. We didn’t tell anyone the name we selected until after the birth. My brother-in-law gets married and has a child two years later. A boy. They named him Eric. Of course he didn’t check with me if it would be ok. I was still in the baby business if I wanted to have third child. (I didn’t). It angered me because I realized he wanted the name for his own future son. I learned from that time on to make choices I want and not be persuaded by others. It was my fault and I blame myself for allowing someone to have that much power over my choices.

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