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Stealing Baby Names

This is a question I wanted to pose to E-Hell readers. It’s happened twice in my circle, in differing time periods. I’ve been told by each side that their side was right in what they did, and the other side was wrong. I was appealed to for sympathy from both sides, but I bean dipped each time. As it happened, although I knew all the parties involved in both cases, they didn’t know each other, so no one could “learn a lesson” from the first instance. What do the E-hellions think, please?

The basic story in both cases is, a young man dies. He’s a well-loved only son in both cases. It’s tragic, and friends and family are torn with grief.

About a year or so after each of these deaths, a close, lifelong friend of the deceased and his family becomes a new father. By coincidence, in both cases, the deceased had a sister who is pregnant with her first child when her deceased brother’s friend and his wife becomes new parents. Each time, the friend of the deceased has a boy and gives the baby the name of the deceased. In both cases, the pregnant sisters of the deceased are hurt and angry and they basically stop talking to said friend, because the sisters in both cases had planned to name their soon to be born babies after their late brothers. In each case, then, the friend and his wife become hurt and angry, because they felt they had the right to use the name of a lifelong dear friend who had died suddenly. A break occurs between the families and the friends, and is never healed.

It was extremely uncomfortable, the tension over this, the first time this happened to people I knew. When it occurred again to others, a few years later, I couldn’t believe it had happened again, just the same.

Is it wrong to appropriate a name of someone who died when the deceased’s family might want it and have an occasion to use it soon? Should they have asked before using it? Or is it wrong to expect a lifelong friend to forego naming his child a name he truly wanted because the family planned to use it? Does the family have the etiquette right to say no one can use it, and expect to be obeyed?   0408-15

What a ridiculous thing to fight about.   It’s obvious that the last names of the infants are different than the sisters’ family names so no one is allowed to use the same first and middle names?   For example, friend’s baby is named Robert Micheal Smith and sister’s baby is named Robert Micheal Jones…what is the problem here?   One child can be called Robbie, the other Bob.

One would think the family whose son died would be honored that others valued their deceased son/brother so highly that they would want to remember him in a very personal manner which will last a lifetime.  It’s a way to keep the memory alive, to honor a person whose name carries with it a significant degree of respect and love.   It’s a way of communicating to the child that he is named after a role model his parents esteemed very much.   What a lovely tribute.

Do the sisters have a right to be offended at the use of their brothers’ names by close friends?   My thought on that is that if I were the parent who lost the son, I would be counseling my daughter that she does not have a right to the name of her brother, as if she owned it.   I named my son and it was his name to do with as he wished.  I “owned” it first, gave it to him and he did with it as he wished.  If he lived his life in such a way that people respected, admired and loved him enough to name their children after him, that honor is a credit to his name, character and memory.    The sisters cannot claim theft of a name that never belonged to them in the first place.    It is dishonoring to the memory of the deceased to fight over his name as if anyone other than the deceased had a right to it.


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  • The Elf April 14, 2015, 11:00 am

    Unless the baby is named Xkdlkjfadlkjieurwoiu (the j is silent), there will probably be more than one of his first name in the world. Should they all be forbidden to carry this name because there can be only one? While I can see that the sisters are grieving, I hope they eventually realize that two babies named after the deceased is a beautiful tribute and a testament to how well their brother was regarded.

    I do not understand this furor over someone “taking” a name. It doesn’t matter if the name was to honor a deceased loved one or something fairly unique and new that someone thought up, a name is just a name.

    Just name the kid “Seven” and get on with it.

    • ColoradoCloudy April 14, 2015, 1:08 pm

      25 extra points for the Highlander reference.

    • AthenaC April 14, 2015, 1:30 pm

      Beg pardon, but which “j” is silent? Or are they both silent?

      You see, I was planning on using that exact name for my (nonexistent) son that I am expecting, but I am thinking that if we both agree to at least pronounce it differently we can come to a peaceable resolution.

      • technobabble April 14, 2015, 8:18 pm

        It’s actually pronounced “Steven”.

        • girl_with_all_the_yarn April 15, 2015, 12:02 am

          No no. With a “ph.” You know. Phteven.

        • Crazy Cat Sarah April 15, 2015, 3:56 am

          That made me laugh harder than I’d like to admit.

          Mum and I were just having a conversation the other night about the children named “Talula does the hula from Hawaii” and “Number 16 Bus Shelter” and the rejected names “Sex Fruit”, “9” (yes just the number) and “Fish and Chips” (twins).

          Why, parents? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

          • Michelle C Young April 15, 2015, 10:02 am

            My sister was once “acquainted” with (she flat-out refused to call them friends) some people who named their little girl “Sunshine On Dewdrops Makes Rainbows” and they were determined that she would never be called simply “Sunshine.” Nope. They told her school teacher that her name was Sunshine On Dewdrops Makes Rainbows, and THAT was what she would be called, no nicknames allowed.

            Poor kid.

          • Asharah April 15, 2015, 1:23 pm

            Heard a story, not sure if it’s true or just a joke. Kindergarten teacher in an area with a lot of aging hippies raising kids. Very used to names like Rainbow and Precious Love. Name tag kids wear when school starts has name of kid on one side and location of his school-bus stop on the other. Teacher spends all day addressing kid as “Fruit Stand” before realizing “Richard” had his tag on backwards. POOR KID! But LOL!

          • InTheEther April 15, 2015, 6:33 pm

            Perhaps sadly, I can one up you with two mothers. I don’t know any of the people involved, I just know of them because my mom works at the local hospital and their existence is pretty notorious in my home town.

            First is one mother her named her two kids Lemonjello and Orangejello. Yes, spelled just like that. Apparently they’re supposed to be pronounced le’-MON-jallo and or-AHN-jallo but no one reading off a list will ever know that.

            Second is one woman who named her two daughters Syphilis and Chlamydia. One can only hope she had no clue what those two words actually are. And I swear by whatever you find holy I am not making this up.

    • essie April 15, 2015, 6:36 am

      To add to the list of everyone-in-my-family-uses-the-same-name:
      My mother’s sister is named Thelma Louise and is called Louise (more commonly “Lou”).
      I’m named after her, Esther Louise, and am called Esther.
      Louise and my mother (Martha) have an aunt their age who also named her daughter (my age) after Louise: Louise Rae. She is called Rae.

      In a similar vein, if you listened to my grandmother try to call one of us (me, mom, or aunt), you’d swear my mother’s name was EstherLouMartha, my aunt’s was MarthaEstherLou, and mine was MarthaLouEsther (she kept getting our names confused)!

  • Jewel April 14, 2015, 11:07 am

    I tend to think that the friends owe the family first opportunity to use the name IF the name is very unique and/or if the friends are likely to be close to and attend all/most family activities forever.

    However, if it’s a very common name like “Robert Michael” as mentioned by the admin, the sting will probably be less on the family members, but out of respect and courtesy, the friends should give the family a “heads up”.

    If they care about the relationship with the family that is….

  • Gena April 14, 2015, 11:15 am

    This seems to be an overall trend among my DD and her friends. Any name used by one of them is “off-limits” to the others. This also leads to girls who aren’t even expecting “claiming” names so no one else can use them.

    They all seem to except this and the drama it causes as a result.

    • JO April 14, 2015, 3:47 pm

      When one of my cousins got married, she immediately announced that *nobody* was allowed to use names ‘girl x’ and ‘boy y’ because she intended to use them. When she finally had a child about 5 years later, she didn’t even use them.

      • Michelle C Young April 14, 2015, 11:21 pm

        Speaking as someone who has a common name, I have NO problem with someone else having the same name. I get a kind of kick out of meeting other Michelles. I do, however, have a real problem with people claiming names, as if anyone can have that kind of ownership over a name. It’s not patented, or anything! They can’t “own” a name any more than they can “own” a date or a public venue or a style of wedding dress or decorations or the choice of music at a party.

        Once, I even met another Michelle Young, and we got on quite well. She was Michelle Young 1 (as she was there first), and I was Michelle Young 2.

        The only time I disliked having such a common name was the night I was awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from an irate woman asking me if I were having an affair with her husband. The real quote was, “Are you ‘f’ing my husband?” I responded that I had been sound asleep and wasn’t ‘f’ing anybody, and why was she asking. She replied that she had asked her husband the name of his lover, and he said, “Michelle Young.” Mind you, this woman NEVER identified herself OR her husband, so really, had I been ‘f’ing anyone at the time, I still could not have said categorically that he was not her husband. However, I was single and told her so. I asked how she got my phone number, and she declared that she was going down the phone listings and calling everyone with my name. I was number five!

        I convinced her that I was not the “other woman” for whom she was looking, and she hung up, after which I checked the phone log, and got her number. Then I called the police, and told them about it, and said that if anyone named “Michelle Young” wound up murdered or otherwise attacked, they should definitely check out the woman at that phone number.

        Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up. Life is so weird, sometimes.

        Still, I love my common name, and I think most of these kids would be happy with their shared names, especially to know that they were named after someone who was so well-loved and respected. It’s good when our names have real meaning, because it can give comfort during the hard times.

        • KenderJ April 20, 2015, 11:52 am

          Speaking as someone with a rather unusual name, I still agree with Michelle that I have no problem sharing it. I think the main difference is if Michelle hears an unfamiliar voice calling her name, she probably tunes it out. However, when I hear an unfamiliar voice calling my name, I always answer and am usually embarrassed that whoever called my name was not talking to me. I’m just not used to hearing my name called and it not be me. Even so, I would love to share my name and have suggested it to several expectant parents.

    • babs April 14, 2015, 11:21 pm

      When my former DIL was pregnant they were going to name their daughter a very odd name. Fortunately, they had a son (also with an odd name, but he grew into it and it fits him perfectly!). In the meantime, her sister “stole” the girl’s name when she had her own baby a few years later. My DIL was so mad. But she never had another child, so she finally got over it and dotes on her niece. It’s funny how things work out if you just don’t stress and let everybody do their own thing.

    • Tee April 15, 2015, 8:07 am

      Ridiculous. I grew up in a family of 4 “Lukes” (one by marriage; the other 3 were blood relatives) and 2 “Steves.” No one got confused regarding names. I don’t see the problem unless one is Jewish or some other religion/custom whereby you don’t name babies after living relatives.

      • EchoGirl April 15, 2015, 12:01 pm

        Even then, you can have multiple people with the same name as long as they’re not named for each other. My mom’s brother and two cousins (one on either side of her family) both had the same common first name. When one cousin tragically died young, his sister (also my mom’s cousin) named her son after him. Thankfully, when my mom wanted to name her son (my brother) after the same cousin, she had the sense to choose a similar, but not identical, name instead of using the same name as her brother, her cousin, and her other cousin’s son.

    • JKC April 15, 2015, 9:17 am

      That is so silly. I’m rather of the opinion that names shouldn’t be set in stone until you meet the kid face to face. Sometimes, once a new parent actually has the little person in their arms, the name they’ve loved for years just doesn’t fit.

      As an aside, my husband recently found out that he was listed at the hospital as “Baby Boy [LastName]” for about 2-3 days after his birth. His parents just weren’t quite sure what to name him at first.

      • essie April 15, 2015, 11:51 am

        JKC, when my grandfather was about to retire at age 65, he needed his birth certificate for some reason. When he went to get a copy, the Records clerk couldn’t find it! My great-grandmother (thank heaven she was still around!) said “Look under ‘Baby Boy’ Lastname”. There it was! ( She said they couldn’t decide what to name him.) The clerk looked at my grandfather and said “If you ever wanted to change your name, now’s the time to do it.”

        And for “the name just doesn’t fit”, we named our son after his grandfathers (think “Howard Alexander”). DH looked at the baby laying in his arms and said ” Ward. He looks like Ward.” MIL kep referring to him as Howie (FIL’s nickname), until she saw him; then she said “Oh, my! You’re so right; he IS a ‘Ward’! He’s not a ‘Howie’ at all!”

  • MM April 14, 2015, 11:28 am

    I think if you tell someone that you have a special name picked out for your child (and you and yours are expecting) and they intentionally take it, that’s not nice. But then again if it’s a somewhat common name then it’s fair game.

    But in this case, I have to agree with admin. No one owns a name (even in the situation I described above) and being honored that friends have chosen to honor the deceased might be the most gracious way to handle it. But at the same time I can see their point. It could be seen as cheap and attention-grabbing. Like how some people like to grieve loudly so everyone knows they hurt the most.

  • babs April 14, 2015, 11:48 am

    You said it well, Admin. In our family, I was surprised that one of the nieces named her daughter the same name that her cousin had named her child. All the cousins are close, not in distance, but really good friends. It was not even a family name, apparently both nieces just happened to like that name. But it seems it hasn’t been an issue at all and I don’t recall any confusion. Just because a friend has named his child in honor of the friend and brother who died, it doesn’t mean the name is off limits from there on. To stop talking to someone who valued your brother’s life in such a way and treasured his friendship, just doesn’t make sense.

    • Cabelcb April 14, 2015, 7:56 pm

      In my family, we have had some issues because one of my cousin is named lets say “L.” One of my male cousins gave his daughter the same name as “L.” The elder “L” has been a bit mean to younger “L” because she didn’t like sharing her name. It is a little awkward to see a grown woman jealous of a little girl.

      • babs April 14, 2015, 11:25 pm

        Wow, that’s a little bizarre Cabelcb!

      • Michelle C Young April 14, 2015, 11:26 pm

        In my family, we had some naming issues. My father was named after his father, who was named after HIS father, and so on down the line. My father didn’t want to name his own son after himself, though, and chose a completely different name for my brother.

        Grandma was LIVID. She never forgave my mother for my father’s choice (because obviously, it was HER evil influence, and not the fact that my father had never, in his entire life, wanted to name his son after himself).

        So, when my aunt’s first son was born, and she used that family name, that little boy became the Golden Child, just because of the name. My Dad and brother, however, had no hard feelings about it, and rather thought it was a good joke.

        • psammead April 15, 2015, 6:45 pm

          Something similar happened in my extended family, and oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth that resulted. My one and only male cousin on mom’s side was named after our paternal grandfather, but instead of our great-grandfather’s name, they used my aunt’s family name for his middle name. My other aunt (Mom’s sister) worked herself into a frothing rage over this–how dare THAT WOMAN give her son a FAMILY name from HER side, instead of the name from our side that my cousin SHOULD have had!! She was still indignant about it twenty years later.

        • Kat April 16, 2015, 1:35 am

          My husband’s middle name is Richard, a tradition for first born sons in his family. But his father’s middle name is Norman, after a relative who’d recently passed away at that time. Apparently FIL’s grandparents were very put out! So much so that FIL’s two brothers BOTH have the middle name Richard to compensate.
          We spoke to Pa about the politics of middle-naming our own son when he was born. Apparently the tradition only started with his father (the put-out grandparents) and before that, the tradition was Jackson!!
          Interestingly, both Pa (husband’s paternal grandfather) and MY father share the same first and middle names, Brian Richard. Our son’s middle name is therefore, Brian. But we’ve got Richard and Jackson up our sleeves for any future sons needing a middle name.

        • Stacey W. April 16, 2015, 2:28 am

          I totally get this sentiment! When I was pregnant, everyone had an opinion on his name. My mom, my FIL… Especially my FIL. William is a well used name on both sides of my husband’s family, and my FIL insisted that he would call him Billy (a name I hate). Yeah, that turned me off from using William (in any variation) as our son’s name…

          But, my husband really wanted to name him after his grandfather (a William, of course). So, I agreed to go with his GF’s name, if I could add in a middle name that would be separate from the family tradition. Luckily, my H liked the name I chose (as you can see by my username) and he is called by that name today.

      • Lisa April 15, 2015, 9:34 am

        “It is a little awkward to see a grown woman jealous of a little girl.”

        Ummm… yeah. She sounds like a totally mature individual **eye roll**

  • essie April 14, 2015, 11:59 am

    I you’re creative enough to invent a name that’s never – and I mean NEVER – been used before in the history of this planet, you could possibly get a copyright on it and either sue others if they use it or make them pay for the use – which could be a start for the baby’s college fund (or, more realistically, pay for an ice cream cone).

    • Michelle C Young April 14, 2015, 11:27 pm

      Do you think that’s what The Artist Formerly Known As the Artist Formerly Known As Prince was doing?

    • Tee April 15, 2015, 8:08 am

      It’s not possible to copyright names in the U.S. – but you can trademark it, I suppose! 🙂

  • Genevieve April 14, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Goodness, I would think the sisters would feel honored, honestly, and happy that their brothers left such a heartfelt legacy.

    My dad already has at least two boys named after him – my brother and my cousin. It’s an honor, and my mom never thought her sister was “stealing” the name.

    It’s odd that this generation is so against the sharing of names when it used to be that everyone knew and expected to share names. Just look at the ubiquity of John and Mary in prior generations.

    • iwadasn April 14, 2015, 8:38 pm

      I imagine this is why you get people naming their babies things like Apple and Seashell. They’re hoping if they just pick a random object, their baby will be the only one with their name. Of course, it doesn’t really work when every other parent does the same thing…

      • Michelle C Young April 14, 2015, 11:32 pm

        I used to wonder why Jane Austen was so uncreative with her character names. There was so much repetition – Janes galore, and Catherines and Marys and Johns, and Fitzwilliams, and all.

        Then I realized that everyone was named after someone else, and the entire British Empire was founded by a small clan with only a dozen names amongst them, and it all made sense. She was, at least careful not to repeat names in her heroines and heroes. If you say, “Jane Austen’s Elizabeth,” everyone know’s it’s Elizabeth Bennet, whereas her “Catherine,” is clearly “Catherine Moreland,” and her “Anne” is obviously “Anne Elliott,” despite the fact that all of these names were repeated in other novels, by minor or otherwise supporting characters. And I gather that “Fanny Price” was actually named after her favorite niece. Or was it the other way around?

  • Wendy B April 14, 2015, 12:15 pm

    I understand there is high emotion here…but both sides are being petty. Staying out of it is wise, OP.

    • Cabelcb April 14, 2015, 7:58 pm

      I agree the OP is wise to stay out of it.

  • utknat7 April 14, 2015, 12:33 pm

    I have a friend that I think handed the “name theft” situation the right way.

    Friend has a younger brother in another state that she is close too. Friend has had a daughter, and had told people if she had a boy next she was going to name him X. Well, Brother and SIL get pregnant with a boy first and tell my Friend they cant find another name they like better than X. Friend kind of rolls her eyes internally and says sure…whatever.

    Well my friend also has a girl name that she really likes, plans to use it if she has another girl. Well Brother and SIL get pregnant with their 2nd, and guess what…. its a girl. So SIL calls my Friend and says we may have to use your girl name, we cant find anything else we like better. (seriously people buy a name book) Instead of getting mad my friend says sure, but I still plan to use it if I have a girl.

    SIL says what?? My friend then proceeds to explain to SIL it doesn’t matter as they will have different last names and they live 2 states apart. SIL seems a little flustered but what can she really say….shes the one poaching the name.

    I was pretty impressed with my friend, as i thought that was way more mature and reasonable than I would have been.

    • Michelle C Young April 14, 2015, 11:34 pm

      SIL says what?? How dare you keep the name I’m trying to poach! ROFL!

      Good for your friend and her spine. And really, there’s no reason they can’t both use the same name.

    • K April 15, 2015, 3:28 am

      “So SIL calls my Friend and says we may have to use your girl name, we cant find anything else we like better.”

      How utterly pathetic of your SIL. Talk about spreading drama. If I were Friend, I’d be thinking, “Seriously, you called me to tell me this? Really? Do you honestly think I care what you call your kid?”

      Call your child what you want to. The idea someone ‘owns’ it is just beyond immature (although I’d give these sisters a bit of leeway – people can act funny when grieving).

  • Enna April 14, 2015, 12:45 pm

    I agree with admin completely on this. What is the point in falling out? My aunty named her son after her brother my uncle and uncle is alive and has been since cousin was born. Why not have fun in making up nick names for the children? People do mourn in their own way but this is silly – both parties in both situations could still support each other.

    • Livvy17 April 14, 2015, 3:13 pm

      I’m sorry, Enna, but did you read the admin’s response? She is also saying that both parties can use the name, and SHOULDN’T be bothered by having kids with the same name.

      • bloo April 14, 2015, 7:33 pm

        Enna’s reply reflects the admin’s response.

      • iwadasn April 14, 2015, 8:40 pm

        Did you read Enna’s post? She said she AGREED with the admin.

        • Livvy17 April 15, 2015, 3:37 pm

          my bad – my apologies to Enna, somehow I completely misread this. Guess I need a nap!

  • Karen L April 14, 2015, 1:03 pm

    Wouldn’t it have made a touching story if the two infants, both named after the same beloved man, became great friends for their whole lives? THAT would be a touching tribute to the deceased. Too bad the family feud has precluded that.

  • Skaramouche April 14, 2015, 1:04 pm

    I was about to say “how ridiculous…as if anyone owns names!”. But then a thought struck me. What if the name was unique? With names like Robert and Michael, it’s less of a big deal. But with a name like say Gradle (totally made that up…it’s an IT tool, hehe), the situation might change. Still ridiculous of the sisters to claim any kind of ownership but with that kind of unique name, perhaps their distress can be better understood.

    • Twik April 14, 2015, 8:24 pm

      Why? I think it’s an honourthat people not blood relatives cared enough about Gradle that they named their child after him. It should be touching, not a reason to pull a pout over.

    • Ulla April 15, 2015, 12:22 am

      I don’t think the uniqueness matters at all. Unique name is nothing special. And, if anyone was named after the unique name, it would not be unique anymore. I’m sure quite many our now common names have started as unique some point. And if people like the name (or the person who carries the name), it will spread and become popular. Is that not a great achievement? To create a name that spreads, so that even after decades and centuries, there are people alive who carry the name of your child you named with the “unique” name.

    • The Elf April 15, 2015, 7:30 am

      Still a big nope. Naming two little boys Gradle after a beloved, but deceased, Gradle is still a loving tribute by both parties. (The boys might just decide to go by their middle names in adulthood, especially if they go into IT…..)

      The distress would be a little more understandable with such a unique name, but the solution is the same. Aggreived sister needs to get over it.

  • just4kicks April 14, 2015, 1:11 pm

    I agree with admin., what a ridiculous thing to fight over! Sheesh.
    If it’s a family friend of the deceased, and a sibling of same, what are the chances they will bump into each other? Unless family friend still comes to family functions, that is.
    Even so, there are millions of families whose grandfather, father and son all have the same name handed down…..And possibly a great grand son, too.

    I immediately thought of the “Sex and the City” episode, where Charlotte was pissed off their former party animal girlfriend, who had settled down in the suburbs and was pregnant, announced at her baby shower she was having a girl and was naming her “Shayla”.
    Charlotte had loved the name since she was a little girl, and made all her friends swear they would never steal HER baby name when she married and started a family.
    I thought that was stupid and petty too…..

    • MM April 15, 2015, 7:31 am

      I always thought of Charlotte’s protectiveness over the name was more about her own insecurity about being single and how she was losing her chance. Plus Shayla is unique enough that I can understand the feeling of ownership

      • just4kicks April 15, 2015, 10:16 am

        @MM: A very good point, I never thought that deeply into it.
        The part of that episode, (I think it’s the same one) where Laney shows up VERY pregnant at a party, and jumps up on the table to dance, and I think strip, is very uncomfortable to watch, to me at least.

      • Lisa S. April 15, 2015, 11:22 am

        And I thought it was very funny , when the first movie came out and it was revealed that Charlotte and Harry adopted a little girl from China and named her…Lily. My first thought was, “So what happened to ‘Shayla’?”

        • just4kicks April 16, 2015, 10:33 am

          @Lisa S: Me too!!! Lily is a pretty name too, but I thought the same thing.

          I also always laugh out at the episode where Charlotte and Trey attend the “Highland Fling”, and have looked into adoption, and Bunny pulls her aside and says, “while I quite enjoy Mandarin food, I DO NOT enjoy Mandarin baby.”
          She is such a snob, but funny as hell to watch.

    • InTheEther April 15, 2015, 6:56 pm

      This was my first thought as well.

      I guess if the two friends of the brother are family friends they might be around enough for it to get confusing, but I doubt it.

      I honestly cannot even remember the names of most of my brother’s current friends. I’ve met several of them (apparently I was in a college class with one even if I don’t remember him from it) and they seem nice enough, but other than their connection with my brother they have nothing to do with my life and I doubt I’d even recognize them. So really, what are the chances that all four babies having the same name will be an issue in two or three years when the immediate sting from the death has worn off?

    • chelee74 April 16, 2015, 3:59 pm

      This is one of my favorite scenes from “Sex and the City”! So glad you brought it up!

  • Dee April 14, 2015, 1:13 pm

    No one owns a name. The idea that a person can stake a claim to a name is jaw-dropping. What a load of entitlement. Just name your kid what you like (and what you think your KID would like) and let the chips fall where they may. The joke is that, even if you think you are being original, chances are your kid will enter school and meet about 20 others with the same name, and your kid will be given a nickname you never approved of just to handle the confusion. Unless you give your kid such a unique name no one has ever heard of it before and then you will (rightfully) earn your kid’s hatred over that, and they can wait until they are an adult to spend time and money to change their name to something they consider normal. I wonder about people’s lives if they cannot select a suitable name without undue drama.

    • Michelle C Young April 14, 2015, 11:41 pm

      I used to have a friend online who told about how she went to school, and her teacher REFUSED TO BELIEVE HER NAME. Yes, this teacher flat out said that my friend was lying, and didn’t know her own name (she was 10 years old, at the time). So, my friend called in her parents to talk to the teacher, and the teacher told them that THEY were wrong, and that they didn’t know their own child’s name, that it was a typo, or something, and it should have been (insert more common name), instead.

      She had to go the entire term answering to the other name, because no matter what the family did, the teacher refused to budge.

      The weirdest thing is, it wasn’t some made-up name. It was a somewhat uncommon, but not unheard-of, name. In a big city, there would surely be at least five others in the phone listings with that same first name.

      • admin April 15, 2015, 8:38 am

        My godson, a paramedic, encountered a man during a call whose first name was spelled “Shithead”. The man insisted it was pronounced “Shah-theed”. My parents sold a condo nearly 30 years ago to a man whose first name was “Loveless”. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen the contract and documents.

        • JKC April 15, 2015, 9:24 am

          My husband once worked with a guy whose name was pronounced “Shah-theed” and spelled just as you describe, although given the young man’s personality, when he was at home my husband tended to pronounce the name exactly the way it was spelled.

        • Kimstu April 15, 2015, 9:35 am

          The “Shithead pronounced Shah-theed” story is a very common urban legend, but as far as I know nobody’s ever come up with any official documentation of such a name. Not dissing the reliability of @Admin’s godson’s report, and such a name certainly COULD exist, but urban legends do tend to worm their way into people’s memories and get confused with actual experience because they seem surprising but plausible.

          “Loveless”, on the other hand, is not that uncommon as a last name (a variant of “Lovelace”), and family names are bestowed as first names all the time, so the story of a man with first name “Loveless” doesn’t ping my incredulity meter at all.

        • Dani313 April 15, 2015, 10:51 am

          Speaking of names that are uniquely unusual I present you with…

          La_a (pronounced Ladasha)
          Alize (yes like the fruity liquor)
          and the drum roll please
          Clamidia (yes pronounced like the disease!)

          • Wild Irish Rose April 15, 2015, 3:16 pm

            I went to school with a Precious, and I worked with a Princess. I think the most unusual name I can remember was that of a girl I went to school with: Quanda.

        • JeanLouiseFinch April 15, 2015, 11:52 am

          I used to work in the neglect and abuse division of my state’s juvenile court. The state’s attorney kept a list of many of the awful names (since the parents were also bad parents, you can just imagine the stupid things they did.) There were many “Latrinas,” also twins named LaToya and TaLoya, along with other atrocities.

      • Lisa April 15, 2015, 9:39 am

        We have a family friend whose name sounds like a nickname but it isn’t – it’s truly his given first name. He’s been accused multiple times of lying about whether or not that is really his name.

      • Lila April 15, 2015, 9:45 am

        Okay, now I really want to know what the name was. And there was seriously something wrong with that teacher.

      • Kendra April 15, 2015, 9:47 am

        Now I’m really curious about the name. I’ve had similar difficulties with teachers correcting my last name. It’s an Ellis Island name that is similar to a fairly common English last name. Most thought it was just a typo and “corrected” it. In fact recently, my employer had to send my nameplate back to the printer three times because the printer thought the name on the form was misspelled.

        • Dani313 April 15, 2015, 10:52 am

          My last name is a noun but capitalized…people say it wrong on a daily basis!

      • Asharah April 15, 2015, 11:06 am

        They had a story on BB where a teacher was calling OP by wrong name for 4 months. It was something like her last name was “Christianson” he kept calling her “Chrissy” when her first name was Julie. She decided after several months of this to just stop answering. He sends her to principal. Teacher tells principal she won’t answer to “Chrissy”, principal responds “Her name is Julie, why should she answer to Chrissy when it’s not her name?” Teacher miraculously receives the ability to actually remember her name after that.

        Had a classmate names Bacillious, not sure of the spelling it’s Greek. He went by Bill. Had to correct more than one teacher who called him “William”.

        Some teachers need to be reminded that we live in a country where parents are allowed to name a kid anything they darn well want to name him or her and spell it any way they darn well please. Yes dear, it is perfectly legal to name your daughter “Beth” “Lizzie” or “Buffy” and not Elizabeth. And yes, it is also perfectly legal for fans of the TV show Farscape to spell their daughters name on the birth certificate “Aeryn” instead of “Erin”.

        • Marozia April 16, 2015, 4:54 am

          I have a cousin called Basilios and also one called Vasilliu (English for Bill/William) but 1st one calls himself Baz.

      • vjcole April 15, 2015, 12:09 pm

        I can tell you for a fact that if that happened to any child of mine, I would have gone right over the teacher’s head, to the principal – and if that didn’t work, to the superintendent – and if that didn’t work, to the school board. How DARE that teacher appoint herself the expert on what a child’s “real” name is? If the administration wasn’t willing to force the teacher to call my child by his/her proper name, I would have been calling up the local news channels.

    • Xarcady April 15, 2015, 10:00 am

      That’s a good point. My SIL was focusing on their first son having a uncommon name–not a made-up one, but a name you wouldn’t hear everywhere. After months of debate and drama (oh, the drama!), they settled on using a family last name as the boy’s first name. Not as odd as it might sound, there’s at least one famous actor out there with this same first name.

      So the kid’s in second grade. And there are two other little boys with the same first name in his class.

      Pick a name you like. Pick a name that sounds good with your last name. Pick a name that will sound good if the kid becomes a lawyer, or President. But don’t try to get all creative to the point where no one can recognize or pronounce the name.

      • Michelle C Young April 16, 2015, 12:30 am

        When I went to college, I attended a school in a part of the country that was populated by creative people (at least they thought so), and they go really creative approximately 17-23 years before I attended there.

        My brother and I used to have a blast sitting down and just reading the student directory out loud. The names we found were hilarious! I never knew that Brian could be spelled so many different ways.

        Those odd spellings and creative names would be great for artists and actors and musicians, people who need names that stand out, and people will forgive the oddness. But send one of those kids to a Fortune 500 company, and they are doomed.

        My favorite was Ethylene.

        • Marozia April 16, 2015, 4:58 am

          Ethylene could’ve been named after grandmothers Ethel and Sharlene???
          It’s a thought.
          Either that or the mother was smelling it when she was pregnant!!

  • Powers April 14, 2015, 1:21 pm

    There is a trend among parents — mothers, mostly, it seems — to ensure that a baby’s name is as unique as possible, or at least unique among one’s own circle of friends and relations. I don’t know why it’s so important.

    • jgm1764 April 14, 2015, 3:24 pm

      Because everyone is a special snowflake these days.

      • iwadasn April 14, 2015, 8:44 pm

        I don’t see why parents assume their kids will WANT a name that no one else has. All that gets you is that everyone will mispronounce/misspell your name and you’ll never find a personalized keychain/memory box/whatever with your name on it.

        • The Elf April 15, 2015, 7:35 am

          Totally, Iwadasn. Totally. I have an unusual, ethnic name. I personally love the name, and I love that my parents wanted to name me after this particular relative, who had died shortly before my birth. But the downside? No personalized anything, anywhere, unless it is custom. I have to spell it every time. Most people mispronounce it, to the point that even when I correct them they still keep mispronouncing it. (It doesn’t help that there is a more common version of the name – that’s what they always say when they mispronounce it.)

          When I went to Disneyland, I was so excited to get my name embroidered on a mouse ears hat. To this day, it is the only thing I with my name on it.

        • EchoGirl April 15, 2015, 1:00 pm

          My perspective is, if you have an actual *reason* to give your kid that unusual name, go ahead and give it. Just don’t seek out unusual names for their own sake.

          I have a fairly unusual name (though to be fair, I was born in a town that was 75% Hispanic, and not one person ever mispronounced my name. When we moved to the Midwest, that’s when the difficulties started — although everyone I knew who was Hisapnic/Spanish as first language always got it on the first try) and honestly, I’m okay with that, BUT my mother did not seek out the most unusual name she could find. She named me after her mother (close name, not an exact match) and that just happened to turn into me having an unusual name. In terms of not giving a child a name someone in the family has, I do understand that (it can be confusing at family functions when three people have the exact same name) but there are enough common or uncommon but not unheard of or unduly rare names out there that parents should be able to find one. My mother wanted to name my brother after her cousin who died but her cousin had had the same name as her brother, so she found another common name with the same first letter. No one in our family has that name, and no one’s ever had trouble pronouncing or spelling it.

          The most difficult part for me has always been that there’s no “accepted” spelling of my name — I’ve met three people with my same name, and there’s a fairly well-known TV actress with my name, and not one of them spells it the way I do (the only occurrence of my name with the same spelling is when it was used for an alien on a sci-fi show).

        • Kat April 16, 2015, 1:49 am

          I have that problem and my name is Kathryn. My maiden name was rather unusual, causing me to spell it for people over the phone. But now I have the same issue with my more common married name. I don’t care.

          So that was NO argument in naming our son his wonderful, weird, wacky name! We love it, it has loads of history and the church history nerds that we are love it. It’s Tertullian.

        • Marozia April 16, 2015, 4:59 am

          I can’t tell you how many keychains I have with ‘They Didn’t Have Your Name’ printed on them!!!

        • CW April 16, 2015, 11:22 am

          My first name is Kandyce. I cannot remember a single time I’ve seen it spelled correctly on the first try. Usually it’s Candace or Candice. I appreciate my dad being creative but when I started thinking of names for my daughter, I thought, “There is NO WAY I’m giving her a wacky spelling. It’s too much work. It’s not fair.” I never got anything personalized unless it was special ordered.

      • Wild Irish Rose April 15, 2015, 3:17 pm

        Why isn’t there a “like” button on this site?

    • Inkcap April 14, 2015, 8:01 pm

      I think it’s because many parents are thinking too much about a child’s name as a reflection upon themselves (and their creativity and uniqueness and cleverness). They don’t think enough about the child becoming an adult and living a life with that name, or the fact that in a few years no one will take such an abiding interest in names anymore. In many cases, the name is treated almost like an accessory, another thing to go with the matching nursery set or baby shower decor theme.

      Too many people build their identities (and those of their children) on externals, and whenever someone else’s life overlaps with theirs, it becomes an infringement upon Individuality rather than an opportunity to celebrate good things loved in common.

      • ddwwylm April 15, 2015, 4:39 pm

        I think part of it is that the kids of the 80s who grew up when there were a select few names that were super common are the ones that are having children now. I mean everyone knows about the whole Jennifer explosion that occurred then. My SIL is a Jennifer (actually both my SIL, LOL) and my brother is a Mark. They gave their children unique names & both stated that it was because they hated being one of several children in a class with the same name. My bro was on a soccer team once with something like 4 or 5 Marks & I couldn’t count the ammt of Jennifers I know. Of course, as usual, jokes on them, because there’s just no way to be original. Their oldest DDs name was recently quite publicly used by a celebrity, and their middle DDs name appeared on some top 10 “trendy” baby names list around the time she was born. He chided me at the time for choosing an admittedly common fairly popular name for my oldest DD (after a family member) & the funny thing is, she’s never run into another child her age with the same name.

  • DGS April 14, 2015, 1:24 pm

    What a ridiculous notion. A name is not special, a baby that carries that name is…and in some cultures, where it is customary to name after the deceased, it would be perfectly reasonable to have a bunch of cousins with the same or similar name (e.g. in a Jewish family with the late Great-Grandmother Sarah, there might be a Sarah, a Sadie and a Stephanie, all with the Hebrew name Sarah).

    • psammead April 14, 2015, 3:58 pm

      Similarly, Greeks tend to name the first son after his paternal grandfather (living or dead) and the first daughter after her paternal grandmother. This leads to a lot of cousins with the same first names, so the idea that a baby’s name must be unique at all costs, or that you can “steal” a name, just seems weird and silly to me. If you got my big fat Greek extended family in one place for an event like a wedding, and yelled “GEORGE!” in the middle of the dance floor, probably about a dozen guys would say “What?”

    • Kirsten April 14, 2015, 4:12 pm

      It’s both Scottish west coast and Greek tradition that firstborn girls are named after their maternal grandmothers, so in big families there could easily be four or five female cousins with the same names, using different nicknames.

    • Dominic April 15, 2015, 6:25 am

      In my father’s family (11 children), in the early 1900s, a male child was born and named Ivan. He died as an infant, and a subsequent male child was named Ivan. The second Ivan was killed in WWII, and there are two Ivan D.’s buried in the cemetery among the family graves.

      As a kid, I always thought it unusual, and how strange it must have been for the second Ivan to see his name on a gravestone. I guess his parents really liked the name Ivan.

      • Michelle C Young April 15, 2015, 10:11 am

        Dominic, in “olden days” that was not at all uncommon. I took a class in genealogy, and was shocked to see how many “replacement babies” were born. As in, “Well, we only had little Freddy for two days, so we’ll name the next boy Freddy, so that way, we’ll have our Freddy back!” Except, no, you have a whole entirely different person, with a different personality, and you’re not trying to honor someone who made something of himself, but just trying to replace someone you barely even knew.

        I have seen a couple of listings of unfortunate families that went through the same name several times, due to high rates of infant mortality. It gave me the shivers.

        Of course, add to that the commonality of using family names, especially naming the first son after the grandfather, and the name is even more likely to be recycled, because they want someone living to carry on that family name, after all.

      • Dee April 15, 2015, 10:52 am

        My aunt was also named after a previous, deceased baby sister. I think it was a common thing to do, along with the pattern of naming the first boy after the paternal grandfather, the first girl after … and so on. A baby dies and now the name must be employed again. My aunt, however, has never been called by that name, just a very unrelated nickname, but I don’t know if that’s to separate her from the previous child’s identity or if it was intended all along. We might think this is all weird but it was tradition and everybody did it, so nothing weird about it, really.

  • Aje April 14, 2015, 1:26 pm

    I don’t get it either. My cousins (both sisters) were in a long fight about the first one to have a daughter naming her Miranda. Well, one sister had a son and decided to stop and the other had four boys and then, finally, a daughter! But even though the first sister had decided she was stopping with one boy she was still mad at her sister for “stealing” the name.

    My parents were all set to name my brother Joshua and then our cousin was born and named Joshua. So they changed it, just so there wouldn’t be confusion. I don’t recall that there was anger about it. My mom said it just meant my aunt had good taste 🙂 Hahaha

    • Suomynona April 15, 2015, 8:28 am

      My mom and my aunt (dad’s twin brother’s family) were both expecting at the same time, living several states apart. Mom was SURE she was going to have a little boy and name him Joshua. Aunt and Uncle were certain they were having a little girl and would name her Jennifer.

      Lo and behold, I have a sister named Jennifer and a cousin named Joshua born two weeks apart. No communication at all between the sets of parents, they all got a good laugh out of it when they found out that they had all agreed on the same names and had, in fact, stolen them from each other by accident.

  • lakey April 14, 2015, 1:29 pm

    Even if the name is unusual, I don’t think there is anything wrong with someone else using it, as long as the last name is different.

  • Kirsten April 14, 2015, 1:30 pm

    So if I am friends with A, and my dad called Peter dies and her brother called Peter dies, only one of us gets to call our son Peter? It’s ridiculous. Nobody owns a name.

    • Jewel April 14, 2015, 3:17 pm

      No, in your case, you’re naming your baby after YOUR relative. Even if that wasn’t the case, “Peter” is a very common name anyway so the issue of “ownership” is likely moot.

      • K April 15, 2015, 3:34 am

        The issue of ownership should always be moot.

        These people are so immature.

  • Impkitti April 14, 2015, 1:39 pm

    It happened in my family with no ill feelings what so ever. My Mom and her SIL were pregnant about the same time the year after our mutual Grandfather passed. Both were boys and both were named David Chester Lastname in honor of the Grandfather. Much hilarity has ensued over the years as both boys turned out short, round and with blond hair.

    The families in your article need to get over themselves.

    • EchoGirl April 15, 2015, 10:59 pm

      My grandmother’s grandfather was one of an explosion of babies in April 1865 named “Abraham Lincoln [Whatever the family’s last name was]”. I doubt anyone would have tried to “own” that name.

  • Shoegal April 14, 2015, 1:47 pm

    I’m amazed this happened twice!! What name is it for heaven’s sake? I believe as others that a name isn’t owned exclusively by anyone and can be used multiple times. It is not a great tribute to the deceased if they all allow it to cause such turmoil.

    As it is, there are people in the world who believe they have a sole and exclusive right to a name and don’t want it used repeatedly in their own circle as pointed out by “Gena.” Take, for example, Charlotte on Sex and the City had chosen I think “Kayla” as the name of her future daughter and she swore all her friends not to use it, and one of her friends did. She was livid and stopped talking to that friend.

    I myself, picked out a name for my future son if I ever had one and my sister used it to name my nephew. My sister knew I had that name all lined up and she asked me if she could use it and I thought go ahead. I didn’t own the name and I might not even have children and if I did I would still probably use that name.

    • just4kicks April 15, 2015, 2:10 am

      @Shoegal: If I may, respectfully, Charlotte’ s “hands off” name was “Shayla”, which is a beautiful name.

  • Starstruck April 14, 2015, 1:50 pm

    If it were me, personally I would feel honored that my brothers dear friend would do that . Doubly so to the wife who was going along with it. Wouldn’t stop me from also naming my baby after him as well . No one owns sole rights to a name . My situation was a little different but similar . My husbands sister died and we named our daughter after her . ( middle name ). And later his half brother also named his daughter after his sister ( again, middle name ). Didn’t bother us all.

  • Cheryl April 14, 2015, 2:13 pm

    This is silly to fight over, all can honor this person and name their child the same, so what, does that mean that they both have to go by their first name, one can go by their middle name instead if the families are close. Should the sister have first dibs on the name, absolutely, however, if the friends were pregnant first and the sister was more than 9 months apart then the sister can’t be upset because it would seem that the friend was pregnant when the sister’s brother died and then the sister got pregnant. Naming a kid after a sibling or good friend is an honor, not something to disagree upon, if it is a common name than who cares.

  • JeanLouiseFinch April 14, 2015, 2:22 pm

    This seems to be such a drama-fest. I agree that the sister(s) need some therapy to deal with their grief. If there is anyone other than the parents who would be concerned, it is the kid himself, if the name is really unusual. I wonder why this didn’t happen in my family? Just because the family names are Sigfried and Moses!

  • schnickelfritz April 14, 2015, 2:43 pm

    What! I have three cousin “Bobby’s” on one side of the family! They are within about 5 years of age. No one cares! At Grandma’s, it was just “Baby Bobby! Bobby Smith Bob! – etc.” My aunts had a brother Robert, and two of the aunts, married Robert. They had their kids in the 50s and 60s. No one cared.

    Back in the day, when boys had boy names and girls had girl names (mostly) – Debbie Mary Susan Cathy Kathy Nancy Carol Jane Linda etc. – every family. All of my friends, have Great Aunt Sue, Helen, Annie, Kate, Mary, Sophie, Marge, May, Lizzie, and on. We laugh about how our Great Aunts all have the same names. If you are Italian, you have an Aunt Rose, or three. Mary Angela.

    All the kids, call Mother – Mom!, and Father – Dad! Sorry friend, my kids call ME MOM. You will have to come up with something else for your family.

    Those silly mothers, will one day realize, no one cares. After a few years, you will hardly see these people.

    Think of all the J names of the 70s – 80s. James Jessica Justin Jason Jacob Jeffrey Jaquelyn Jamie Jade Julia; then the K’s Kerrie Kristen Kirsten; Cameron Colin Cody – wherever I have worked in my life; any new baby names come in waves. The “Js” had a long run. I

    If you want to guess a person’s name, born in the 70s or 80s, start with J or K.

  • bap April 14, 2015, 2:49 pm

    I personally know of this happening one time that, yes, I did understand the hurt and frustration.
    A couple we are very close with were trying to conceive, but it hadn’t happened yet. In the meantime the husband’s brother and his wife find out they are expecting. They immediately announce that if it is a boy he will be named “first, middle, last III”. The issue? Our friend (uncle to the announced pregnancy) is “Jr” and our friends had always planned to carry the “III” with a son, if they have one.
    The family of the brothers tried to get them to change their plans and the grandfather (the original name) even appealed personally to his son to not take the generational name from our friend. To no avail.
    As it happened, the brother and his wife had a girl and our friends, shortly thereafter, had a son and were able to use the name they wanted. Crisis averted.

    • Ashley April 14, 2015, 9:08 pm

      Can you even name him The Third if you aren’t a Jr? I just realized I have no idea how that works. I always thought it was implied that the III came in direct succession to the Jr, not just in the next related generation. Can a person just fill in the birth certificate with whatever suffix they like?

      • L.J. April 15, 2015, 7:37 am

        Jr. is for the son (or daughter) of a parent with the exact same name. Other relatives would use II. The III is for any relative. The suffix shouldn’t be on the birth certificate, because when the senior member of the family with that name dies the junior (or roman numeral namesake) is supposed to move up.

        • Michelle C Young April 15, 2015, 10:13 am

          I read that, too, long ago. My resource said that any roman numeral after III was for those people fortunate enough to have long-lived great-grandparents, and royalty.

      • bap April 15, 2015, 8:08 am

        I have no idea of the legalities (if any) of this. I have known other families that used “III” to indicate “the third generation” of **whatever name**, regardless of direct line.

      • Mags April 15, 2015, 9:53 am

        I think where I live, legally you can add Jr or III or what have you to a name. The registration form has no box for “did you follow the conventional protocol for assigning this suffix”.

    • Valki April 15, 2015, 4:57 am

      If the nephew had been named ___ ____ the III, what’s stopping your friend from still naming his future son that?

  • Kimberly April 14, 2015, 2:52 pm

    You can not own a name – names do not belong to you anyone can use them. I would avoid exactly the same forename, middle name, surname situations to avoid legal mix ups later. A coworker was all upset that someone in her family was using her daughter’s name (daughter was named for older family member) she was sure the family would be so confused. I told her no they were 2 different people with 15 years difference in ages people were not going to mix them up.

    My sister calls me up and says Micheal did X – I know instantly which Micheal she is talking about even though there are 5 in the family. Because they are different people with different interests. the same goes for all the



    Arthur/Edward/Edwin (Lots of combinations of all three)

    Emily/Ann/Anne/Elizabeth (also frequently combined)

    • Kirsten April 15, 2015, 11:10 am

      My dad has a younger brother called Chris, and a nephew (son of his older brother) called Chris. They’re big Chris and wee Chris. No confusion. Although wee Chris is now bigger than big Chris.

  • Jocelyn April 14, 2015, 3:21 pm

    My parents named my oldest sister after a family friend; the friend said that her mother and aunts had thought up the name, so until the Internet was developed, we always thought this was a unique name only shared by those two people. Well, after the internet came along, I found that it’s a common enough name in a particular ethnic group that’s uncommon in our part of the country. So even if you think you’re naming your child a unique name, you may be completely wrong!
    I think a MTB would have a right to be hurt if her sister or SIL or BFF beat her to the delivery room and used the name she’d picked out, because those babies would be around each other all their lives, and confusion is sure to result. But your brother’s friend? Odds are so good that in a few years, that connection is going to taper off, someone’s going to move, and if you choose not to have drama, it’s going to be forgotten about.

  • Livvy17 April 14, 2015, 3:23 pm

    I agree with Admin wholeheartedly, but when I was thinking about this, putting myself in the situation, I did find that I would have felt it very weird and/or a little off-putting if a friend had named their child after my dearly departed brother. I can’t figure out why I feel this way….perhaps because my brother’s name was indeed extremely unique (I’ve never met another – barring my father (jr) and grandfather (sr)). Maybe it’s because such a unique name implies a family connection? Or maybe it feels like a bit of drama (I miss him the most!!) from a non-family member?
    I’d like to think that if the situation were happening to me that I’d be the big person, and be sensible to the honor and tribute being paid to my brother, but I do see where I might still feel a little weird about it.

    • Raymee April 14, 2015, 7:45 pm

      Same. My brother has died, and although I don’t think I would use it as a first name (maybe a middle), if someone else did I would feel it was a bit odd. Mostly for the child’s sake- to be named after someone you’ve never met. I wouldn’t say anything or get upset. But yes, I do think it is a bit odd.

      • The Elf April 15, 2015, 1:10 pm

        I’m named after someone I never met. She died right around my birth. I don’t think it is odd – in fact, it inspired me to learn a little more family history so I could “know” my namesake through the stories.

  • Livvy17 April 14, 2015, 3:25 pm

    To add: I don’t think I’d feel that way if the name were not so specific.

  • Meegs April 14, 2015, 3:27 pm

    I suspect that the sisters were annoyed that the family friend was stealing some of their thunder and the “oh, how wonderful that you are naming your son after your brother, that so so sweeet and touching” attention they would get. Because honestly I can’t think of any other reason why this would even be an issue, its so ridiculous.

  • ktb April 14, 2015, 3:28 pm

    While it’s not wrong of the friends to use the deceased’s name, I feel it would be …compassionate? to ensure the already-expecting family member wasn’t planning on using the exact form, especially since the death was such a short time ago. Not required by etiquette, just considerate of a family going through big changes in a year’s time.

  • Amanda H. April 14, 2015, 3:37 pm

    Add me to the list of people who think this is a very silly thing to create a rift over.

    When I was expecting my third daughter, Hubby and I put together a list of baby names and narrowed it down to one we liked. Then he decided he liked name B (also off of my list) a bit better, but still wasn’t sure. Turns out name B was one that one of my sisters wanted to name her first daughter whenever she had one. But you know what? She said we could go ahead and use it anyway, because there’s nothing wrong with having two cousins sharing a first name. It became a moot point anyway as Hubby eventually switched back to name A, which we gave our youngest, leaving name B still “available” for my sister to use.

    Related, my older two daughters each have one of their grandmothers’ first names as a middle name (Oldest has my mother’s first name, Second has my MIL’s first name). Youngest, meanwhile, has my middle name as her own, because it’s also the middle name of both of my grandmothers and one of my aunts, so it’s a family name. Because of all this, there’s a semi-decent chance that they’ll have cousins with the same middle names. And no one in our family cares, because no one “owns” those names, except for possibly the grandmothers who originated them.

    I have a cousin who shares a name with one of her aunts. The only complaint the aunt has made is that she doesn’t want to be “Big *Name*” because she doesn’t like having “Big” tacked onto her name (after people started calling my cousin “Little *Name*”).

    Really, the families in question in the OP’s story should have been honored that the deceased had friends who loved and respected them enough to bestow their names on the new babies, not thrown a fit about “stealing” names.

    • Kimstu April 15, 2015, 12:11 pm

      @Amanda H.: ‘The only complaint the aunt has made is that she doesn’t want to be “Big *Name*” because she doesn’t like having “Big” tacked onto her name (after people started calling my cousin “Little *Name*”).’

      I know a family that went with the moniker “Lady (Mary)” instead of “Big (Mary)” to distinguish the aunt from her niece “Little (Mary)”. The elder “Mary” ended up getting rather fond of her “title”!

      (I suppose you shouldn’t try this if you live in the UK or anywhere else where the use of an honorific like “Lady” might seem as though you were claiming a place in the hereditary aristocracy, but it seemed to work fine in my friend’s family circle in the US.)

  • NostalgicGal April 14, 2015, 3:40 pm

    Nobody can ‘steal’ a name.

    Drama Llamas… I’m agreeing with others maybe a therapist needs to help the ones that think they own a name to get on with their grief.

    Heck, I can go to the court right now and name myself George Washington if I want; as long as I don’t try to impersonate the dead president, take over his identity, and do other crud like that, a name is just that, a name.

    All those involved should think it’s an honor that someone else wishes to immortalize the deceased that way. They can all use the name if they want.

  • JO April 14, 2015, 3:43 pm

    If every name in the world was allowed to be used only once, we would have run out of names long ago.

    • Amanda H. April 15, 2015, 10:27 pm

      Or had to get REALLY creative.

  • Saucygirl April 14, 2015, 3:43 pm

    My uncle died around 10 years ago. Since then 7 of 8 his kids (my cousins) have had children. All seven of my cousinshave a boy named after my uncle. And since five of my cousins are boys, that means five of the kids do have the exact same name. It can be confusing when they are all together, but it works, and they all understand why they all did it.

  • Tracy W April 14, 2015, 4:25 pm

    People who are mourning often do latch onto things that don’t seem that important from the outside. And in both these cases everyone is mourning someone close to them. It’s sad when that leads to family rifts.

  • Justno April 14, 2015, 4:25 pm

    I’m not going to comment on the friend naming thing (I agree with OP), I’d like to just say that naming a nephew after a brother that died young is a terrible idea and should be discouraged. It may seem like the right thing to do, but it sets up a weird psychological thing for the kid for life. That death is always hanging over him and his immediate family. There are better ways to remember your loved ones. Let it skip a generation.

    • Pamela April 15, 2015, 11:36 am

      I have to disagree, Justno. My oldest brother died at the age of twenty-three. A few years later, my other brother and his wife had a son and gave him our deceased brother’s first name. It has not had any negative impact on my nephew or anybody else in our family.

  • Angel April 14, 2015, 5:13 pm

    I agree with the admin and I couldn’t have said it better myself! If I were the sister I would be honored. And why can’t both of them use the name?? Everyone’s last names are different anyway so why should it matter. Nobody owns the rights to a name. Although I will say, one of the names on my baby name list for my youngest daughter, was also on the list for my brother’s family’s names for a girl puppy. In this case, I got to pick first lol. They went through babyhood together with different names 🙂

  • Angel April 14, 2015, 5:15 pm

    The Seinfeld episode about baby names was hilarious. George shouting at Susan’s cousin while she is in labor, “You’re so selfish!” Classic!

  • MNdragonlady April 14, 2015, 6:10 pm

    I do not understand the drama over shared names. We’re part of a group of 9 families from college that still see each other regularly. Within those 47 people, 24 of them share a name with one other person in the group. Yep, that’s 12 repeated names. And most of the shared names happen with 2 children.

    And yet, we all get along and have mostly just found it to be fun.

  • Chris April 14, 2015, 6:14 pm

    I advise people concerned about such name duplication or appropriation to not move to Iceland.

  • BagLady April 14, 2015, 6:43 pm

    Allow me to introduce … The Beckys.

    In 1975, my friends Jim and Margaret had a daughter and named her Rebecca. Three weeks later, their close friends Dan and Sally had a daughter and named her Rebecca. There was no deceased Rebecca being honored — both couples just liked the name. In fact, Sally, who was on bedrest for the latter part of the pregnancy and watched more TV during those months than she ever had before in her life (raised without it), isn’t entirely sure she didn’t name her daughter after a Rebecca on a soap opera.

    Not only are the two couples still good friends after all these years, but so are the daughters. When they were teens, they were two-fifths of a volunteer crew at an annual event that both families frequent. Two of the other three volunteers were *also* named Rebecca. The crew became known as “The Beckys,” and the one non-Rebecca in the bunch learned to answer to the name! It just happened to be an extremely popular name in the mid-1970s.

    In the OP’s situation, I would be honored if someone who isn’t related to my late brother thought enough of him to name their child after him, even if I were planning to do the same. And I wouldn’t change my plans just because of that. If I’m close enough to Robert Michael 1.0’s parents that our Roberts are going to grow up together, I’d probably sit down with them to negotiate nicknames. (“If you want to call your son Robby, we’ll call ours Bobby/Mikey/R.M./Butch.”)

    • NostalgicGal April 14, 2015, 9:30 pm

      My extended family is very large and there are several with my first name, and some even had my last (maiden name). EVERYONE had a nickname, you got one by 4-5 years old usually and you could and would be called that. Yes, my mom’s generation had nicknames too, and she answered to hers…she still does and she’s well over retirement. That was a perfect solution in our family…

      Then I married, and ended up going to college with some of my nieces and nephews. They even mixed me up with one of my nieces… so. Names are just that, names.

    • Amanda H. April 15, 2015, 10:36 pm

      When I was a teen, I was one of four Amandas around my age at church. Our ages were close enough that at one point, three of the four of us were in the same youth class. It was…odd. We ended up resorting to nicknames.

  • Maureen April 14, 2015, 7:16 pm

    I have a completely different (and true) story about same names. My grandmother, Christine, was completely and absolutely furious that my mother did not name me ”Christine” even although both of my mother’s sisters named their daughter’s ”Christine”. My grandmother did not speak to my mother for 6 years because she felt so slighted. And I have two cousins with the same name.

    • PM April 15, 2015, 8:11 am

      That is scary and more than a little narcissistic. How many kids had to be named after grandma before she would feel properly ‘honored?’

    • Mary April 15, 2015, 9:31 am

      Wow. That is narcissistic! And selfish also.

      • Maureen April 15, 2015, 3:53 pm

        I agree. I come from a rather disturbed family. I always thought the naming thing to be utterly bizarre.

        • just4kicks April 17, 2015, 1:59 am

          Agree completely. My late MIL and I had many a verbal battle over me not naming one of our three boys after my husband.
          I wanted to, and offered to with every son, but….my husband HATES his name.
          I hate to put it this way, but he “wouldn’t let me”.
          Of course, mommie dearest never believed that, and I was the bad guy who refused to give our son’s their dad’s name.

          • The Elf April 19, 2015, 8:05 am

            When it comes to naming children, “wouldn’t let me” is perfectly appropriate! That’s one of those circumstances where each parent should get veto power. The name must have two “yes” responses.

          • just4kicks April 21, 2015, 4:27 am

            @the Elf: Remember the “Friends” episode where Ross and Rachael were trying to come up with names for their baby?
            They each didn’t like the other’s suggestions and Phoebe said they each get five “veto’ s”.

            Ross had names like Darwin and Ruth.
            Rachael had “Sandrine” and “James”…..but only if it was a girl…..VETO!!!!

          • just4kicks April 21, 2015, 5:42 am

            ….And I just remembered in that Friends episode, Monica had a “secret” baby name she never told anyone, so they wouldn’t “steal” it.
            It was Emma, and when she told Rachael after she gave birth, Rachael loved it, but said she wouldn’t use it.
            Monica then says she can “have the name Emma” for her new baby, because she loved her friend more than a name she picked out for a future child.

            ….And now, I’m off to take a walk or read a book, since I just realized I’ve quoted two different tv shows (Friends and Sex and the City) pretty much word for word!!! 😉

  • Kay L April 14, 2015, 7:53 pm

    We had 3 boys and never discussed what their names would be with anyone else. It wasn’t anyone else’s business nor did we want anyone else’s input. My sons have all made their names their own as each child always does no matter what you name them.

  • crella April 14, 2015, 8:47 pm

    What I’ve often wondered, is why tell people? If people are so concerned, why spread your name choices around? In some of these cases, people wouldn’t have thought of the names if they hadn’t been discussed.
    It seems like a huge expenditure of energy and not worth fighting over.

    • K April 15, 2015, 3:43 am

      Most people ask. I’m expecting a baby and just about everyone’s asked if we have names picked out. It’s not a secret, I have no problem telling them if they ask – why would I? It’s just a name.

      • Mary April 15, 2015, 9:30 am

        We would not share names. First because our girls name was my mom’s name and we had a girl, we wanted it to be a surprise. Second, if the names are shared before the baby arrives, people feel they can share their opinion of the names, which I didn’t care to hear. Third, even though no one “owns” a name, you will definitely reduce the chances of inspiring another expectant parent if you don’t share the names.

        I also don’t like it when people share names just out of personal preference. There aren’t many surprises left in the world and I chose to maximize them. We didn’t find out the sex, we didn’t share names. Most of the time people already know the sex, have shared the name and if there is a planned c-section, everyone knows the birthday also. They are just waiting to hear the weight, height and if everyone is healthy.

      • Mags April 15, 2015, 10:16 am

        We didn’t pick names until either right before the kid was born or at birth. Mainly because there were no names that we really loved that we set our hearts on. However, I had a couple of (what I thought) were funny/ridiculous/awful names that were just barely plausible as a real name, so for every kid, I would tell people that those were the names I’d chosen.

        • Margo April 17, 2015, 6:24 am

          My aunt and uncle did that.

          A friend of mine was calling their child ‘peanut’ (initially ‘the peanut’, based on those charts that show you what size the foetus is at different stages) prior to his birth (they had chosen not to find out the gender in advance)

          One person took this seriously and thought they were actually planning to name him/her Peanut . . .
          (I had a fun conversation with them when they visited me, about whether they should start referring him as ‘avocado’ or ‘watermelon’ as the pregnancy advanced…) The same friend got tired of people asking what she hoped for, and her husband started telling people they were really, really hoping for a baby otter, but would settle for a puppy.

          • Mary April 17, 2015, 12:20 pm

            We had nicknames for each child in utero but with our first we would just tell everyone that we had picked out the name Peter. It would usually take people awhile to figure out we were messing with them because my husband and I are Paul and Mary.

  • KC April 14, 2015, 9:00 pm

    I once had somebody tell me that I better hurry up and have kids… before “they” used up all the “good” names!? / smh

  • Cat April 14, 2015, 11:18 pm

    Once you get out of elementary school you are no longer allowed to call dibs on anything. We have all seen the lists of the most popular baby names. That means your son might have a class with three Jacobs and your daughter might be awash in Emilys in her first grade classroom.
    My family had a crack on the name Edward. We had Ed, Eddie, Big Ed, Little Ed, Edward, Ed Junior, et al. It is no insult for two people to be named for the same person or to carry the same name.To drop a friend over the crime of using a name you want to use in the future is petty beyond words.
    What you should not do is what happened to another friend of mine. She learned her husband had a mistress and a child by him when her synagogue pubished a book of members and she found that the mistress had given her out-of-wedlock child her husband’s name with Jr. added. Now, that was meant as an insult.

    • ddwwylm April 15, 2015, 5:00 pm

      My boyfriend in college was named for his biological father. Problem was bio dad had gotten 2 ladies pregnant at the same time, and both women named their sons after the jerk so their were 2 juniors about 2-3 months apart in this very small town. He didn’t have anything to do with his bio dad other than his mom suing the guy for back child support years later, but he did say how awkward it was to go to a very small high school with his 1/2 brother who had the exact same name, but no one would acknowledge that they knew each other – the boys didn’t have any sort of relationship, everyone acted like it just didn’t exist I guess.
      Anyway, upon turning 18, he immediately filed to change his last name to his mom’s name, as he didn’t like being associated with bio dad’s name.

  • Wendy April 15, 2015, 1:36 am

    I have recently had my first he is now three months old, before his birth we had a list of three favourite names. One of these names and its associated nick name is a shared favourite of mine with a friend we have both said we liked this name for some time but she has always claimed it was hers I have the opinion that if you don’t want the tie children sharing a name whoever had a child first gets to use it. I ended up choosing one of the other favourited it just seemed to suit better, but had I decided he would have this other name I would have used it regardless of her feelings I don’t think it’s fair to demand someone not use a name when you may never be able to. This friend is currently single over 40 and even if she fell pregnant right now there is no guarantee she would have a boy I have wanted to say this to her every time the topic comes up. I should say the name I used Jenson was used by another friend (though not as close) five years ago with a slightly different spelling Jensen, this never even factored into my choice and I don’t think it should factor in anyone’s choice.

  • just4kicks April 15, 2015, 2:21 am

    Whenever my kids bring home lists of their classmates names, for valentines/Christmas cards, it always cracks me up how people try to use “yoo-nique” spellings on common names.
    Mackenzie= Mack Enn Zee
    Kaylee= Kay Leigh
    Kimberly=Cym burr leigh
    You get the idea….

    We have four kids, one got their name from “Ferris Buellers Day Off”, one from the tv guide my hubby was flipping through while I was 5 months, one from a quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles.
    Our youngest, a girl, (all four of our kids have the same initials, say XYZ), has an old world name.
    Her name was going to be “Cooper”, just because I loved it, until…..my Mom said she would disown me if I named her beautiful new granddaughter that.
    Now, had the ultrasound been wrong….And she was a he instead, it would’ve SO been Cooper!