What are the ethics of naming your child — can you use someone else’s baby’s name?

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I’m 38 weeks pregnant and was recently added to a “Local Moms” group on Facebook. It’s a small group — and I live in a small town. In fact, I only know one other member of the group — the rest are an online support system.

One of the moms recently asked about her baby’s first shots, and I fell head over heels for her baby’s name — completely smitten. I gushed on her post, and she seemed thrilled with my response. As days went by, I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling when I thought of the name — I know it’s meant for my baby, and my husband feels the same.

Except… I feel guilty about the idea of “stealing” this beautiful name.

I know it’s not truly a one-of-a-kind name (the name is Indiana — both a state and a well-known fictional character), but I know that the parents worked quite diligently to find the perfect name for their baby. I decided to send a message to the mom to explain myself — I don’t know the sex of my baby, so we might not even use the name, but I’m in love with it. She responded saying “I was trying to be unique… but what can you do?”

Am I able to take this as a begrudging blessing to use the name, or do I need to forget about it? What are your thoughts on the niceities, norms, or ethics of naming your child? — Saska

Comments on What are the ethics of naming your child — can you use someone else’s baby’s name?

  1. Our son’s name is Brewer, after his great-grandfather’s middle name & a family maiden name. In our tiny town, there happens to be another Brewer, 3 months older than him AND attending the same pediatrician’s office! I had been made aware of this by our L&D nurse who had delivered the other Brewer and I was excited that there was another one in the world, because it meant he was unique but not too crazy!

    When I met the other mom, though, I introduced myself and was really excited that our kid had the same name. She was LESS THAN THRILLED about it, and kept saying “well, they will go to different high schools.” I guess she wanted the only Brewer in the world! (as a funny side note, her name happened to be Genevieve and I am Jenna, which I thought was hilarious because they sound so similar…)

    I think if a name is right for your child then use it. It might be weird if you were using a name from a friend or a family member, but an online group? Totally do-able, in my opinion πŸ™‚

    • I LOVE your last paragraph, and totally agree. I knew someone who named her child after the state that bordered the one we lived in, and then was ruffled that someone else named their kid the same thing.

      I think at least part of the contemporary emphasis on unique names is due to the generation of parents who were born in the late 70s and 80s and grew up knowing 18 people with their name (example: I was born in 1985 and know SEVERAL Stephanies) just really wanting to set their kids apart. I totally feel that, because it was a conversation my husband and I had as well — picking a name that’s not used often but is conventional enough.

      • There needs to be a book or list somewhere of these kinds of names. “Not overly-used/popular, but not too eyebrow-raising.” Sigh. We don’t have kids yet, but we’ve had a girl’s name picked out for years. We simply CANNOT decide on a boy’s name though. Seriously need a list of names like that…

        • We read a book that had a bunch of unique names, but it was sectioned off so you could explore different names by theme…so there was “Family Names” section and how to go about choosing a unique family name, there were other sections like “Colors” “Celebrities” “Things” “Old names” (all my paraphrase, I can’t find the book anymore). It was so helpful to go through the process they offered and see different ways that Colors could be ‘offbeat lite’ or ‘whoa, offbeat’ because we were looking for something unique but not so weird that we’d get a ton of random questions about it. It was nicer than just reading through lists and lists of names…that got too overwhelming for me!

        • I think my parents did a good job of naming the 4 of us. They picked exactly those kinds of names- not too popular, but not eyebrow raising and “what were you thinking” inducing. We’ve got laurel (me), Wyatt (that’s only recently become popular), Clark, and Lillian (we always just called her Lilly). Looking at name lists, it is really difficult to do!

        • Nameberry.com and the book Beyond Ava and Aiden were helpful for us with our kids! We were in a similar what-do-we-name-a-boy place, and then we had two. πŸ™‚ Devilishly difficult. (We ended up with Kai and Miro, FYI.)

        • My husband and I are in the same boat! We can think of tons of girl names for future children, but no boy names. I love vowel-filled (especially A) names like Anya and Adelaide for girls….but can’t think of anything for boys. We’ll probably get screwed with male triplets or something. The only boy names I do sort of like are more geeky science/literature names liked Edison, Atticus, or Sagan. But seriously, does it set the kid up for a lifetime of teasing if his name is Sagan?

          • OMG Anya is our future-girl’s name too! haha, shhhh…. don’t be saying it out loud here! Ah well, maybe it becomes popular before we have kids… sigh.

            I like your boy names, and at the very least I think Atticus is not a teasing kind of name. Personally, I love “D” names for boys, like Dante and Darius. But apparently my husband associates those names with very specific people and thinks it would be way too weird. πŸ™ Good luck!

          • My husband and I also have tons of girls names we love (and we’ve definitely chosen Ivy for our first-born girl), but very few boy names. Funnily enough, though, the only boy name we sort of agree on is Atticus! I’d never met anyone else thinking of that for a baby name before πŸ™‚

          • *squeal* Anya is my baby girl’s name. (pronounced on-ya not Ann-ya). I met so much negativity when I told people my decision. “Onion?” “Anya, what’s that?” “ewww” etc. Not very supportive friends and family, and my mom just about died when I told her it’s after a video game character. Plus her name is Anya Ann which is really close to the same name.

            But on a non bragging note, I kind of understand the other mom. My son’s name is Cooper which is far from unique, but then one of my husband’s good friends had a son named Cooper last year. Suddenly I keep getting “Coop” facebook updates and mutual friends posting about how adorable Cooper is, only it’s not my Cooper they are commenting on. I felt that pang of irritation more than once. I would never just stop hanging out with them, or even bring it up to them, though.It’s just one of those things that if you feel like you have to do it, then do it. She may be irritated, she may not get over it, but in the end it’s your life and you can ignore it. It’s certainly not the worst thing you can do.

          • My son Sagan is 4 now, and I’ve never had a moment of regret about his name. I think it’s the perfect balance of geeky/unique but not silly-sounding. It has some gravitas. And unlike my name, which was entirely made-up by my normally conservative father and took me a long time to grow to love, there’s a simple explanation. Sagan was named in honor of Carl Sagan, a long-time hero of my husband’s and an inspiring human being. We even wrote an email to the Carl Sagan Foundation when he was born and got a sweet response from Carl Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan.

            Naming our second son was trickier. I would have liked to come up with something more arts or literature inspired to balance out the science. If only Keats had sounded better with our last names! We finally landed on Kepler (for Johannes Kepler). I loved the sound of it, it went well with Sagan, and the nickname Kepi is working out well for our sweet baby.

            The funny thing about Kepler is that it’s apparently somewhat popular, at least in Seattle. I have yet to meet or hear of another Sagan, although I’m sure they exist, but everybody seems to know a boy named Kepler. I even discovered that the woman who runs the preschool Sagan will attend next year has a little Kepler. I was hugely pregnant when I toured the school, and I made sure to feel her out. I told her we were considering the name, and fortunately she was supportive and enthusiastic.

            From what I’ve seen so far, Sagan and Kepler are far from being the most “teasable” names of my kids’ generation. Most parents want to be unique, and the most “normal” name at Sagan’s preschool is Dylan (a girl). However, since I remember growing up as Joriel and wishing I was a Jennifer, I did veto Sagan’s choice of name for his little brother: Jupiter.

      • I agree that it totally sucked having such a popular name. (There were 5 other Stephanies–various spellings–in my graduating class. Of 59. That means 10% of my class was named Stephanie.)
        My sister and I have had several conversations on this. She chose to give my nephew a very unique name–Calix, while we are leaning towards traditional yet unused names–pulling from literature.

        • Aside from the current comments lol I have know only 4 or 5 other Stephanie’s my whole life. There was only one other in graduating class (’99), for me my name was always the “normal but not common” unlike my guy Christopher (who has chosen to not shorten it to Chris, for the sake of individuality).
          We’re planning on leaning more towards less common names, that may end up being the next Michael or Jennifer LoL

        • Love the name Calix. Makes me think of the calyx of a persimmon, which is little-known but very useful ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine. Tea made from persimmon calyx is a sure-fire fix for stubborn hiccups–just a random fact in case your sister or nephew get a kick out of stuff like that!

      • Yup.

        My name was in the top 5 girls names for several years around when I was born and I’ve always found meeting other people my the same name to be unnerving and uncomfortable. Not to mention potentially confusing!

        I don’t much like it when I know two people with the same name, either. It’s confusing and it just makes my brain hurt:/

        • My given name is Carolyn, which was not at all common. I’ve met maybe four in my entire life. So that’s kind of nice. As long as I am okay with constantly being called Caroline for no apparent reason.

          One of the reasons my parents picked it is that it had a lot of options for variation too. I could be Lynn or Carrie and probably some others, though I’ve actually only ever been Carolyn.

          My best friend’s name is Sarah and that was tough. She never responds to her name because there are so many of them. I can’t call for her in a crowd!

          • That’s so odd, cause my grandmother’s name was Sarah but I only met maybe one other Sarah in my life.

        • Yea, I hate my first name so much. Growing up my first name was very common; there was always at least 1 (often more) other girl with my name. In high school there was even a girl with my same first and last name. So we had to use middle initials instead of last names. It sucked so much. I always got asked which one I was and regularly got her papers returned to me by mistake. I go by my middle name now and changed my last name as soon as I got married. I still cringe internally when I meet someone with my first name. I’d hate for my kid to have the experience did. However, I don’t think it would be a big deal if they knew one person with their name.

      • Yep, I was one of three with the same name in my class (12 in our year of 150 kids), and as the least popular I got stuck with the unwanted spelling (Vicki) since the teachers wouldn’t allow us to use the same names on homework. We also all had the same middle name. I’ve loathed my name ever since, especially trying to create a professional identity since my full name is shared with a semi-famous jazz singer and a lot of adult entertainment performers.

        I’m very nervous about choosing names for our baby because I want to allow them as many escape routes as possible, I’m scared they’ll hate me whatever we choose.

    • There is definitely some terrific irony in this comment being the first response to this post; my heart just jumped and I actually teared up a little when I saw your son’s name. My husband and I have our female option set in stone for hypothetical baby #2, but we’ve been flummoxing over options for a male name. I hope it’s okay for us to put this name on the table!

  2. I *still* regret not using a name that I adored for a decade that some friends snapped up a couple years before my son was born… of course now we don’t see those friends as much as we used to, and it would have been totally no big deal to have used the name.

    • My parents were in the same boat. Their best friends had the name they liked, but their daughter was 2 weeks older than me…of course the friends moved after a few months and we haven’t seen them since…

      • Well, thank you… but CEDAR FETZ STALLINGS!? Come on. That would have been awesome!! The alliteration alone is fabulous, but then there’s the fact that I grew up surrounded by cedars and, guh.

        *avoids thinking about it*

        • So funny see comments about names with “Stallings” …Not planning on having kids in the near future, but any future kids would have your last name!

          It’s pretty awesome to see debates about great sounding names with my future last name (I’m planning on changing my last name once my fiancee and I get married and would give any kids our shared last name).

          • That’s my last name too. I don’t hate it but don’t love it, so my partner and I followed convention and gave the kid his father’s last name.

            If I had been using my last name for my child, I wouldn’t have named him Nicholas. Any first name that ends in S is a parsing problem with a last name that begins with S–NicholaStallings–and you end up having to pause in order to say it clearly. Something to think about.

            Ironically, when my Nicholas was a baby, my dad learned that our first Stallings ancestor to come to the U.S. was Nickolas Stallings. I guess his parents didn’t mind juxtaposing the S’s!

    • I’m dealing with this right now. My good friend named her baby a name that I loved and when she told me my first reaction was “oh no, that’s what I wanted to name my baby!” Now I’m finally pregnant with my first and she’s due with her 2nd a few weeks after me. Practically speaking it would just be annoying if I had a girl and named my baby her daughter’s name since we hang out so much. Hopefully I won’t feel disappointed if she moves away and we rarely talk in a few years.

      • This reminds me of a kind of funny story.

        Five years ago I got a puppy and after a lot of consideration I found the name Thea and named her that. (She’s a very small dog and I wanted a short name with a big meaning).

        When I told my best friend, she got this devastated look on her face. She told me that was a name that she was considering for her future daughter and now she wouldn’t be able to use it without people thinking that she named her child after my dog!

        But a few months ago she had a daughter and had another name that was perfect.

        • This thread is cracking me up. Similar to Ariel, my mom chose a name (Shannon), but then she wasn’t pregnant after all and it turned out my aunt was. She named my cousin Shannon. When I arrived 2 years later my mom named me Aja, and I’m forever grateful that my aunt stole Shannon, because it just isn’t me.

          But then, a few days after I was born, my mom caught up with an old friend who had just gotten a puppy, which he had named… Aja.

  3. I was waiting tables when I was pregnant, and trying to come up with a traditional Italian name (to go with our last name) which didn’t strike me as totally cheesball. One of my customers had a tiny, adorable baby in a Moby wrap. While making conversation, she told me his name – Mateo – and his nickname, Teo. I loved it. I felt that it was right. I added an extra ‘T’, to change it from a hispanic spelling to an Italian one, and it stuck. Three months later, that was the name we chose. We especially love the nickname.

    A year and a half later, we were playing at the park, and another mother overheard me talking to him, and said “excuse me, what’s your boy’s name?” I told her, and she said “oh, that’s so funny, that’s my son’s name too. We also call him Teo.” I looked at her again and realized that it was the same woman who I’d waited on two years ago! I somewhat sheepishly told her, worried that she’d be offended, but she was tickled and glad that she’d helped me find the right name.

    • Two means “gift from God” in French, making it popular in Francophone countries in Africa. I met an awesome little Teo in Rwanda in 2011. Funnily enough, it also means “buffalo” in Hebrew. Just a little trivia for your Wednesday. Congrats on your little Teo!

        • Actually, Matteo, Matthew, Mateu, Matieu etc. are all versions of a Hebrew name, Mattityahu, meaning “gift of God”. In Italy Matteo is a very popular name, I think it’s constantly on the top five. I’d be curious about how anglophones pronounce it πŸ™‚

    • I love the name Matteo/Mateo too! I first saw the name on Offbeat Mamas (a post about a nursery with a “Where the Wild Things Are” theme), but we already knew we were having a girl. We found the female version, Mattea, and changed the spelling to Mataya (we have a thing for the letter Y). The first time we said the name out loud, we knew it was the perfect name for our little one!

    • My mother named me after a waitress! My parents were 8 months preggers, had boy names and no girl name. One night they went out for pasta and the waitress’s name on the back of the check was Terra Lynn.
      I have met other Tara s before, but never a Terra.
      Course, they named my younger sister after our two lovely grandmothers, but I ended up with a random waitress’s name.
      Another thing to consider: Don’t give your children rhyming names. We had a Sara and a Terra in the house, and it was confusing! We also have the same birthday, and having rhyming names, everyone assumed we were twins.

      • Oh man, or even names that end the same. My family has a “Hilary” and “Kory” that always get confused, and “Sabrina” and “Amanda”. They sound pretty much the same when parents are yelling lol.

  4. I can imagine that some parents would be pissed if someone “stole” their name (an online group I am a part of just had a thread about this – some so-so friends took her favorite name after she mentioned it. And in this case, she wasn’t pregnant and had no plans to be, just a favorite name. She was upset. So it can happen.

    BUT! That doesn’t mean that you should decide to go with another name unless you want to. Name your child what you want. I have a friend who named her child the same thing as another mutual friend, and then she named her next daughter nearly the same thing as my daughter (her daughter’s name ended in -e instead of -a). I couldn’t care less, and my daughter’s name isn’t common.

    I would take a second to reflect on if losing this woman as a friend/acquaintance would bother you, or if any resulting mama-drama would bother you. I’m not saying it will happen, but it could. People can be petty, and yeah, it would be nice if no one cared about something like using the same name, but sometimes people do. Since you live in a small town, you will likely start running into this woman as time passes. School, sports, summer camps, parks, etc. It would be ridiculous for someone to hold a grudge that long, and you likely wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like that anyhow, but it can cause some discomfort. I don’t know if talking to her beforehand would be something you’re comfortable with, but maybe consider it.

    • Same here, at least until I got married. My name was Christina Cordina and my cousin’s name is Christopher Cordina. Yet, we both went by Chris.

      Actually, it was kinda fun.. We were known for getting in trouble and really close friends. When one of our mom’s would yell “Chris Cordina!” We would both look at each other with a “Is it you or me?” type glance. They ended up using our full names (we each had different middle names), giving us enough time to run. LoL!

      To be honest, it didn’t really bother either one of us. If anything, we are closer due to our similar names and antics. Best part is, our mom’s are still totally close friends. <3

      I say go for the name that you really want. If the other mom is a true friend of yours, this shouldn't separate or tarnish the friendship.

      • Haha! I share a name with a cousin-by-marriage, and it doesn’t bother either of us either – even though everyone else seems to think that it should. There was a long debate over which of us should be “Big Liz” or “Little Liz” (I’m a decade younger and a head taller), and then there was a period of people addressing us as “Liz Sr” or “Liz Jr” and that felt kind of … grody. We’re fine having the same name! We can usually tell who’s talking to us because they’re, you know, addressing us directly. I wouldn’t assume that the person who makes eye contact with Liz and says “hey, Liz,” is talking to me – but the whole family still thinks the whole thing must be mind-bendingly confusing for us both.

        • A tradition in my dad’s family is to name the eldest son Alan. It’s a big extended family, and as a result of most people in multiple generations following that tradition there are 5 Alan’s, an Alison and an Alistair who all get called some variation on Al. It’s actually a lot less confusing than you would have thought πŸ™‚

  5. It’s your child whose name you will use for the rest of their life. How long will you be in contact with someone online??

    If you love the name and it is perfect for your baby, then use it! There is a much bigger picture to look at than another mum with a grudge.

  6. I had my baby names picked out since high school, when I meant my now husband. A few years ago I told my names to a pregnant friend while we were discussing what to name her child, (she had a really difficult last name to match with). And low and behold she named her child my name. At first I was miffed, I had that name picked out for YEARS. But she had not named him for 3 weeks, trying out two names to make sure the one she picked was HIS name. And she was right, when you meet him he is TOTALLY a Benjamin, there is no other name that fits him. And when I had my son last year I decided I would let him pick the name as well and he was NOT Benjamin, it didn’t even cross my mind. I named him Preston, it was the name I thought when I first saw him. For 3 days he was Preston and after calling him Parker for 2 of those days I called the hospital to have them change it on his birth certificate.
    Moral: A babies name is their name, go with the flow and do what feels right.

    • I hope that happens with us. I was in love with “Lily Evelyn” for years. Mentioned it to an pregnant acquaintance and sure enough, she named her girl that. I like the idea of letting the baby dictate the name instead of having it so set-in-stone.

    • That is interesting. πŸ™‚ I’m glad it worked out for everyone involved.
      My mom had a similar experience. She told me that my parents had planned on naming me Elaine. After I was born and she was holding me in her arms, she told my dad that I looked like a Michelle. He agreed.
      So I agree with Monica on going with the flow and doing what feels right. If you and your husband love the name and it feels right when you meet your baby, then go for it.

      That said I can understand if the other mother is a little disappointed. Maybe because my name was in the top 20 in the 80’s (as Stephanie mentioned earlier in the comments), I’ve liked unique names for my possible future children. But ultimately that is something that is not completely in anyone’s control, which I’m sure is a valuable parental lesson in itself. In the end, our children will be special snowflakes (just like everyone else) regardless of how many people have their names.

  7. Someone online who you sort of know? Go for it!

    I’m due in 6 weeks and I’ve asked my husband to not discuss our chosen baby names with other couple friends who are expecting because I don’t want them to love the names and then call their baby the same thing.
    I did tell my co-worker’s wife who is due… right now! … and she kept saying “oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE! that name”. I don’t think her husband would go for it, but, if they announce the birth of their child and have ‘taken’ the name… What can I do? The name is meaningful to us and I will know they will have got the idea from me anyway!

    A BAD idea is to name your -dog- the same name your sister-in-law told you she wanted to name her future child. I know someone who did that! (She says she doesn’t remember that conversation!)

    • Ha, your last comment made me laugh. One of our favourite names for a girl is Molly, which is my grandmother’s name.

      Except it’s also his sister’s DOG’s name.

      Oh well. The girl will have a little friend with the same name! How cute is that?

          • I hear that soooo much. And as for the original question, I think you’ve just got to do what feels right. It didn’t sound to me like she was condemning the idea or a close friend. It’s your baby right? Congrats!!

      • It actually kinda annoys me when people – ie anyone, not people I know personally – give their dogs a people-name. It’s not as if anyone is likely to call their son ‘Patch’.

        • Hey, if people can name their kids Hunter or Duke (which are legit names for people or pets for the record) then it’s only fair to let me name my pets Paul or Lisa. πŸ˜‰

          • I had a dog named Jax several years before it started becoming a popular name for people.

            My current dog is Samwise, after the hobbit, which gets shortened to Sam – and Daughter’s best friend is Samantha, also shortened to Sam sometimes. Which can lead to amusement. lol

          • I have 2 brother dogs named Ayden and Cayleb, and ironically when I named them I had forgotten that an old friend has a son named Cayden…… Also I had a dog named Drake and my best friends daughter named her first son Drake…. No big deal…

          • I know a set of (human) brothers that are named Hunter and Fisher. Their father’s (nick)name is Mutt. *shrug* Do what makes you happy and name your son Copper and your dog Todd! That would actually be fairly epic….

      • When I was quite young, my aunt had a cow that needed a name, and I told her to name it after me. Which she did. I don’t regret it (it’s not like the cow and I were often brought up in conversation together), but I don’t think I’d make the same request now πŸ˜‰

    • Ugh, three of my close relative have named their dogs names on my baby list (Gracie, Lucy, Annie). I can’t bring myself to “reuse” the names even though they are JUST DOGS. We find out in two weeks if our baby is a boy or a girl. No names set in stone but now I have three to cross off the list.

      • We had a sort of opposite problem, in that we had a dog (first) with a name that we really wish we’d saved for the kid. The dog died an early, horrible neurological-disorder death so it was both barely used and unusable forever more.

        • My number one girl name was the name of the cat I had from birth until we were 13. Is that weird? **shrug** The only ones who will really know are my family and they already think I’m bizarre for marrying a much older mixed-race dude, so whatevs. πŸ™‚

          • My little one’s middle name is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. Which I also gave to our family dog in high school because I thought that no one would ever name a human child after Geraldine. (I still wouldn’t saddle a child with Geraldine, but I did grow to love her quirky last name enough to use it for a human child:) People in my family love that we used the name for him, and no one thinks it’s weird.

        • Same story here… I named a pair of hamsters Stella & Violet, then one cannibalized the other and I had to give her away. Luckily I convinced a co-worker who LOVES purple to call her dog Violet, and a good friend of mine named her daughter Stella, so the names live on!

        • My mom named me Elizabeth and one of her cats had the same name back in the day. It hasn’t been weird and it’s better than the other cat’s name – Squeaky!

    • Ha, my husband loves the name Cassandra and named his first cat that…. but now whenever we bring up potential baby names he gets so frustrated because he would want to name our daughter Cassandra but doesn’t want to have a pet of the same name! πŸ™‚

        • My ex had had a name for his first daughter set in stone. When he cheated on me and got another lady pregnant, it turned out she had a name chosen too.

          To this day I still crack up thinking about how he was forced to name his daughter “Zoey” when his puppy is “Zoe” and how I share a birthday with the baby!

    • My mom did that! She hated the name that my sister-in-law chose for her (as of yet unconceived) first born and so she bought a dog and named him that. A few years later, my sister in law stuck to her convictions and when she was pregnant, kept the name thinking it could be a funny story. Sadly, he was stillborn and it’s not a funny story.

    • A work colleague is named after her Grandma’s dog. Not the other way round!
      That must have been a bit awkward when she asked her parents the story of her name….

      • Ha! My high school best friend turned out -at birth!- to have a twin sister, who then got the cat’s name and the cat got rebranded so to speak! The cat’s-turned-sister’s name was Sarah anyway, so nothing pet-like, but I’ve always loved this story πŸ™‚

    • We named our daughter Aurora, which was the name I gave my first female rabbit thinking my husband (who likes names like Harriett and Byron) would never go for it. After 6 months of trying heaps of different girls names with little to no success finding common ground (except for Lilah, until my BIL said ‘sounds like lilo’ and my husband vetoed it too) he said he liked Rory – and Aurora it was.

      Actually, we’ve given our animals loads of awesome people names. Felix, Marmaduke (Duke), Aurora, Coco, Alice, Esme, Huxley, Jasper. 3 of those are twilight names, though thats co-incidental. Stephanie Meyer does have good taste in names, which partially makes up for her poor grammar and insipid unlikable Bella.

      • Our son’s name is Jasper — we didn’t know he was a Twilight character, but loved how the name is vaguely southern (we’re from Alabama) but still sounds a little classic, and isn’t overused. My faaaaavorite girl name is Rosalee after the Chris Robinson Brotherhood song, and I don’t know if we’d ever even have a chance to use it for a kid, but hypothetically if we did… we’d have two Twilight-named kids.

  8. I’m not quite yet pregnant. (Going through fertility and in the 2ww as I type).

    My husband and I have picked a few names and have them set up for birth order but we are not discussing those names with anyone. Part of that is Jewish tradition, you aren’t supposed to use your baby’s name until after he/she is born (for boys not technically until the bris but I doubt that will happen). We are however nicknaming the unborn baby Benjamin simply because he/she is already so expensive!

    Naming a child is a completely personal decision and one that no one has the right to judge, even if you are “stealing” someone else’s name. Names are not copyrighted and we can’t control where we are inspired when choosing. Go with what feels right to you and hopefully those you are inspired by will be complimented by your choice.

  9. Our daughter’s name is fairly unique but one day our nanny informed us, there was another that they kept running into at other playgrounds. I was amused to hear it, no biggie. The parents of the other girl had a second daughter, with an equally unique name. The pair are adorable. We entered into a new nanny share and the daughter’s name was a somewhat unique nickname. As we were getting to know each other we discovered their little girl’s full name is the same as the younger daughter in that other family.

    I never would have guessed that I’d hear of four girls with two unique names between them, and similar ages between them as well, would be running around on playgrounds together. It’s pretty funny to tell the truth. πŸ™‚

  10. I think it really depends on how you are related to the person. Someone you know online a little, not a big deal. Your sibling or close friend, I think that’s a little different and I would probably try and think about something else. I think it also depends on how common the name is. You want to name your son John but your friend just named her kid John, not a big deal. You want to name your kid Excelsior even though your sister just named her kid that, I’d say that’s a bigger deal. In the end though, you are going to be calling your kid by his/her name for a long time, so you should really like it a lot and worrying about a little drama that will probably pass shouldn’t derail you from a name you love.

    • Agreed! Everybody seems to be of the “no dibs on names” camp here, but I would be pissed and hurt if somebody did it to me. It depends on the popularity, the closeness of your relationship, etc.
      Apparently the poster met the other mother online, but it’s a very small town. Are they both lifetime residents? Will the two Indianas be a class together throughout school years reminding her that her daughter’s name is no longer as unique as she thought?
      Trendy or traditional names are bound to be repeated but I would not use an offbeat name that I got from a family we would cross paths with often.

  11. I feel like we need to get over the idea of unique baby names. When I was a kid there were 3 other Kellys on my street, 2 Erins in my grade, and we all lost count of the Katies (Irish neighborhood, much?). Now people freak out if anyone they’ve ever met has the same name.

    It’s interesting – unique names are definitely on the rise. According to the social security administration, the percent of babies represented by the top 1000 names has been slowly dropping over the last decade or so.

    We decided we don’t want to use the same name as anyone in the immediate family, mostly because it makes weekly dinners are grandmas REALLY confusing. But other than that, I think anything is fair game.

    • There were 4 Katies in my AP English class, myself included. We were all seated one after another, so there were a row of Katies, making it extra confusing when the teacher called on one of us. We all eventually became known as Katie Lastname because otherwise it was too confusing.

      But if your child shares a name with one or two other kids? Not a big deal.

      • I wasn’t even the only Kelly F in my class, so all through elementary I had to write “Kelly Fa” on all my papers. The real kicker was that we had the same middle name, so anything with initials needed four letters as well.

        I’m a big fan of interesting middle names. They make a good backup if there’s name confusion.

        • Your story reminded me of the fact I went to school with a Katherine Rose Flaherty who had a brother named Sean Patrick Flaherty. There was another brother-sister pair in the school who had the same names, middle name and all. And they were in the same grade as their counterpart. Their grades kept getting mixed up in the school’s system.

      • I agree that people can get too hung up on uniqueness (myself included) but there is a difference between copying an unusual name within the same year and independently choosing the same name.
        My best friend’s mom told everyone her chosen name during her pregnancy, but then her cousin gave birth a month earlier and used “her” name so she chose another. I heard this story when we were in high school and her mother was not a petty or bitter woman, this was just one of her biggest disappointments in life.

    • I’m trying to get over the need to have a unique name. While we have a ton of different interesting ideas for girls names, the only boy names my husband and I can agree on are all in the top 20. I was totally against this for a while. Then I realized that my name was second in popularity behind Jennifer for the year I was born and my husband’s name was 13th. We are not permanently scarred from this. Our children will survive if they have to go by “first name last initial ” every once in a while.
      Not only that, but you can’t really predict popularity . My friend thought she was choosing a relatively uncommon name 9 years ago, but now her daughter is in a class with 2 other Isabels.

      • That’s a good way to look at it. I had a laurel, Laura, and Loren in 2nd grade, 3 Jonathans in 5th grade, so I’ve always wanted to avoid that with my kids. My husband however likes the “normal” names you hear all the time. If we are lucky enough to have a kid we will have a difficult time agreeing!

        • My husband and I don’t agree much at all. He likes girls names that were popular when we were growing up to the point where I’m thinking “so were these girls you had crushes on in high school or something?” I like fancy names that he can’t stand, probably because I have always thought Amy was a little boring. The only names we agree on are what my coworker calls “old lady” names. Oh well, our child will survive.

      • With our first son, we were all set on a name. A week before he was due, we found out that his first name was second or third popular for boys in our state. I went through a whole panic (I was 39 weeks pregnant and emotional, after all) about this until I finally realized that I still loved the name and even if it was popular, I wanted it.

        He’s now 4, and we rarely run into another kid with his name. I know a few older boys with his name, and once in awhile I hear someone yelling it at the playground, but it’s really not that common. I think, as others have said, the diversity of names make each name less common even though it may still be highly ranked.

      • I don’t know…sometimes it can be confusing. My name isn’t super common, yet I worked for a season at a small department story where there was another Jamie, AND a Janie, AND two of my corkers including my boss both had lazy eyes. I never knew when I was being spoken to.

    • No kidding. Go to a cemetary, and about half of the women buried there are named Mary or Ann. The men are are James or Joseph or George. Though…there are also plenty of unique names, both in how old fashioned the are (Constance, Gertrude, Prudence) and just oddball. I have a great great great something uncle whose name was Orange, and I guess somewhere I have a great great great something aunt named Lettuce.

    • I’ve always been fascinated by names, and I love my role as a Sunday school teacher because I get to watch naming trends! Current trend: names ending with ‘N’.

      Alden, Carson, Jaxon, Mason, Jalen, Aidan, Kaden, Madison, Peyton, Braelynn, Ethan, Hayden, Logan, Brayden, Jordan, Austin, Addison, Lillian, Keenan, Brooklyn, Tristan, Megan, Galen, Jaden… <– all actual names from my class πŸ™‚

  12. If you love the name, then go for it! Especially as this sounds like a person you don’t know well. We named our little girl Storm, for lots of reasons, and while we wanted a unique name I would have no issue of their being another Storm in her class or hearing of someone else with the same name. I think getting possessive over a name is really silly. My little sister, now 18, has grown up being in the same schools and now college with another Mathilda Elizabeth and its never bothered either of them, they’ve always been friends!

  13. If I had been a boy, my mom wanted to name me Ryan. I have a cousin (about 9 months older than me) named Ryan. Apparently it caused quite the stir amongst the family. We have different last names, his family lived in Indiana, mine in Texas, we hardly ever see each other. My mom probably would have done it if I had turned out to be a boy! Like other commenters said, no one owns a name. If it were me, I’d name your child the name you love.

  14. Our son’s name is the same as our friends’ son. We liked it and we used it. We thought they might be offended but they were/are totally cool about it. Their second son’s name is the same as a mutual friend’s son’s name, too. We just have to say “MY-so-and-so” sometimes! Our daughter’s name is becoming popular in our social circle, too. I say use it!

  15. I find the whole ‘owning a name’ thing odd, but maybe that’s because I grew up a Jennifer? Plenty of us around! We are naming our daughter Gwendolyn, which is unusual in our area. However, I met another momma online who has a Gwendolyn, and thought it was awesome! I suppose I look at it as, this other woman out there loves my baby’s name as much as I do! And that’s neat!

  16. Oh man, do I ever have opinions about this. I don’t think you really have the right to own a name or really hold a grudge about someone using one you like.

    My best friend and I were due within 6 days of one another and we only told one another the names just in case we had the same ones in mind, but if we had fallen in love with similar or the same names it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Luckily we had fairly different taste. She, however, was in love with my friend’s daughter’s name (Ava), who she had only met a couple of times. She almost didn’t use it, but I convinced her that my friend wouldn’t care and she should go with what she wanted. When I mentioned it to my other friend, she said she’d have been weirded out if she hadn’t used it because of her. So there’s that.

    We kept our names under wraps because my family is mostly teachers and I wanted them to meet our baby and associate the name with her instead of with a child from their classrooms. We wanted to use a name from my side of the family for a middle name and when I told my mom this, she suggested that I run the names by my cousins in case they wanted to use the same one. I refused. None of the men in my family would have cared, and the women either already have a couple of kids or are no where near having kids themselves. The ones who already have a couple of kids didn’t run their ideas past me, and I would have told them not to worry about it if they did. If they did happen to want to use the same name as us, it’s really not a big deal for second cousins to have a name in common, especially considering for our child, it’s a middle name (plus how awesome would it be to have 2 kids named after you?).

    Basically, I think people are generally pretty reasonable about these things, but there will be people out there who you might not want to share a name with and who might not want to share one with you. It’s up to you to decide what you want to prioritize.

  17. I worry about this in relation to a pregnancy loss forum I post on where parents have chosen names for their lost babies. By definition, they won’t be going to school together, but it can cause real pain to a parent after a loss, even if the use is unintentional.

    • This, definitely. I’m really hesitant to tell people the name of the baby I lost- Lillian Alette- because while lillian wouldnt bother me- being so common- Alette really, really would. I don’t think I could be around their child.

      Fortuately (or not so fortunately) my second miscarriage doesn’t run that risk, as the baby was known only as little Bun. bun in the oven? Yeah.

      In the long run though, I thin it would depend who it was and if they asked. If a good friend asked me, I’d see it more as honoring her memory than “stealing” a name.

    • My mum lost a baby at full term and had a friend “steal” the name. They weren’t friends after that, and even though they just drifted apart, I wonder if it was worth the pain it caused? I know a name is important but eesh. (I am genuinely wondering here! Not judging, just…. not sure what I’d do in that situation!)

    • This is definitely a big consideration. My aunt’s daughter was killed in a tragic accident, along with the father, when she was a year old. A year after that happened, my mother was pregnant with me and was in love with that name, and briefly considered using a variant of it, before ultimately decided that it would have been a very cruel thing to do to my aunt.

      • Agreed. I love the name Adele and it would be absolutely perfect since my future husband is French and we would want a name that works in French and English. But I had a cousin named Adele who died of SIDS. It happened years and years before I was born but I know that my aunt would be really upset if we used that name.

  18. I would strongly suggest to anyone who wants to name their kid a “place”, i.e. Brooklyn, Savannah, Indiana, etc, to visit that place and know a little about it first! Sometimes the “place” won’t match you or your child at all. I say this because I live on the Indiana border. I love the WORD Indiana, but the PLACE…*cough*.

  19. Such a tricky one. I commend your desire to be sensitive to the other mom. How would you feel if the roles were reversed? And how important is it in the long run? Certainly no child will suffer if they share a name with another child. So, if we take the kids out of the equation, we’re left with the parents. It’s not like you’re going all single white female on this woman. So yes, a relative stranger may deserve some consideration, which you have done (above and beyond, even), but it’s not copyright infringement. It’s a baby name. She got it from somewhere too….

  20. Hi All.

    Thank you SO much for your encouragement and thoughtful responses. To clarify, I do NOT know the other mom. However, I did message her, and she responded as posted above. A few days later however, she wrote back, in much more detail. She used very strong words, including “breaks my heart” and “feel robbed”. She also told me that she would have been fine with it had I come up with it on my own, and that had the two little Indis ran into one another one day, that would have been fine, neat even. And to be honest, I understand where this other momma is coming from! That’s why I wanted to talk to her in the first place!

    However, I found the whole “encounter” so uncomfortable, that I really don’t feel I could possibly name my baby Indiana now, as there are very strong, sad, feelings attached to it (from the other momma). And I find it so sad that I tried to do what was right, but letting her know what I was possibly planning, when, had I not said anything, everything would have been fine in the end. Baby hasn’t come yet, and we’re still undecided (we’re big believers in letting baby name itself), but I just don’t know if I can name it after another baby, when the other momma was so against it….

    • Oh man, I am so sorry. I am sure you would be able to get over the bad feelings attache tdo the name, since your kid and your family will be around a lot longer than your brief relationship to the online mom. But on the other hand, make sure you let yourself recognize that things have changed, if you need to, and to go with that flow and know that another, equally perfect name will come up, even if it’s after you meet your child and have gotten to know them a little. I am pretty sure you will end up loving whatever name you give him/her, and even names are permanent if any problems come up. I just say go with what feels right, after it all, and try not to think too much into it or about it. Good luck!

      • Where exactly does she think most people come up with names? I seriously doubt they “came up with it on their own” – they likely saw or heard it somewhere and liked it (whether they remember that or not).

    • Honestly, if you love the name, go for it. It sounds like this woman is creating drama for herself, and you don’t need to buy into it. Making choices to appease someone else’s crazy is a huge waste of energy!

    • Ugh! Such a bummer, I totally understand you not wanting to name your baby that now. I wouldn’t have seen what the big deal was since she was an online acquaintance, but since she expressed such strong feelings I would feel uncomfortable too. I also think she was being a little overdramatic since you don’t even know each other!

    • here’s the thing. it’s one thing to want your kid to have a unique name outside the top 100 or top 500 names in the country. it is entirely another thing to want your kid to be the ONLY one with a certain name. if she wanted her kid to have a truly unique name, she should not have named it after a movie franchise and a state. she should have invented a name, mashed up some syllables she liked and added a Z or a silent G. please let her know she should do that for her next special snowflake.

      i too prefer special names outside the top 1000 for my babies, but i recognize that i am the product of a certain time and place and culture. other moms like me are possibly going to like the same names as i do. it’s a very human thing to give your kid a connection with a name – that’s WHY we like family names, historic names, place names, pop culture names, etc.

      she can have her feelings, but that doesn’t mean that her feelings are right or should sway your opinion. i do feel that she is intentionally trying to create enough bad associations with the name for you to put you off it – and unfortunately, it sounds like she’s succeeded.

      let your baby choose its own name, but certainly dont let some stranger on the internet talk you out of a name you love. in all honestly, you probably love it because of your associations with the movie franchise, and hearing it on her kid made it seem like a real option to your ears.

      • I could not agree with this more. I get wanting an unusual name – that’s why I ended up with ‘Kendall’ after all – but expecting true uniqueness is a horse of a different color. Honestly, unless you’re prepared to move to a very small town, chances are your kid’s going to know at least a couple others with their name. I think some expectant parents get too caught up in making this huge, permanent decision, and start thinking that their kid personality and identity will stop being unique the moment someone their name isn’t.

    • That is a bit extreme of her!! I think if its a close friend or family member it can be a bit trickier, but really that lady had no right to ruin the name for you. Have you thought about doing something similar instead? Like Indigo (the colour )- can still be shortened to Indi, or just doing the shortened version as her name? I dislike the name Olivia because of someone I grew up knowing, but I ADORE the name Liv, so this is on our maybe list instead.
      Also I have an Ava who is now 8.5…. when I picked her name it wasnt even on the top 100 list, 1 year later it was in the top 10 here in New Zealand.

      • My dog came with the name Olivia, which I wasn’t too fond of, but we shortened it to “Livvy,” which seems cuter! Also we occasionally sing her name “O-li-vi-AAAAAA!” to the tune of the Activia yogurt commercial. πŸ˜›

      • How on earth is that extreme?! I see a lot of comments being harsh on the other mother, and she was more than reasonable IMO. I’d have been a little upset, kudos to her for being so calm – especially with such a young baby. In a few years it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.

    • Her reaction seems a little strong to me… but, on the other hand, I agree that I would probably be more bothered by someone intentionally naming their kid after my kid than I would be if we just happened to discover another kid with the same name.

      However, that would be more how I would react to a friend using the same name… not a stranger. I don’t think it would bother me if a stranger was inspired by my name choice.

      Either way, good luck!

    • I’m sorry that it is tainted for you now. Give it time and decide. I don’t agree with her move to dump all those feelings on you in an attempt to sway you.

      • Seriously. I’m sorry you were made to feel that way about a name you love. Maybe your daughter will come out just begging for that name; I might not take it off the table yet!

    • If it’s any consolation, I can think of several celebs that named their kids Indiana. So I think the other mom was overreacting about “but you didn’t think of it independently”

  21. As a person with a pretty unique name, I gotta say that it’s awesome being the only Ndeya I know. That said, it’s also really cool to meet someone who has the same name as yours (which has happened only once in my entire life, and holy crap, we both live in California! Awesome!). I don’t have kids yet, but I already have names the wife and I would like to use. Definitely keeping them to ourselves (I’m a little superstitious) but if one of my friends chose a name I picked for one of my kidlets, I wouldn’t be mad because, I dunno, great minds think alike?

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