January 18, 2007

Naming Rights

My apologies to those of you who are thinking, "Oh my dear god, enough with the baby names," but I have another name-related thing to discuss. Semi-Desperate Housewife's comment on the post "Boy Names" brings up an interesting topic: names that someone you know has already used for their baby.

I have been wondering what the etiquette is for this, and I have not yet found anything standard. There are some people who would say it is never okay to use a name that anyone you know has used, not even if you're not related and you live in different states and you're not really in touch. There are people on the other end of the spectrum who think it's okay for cousins to have the same name.

I'm in the latter group: if a sibling of Paul's or mine named a baby the same thing we'd named one of our babies, I'd think that was fun. But I'm aware that not everyone is at this end of the spectrum with me, and so I like to be careful--and I get tense if someone I know is considering a name we'd consider, because I'm worried they'll use it and then I'll wonder if we're "allowed" to use it or not.

What do you think, and what have you heard are the rules? Ask first? No one owns a name? First come, first served? Does it depend on the popularity of the name; i.e., no one can say "Hey, Emily is our name!" but it would be out of line to use the name Apollonia right after your friend did? Does it depend on your connection to the other person; i.e., the closer the relationship, the more off-limits the name? If a friend or relative uses a name you wanted to use, how could you broach the topic to find out if they'd be okay with you using it too? Is there ever such a thing as having "dibs" on a name you haven't yet used but would want to use some day?


desperate housewife said...

Dibs... That makes me think of an early episode of Sex and the City, in which Charlotte gets furious while at the baby shower of an old friend upon discovering that said friend has "stolen" her secret baby girl name, Shayla.
Anyhoo. I would agree with your thought about common vs. uncommon names. If someone names their kid, like, Hannah, you can't be mad if someone else in your playgroup has that name too. On the other hand, if you tell your out-of-state cousin that you've named the new baby Conrad and then at Christmas they show up with their new bundle of joy, Conrad, I think you'd have the right to be a little miffed. What are the chances they'd have picked that name otherwise?

Beth said...

When I was pregnant, Chris said we couldn't use Ava because the brother of a guy he hadn't spoken to in 15 years had used it, but Sophia was ok even though an actual friend of mine had used it. I think it depends how much you want the name.

Swistle said...