When my husband and I were trying to settle on a name for our first child, we both liked Maya. But a close friend of mine had just named her daughter Maya, so we decided against it. We felt that Maya had already been taken as a baby name.
But how would I have felt if my friend had known that I loved the name Maya and she took it first?
Yesterday, ParentDish’s “The Name Lady” fielded a question from an irate mom-to-be who is annoyed that a friend used her baby name for their new puppy.
Apparently, the woman planned to name her daughter after her late grandmother Annabelle and her friend named her puppy Bella. She’s irked that “people are taking dog names from baby books.”
My first reaction was “get a life, lady!” What’s the big deal? People have been giving dogs “baby” names for generations. In fact, my parents named my childhood dog Jenny and now they have Gracie. And as for laying claim on the name, give me a break. First off, Bella sounds quite different than Annabelle. Secondly, once your daughter is born, nobody is going to connect her with the dog named Bella.
I can confidently say this because I happen to know someone who has two dogs named Jesse and Ruby — the same names as my two daughters!
The scenario reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when George Costanza gives his wife Susan’s cousin names their baby Seven, the name that George had planned to name his future child. George was outraged. Their point was: first come, first serve when it comes to baby names.
Meanwhile, The Name Lady responded more delicately than I would have:
“If a dog steals your grandma’s name, you have the right to steal the dog’s name, don’t you think? Fair is fair,” she wrote. “Seriously, a name with genuine, deep personal significance should never be derailed by a pet.”
I’m not sure I agree with her theory that “there’s a pecking order when it comes to names being “taken,” and the number one spot is occupied by parents honoring someone who was important in their lives.”
According to her naming rules, you could name your baby after a beloved relative even if a close friend has already “used” the name.
“Namesakes get extra leeway,” according to The Name Lady, who generally ascribes to the “first come, first served” rule. If two sisters married men named Ken, they would both have the right to name their son Ken, Jr. if they liked. Sounds fair to me.
But, she points out that the “namesake exception” doesn’t refer to just any distant relative. It has to be someone you genuinely want to honor “because you loved the person, not just because you love the name.”
Personally? I think if you like a name, don’t worry about who else already has it. Who knows if you’ll still be close friends years from now? Also, maybe their kid will take a different nickname. One close friend named his daughter Lilli even though his brother has a daughter named Lily. Sure, it’s confusing, but I have faith that the family will figure it out.
What do you think? Were you concerned that you would “use” a friend or relative’s baby name when you named your child? Do you think it’s possibly to “steal” someone else’s baby name?