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The Debate on “Stealing” Baby Names

The Debate on “Stealing” Baby Names

We’ve all heard dramatic stories about parents “stealing” baby names — when a mom chooses a baby name that a friend, coworker or family member had planned to use, or even already used.  While the term "stealing" clearly has a negative connotation, not all moms agree that the practice it describes is necessarily bad. Here we've rounded up some of the diverse perspectives that moms have on this baby naming issue.

Name-Stealing is Rude and Hurtful

Certainly, one of the widely expressed views in Circle of Moms communities is that expecting moms should steer clear of baby names that close friends and family members have recently used (or will use). As Sharon C. shared: “In close friends/family situations, I do believe there should be a certain level of mutual respect towards a name. There were a few names I would have considered for my son, but on both sides of the family, the name had been used.”

For parents who deliberately choose an uncommon baby name, copycat naming behavior is especially frustrating. As Krista E. notes: “Everybody likes to feel as though their kid is special and unique…Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can also be annoying.”



In some cases, having a baby name borrowed is not only frustrating, but downright hurtful. For example, Marina G. came up with the baby name Eva-lyn Graciela to honor two of her deceased family members, only to have a “friend” use the exact name, hyphen included! “This name meant a lot to us,” she shared, and it was “ruined by someone else being lazy.”

Are Names Meant to Be Shared?

On the other end of the spectrum are moms who don't think baby naming “stealing” is a big deal, and that women shouldn't be upset if their favorite names are used by others. 

Some moms, like Jane M., are truly surprised that name-sharing is considered rude, since in many cultures having family names is the norm: "There are so many Franks and Peters [in my family], I can't even count them. My four cousins (all sisters) used Rose as the middle name for all of their girls because it was their grandmother's name and [they] wanted to honor her with each of their children. In an Italian family, you'd be hard pressed to find an original, never-used name. No one ever gets offended by using the same name as someone else."

Similarly, Karen B. says she would take it as a compliment to have her baby name choice 'copied': "If I came up with a name and someone else used it after me I would be honored." She also argues that every mom has the right to pick whatever name she likes most. “I refuse to give up a name I love for my child just because someone else is using it and I don't care if it is an acquaintance, friend or family member. I named my daughter the same name my sister-in-law used knowing she would throw a tantrum (which she did...I told her to get over it). Now she loves the pictures she takes of the two Megans together and says how cute it is."


The one piece of advice suggested by both perspectives in this debate? Once you've got your heart set on a particular name, keep your lips sealed! As Cherry W. advises: “I would just keep the baby's name a secret...especially if you have friends or family who are expecting! ... This sort of thing happens all of the time.”

Have you had an experience with baby name “stealing”?

Image Source: iStockPhoto

Join The Conversation
Plushy15443120 Plushy15443120 3 years
Omg yes! I totally wanted to name my kid Reg or Arnold in honour of some very amazing people but my friend (let's call her "J") had her baby first and she called it REG! Another bint I know called hers Arnold. I can't believe it. So in the end I've settled for Norris, after a diamond of a geezer called Norris Cole (not the good looking one, the other one, the geriatric one who lives on a really small and gossipy steet). Hopefully no one will steal this name off me. I'm going to keep it to myself until I can find a surrogate mother for my very own little Norris. If it's a girl I'll call it Rivita (after Rita but not because my auntie is called Rita and that would be ridiculous so the name of my favourite friend's slimming biscuit came to mind, it's so pretty!) ~Plush
Audrey15427882 Audrey15427882 3 years
I used to have very strong feelings about name-snatching (a definite no-no between friends and family) and used to be among like minded people. However, the more sensitive this topic became between expecting or trying moms, the more I saw that everyone is going to name their children what they want regardless of someone else's feelings. More so between family because they figure you'll just have to get over it. Unfortunately, it just causes a disarray of useless emotions and resentment. I say put a lid on it until the baby arrives and answer any comparisons with "yes we liked that name too".
TammyChisholm TammyChisholm 5 years
My cousin accused me of stealing her baby name. I was given a list of what I could and could not name my second child from my grandmother. The name that I used for my son's middle name was not on that list. When I told my grandmother his name, she wanted me to get the birth registration papers back from the nurse and change his name because my cousin had liked it and wanted to use it..... So long story short, she used it as a first name for her son 2 months later for her son and I have only spoken to her once since...... Hurt me to no end that nobody wanted to hurt her feelings, but it was fine to trample on mine. And it was a COMPLETELY out of left field name. I researched the names I used for my son's and her boyfriend told me he was USING it because it sounded cool. He had no idea of the meaning behind it.......
ShannonWiehl ShannonWiehl 5 years
I believe that it is rude for a friend or family member to steal a baby name that was k.own that you were gonna use for your little one. There are so many names out there, including unique names. There is no reason somebody should do that. Unless they just wanted to hurt you. Now if you ended up using a different name for your lil one, and your friend wanted to use the name. I think should ask if it would be alright. Its just respectful IMO.
TrishaAdams82811 TrishaAdams82811 5 years
Do you think it is still considered stealing if a friend or family member was going to use a name, but then decided on a different name for their baby and years after you used the name? My cousin was going to name theirs second son, Seth Ashton, then decided to name him Ayden Joseph. 4 years later, we named our son, Seth Bennett. They were livid with us and it is still an issue. My son is now 7 yrs old. The thing is, they had another child after Ayden and it was a girl. They told everyone that 3 kids was enough and they were done. First of all, I dont remember them telling anyone that they were originally going to name Ayden Seth. I could see them being upset if we stole the name prior to Ayden being born, but this is not the case...yet it is still as source of contention if baby names are brought up. 19 mos ago we brought another baby boy home and we named him Kyle Ethan. I had to call and get permission from a different cousin to make sure it was ok to use this name because it was Kyle was a name he had considered using if he had a son. And Ethan is really close to Ian and Evan, which are names he likes also. At that time, he did not think he was going to have anymore children, yet God had different plans and his wife got pregnant again, this time with a boy. When everyone asked if they had picked out any names yet, my other cousin, the ones who claim we stole the name Seth, told them to keep the name a secret so we couldnt steal another name...
NicoleDePaolo NicoleDePaolo 5 years
You should be able to name your child anythig you want. It is YOUR child
TrinaCastle81988 TrinaCastle81988 5 years
This is funny. I am surprised how angry people get over such things. This happened to me. My brother-in-law and his wife like the name that my husband and I had picked out for our future daughter and named their daughter it. So, when the time came we had to chose another name for our daughter. No big deal. Yes, the name meant something to us and did not mean the same to them, but they liked it. And other than being slightly annoyed, we got over it. Really, this isn't life or death here. And it is certainly nothing worth severing relationships over. We have never even brought it up to them. For a number of reasons (it's been many years, we would look ridiculous, etc), but mainly because it would have been rude.
LindsayJ74027 LindsayJ74027 5 years
i am having a baby girl in december, and i decided to name her Braelin (i took my name, and the fathers name and put them together, and thats what i got) i had an ex boyfriend (who i don't talk to, don't even have on facebook) message me accusing me of stealing his SONS name (braylen) i was absolutly blown away. i did not STEAL his sons name, i came up with it on my own, everyone agrees with me that it is a GIRLS name. he is still convinced i somehow, for some reason stole it from him i think these people need to grow up and realize there are over 6 billion people in the world....i was one of 3 Lindsays in my class in grade 2, did my parents and the other girls parents get upset with eachother? no, because it happens....
LauraJillGoodacre LauraJillGoodacre 5 years
At the end of the day, pick a name that you love. Co-workers and friends come and go, your children are permanent additions to your life. I do agree that if a close family member has already "used" a name find another one - it get's confusing when there are four cousins with the same name ! LOL =)
SavHyatoola SavHyatoola 5 years
I agree with not discuss names until baby is born. If someone uses it before then it's just coincidence. If they use it after, then it's flattery!
EmilyJanke EmilyJanke 5 years
I like unique names and I always said if I had a little girl I would name her Senaida after my mother. When I did have a girl I used my mothers name as my daughter middle name. Ten months later when my brothers wife gave birth to a girl he said since we'd already taken mom's name he was going to use mom's nickname of Senny. My mother was overwhelmed and honored that both her granddaughters were named after her. Both girls are now beautiful young women that are honored to carry their grandmothers name.
MeredithHills MeredithHills 5 years
Nobody Steals a name. If you like a name, then feel free to chose whatever name it is. I think it is rediculous when people say you stole their childs name When they go to scool are you going to walk up to every parent who named their kid Michael, or Steve or Ashley or Hannah and say they stole your kids name even though you have never met them before the school year? My friend didn't tell anyone what she was going to name her kids until after they were born so nobody would "Steal" her kids names. HAHA give me a break. I wasn't pregnant at the time, how was I going to steal her kids names. I will name my child whatever name I chose and I am sorry if a friend or family member has already used it. It is my kid. If they have a problem with it, then it is their problem. Chances are, there are going to be other kids in the world with the same name somewhere. Get over it people and find something important to fight about. ( I am pregnant with my first Child. I am going to name him Braeden, feel free to "Steal" it LOL)
ChristinaRigsby ChristinaRigsby 5 years
If you like a name for your child, there is no reason under the sun for you not to name your child that. Though my husband and I steered clear of repeating names because we wanted to use grandparents' names. My name came from my grandmother from D. Christine to me as Christina M. and now to my daughter, as D. Christine. It is an heirloom name, so to say. Our older daughter has both of her grandmother's middle names to make hers: Abi"gail" Ruth, though the "gail" part is spelled differently in my mama's name. So, name your baby what you want, you will be using it for the rest of your life to talk, call, or whatever else for her/him.
amorris72200 amorris72200 5 years
So I know it seems petty, but sometimes it can be very touchy. In my situation, I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks, we found out the baby was a girl, there was no closure for us, and so we decided that because we were not having any more children (we have two healthy boys) we would give out Angel Baby the name we had picked out if we ever did have a girl. We think of her often, though she seems nothing to everyone else in our Family, she was ours for those short 7 weeks! I would be highly upset if someone we were close to that knew of our past, to think that they can replace her, UNLESS they asked us first and wanted to use the name to honor her, but if they just seemed too flippant with the name, it would really hurt! Also, we just had a sister that decided to name her new daughter, the spinoff of our youngest sons name, Eli is our son, and Elin is our new niece! It unsettled me for a bit, but I'm ok with that kinda of usage. But I think it would have been better had she asked me if I would care, just to be POLITE! Relationships are about manners, and common curtsies, and caring about others feelings! That's just imho!
LauraZoeyBlack LauraZoeyBlack 5 years
Unless it's a family member or friend that you see on a regular basis I say 'steal' away! It's just a name and there's always going to be other kids sharing your child's name anyways. I'd see it as a compliment as long as the person wasn't in my everyday life. My daughter is named Fierna, and I'd hope some people think it's beautiful enough to use it themselves! Just not my sisters, friends, cousins, brothers, etc.
LucyCanney LucyCanney 5 years
You can't 'steal' a name!
RebekahTulloch RebekahTulloch 5 years
I had planned to use the name Blake for my oldest son but my cousin, who gave birth to her son a couple of moths before me, used the name for her son. No biggie. I just picked another name. I ended up naming my son after her brother, who is like a brother to me. He was fine with it and so was my aunt, his mother. My youngest is named after my mother-in-law, her father and my uncle who passed away. His daughter, my cousin, also has a son that shares the name in his honor. We are both okay with it. I guess what I am trying to say is, if it were not for "Borrowed" names, two of my three boys would be nameless. lol. I don't see a problem with it but I guess it would be wise to make sure that all parties involved are in agreement and are fine with it.
AmberBassett AmberBassett 5 years
i called my son MAX he was born in feb, my friend then called her son MAX 6 months later WTF!!
KateCox42660 KateCox42660 5 years
It's only wrong if you know in advance that your friend or family member is pregnant and already announced the name to everyone and you have your baby first and name your child the same name. It is rude and selfish. now if the child is already born there is no reason why the kids cannot have the same name. It's really no ones business what you name your child.
JessicaMoore4710 JessicaMoore4710 5 years
I ran in a stranger whose daughter had the same name, Gwyneth, and she was mad. Like she was being unique. Gwyneth isn't common, but it is not unique. A stranger. Please, like we'll ever meet again.
RhionnaHerbert RhionnaHerbert 5 years
Where do most people get their baby names from? A book. Therefore we are all "stealing" someones baby name. I have a group of friends who have children, within the group there are 2 x Steve, 2 x Matthew, 2 x Emma and that's in a group of of 20 of us in all. If you like a name then use it, true friends won't mind and you'll find ways around any confusion. I would tell a friend that I was going to give a child the same name out of respect!
MikaLeiendecker MikaLeiendecker 5 years
I had an issue with this when me my and my ex's 2 sisters were pregnant. We were talking about names since we were all having girls. The oldest sister already have ella picked out and the middle sister didn't have a name. But me and my ex had the name Zoey picked since day one. Then days later the middle sister who was due first announced they were thinking of Zoey as their daughters name. BOY DID I YELL AT HER!!! It was a slap in the face that shed do that when we had the name set since we found out. Lucky for us her husband decided he did not like the name so she was forced to pick another. But seriously who does that!! I cried for days after she said she was taking our daughters name because the name was special to me and had no meaning for her it was just another name.
LeaBurgess LeaBurgess 5 years
first off, my daughters name is not unique but the spelling may be. Krissta is her name and I wanted it to be different and it is. I've seen plenty of Krista's but not like hers. Her daughter's name is derived from her mother in laws first name & my middle name Halea (pronounced Halle) Like Halle Berry. When she gets older and into school she may have a hard time with it. I have a hard time with my name Lea ( pronounced like LEE a boys name) My mother's sisters name was Lea and I happen to love it but everyone wants to call me Leah. I tried to tell them that two vowels together the first one makes the sound. I would have to tell everyone in the world!!! it's frustrating but I tell them it's Lea not Leah. Most people when I way Lea, they write down Lee. I say, no thats a boys way of spelling Lea. that's what happens when you have other people with that name that don't know how to use it either. Lea Thompson, movie star and Lea Michele who says Leah. wish they would look at it and learn that when 2 vowels are together the first one is sounded. I believe except for Lou. LOL Anyway, good luck all you new moms with naming babies those different and unique names.
LindaBrowder LindaBrowder 5 years
Well If someone were to name their child my son's name i would be honored. His name is Jordon. The "Don" part is after my late father. So I would see it as a tribute to my father!!!! Seriously, get a life too much in the world to deal with than something so trivial...shall we say drama queen?????
SherryWilliams37711 SherryWilliams37711 5 years
you should be able to name your baby any name u want without people saying it's not right. it's just a name and some one else in the world will have the same name anyways so why worry about it. there is so much more in the world to worry about then name people might have or will have, let people choose the name they like.
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