Conflict over Baby Names

Once my sister gathered all of us siblings around a table and pronounced that we were going to decide on the spot who gets dibs on various names for our upcoming babies. By “upcoming,” I mean possibly/hypothetically/hopefully upcoming, not yet expected, in the biological sense. As I understand it, one of the names I’d chosen was one she’d had on her short list of possibilities, and she wanted to prevent any future name-nappings. The rest of us balked at this idea. First come, first serve, we said.

Fast forward to me at a friend’s baby shower, celebrating an actually-upcoming baby. My friend cornered me and got a serious, nervous look on her face. She informed me that she had long wanted to name a baby the name of one of mine and was miffed when the name was announced at church after the birth.

She either subscribed to, or was concerned I subscribed to, a mommy code that includes not naming your child a name that is currently in use by another child in the ward. Or maybe the restriction only applies to babies both born within a short-ish window of time, or maybe only babies of friends of a certain closeness and not just any ward member.

At any rate, she told me that when the ward boundaries were redrawn a couple months previously, splitting us into different wards, she was glad to realize that the name was now available again. But, being that we were still friends, she still wanted to make sure it was ok with me. Not ask my permission, exactly, because it had the air of being rather a done deal. But at least give me a little forewarning. I told her that I wouldn’t have minded in the least, even if we hadn’t been separated by the boundary re-draw.

So in mulling over these events, a few thoughts by way of analysis come to mind.

First, it strikes me as reasonable that, in general, one would prefer to avoid duplication of names among first cousins. This is hardly an endorsement of sitting around a table with notepads and pre-reserving baby names, if for no other reason than how useless that is given the uncertainties of life (also: a tad crass). But for families that remain in frequent close contact at that level, it could get confusing to have ambiguity when saying a name. So can we interpret the concern about this issue from my friend as evidence of how much we see our ward families as family? And if we do see our ward families as family, how odd that the vagaries of boundary changes can rip and stir and mix us all over without warning.

Second, is the desire to avoid duplication of names really springing from the objective of avoiding ambiguity? Or is it just that it is trendy to have “unique” names, even if that just means inventing unholy spellings of conventional names? (see also: this)

Has anyone else had experiences with clashes over baby names? Has someone used your favorite name before you could? Have you upset someone by being an unwitting name thief? Anyone have stories of systems for preventing clashes?

Bookmark Conflict over Baby Names

Comments

  1. Aaron Brown says:

    Cynthia, these issues don’t even arise if you’ve decided, in advance, to submit the decision to name your baby to the collective will of the Bloggernacle. For example, see:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/06/16/choosing-baby-names-or-help-me-name-my-kid/.

    Or, you could go all Planet of the Apes-y, and select random names from a dictionary. The wife and I tried this for our daughter, but we finally decided that “Colonoscopy” was less a sonorous thing-of-beauty than it was a recipe for eventual bullying and mockery.

    AB

  2. I prefer unusual enough names that no one in the family would dare duplicate them, but not Palin family weird, nor will I ever do the stupid spellings.

    I have my heart set on Evelyn Ivy Meyers if I have another daughter (though I am cautious of Evelyn’s current rise in popularity). I had a niece named Lillian born last year, and I found out after she was born that my sister-in-law had almost named her Evelyn, but I never told her that I liked the name so it wouldn’t have been a swipe. Now that she knows I’m in love with it she’s promised not to use it, though I wouldn’t have gotten upset if she did.

    I don’t really have any rules for this stuff though. I feel like it’s first come first pick. If a friend used a name that I’d been in love with long before they picked it, I probably would not give them a heads-up if I decided to use it as well. If I used a name that I fell in love with after they used it, then I’d probably at least let them know.

  3. I had one rule when it came to baby names:

    “Yes, Dear.”

    The only exception was our first boy. My maternal grandfather’s line has a tradition of including one particular name in the full name of the first boy that now goes back about eight or nine generations, I think. I really like that tradition, and since I share my first name with my father, our oldest son is the third generation.

    Otherwise, it was:

    “Yes, Dear.”

  4. Oh goodness.

    Happened in my extended family.

    My aunt got all miffed and angry when my mum named my siblings names that were slightly similar (and rhymed a little).

    Pssht. I’ll name my kids what ever I want. I don’t care if another person has an issue with it either.

  5. I can’t imagine getting together with my siblings to discuss baby names before anyone is actually pregnant. I’d say if they thought it was that big of a deal that if they showed me a positive pregnancy test they could have dips on 1 boy and 1 girls name. otherwise they are just out of luck. I just can’t imagine not naming my kid John because my sister might want to name a kid John 15 years from now.

    As far as using names that are already in use in the ward i wouldn’t care. but i wouldn’t use a name of any of my friends/friends’s kids for the simple reason i wouldn’t want to name my kid after any of them. As far as getting upset about using a name i can’t quite understand that either. I mean would someone really think it was a personal insult if i used the same name for my kids as they did for theirs? Of course if they complain you could always say something like “i can’t help it you used a name that happends to be in my family tree” and i’m sure if i search long enough it will be true for pritty much any name. except maybe for the names like colonoscopy but i don’t think i have any desire to use that one myself.

  6. As a man, I am inclined to think that this is almost exclusively an XY thing.

    Once my wife vetoed “Rocket” as a boys name I lost interest.

  7. ola senor says:

    This has actually happened in our family. Not to the point of actually reserving names on a piece of paper, but two things have happened. One actually, the other was a fait accompli and done before I came on the scene. The first is that my wife has had an informal conversation to the extent of “I like XY and WZ for boys..” with each of the sis in laws and family. This is apparently sufficient to call “dibs” on the name. Thus if anyone names their child Agatha karen, she is going to be miffed.

    The second is that certain names are reserved for the oldest. My Brother in law is the only boy, and thus the only one to pass on the family name, and his name is also a familiy name. This name is sort of off limits until he has a boy and decides not to use it. There has been no discussion to this extent, everyone just sort of knows it.

    To be honest, I don’t really care if one of my nephews shares part of the same name as my son or daughter. My concern is simply practical. I don’t want to have to constantly be clarifying which Sampson we are talking about. So one better be sampson, the other sam, or one Mizer Sampson and the other Sampson Johansen.

    As to ward, neighborhood,friends etc. Who cares.

  8. Jennifer in GA says:

    When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter we visited mt DH’s family. We told them what we planned on naming the baby, and my SIL informed us that was one of the names she had picked for her first daughter. Seeing as how she wasn’t even pregnant (or married, but that didn’t stop her the first time she got pregnant) we shrugged our shoulders and used the name. But this is also the same SIL who named her second son Jarrett, when her sister already had a son named Jared.

    We have a woman in our ward who made it known she would be highly upset if anyone used the name they used for their oldest daughter, especially since they used it because it was a family name. But she’s a nut anyway, so people pretty much ignore her.

  9. http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager

    At this cool site, you can see a graph of how popular names are over time.

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    I call dibs on “Seven.”

    We should do it like the Romans. If Julius had daughters, they would simply be named with the feminine form of the nomen and a Roman numeral: Julia I, Julia II, etc.

    (Wrote the classics geek who named his firstborn daughter Emily after the Roman clan the Aemilii.)

  11. I think you should name children with pretty names. The only duplication at the cousin level among the families has gone very well with both cousins pleased about it.

  12. Among first cousins in my family, we have two Erics, two Scotts, two Rons, two Christophers, and two Kathryns. My mom and her sisters didn’t speak for almost a year over the whole Scott fiasco.

    Meh. Who cares? Name your kid what you want, and what they look like. My policy was not to tell until the kid was named. If anyone didn’t like it, too bad- it was done.

  13. Mark Brown says:

    Wow. WOW. I had never thought of this before, and it causes me to wonder what else I am missing out on in terms of subtle social interactions. Do people really feel dissed if somebody else has the same name? Wow.

    Isn’t it a little different with boy’s names? If Grandpa is named George, Dad is George Jr., grandson is George III, do people object? I know a family where a son married a woman who has the same name as his mother, and his brother married a woman who already had a daughter with that same name. They seem to get along fine.

    I will say this. If the ward busybody announced that she was planning to name her future hypothetical daughters Kathy and Joanne so everybody else better just keep their hands off, I would be significantly more, rather than less inclined to name a daughter Kathy Joanne Brown. Significantly more. Sic semper tyrannis.

  14. John Mansfield says:

    We named my oldest son Anson, after an uncle and several ancestors on my mother’s side. It was a bit disorienting for my uncle when we visited to hear his name being called, and for the first time in twenty-five years, it was being used to call someone else. For us Johns, our name is completely contextual.

  15. The technical term for people in the ward who steal a secretly-held-name-in-waiting is “name pirate.”

  16. esodhiambo says:

    I view wards as highly transient, so duplicate names are no biggie: you or I will probably move before these kids hit Primary. It would be different, I guess, if we both owned adjoining family farms in Malad ID, I guess, and would be forever linked.

    I have been somewhat nervous I was “taking” favorite names from siblings–most of my sisters are not married and I know they have opinions, and I know it is no fun to watch me have babies while they would dearly like to. I would hate to exacerbate that by stealing their favorite name. That said, we have quite different naming ethos, I think, so no harm done so far.

    AND, I wouldn’t mind if my siblings or friends used my names. The cousins I have with same names (it happens when you have 50 cousins on one side, especially if they favor Bible names) seem to really enjoy that connection. I have a sister and a cousin who share unusual first and middle names–I have NO idea how that happened, except it was the 70s and my mom and her brother lived far away–and the girls seem to have no problem with it.

    I strongly believe it good practice NOT to discuss hypothetical or future names until the baby is actually born.

  17. Researcher says:

    Interesting essay and comments. It hasn’t been an issue in my extended family for the simple fact that none of us have been interested in the same selection of names. As a matter of policy, I would agree with “first come, first served.”

    When we were expecting our first, my father-in-law submitted a list of names for our consideration. They were all ROFL Utah Mormon names. (You know, the kind like LaRayette or LaFawnduh or Marvakay. The kind that sound like African-American names. The kind of names I’m a little too familiar with, because I have one of them, don’t use it, and have always disliked it. Living very far away from Utah, if people see my name, many of them assume I’m black until they see me or hear me talk. But my in-laws love my name and probably can’t understand why we never used any names from their list.)

  18. I like to use names that are not usual, but don’t sound weird, either. And, they have to be real names. My siblings and I all have unusual names, but despite having a time when I hated it, I love it now.

  19. I too prefer unusual names, and I prefer they have some sort of meaning to me. It doesn’t have to be a profound meaning mind you, just some connection with me. We also will go with more common if the meaning is enough.

    Years ago, when we had planned on having more children than we have, one of the names we had chosen was Jonas. This was mostly because it was a BOM name and I always liked the Weezer song “My name is Jonas”. When we stopped at three, and didn’t have a chance to use that name, my sister announced that she was now claiming Jonas as her own when she has kids. My wife also has changed her mind on the name because she doesn’t want to look like we named our son after the Jonas brothers.

    I still like the name and will advocate using it if we ever adopt.

  20. Thus if anyone names their child Agatha karen, she is going to be miffed.

    I’d rather be called Miffed than Agatha.

  21. In my ward, there were two babies born within a couple of weeks of each other with the same (fairly unusual) name. As far as I know, there wasn’t any conflict about it.

    My sister-in-law and I had the same favorite name for a girl that we each kept secret…until she used it on her girl, first. So now there’s a little girl out there with my favorite (first AND last) name but she’s not mine. It’s kind of strange but now that the name is attached to someone else, I don’t feel the same attraction to it that I did before.

    This is why my husband and I keep our children’s names completely secret until they’re born. It just avoids a lot of conflict that way. I’m with you: first-come, first-served, as far as baby names go.

  22. Can I ask how many siblings are in your family?

    And I wholeheartedly agree with ESO. I share a name with one of my cousins. It’s not really that big a deal and my mom was somehow able to talk to my sister afterwards.

  23. “Ardis” is available for the daughters of anyone here — I can almost guarantee that you won’t find it overused in your Primary or kindergarten.

  24. My science-oriented wife has jokingly suggested we name our kids scientifically, for uniqueness. Benzaldehyde (nickname “Ben”), Mitochondria (nickname “Andrea”) and Ester (=”Esther” but note the difference in spelling.)

  25. When I was in an EQ Presidency in grad school, each of the presidency member’s wives had a baby within several months of each other. Without much consideration the three boys all got the same name (well two of them did and the third got the Scandinavian version).

  26. Okay, planning is all well and good, but what happens when your brother falls in love with a woman who has the same first name you do? And your husband’s brother? So I have sister-in-laws with both my maiden name and my married name. At one point we lived in the same ward as my brother and his wife, and when she was sustained to a calling I about had a heart attack! Now that we’re all on facebook I sometimes have identity issues, too. Neither of them has posted a profile picture, so I have to stop and think who posted what, because both of them look to me like it’s me posting (though I do have a profile pic).

    On the first cousin issue, before my husband and I married there were two boys born in the same year who were given the same first name, and their female cousin also born in that year would have been named that too if she’d been a boy! We call them ‘Horace X’ and ‘Horace Y’ (names other than mine have been changed).

    Names go in cycles and that’s part of life. My parents named me Deborah because they didn’t know any Deborahs in their circle of friends. Unfortunately every other parent on the planet who had a daughter within 5 years of me also thought Deborah (or some variant spelling) was a good idea, so there were always duplicates at school, work, etc. I actually like going to the Social Security site to watch the rise and fall of the popularity of my name. Uniquely named children can’t really do this.

    If the child has a strong enough self-image it doesn’t matter if she has to share her name with someone else. My (blonde, blue-eyed) sister and her (Asian) college roommate eventually got t-shirts that said “I am not Gertrude” and “I am not Hortense” because people called them by each other’s names. It doesn’t matter what you name them; people will call them what they want to.

  27. Oh, bother. That link didn’t work; here is the real one: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/index.html

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    Okay, Bridgets, which set of parents stole your name from the others?

    Since I’m done having children (and I mean done with a capital V), I will hereby offer my suggestion for a girl’s name: Genevieve.

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    Deborah, I have a fondness for your name because it is Hebrew for “bee” and I’ve actually done some work studying that particular word.

  30. Jennifer says:

    My sister had two names in mind for her second daughter that she had a hard time choosing from. I ended up choosing the one she didn’t use for my second daughter a year later. She said something to me about it because she had wanted to use it if she ever had another girl. I say it’s too bad. She should have picked it when she had the chance.

  31. 1- Aaron, I hope you took Kaimi’s advice and avoided “Laman.”

    2- “I feel like it’s first come first pick” yep

    3- Great rule!

    4- “Pssht. I’ll name my kids what ever I want. I don’t care if another person has an issue with it either.” Yep. I think it’s much more important to have the name that is right for the kid, than worry about so-and-so had dibs or it’s a duplicate or whatever.

    5- “As far as using names that are already in use in the ward i wouldn’t care. but i wouldn’t use a name of any of my friends/friends’s kids for the simple reason i wouldn’t want to name my kid after any of them.” Yes, that is a valid concern, not wanting it to seem like the child not only duplicated the name, but was intentionally “named after” a person. My husband and I ran into snags on a couple names due to this.

    6- “Once my wife vetoed “Rocket” as a boys name I lost interest.” LOL

    7- “The first is that my wife has had an informal conversation to the extent of “I like XY and WZ for boys..” with each of the sis in laws and family. This is apparently sufficient to call “dibs” on the name.” Good point!! This is one reason I didn’t want to even hear others’ preferences. Because if you don’t know, and you take the name, no foul. But if you know that they wanted *exclusive* dibs, and you use it, that seems more jerky. Much better not to know I think!! [recommended to say in these siutations: "lalalalalalala! can't hear you!"]

    8- Good call by you in both cases.

    9- Cool!!

    10- “Seven” is all yours, Kevin. All yours.

    11, 20, 21, 24- I like these stories of duplicate names with no problems. That’s great to hear that it doesn’t have to be a big drama even if there is duplication. Now that you mention it, I can see how it would be kinda fun as a kid to have a special connection to one of your cousins.

    12- “My policy was not to tell until the kid was named.” YES. The last thing you want is for people to hen-peck your choice. No announcement until it is too late. This is the first and most important rule of baby naming imho!

    13- “I will say this. If the ward busybody announced that she was planning to name her future hypothetical daughters Kathy and Joanne so everybody else better just keep their hands off, I would be significantly more, rather than less inclined to name a daughter Kathy Joanne Brown. Significantly more. Sic semper tyrannis.” AWESOME.

    14- “For us Johns, our name is completely contextual.” Yes, I think you have a better perspective on this than many. It’s really not the end of the world to have duplication. It will happen in some context in the baby’s future, no matter how hard you try to avoid duplication in the current context. Unless you pick one of those strangely-unusual names.

    15- “I view wards as highly transient, so duplicate names are no biggie: you or I will probably move before these kids hit Primary.” YES!! That was exactly my thinking. And look, we were out of the ward while she was still pregnant! So the theory held quite well in that case.

    16- “When we were expecting our first, my father-in-law submitted a list of names for our consideration.” Ugh. One of my relatives submitted a bunch of suggestions for our twins that were all paired type names, like just the first letter or last letter was different, or rhyming, or like Jack&Jill. While I appreciate the effort that went into the list, that was exactly the direction we didn’t want to go with the names.

    17- Interesting. My relationship with my name has also changed dramatically over the years.

    18- Yes, I think ‘unusual’ is a happy medium between overused and weird.

    19- Norbert!

  32. John Taber says:

    I’m stake membership clerk, so I get a glimpse of what members here name their kids. The boy’s name that has become increasing popular is “Dallin” – easily more than any other General Authority name, and at least near the front for boys’ names outright.

    In fact, I think there’s one now that’s spelled differently.

  33. 22- Aw, thanks, Arids! :-)

    23- I had a friend in 3rd grade whose name was Amber. Her brothers were Clay and Flint. Her parents were both geologists. Not bad names though. One of the few theme type things that actually works that I’ve seen.

    25- Interesting, I hadn’t thought of those possibilities of duplication…

    27- That’s what Zacharias said, Kevin. That’s all I’m sayin.

    29- Nice! heh.

    30- Interesting! Watch the trends on Thomas!

  34. John Taber says:

    The only other name I’ve seen jump out like this in recent decades (and this one goes back to the 1960s) is “Spencer”, or even “Spencer Kimball”.

  35. John Taber says:

    . . . though “David” was over-represented in the 1950s and 1960s. One in my ward that age recalls going to BYU and coming across many others.

  36. John Taber,

    You’re not the only one who’s noticed the Spencer trend.

    http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2008/11/name-spotlight-spencer

    Briefly, Mormons brought the name back after Spencer W. Kimball became president of the church.

  37. My wife and I announced our intended first-born boy and girl names (complete with middle names) when we were engaged (and we used them). We ignored any complaints over the names.

    As we’ve had to “replenish” the working list (had to come up with a new girl name and a new boy name after the first two), we’ve blatantly ignored any input.

    Seriously … it’s no one’s business, *especially* grandma’s.

  38. There are at least 3 other boys in the ward who share our youngest son’s name (that are near his age). Still didn’t deter us from using it. Family-wise, he’s the 6th living family member with that name, but no one in his generation…

  39. Editing Mark Brown: I will say this. If the ward OR FAMILY busybody announced that she was planning to name her future hypothetical daughters Kathy and Joanne so everybody else better just keep their hands off, I would be significantly more, rather than less inclined to name a daughter Kathy Joanne Brown. Significantly more. Sic semper tyrannis.

    Exactly.

  40. Wow, Other Bridget, that is a cool link!

    If you look at the Multi-Map view in the NameMapper, you’ll see Spencer emerging as a popular name in and around Utah in the early ’70s. On the face of it, this is hardly remarkable. Utah is the contemporary-naming capital of America. Trendy new names launch their national campaigns in Utah just as presidential candidates launch theirs in Iowa. Try typing similar occupational names like Parker, Tyler and Taylor into the Mapper and you’ll see Utah popping up first.

    Oh dear!!!!! Watch out, world!

  41. Lurker_No_More says:

    In the presence of my wife, I told my 90 year old maternal grandmother we had a surprise for her. We were going to name our daughter Nora after her. Thing is, I hadn’t cleared this with wife yet. Wife had said she liked the name Nora … I took that as “thats the name we are going with”. You really can’t take the words back when grandma is crying tears of joy! I was crying tears of my own later …

  42. John Taber says:

    I found that on Baby Name Wizard a little while ago. It’s a trend I noticed from reading membership records, seeing what members had named their children. Spencer kept popping up.

  43. My SIL is hispanic and my grandson is named after his great-grandfather: Jesus. I understand why they did it but I have not gotten comfortable with it yet.

  44. #13 Mark ~ Isn’t it a little different with boy’s names?

    Indeed. People put more thought into a girl’s first name and less thought into her middle name, if she has a middle name at all, and are usually trying to select girl’s names which aren’t being used by all their friends. As a result girl’s first names cycle faster than boy’s names, but we have a surplus of women with Ann(e) and Marie for middle names because people just don’t think about it and those names work well rhythmically with most first and last name combos. OTOH, parents are much more comfortable duplicating a boy’s name among friends so that boy’s names take longer to fall out of popularity, plus they usually put more thought into his middle name, giving him a middle name which he could use as a first name if he wanted.

    #27 Kevin ~ I explained this in the comments on my blog recently, but my mother wanted to name me Jennifer and my father wanted to name me Bridget and they absolutely could not agree. I was born in 1982 and Jennifer was the #1 most popular girl’s name in the country from 1970 to 1984. The only reason I got Bridget was because my father dashed to the birth certificate after I was born and slapped it on there. In 1988, my sister Jennifer was born. It was still in the country’s top 10 and she hated how common it was.

    I don’t know where he got the name, he swears he simply always loved it and it has nothing to do with Brigitte Bardot.

    I think Genevieve is cute. Some close friends of mine named their first daughter Genevieve last year.

    How’s this for a fun article: baby name buyer’s remorse.

  45. Evelyn’s getting popular, is it? Wow. I named my daughter that 12 years ago, and never imagined it would get popular. It was just an old-lady grandmother name.

    For human names…our last we named Euphrasia. I don’t think we’re too at risk of anyone copying us. Not that that’s why we chose it. But I think we’re safe.

    We do have jersey cow, however, that came to us with the name Jezebelle. Was supposed to be Isabelle, according to her last owner. But then, said owner’s married son and daughter-in-law came to her saying, “No! You can’t name the calf Isabelle. If we have a baby girl, we’re naming *her* Isabelle. ” So, our cow is named Jezebelle. Ah well….based on my MIL’s reaction, it’s no worse a name than Euphrasia, lol.

  46. In my experience, my wife and I have a hard enough time agreeing on names. We can’t possibly add anyone else’s opinion into the mix without going absolutely crazy. BTW, I am the one who is tough to please, not her, although she has consistently vetoed “Manny” for reasons I shall never understand.

    My sister-in-law informed my wife before either of them were expecting that certain names were already taken. It rubbed my wife the wrong way. Fortunately we didn’t like the names and never had decide if it was worth it to disappoint her.

    In the past, friends have named their kids “after” our kids. We felt a slight bump in ego with a hint of eye-rolling. We are now on the verge of naming our next child “after” a girl in our ward. What goes around comes around.

  47. > How’s this for a fun article: baby name buyer’s remorse.

    Ok, that is a weird article. That is all.

  48. I agree that rule #1 is not to share your naming plans until the baby is here and the deal is done. this prevents all sorts of criticism and embarrassing moments as people weigh in on the choice as if their input was relevant to the eventual decision.

    That said, with my 3rd we did change his name at 2 days old, when the first choice didn’t feel right and we learned it was way more popular than we thought. Furthermore, grandma hated the corrected name so badly that she couldn’t control herself from exclaiming “oh NO! ugh! that’s even worse!” when she heard the choice. So I guess even when the baby and name are announced together, some people will still express their true thoughts about the pick. whatever.

  49. #44 Carrie ~ Evelyn’s getting popular, is it? Wow.

    From 1997 to 2007, it has gone from rank 191 to rank 55. My comfort is that even if it breaks into the top 20s, I could just call my daughter by the middle name Ivy, which isn’t common at all and never will be. Yes, I am enough of a comic book nerd to feel comfortable having daughters named Harley and Ivy.

    The other thing I love about Evelyn is that it was predominantly a man’s name once upon a time, so it fits my tendency to use boy’s names for girls.

    As for your cows, Isabel is just a derivative of Jezebel, so technically your cows have the same name.

    Same thing with James and Jacob. Do not name your sons James and Jacob; it’s the same name.

  50. There are so many babies in our ward that no one bothers learning any of their names, so how would anyone know (or for that matter, care) if a name was already taken?

    When I was pregnant with #2, I thought if it was a girl I might name her Grace. Then another woman in the ward named her baby Grace, and I thought it would just be tacky to name my baby the same name within a couple months. (I can’t see this being a problem when the children are born years apart, unless it is within a family that sees each other a lot.) So I crossed Grace off my short list, which was just as well because a) everyone and their brother named a baby Grace for the next five years, and b) my child turned out to be a boy.

  51. See, I’m perfectly fine with announcing my baby name plans as soon as I’ve settled on them because if anyone criticizes my choice, I say (with a perfectly straight face), “Well, if you don’t like my choice of name, you should probably go get laid, have your own kids and name them whatever the hell you want.”

    That line does wonders for shutting people up, especially if the person who’s criticizing you is a prude about sex.

    And that’s my last comment on this thread, honest, I’m out.

  52. Mellissa says:

    When I was pregnant for the first time, and thought it was going to be a boy, I told my family about the name that I had picked out, a name that I had been saving since my high school days. My (unattached) younger sister said that I couldn’t possibly name the boy that, because she was going to name HER first son that. I said ‘Tough noogies. First come, first served.’
    Well, my first child ended up being a girl, and my sister rather smugly told me that she had cursed me to have all girls until she could have HER first boy and ‘steal the name back from me.’ Yes, those are the words she used. I laughed at her. 3 years later I had a boy, and we used the name. Take that (still unattached) sister! Now, when we are out together and people comment on my son’s name, she delights in telling them that I stole the name from her. Ha. And I wouldn’t really care if she named her son the same. We could always use middle names or some such when we have a family get-together.

    I had also picked out the name Aiden Christopher for a hypothetical second son way back when, but now that there are Aidens coming out of the woodwork the name is not as appealing to me. I’ll just have to find another name that goes well with the middle name of Christopher. Maybe Paiden. :)

  53. A friend in my ward, named james, has two brothers-in-law, both named James.

  54. Mark Brown says:

    I remember now hearing when I was little that both my mother and my aunt were pregnant at the same time, and they both liked the name Mark. My father threatened to resolve the dispute by giving me the name of Nebuchadnezzar when he blessed me in church.

    So let’s just cut to the chase and state the obvious: The reason men in our culture are given the sacred presiding and baby-naming responsibilities is so we can just cut through all this emotional fluff and get on with it already.

  55. We just name all our children using unpopular Irish names. Problem solved.

  56. My sister is named Kristina, and her husband is named Chris. Multiple times I’ve suggested they continue with that theme and, if they have kids, to name them Christian and Crystal. So far they’ve merely rolled their eyes and changed the subject. I don’t understand their reticence….

    As for duplicate names, meh. I’m with the first-come-first-served crowd, and if I don’t want my offspring to have the same name as someone else recently named, I’d better come up with another name. Luckily there are a lot of them to chose from :-)

  57. If you are going to name your kids a stupid name, it only makes sense not to announce it ahead of time so that someone can talk you out of it, social restrictions notwithstanding.

    We named all our boys with biblical or family first names. We had a harder time with our daughter, and had to assure her growing up that she really wasn’t named after a Stephen King novel. However, she gave her daughter the other name we had considered, Emma, so all is good now.

    My wife’s sister’s kids, though, have name daughters after
    a) a motorcycle
    b) a pair of sunglasses
    c) a tree that is native to Utah and grows like a weed

    Lovely children, but silly names.

  58. Kawasaki, Rayban, and Cottonwood? Lovely names, kevinf. But why you would name your poor daughter PetSematary is beyond me.

  59. yeah, maybe I should mention that with child #3 who we received such awful feedback on, that both names involved were old testament prophets and ranked #5 and #150 on the most popular name list, so it’s not that either name was that far out.

  60. Ardis, it was better than Cujo.

  61. #56 kevinf ~ My wife’s sister’s kids, though, have name daughters after
    a) a motorcycle … Lovely children, but silly names.

    Oh, that better not be a slam on Harley, cuz my Harley so isn’t named after a motorcycle.

  62. Bridget, your Harley is way better than a motorcycle. I hadn’t ever seen that before. Awesome.

    Other possible motorcycle names:

    Motobecane
    Ducati
    Aprillia (Might actually work)
    BMW (not even in Utah)
    Indian

  63. Having said what I did in #3, I do draw a line at stupidity and cruelty.

    I graduated with a girl named Jennifer. Her little sister was named Robin. Their last name was Hood.

    Those parents should be beaten with a brick stick.

  64. Bee Em could happen though, Kevin.

  65. Last story, honest…

    I ran into a girl once who named her daughter Trinity. “I got it from the Bible,” she told me, beaming.

    I just smiled and nodded.

  66. Antonio Parr says:

    I love my fellow Latter-Day Saints, but . . .

    Their/our naming practices are beyond peculiar, and often drift into just plain “weird”.

    Sorry.

  67. Bridget, another niece’s daughter named Trinaday, from the Dyslexicon Bible.

  68. Jami, groooaaaannnnn…..

  69. Mark Brown says:

    kevinf, I had a friend whose nickname was bultaco.

  70. Bro. Jones says:

    Silly White Anglo-Saxon people! My multiracial kids will have funny foreign names that won’t be duplicated by anyone in the Church! Haha!

    Seriously though, haha. I have Muslim relatives, about 40% of whom are named Mohammed. If they can cope with that, then we can cope with two Bobs or Evelyns in the same Sunbeams class or even–gasp–the same family.

    (I am SO tempted to name one of my kids “Mohammed,” but it could end very badly for us in so many ways at the hands of so many people that I have to resist.)

  71. “I ran into a girl once who named her daughter Trinity. “I got it from the Bible,” she told me, beaming. ”

    that’s fantastic!

  72. BMW (not even in Utah)

    Ummmmm…..don’t rule that out completely. When we were expecting our 3rd child we came across this web site:

    http://wesclark.com/ubn/

    We laughed so hard we had tears streaming down our cheeks. It used to be organized differently–with headings like: “inspired by Dad’s hobbies” or “inspired by Star Trek”.
    Anyway, on the current girl’s list, scroll down to the “K” and you will find K8…just a hop away from BMW if you ask me.

    One fun thing we did with number 3 was ask the older siblings to suggest names (they were 10 and 7). Pretty funny–several Disney princess names ended up on their list.

  73. Latter-day Guy says:

    A possible solution?

    [Brief (im)mature language at the end]

  74. The reason men in our culture are given the sacred presiding and baby-naming responsibilities is so we can just cut through all this emotional fluff and get on with it already

    Mark, that is the most reasonable explanation I have heard thusfar.

    “Well, if you don’t like my choice of name, you should probably go get laid, have your own kids and name them whatever the hell you want.”

    Pure awesome!

  75. There are four Michaels in our immediate family. No problems so far. Name the baby whatever you want. There are enough real problems among ward members w/o something like this.

  76. Alpha Echo says:

    Having an unusual first name myself, I thought I’d chime in here. My parents (big Lord of the Rings fans) named me Arwen to the horror of both sets of grandparents. They added Elizabeth as my middle name in case I didn’t like Arwen. (And as flexible names go, Elizabeth is a yoga master).

    Having carried the name Arwen for 26 years now, I can give you a rundown of my experiences.

    The Good:
    Having a beautiful, unique name that I love taken from one of the best books ever.
    Not being Jennifer #4
    Only having met one other Arwen my entire life. It was my freshman year of college and it was a science fiction writing class. The teacher loved it and called us the Arwens.

    The Bad:
    Until the successful movie trilogy, lots of people thought my name was a boys name. God bless Peter Jackson.
    Middle school: How’s that theory of evolution coming along, Arwen? (Darwin)

    The Ugly:
    Middle school again: Would Andrew (unusual last name) come to the office please, Andrew (“…”)? Seriously, how illiterate are these school office people.

    I’m not married and I don’t have any children but I plan to name my children out of my favorite books as well. It’s a fun tradition.

  77. My sister had always suggested that you not tell anyone the names you’re thinking of naming your kids. She had a close family member “take” their name and pretended that she hadn’t known that they had been planning to use it.

    We had friends that last summer named her daughter exactly what I had wanted to name our next if it was a girl (first and middle names). I had never told anyone these plans but I was glad to see that someone else liked the name too. Thankfully our next is a boy so…

  78. #71 Nameless ~ One fun thing we did with number 3 was ask the older siblings to suggest names (they were 10 and 7). Pretty funny–several Disney princess names ended up on their list.

    My parents were having a hard time deciding a name for my newest brother when I was 4, so they asked me. This was 1986, so I suggested Bow, the name of She-Ra’s boyfriend. They wound up letting my grandmother name him Steven, but they used Beau as a middle name. At the time I was terribly disappointed that they shunned the B-O-W spelling.

    #75 Alpha Echo (Arwen) ~ There is a Christian music artist named Éowyn, so your parents weren’t the only LotR nerds back then.

    I gave some consideration to naming a daughter Morwen, and if you know what book that’s from you’re just made of win.

  79. StillConfused says:

    Name your child whatever you want and the rest of the world be damned. I am from the south and we have tons of cousins, uncles, etc with the same name. No big deal.

  80. starfoxy says:

    One thing to consider about duplicating names in close circles is how the names will play out in common usage. For instance between two people named Betty will the older/larger one be called ‘Big Betty?’ Old Betty? Betty Senior. I’m sure you can see how various ways of distinguishing between two people with the same name may be a cause of hurt feelings. This is why my Mom expressly forbade nearly everyone from naming a child after her.

    My last name is Anderson, which is sad to me, because I’ve always liked the name Anders and would have liked to name a son that. However, I like my kids and don’t want them to be teased mercilessly so I won’t be naming any of my kids Anders. All of you are welcome to us it if you want.

    And regarding LotR names I knew a woman in college whose name was Galadriel. She went by Ladi (sounds like Lottie) so I thought her name was Charlotte until I saw a ward list.

  81. My brother and sister both have sons who go by their middle names. However my sister’s son decided at the age of four that he didn’t like it and wanted to be called by his first name. You have to be prepared for that I guess if you call them by their middle names. I’ve been told by many adults who go by their middle names that it’s a big, big pain from a paperwork and administrative point of view.

  82. Researcher says:

    In response to starfoxy’s comment, one of my cousins has the same name as my dad. He was known all through his childhood… and teenage… years as Baby —. Although he is grown, married, and has a child of his own, he would probably still respond to Baby —.

  83. Alpha Echo says:

    Morwen eh? I’ll guess The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede.

  84. Every (biologically related) living male in my dad’s family tree has the name Thomas or John in it (hence, there are Toms, Tommy’s, Thomas, John, Jack, John-X, etc.). The last time there men lacking one of those names, it was the 19th century. Then, with the really big families, they had some Patricks, a few Michaels, a Frank and and a Vincent. Nothing quite like an Irish American family…

    So, most of the angst here is just a bit foreign to me…

  85. I like the idea of unique and unusual names (as long as they respect the innate dignity of the child as a human being). Working in a public school, one sees names from all over the world on a regular basis, and some of them are really quite nice.

    And, at least in my experiences over the last ten years, I have not heard any kids making fun of other kids because of their names. Admittedly this is in urban schools with a lot of ethnic names floating about – ubiquity leading to acceptance perhaps.

  86. When our youngest daughter was born, we had no idea that she would be one of three girls named Rachel in her kindergarten class. And we certainly didn’t know that she would be one of two named “Rachel B” and that the other would be “Rachel V”.

    But they all survived, and our Rachel is still good friends, 20 years on, with the other Rachel B.

    And I agree wholeheartedly with Bridget Jack in her “last” comment.

  87. What can I say, naming trends and conventions is one of my hobbies. I just can’t stop.

    My other hobby is Mormons and Mormonism, but I guess you all knew that.

    Arwen: You are made of win.

    Mark, I considered naming a girl Rachel after Columbine martyr Rachel Joy Scott, but alas, the name Rachel is common enough to have scared me off.

  88. Carrie, #44

    Funny. Reminds of when my wife was about eight months pregnant and we were visiting relatives and happened to be out by the barn as they were putting the cows in. We heard one particular cowed being screeched at by name and my wife’s short list was down to one option.

    So now we tell our daughter that the only reason, she ended up with the name she has, was that we could bear the memory of a stubborn cow had we gone with the other option.

  89. This is a sore subject with me.

    When my daughter was born, we intended to name her Meghann, and we told my family this at a family gathering. My little sister approached me afterword and begged me not to use that name because she wanted to use it for her daughter. She was married, but had only boys at the time. I told her it was a silly request because she might never have a daughter. She cried and whined and said she knew that she would eventually have a daughter and that Meghann was her favorite name and she couldn’t use it if we did. After discussing it with my wife, we decided to give in. That was twelve years ago. Last year, my sister finally had a girl. Her name is Sarah.

    Needless to say, she will never be called by that name in my house. Moral of the story: don’t ever let anyone reserve a name.

  90. I was named with the number 1 most popular first name, and my middle name was #2 of the 10 years around my birth. Growing up their were always dozens of other kids with my name and at BYU there were 14 in my Ward alone. My five kids do not have that problem.

    I always thought it would be fun to give the kids a BOM name but deliberately misprononce it, like naming them Moroni – Mow row knee. The wife shot that down, but I still insist that would have brought a lot of laughs over the years. Or Nephi with the Ne like Ned and the PHI rhymes with Knee.

    I am interested to see what my youngest (and last -with a capitol V as Kevin says) does with his as he grows up. We named him JT and that is all we call him. He does have names o go with the initials but they are not used ever. I wonder if when he is my age he will be using Joseph as his name, because that would sound so foreign to me now.

  91. Ouch, MCQ!

  92. 43. I couldn’t imagine completely changing my child’s name. that seems weird.

    51. I remember when my SIL had her first child and she wanted something unique. She named her son Aiden. Some unique name huh? Only months later, I saw one of those plastic license plates with the name Aiden on it.

    64. This very same thing happened to me. This woman at work told me about her friend that only used Bible names. She had a daughter named Trinity. I wasn’t as nice as you because I pointed out that Trinity wasn’t in the Bible. That fact was not taken too nicely.

    75. My daughter’s middle name is Arwen and my best friend’s sister is named Arwen. I love the name.

    43. As far as Genevieve goes, our daughter’s name is Ginevra, which is a form of Genevieve, except we got the name from Harry Potter.

  93. iguacufalls says:

    #89 TStevens – If you had used your ‘mispronounced’ BOM names, they would have been perfectly at home in Brasil, where those names are pronounced exactly as you say.

  94. In 1972, when I was a junior at BYU, I lived in an apartment with 2 other Susans. Anyone who called on the phone thought we were being rude when we asked which Susan they wanted.
    I was also one of 3 Susans that went through elementary school together. Their last names were both color names and the first syllable mine rhymed with red, so our teachers all thought it was hilarious to call us Susan Black, Susan White, and Susan Red. (I wasn’t quite as amused.)
    Needless to say, my two daughters didn’t get popular names; both were named with derivatives of grandma’s names.

    Also, in my school class I have a “Baby D.” His dad is a huge man—easily 6’5″ tall. I guess I’ll never know if they’ll still be calling him Baby D when he grows up.

  95. Starfoxy says:

    Needless to say, my two daughters didn’t get popular names; both were named with derivatives of grandma’s names.
    You named your daughter Renesmé?

  96. Yeah, this madness? It’s pretty common. I’m 15, and my sisters have already told me which names they have dibs on. There is literally a list.

    But I can see where this could be a conflict: two of my cousins (from different families) have given their sons the same first name. And their last names start with the same initial. This wouldn’t be a conflict in most families, but ours is really close, so they come in contact all the time. It’s weird.

  97. My friend and her husband named their newborn son after one of the Founding Fathers even though my friend’s brother had a special, known interest in said Founding Father. They ended up not mentioning it to the brother. When the time came to bless the baby and the whole family was gathered together in sacrament meeting, they couldn’t bring themselves to admit what they had done. So the name on the blessing certificate is not the same name on the birth certificate. Similar, but not recognizable as an early leader of our country.

    How confusing would that be to a family history researcher decades from now?

  98. (53) I remember now hearing when I was little that both my mother and my aunt were pregnant at the same time, and they both liked the name Mark. My father threatened to resolve the dispute by giving me the name of Nebuchadnezzar when he blessed me in church.

    So let’s just cut to the chase and state the obvious: The reason men in our culture are given the sacred presiding and baby-naming responsibilities is so we can just cut through all this emotional fluff and get on with it already.

    Boy, it’s a good thing, then, that the name that goes on the “records of the Church” is the one that’s submitted by the clerk, which should (for auditing) match the blessing authorization form signed by one of the parents. So Dad who gets cute, or Grandpa who gets senile, at the pulpit is no match for Mom if she’s the one to sign the clerk’s form…

  99. a) a motorcycle
    b) a pair of sunglasses
    c) a tree that is native to Utah and grows like a weed

    (a) Vespa (a stretch)
    (b) Oakley
    (c) (Russian) Olive

    Close?

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