Baby Naming Issue: The Etiquette of Using a Name a Friend Already Used

Hi Swistle!

I am in desperate need of some sound advice about using a name that is also the name of a friends’ daughter.

The back story is that my husband and I have loved a name for a long time, since we named our #2 daughter and agreed that if we had any more girls we would use this one next. The name was not very popular at all so we felt safe haha. Shortly before I became pregnant with our #3, a friend, who I see every week on Sundays and with whom I have a good friendship/acquaintanceship (but we are by no means best friends), used the name that I had had my heart set on. (Very unbeknownst to her and to my great dismay!)

I was even sadder when I did get pregnant with #3 and felt like I couldn’t use the name (and I was so shy to talk to her about it). Whether or not that was the right way of doing things, it is water under the bridge now. We love our #3’s name and wouldn’t change it at all–it suits her perfectly.

Back to present. I am pregnant with our #4 daughter and that name is still one of our favorites. I got enough courage to email her…I’m kind of a whimp…(now that it’s been a couple of years and she has since had another child as well) I felt more courageous…can you tell I don’t like conflict??? Anyway, I asked if she would be bothered by us using the name. She didn’t outright say she was bothered, mostly a “haha, it is a great name! We thought we were being so unique but it’s becoming quite popular”. Not a super encouraging response but not an outright no, please don’t use it response either.

What do I do? Is it generally understood that you don’t use names of other friends’ kids? Am I completely out of line? Am I being a weeny and just need to ask her in person? Do I need to ask at all? (My husband’s opinion is that, no, we don’t need to ask). Since she didn’t say she was bothered by it outright, I’m not sure how much I need to read in between the lines. Is there etiquette when it comes to using names that friends have used?

I am not a boat rocker and do not want to cause unwanted tension but I also just love that name and wonder if I need to let it go once and for all?

Please help!

*hint the name is a purple floral name which was fairly unused three years ago but has gained considerable popularity since!

Thank you so much for your kind and sound advice! I really hope you and other readers can give me a more balanced, non-hormonal perspective–on whichever side it lands!

Most Sincerely,
Erica

 

It seems to me that what establishes the acceptability of name-repeats among friends is not so much about etiquette as it is about the particular social standards in that particular group: in some friend groups there will already be duplicates, and further duplicates will be considered flattering/bonding, and some people will be pushing others to use their children’s names (this is me); in others, no one will care very much about names and would be puzzled that anyone would fret about it, considering how many other people ALREADY have the name; in still others, duplicating a name would be like stealing someone’s spouse.

So! Step one is to think about what kind of friendship is involved here. Am I guessing right that this is a church friendship? If yes: do you ever see her outside of church? how big is the church? are there other duplicates among the names of children in the church? Better yet: has she named any of her children a name that was already in use in the church? That would be GOLDEN. (If I’m wrong about church, then same basic questions but without the word “church”: do you see her other than on Sundays? in what kind of group DO you see her, if any, and are there duplicates in that group? and so on.)

It also matters how uncommon the name is. I don’t want to start listing guesses for this name because I can see you’re trying not to have it in the post, so let’s talk about non-purple floral choices. If the name in question were Lily or Rose or Daisy, that would be a very different situation than if the name were Amaryllis or Zinnia or Chrysanthemum. You and she are in agreement that the name in question has become a lot more popular recently, so I will assume we have more of a Lily/Rose/Daisy situation on our hands.

You’re agonizing about whether or not you need to ask her—but you have ALREADY asked her. You asked her if she would be bothered by you using the name, and she responded by agreeing that it was a great name and adding that it was becoming quite popular. I would interpret this as “neutral permission” or “gracious non-opposition”: she doesn’t enthusiastically/specifically encourage you to use the name, but she demonstrates that she realizes the name is not her family’s original idea or exclusive property, and she also deliberately declined the offered opportunity to say that it bothers her. She doesn’t seem to be HOPING you’ll use it, but that would be a lot to ask of someone.

If you want to ask her again, you can do so—but ONLY ask if you are willing to give her that power over your name choices. This is not something I personally would be willing to do. But if you want more reassurance than she has already given, and if you ARE willing to let her veto a name, then I would bring it up again as a friendly “last chance!” sort of thing: “Okay, so we talked about this before and you seemed like you were okay with us using this name—but it’s important to me not to make you sad about this, so I just wanted to check one more time before we settled on it for sure.” I would do it in person if possible, but casually: not setting up a Serious Appointment with her, but just asking her while the two of you are chatting without other people in the conversation: you cover the weather and the children’s latest cold, and then you say, “Oh! By the way!” This will also give you a chance to read facial expression and body language. But again: you have ALREADY given her the opportunity to say if it bothers her, AND I don’t think people get to veto other people’s baby-name choices (though we may of course decide not to distress others by using names they would LIKE to veto), AND I don’t think you should be trying to wring anything better than neutral permission / gracious non-opposition out of her. I mean, what if she says, “Well, actually…I guess it would bother me a little.” NOW what? Another series of conversations during which you try to establish the line where her botheredness outweighs your love of the name? No, no, no, let’s not do this.

But if you DO ask her again and she says it bothers her, or if you decide not to use it because you’re worried it bothers her, it’s encouraging that this was your third-choice name, and also that you don’t have regrets about your third daughter’s name.

It may even be worth it to you to just cross the name off your list to avoid the stress of the whole thing. We’ve talked before about the “package deal” of a name: part of the package deal of this name may be the discomfort you feel about it being a name your friend used, and maybe you’ll decide you’d rather not.

 

I am going to add two paragraphs here that will not help this letter-writer, but are for the benefit of others who may one day be in this situation. If it happens to any of you that your secret favorite name is used (or about to be used) by someone else, I suggest INSTANTLY spilling the secret. So if, for example, you get the heart-dropping announcement from a friend that they’ve decided to use the name Rose, and Rose is the name you were absolutely planning to use for your baby, you immediately say, with HUGE joy as if you wanted nothing more than to have kids with the same name, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it! That is the VERY NAME we are planning to use for our next girl!” There’s no “Do you mind if we still do use it?” here: it’s a declaration that you had already made the same decision: it was already settled. Later you may decide not to use the name, but you have established that you didn’t get the idea of the name from your friend’s use of it.

This sort of situation is also an argument for mentioning names ahead of time, even way ahead of time. It’s a risk, though, isn’t it. Nobody wants to say, “I’ve always loved the name Rose” and have the friend say “…Oh. my. gosh. That is the most perfect name. Do you mind if I…?”

 

 

 

Name update:

Hi Swistle,

Thank you so much for your advice a few months ago about naming etiquette among friends. Your perspective and the comments that followed really helped me get over any hesitation I had about using the name I so wanted to use…and to top it all off, both our families ended up moving, so it really became a non-issue.

We’re are thrilled to introduce our little Violet Jane, born August 31st! I smile every time I say it. Thank you again!

Sincerely,
Erica

41 thoughts on “Baby Naming Issue: The Etiquette of Using a Name a Friend Already Used

  1. Tommie

    My daughter is Alyssa. When she was about 16 months old, my cousin, whose wife was about six months pregnant, mentioned in passing that they were considering naming their unborn daughter Alyssa.

    I did the whole, “Oh, yeah, it’s a great name!” thing. I was doing exactly what Swistle said your friend did. I was giving ‘neutral permission’ and ‘gracious non-opposition.’

    He went on to say that Alyssa was THE ONLY name his wife liked. I made a few more ‘neutral permission’ sounds and we left it at that.

    They named their daughter Alyssa.

    And honestly, it is not a big deal at all. The two Alyssas are about eighteen months apart. We see them occasionally (think every few months) and it just isn’t an issue.

    Okay, so when they announced a second pregnancy when their Alyssa was six months old, I might have snarked, “If this one is another girl, they better name her Alyssa since it’s the only name she likes.”

    But I only said this once and just to my mom, who will keep my snarky comment to herself forever and always. I would never say that to my cousin or his wife because it really, truly isn’t a big deal I just felt the need to be a little bit snarky for all of ten seconds and let it go.

    I truly think since you’ve already mentioned it and your friend gave ‘neutral permission’ your in the clear.

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  2. Alison

    No one owns a name.

    We can feel deep, powerful, ownership-type feelings over the Amazing Perfect One And Only Name. But in reality, no one owns a name within a group of people or a social network (IRL social network, not like all of Facebook). Except if the name is a string of letters like “XKCD” (a web comic so named because it was a string of letters to make the comic uniquely identifiable).

    That doesn’t negate the Package Deal quality of a name. If it’s just too uncomfortable to use the name, and it is PERFECTLY ALRIGHT to feel that way, make it a middle name or drop it entirely. If you love the name SO MUCH, you are ready to use it as a first name, then do that.

    And I also agree: you have already asked, and it sounds like neutral permission. Don’t expect a blessing to use the name. Find peace within yourself and your family with whatever you choose. Good luck!

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  3. KLNW

    I think the OP handled this pretty graciously. She could have chosen to name her 3rd girl that name and it honestly should have been fine, but now even more time has passed and if that name is still a favorite, I think they should go with it.

    In response to swistle’s question about church relationships and reusing the same names, I know in my circle it is pretty common. We have multiple friends with a Jack, James, Max, Ella, Emma, and Hannah that are all within 5 years of each other. These aren’t unusual names, but no one seemed to even bat an eye.

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    1. Jessica

      Yes, I think the fact that time has passed since the friend’s baby was born makes this even less of a big deal.

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  4. Renee

    I think Swistle nailed it. Only ask again if you are willing to let it go. And for anyone else out there, own it early and honestly.

    My cousin emailed to ask if I would feel weird if they used my daughter’s name on their second daughter. I was honest, I took a few days to mull it over and rant to friends, then thanked her for asking because 1) I would have been shocked if they had just used it without at least giving me a heads up and 2) I wasn’t comfortable with her using it. Once a name is given to a child in your life, it’s no longer a name, it’s a child. So there was already an X in our family life. We never spoke of it again and they used a different name. So long story short, I applaud you for being considerate enough to warn your acquaintance and give her time to get used to the idea before you introduce your daughter to her.

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  5. Kay W.

    Please use the name! You are overthinking it, and there’s no reason not to use it, not even this woman’s potential hurt feelings (which would be misplaced). As someone said above, no one owns a name. I already think you went a little far in asking her how she’d feel, but her response gave you every opening to just use it without further mention.

    Try to think about it in context: how would you feel if you *didn’t* use the name, and three months now this woman moved away and you never saw her again? Or in reverse, if you and your husband left the town and your friendship faded out? Or if one of you switched churches? etc.

    Also think about how few names have been used historically in our culture and how many children received top 10 names. The idea that there is any etiquette at all to be followed around overlapping names is very recent (completely postwar or even post-1960s). Until recently it was even common and totally acceptable for first cousins to share names. I can’t help but be a little judgmental of people who pick a name and then assume they have laid claim to it forevermore; maybe if it is truly unique and made up there’s some claim there, but certainly not a top 100 or even 1000 name (and if I deduce the name in question correctly, it’s top 50). A little generosity and graciousness is called for.

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    1. Kay W.

      Also, just for a different perspective—I’ve mulled over this one, and I think I’d feel sort of charmed if someone else from my circle of friends used the same name after I did. (Caveat: only if I liked them as a person, too, I guess!)

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    2. elizabeth

      I totally agree, Kay! I also felt like it was unnecessary to ask the woman to sign off in the first place, as that sort of perpetuates the idea that there was any claim on the name to be had. Now the LW has put herself into the spot of implicitly suggesting that she needed this woman’s permission, which she did not, and if she asks again and the response is negative, she has set the expectation that she’s going to capitulate. So for others out there, I would suggest that you don’t ask, just tell. “Hey, crazy story: we are considering using Rose for a baby name too. Isn’t that a funny coincidence?”

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  6. elizabeth

    Swistle’s response is perfect per usual, but I personally don’t understand why you would even consider asking her again. You’ve already asked her–which I don’t think you needed to do in the first place–and she sort of dodged answering. Obviously she doesn’t want to answer or has no opinion on the matter. What could possibly be gained by asking her again? Use the name or don’t, but make the decision for yourself and own it. FWIW, I named my daughter something unusual and if someone asked me if they could use it (or just gave me a heads’ up that they were considering using it) I would be SO FLATTERED and extremely THRILLED that someone liked it enough to use it for their own child. So perhaps my advice is clouded by my extreme non-possessiveness regarding baby names. Also, I agree with Swistle’s suggestion of early intervention. When I was newly pregnant with my second kid I already had a name picked out (leftover from baby #1) and a new guy started working in my office with that name. It’s not a very common name (but not unusual either), so I just said, “Hey, here’s a funny story: your name is the name we’re probably going to use for our baby. Isn’t that crazy??” And then I talked it up around the office so when we announced the name after he was born nobody was surprised. It was NBD.

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  7. vanessa

    i guess i legit don’t see what the big deal is here or with any name sharing situations. names are just…names. lots of people have the same names. if a name is your favorite, unless it is really stupid (like, i don’t know, taking some classic name and adding a bunch of random vowels to it) or offensive (like Adolf, or Cohen for non Jews, or whatever) then….use it. It shouldn’t bother other adults that names are multi use items, and if it does, then that’s their problem, not yours. i can see wanting to smooth it over by saying “hey, this is kind of awkward, but we’d been planning to name our daughter daisy. i know you used it as well. i’m hoping we can make it really fun to have daughters with the same name!” or something, but i don’t think you need to ask PERMISSION to use a name that you like, unless you have a friend with a child named Ronald James Kipling III and you want to name your child Ronald James Kipling IV.

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  8. Jessica

    Please use the name! If she has any hurt feelings about this (which she shouldn’t), she will keep them to herself or, if she doesn’t, that’s her not being a mature grown-up and you will know you are not to blame. There have been repeat names in various friend groups of mine, even for babies born very close together–it happens. I think you will regret it more if you don’t use it.

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  9. TheFirstA

    If this were a very close friend, I might hesitate. But it sounds like you see her on Sundays (I also assume at church) more or less in passing and are only on friendly terms vs. an established friendship. In that case, I say use the name. You’ve already given her the (unneeded) option of voicing displeasure in your choice, and she seemed pretty neutral about it. I’ll also point out that this type of relationship is not likely to last forever, the way a name repeat among extended family or close friends might. You could move/change churches, she could move/change churches, one family could decide to attend service at a different time, get busy with life and find involvement/attendance in church fades. Lots of things could happen that could cause this person to not even be in your life forever. So ask yourself, if you pass on the name because of this person, how will you feel in 2 years if she moves & you never see the family again? How much would you regret using the name in that situation? Would that bother you more or less than using the name and possibly having the other mother be a little disappointed about it?

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  10. Stephanie

    Yes yes you already asked her. Asking again seems like it would add to social awkwardness, honestly. The answer was along the lines of “Great minds think alike” instead of “I would LOVE it if our daughters shared a name”… and I think that’s a good and mature answer. You have freedom to use it or not now without feeling badly.

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  11. Heidi J

    I actually have a 3 year old with a purple flower V name. And I like to keep track of the SSA popularity data and the name was well within the top 100 then and it has continued to climb. It’s a lovely, but not really unusual name. I could maybe see not wanting to duplicate a very unusual name, but a top 100, now top 50 name? It definitely doesn’t look like you got the name from your friend.

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    1. Jude

      I’m so glad you mentioned this! I was thinking that this was the purple V name in question, and there is such a huge difference between this name and something like, say, Lavender or Hyacinth. No one who chooses a Top 100 name can expect that none of their friends will use it.

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      1. Shannon

        Totally! These names are popular because they appeal to people of the current childbearing generation. My mom has a name that is extremely unusual because her parents made it up in the 50s. A woman who lived down the street from her as a child liked it and used it for her own daughter–this is the only other person my mom has ever met who shares her first name. THAT is a little weird–it’s as if there is a random woman somewhere out there (they lost touch after moving away) who’s named after my mom.

        Meanwhile, no such thing is true of my mom’s sister, whose name was number 2 in her year (my grandmother decided not to put a second child through the headache of having such an unusual name!), though surely she’s met hundreds or thousands of other Susans in her life, some of them perhaps ACTUALLY named in her honor. :)

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  12. Elisabeth

    Give little Lavender/Heather/Iris/Pansy a kiss from us when she’s born!
    Seriously, it’s fine. I’d be pleased if someone from my circle named their son or daughter the same as my kids, because then it’d single them out less. (We were going for family names rather than unique ones. Both happen to be rare for the preschool crowd around here, though.)

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  13. Erica

    Aw, you all are so sweet!! I just knew I could count on you all. Swistle, your reply has really put my mind at ease that I don’t have to pursue this any further. Yes, it is a church friend, and yes we do see each other every once in a while outside of Sunday. I know, from experience, that people can be sensitive about names and I didn’t want it to be an outright shock if we ended up using the name, hence emailing her. I will definitely update you all when she arrives in late August! We have a few other names in mind as well but I feel much better about considering and using this name!
    Much love,
    Erica

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    1. Evie

      I am envious of you having four girls! I have two and love it but I think I’m done.

      And the name is awesome!

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  14. R

    A friend of mine used my daughter’s name. She lives further away so I see her less often, but we’ve been friends for many years and I make an effort to visit and stay in touch, so I think it’s likely that our girls will know each other for a long time. She did not ask or tell me before her daughter was born, I got the email with everyone else. I replied with something like “gorgeous baby! obviously you know I like her name, ha, ha” and asked if it was a family name for them or if they just liked it. She said it had been her favorite for a long time. I was a little conflicted between “hey, we were there first and you could have just picked something else” and “well, that means she agrees it really is the best name” but now that it’s been a few years I am 100% okay with it. One of the girls sometimes uses a nickname and the other usually doesn’t, so we just use the nickname consistently for one girl when we talk to each other and it doesn’t have to feel awkward. The girls are old enough to feel special that they share a name. I have stopped remembering that initial “it was my name first” reaction (until I wrote this) and now I just feel flattered that she thought that out of all the names in the world my daughter’s name really is the best. I think if we had been living close to each other when her baby was born I would have felt more awkward at the beginning but gotten over it faster. So I guess I’m trying to reassure you that even if your friend isn’t *enthusiastic* about your choice right now, it sounds like she’s not exactly opposed to it, and in my experience at least, once you have a cute snuggly baby to show her and time goes by she is likely to just get used to it.

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  15. Emarie

    I have three boys, and I vote that by the 3rd, 4th, etc. of the same gender you get even more leeway about these things. My cousin used our girl name a month or so before we found out we were having another boy. I would have absolutely used the name. I might have mentioned it to her beforehand, but would not have asked permission. The only name I have struck off my list was the name of a baby who passed away. Obviously, there are respectful limits to be mindful of in certain situations, but your situation seems just fine. Anyways, I think you should pick the name you want and feel no guilt whatsoever.

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  16. Erin Beth

    My brother and sister both have ubiquitous first names. (My real name, while classic, was out of style when I was born). My sister has pointed out that she was not even the only _______ M. in her class, but then she went ahead and knowingly chose to give her daughter a #1 name, which suits my niece perfectly. My brother shared his name with a first cousin. (They were both named after their grandfather.) He and his cousin were mildly annoyed that when together, they were called by their first and middle names. But my brother was apparently not all that annoyed, because his own son also shares his first name with a cousin. My point is that I really don’t think children mind sharing names very much—and parents who are contemplating reusing names should take comfort in that.

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  17. Kim

    I am one of those folks that would not reuse a name in my immediate social circle, and that would extend into “people I’m not particularly close with but see an awful lot,” particularly if the children were the same age. But this one? Eh, I’d use my favorite. It’s just not close enough. I don’t think I’d be bothered by her using the name of one of my girls, either. It would bother me if I my brother did, or even a close friend. If they asked, it would be up to me to say that, although it is ultimately their decision, I’d rather they didn’t. Or give neutral permission.
    I do think the declarative statement is best, rather than any sort of question. I also think that a preemptive announcement can backfire – it’s one thing to announce a name when there’s a baby on the way, and another to declare it off limits for a hypothetical future child.

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  18. Dances with diapers

    I personally don’t want to repeat a name within my social circle, but that’s because I associate names with the people I know very very strongly. It feels like the names are already taken. That being said, I don’t expect others to be as sensitive to name associations as I am so I don’t see a problem with it even though it’s something I would likely personally avoid. If someone in my social circle used my kids names, I would tell them it was a great choice. And my kids names are around 300 & 600 in popularity, so it’s not as popular as the name in question.
    The fact that you passed it up once and it’s still a name you just can’t let go speaks volumes. You seem very connected to this name, so use it. Good luck.

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  19. Kris

    I was literally working on an email to Swistle about a very similar issue! Appreciate her thoughtful response and all of these considerate comments. Wondering if anyone has thoughts about my situation – if it’s different when it’s extended family, instead of a friend? (Tommie, basically your situation – but I’m the cousin!)

    My husband and I are expecting our first baby in early October, a boy! There’s a name we both love, and feel is THE name – but I’m not sure if we can use it. My uncle (my mom’s sister’s husband)’s name is James, and his son (my cousin) named his son James, presumably in honor of his father. Assuming you see where this is going…James is the name we both love. But will I create an awkward family situation or make my cousin feel like I’m trying to take away from their honor name by using it?

    My cousin’s son is 10 years old now, and they all (my uncle, cousin, etc.) live in another state and we see them about once a year. They’d have different last names, so there wouldn’t be a lot of day-to-day confusion or anything like that.

    I tried to sneakily get my mom’s opinion on the issue, without telling her that it was THE name we were considering. She thinks my uncle would love it (especially because he loves being a grandpa and loves babies) and my cousin wouldn’t mind it. But as a first-time grandma, she may be a bit biased. ;)

    I love the name so much, and I can’t imagine naming him anything else! James is a top 10 name so I keep thinking they wouldn’t be too shocked if we were to use it, given how popular it is. I think that side of the family may think it’s strange at first, but everyone will get used to it. Or is that just my desperate attempt to convince myself it’s ok? Like the OP, do I need to give them a heads up or ask for their blessing to use it? I feel like that may just make it seem like a bigger issue than how I’m choosing to see it – a happy coincidence. :) Thanks for your thoughts.

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    1. KLNW

      I can understand your hesitation, but I also completely understand your reasoning through it too. I think James is a popular enough name that it doesn’t have to seem like you named your child after them, but if it makes them feel good to think so, then that’s probably fine too. If they lived around the corner and you hung out every weekend, I probably wouldn’t recommend it but this seems okay to me. :)

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    2. Shannon

      I think a lot of what Swistle and the commenters have already said applies here! Especially with a name like James, which is SO classic and has had such sustained popularity, and for which there really aren’t a lot of passable substitutes.

      It doesn’t seem as though honoring your uncle is your reason for using the name, but is more of a nice coincidence. If I were your cousin, and if I were worried about the honor being diminished, I’d appreciate your letting me know that it was mostly coincidence–i.e., that you have a positive association with the name, partly because of your uncle, but that the choice isn’t meant to “step on” the grandfather/grandson connection between the two existing Jameses.

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    3. Heidi J

      This exact situation happened to my mom with my name. Her cousin also named her daughter Heidi shortly before I was born. My parents still named me Heidi. I met the other Heidi once at a family reunion when I was a child and both of us thought it was awesome that we shared a name. So, in my experience, it wasn’t a big deal.

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      1. Kay W.

        From Kris’s description, the James in question is already 10 years old—so there is even more distance.

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    4. Tommie

      As the one with the ‘first’ Alyssa, please let me reassure you that in though I got a little snippy one time, just to my mom, in the long run, having two Alyssas in the family is not a big deal. My Alyssa is mostly called Lyss or Lyssie and their Alyssa is mostly Alyssa so again, even when we’re all together, the name thing barely even registers. Go with James! :-)

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    5. Kay W.

      Oh, James is such an ancient, classic name! There’s no way they can legitimately feel you’ve invaded their turf by also using it. All through your first paragraph I was wondering what the name would be and if it would be something somehow trendy/unusual (like, say, Hudson or Ryder or something very specific), but there are so many possible reasons why you would use James. So many! Please use it. :) No need to ask their blessing (yikes! awkward) nor even give them a head’s up per se, though perhaps a “Coincidentally, we’re using James too!” would be nice if it comes up. But beyond that, no. Particularly because the James in question is 10—he’s nearly a different generation from your child to be.

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  20. Shannon

    I know we’re moving on from this topic, but I just wanted to throw one more thought out there! There’s a particular boy name that’s been special to me for years, and that I’ve always planned to use if I have a son. (As of the release of the 2016 data, though, I probably won’t anymore, since it leapt from outside the top 1000 to somewhere in the 700s, which I think means it’s going to seem like a fad name a few years from now. *SOB*)

    Two years ago, two of my best friends announced that they were going to name their little boy something very similar in sound to my super-special boy name. Not the same name, not even stylistically similar, but acoustically similar enough that I assume each name would remind people of the other. I did what Swistle suggests here (I think I had already read this suggestion of hers in a previous response)–I told them IMMEDIATELY, in the “Oh, how funny!” way. They reacted positively (I think it was easy for them, since I wasn’t anywhere close to having a baby at that point and since I’d be the one receiving the hand-me-down name sound), but I still felt bummed out for reasons I couldn’t exactly explain at the time.

    I eventually realized that all my anxiety around this topic had way more to do with my anxiety about my own relationship with these friends than it did with anything of relevance to my hypothetical future son’s quality of life. Fretting about using a similar baby name came down to fretting about the question of how long I’d have these friends and how strongly we’d continue to associate; whether our kids would grow up like siblings, cousins, or strangers; whether our pre-babies friendship was going to dry up once everything changed. Thirty years in the future, there isn’t much chance that their son and mine (if I have one) will see each other very often or have cause to accidentally answer to each other’s names, so the whole name-reuse thing only matters within OUR social circle as it currently exists, and only until it doesn’t anymore. Ninety-five percent of the people in our lives would never even know there was a sound-reuse issue, if I were to use the name.

    A lot of that is less relevant to the OP, who seems to have a more casual friendship with the mother of the other flower baby, but it helped me to put it in perspective and focus on nurturing that friendship before, during, and after the arrival of new babies! (None yet for me, but I got married last weekend, so this’ll hopefully come up again soon!)

    Reply
  21. Chris

    Use the name you love, and have a ready to go response in the (unlikely) event someone mentions the other family. “Yes, isn’t it sweet? We’ve loved the name for years and the time felt right this time to use it.”

    We were the first in our friend group to have kids and if someone wanted to use either of our boys’ names (Charlie and Theo) I would be THRILLED! They’re the best, most perfect names! :) That said, I’m not so self-centered to assume anyone was naming their kid the same name as mine BECAUSE of us.

    Use what you like. It’s unlikely you’ll know these people your entire lives anyway.

    Reply
  22. Danielle

    Congrats on your marriage, Shannon! :)

    For the original question: I agree with the comments you’re already received, go with the name! It was very kind of you to ask in the first place. I would think it’s cute if someone used one of my kids’ names!

    Reply
  23. Caro

    I feel like this was a non-issue when I was a kid in the 80’s. I had two cousins named Steve, and 2 cousins named John and Jon. We called them Big Steve/Little Steve, Big Jon, Little John, until the kids were old enough that we dropped the nn. I also went to high school with two cousins the same age named Tim. I’ve never thought it was weird or a problem.

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  24. Stephanie

    I appreciate the additional advice, Swistle! It was exactly what worked for me in this situation.

    Before having my first child, I experienced 3 miscarriages. During my second miscarriage (after ten weeks, so my most traumatic of the 3), my cousin announced she was pregnant with a girl (she didn’t know about my miscarriages). She then says the name she chose.. and it’s a long form of the only girl name my husband and I had ever agreed on (example, if I wanted Annabel, she announced she was using Annabella). I felt super upset, but of course I was also going through a difficult moment in my own journey to become a mother (so jealousy was high anyway).

    What I decided to do, especially since her baby wasn’t born yet so I had time, I quickly let the secret out. I did it as lightly as I could, “wow!! Great taste! Our girl name is Annabel if we ever have a daughter!”. I said it in a way that would let family know I had already had the name in mind, but that I was also expecting to still use it one day if I had the chance.

    She named her daughter the expected name. A year later we had our own first baby, but a boy anyway. The name still remains on our list if we ever have a daughter, my cousin knows and thinks it would be cute to have two kids with the same name.

    Reply

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