Is it ever ok to steal someone's baby name?

Can you call dibs on a baby name? [Photo: Getty]
Can you call dibs on a baby name? [Photo: Getty]

Ah the parenting politics of baby names. Always planned to call your first born after your great aunt’s cousin first removed? Come up with something so unique you’re afraid that if you reveal it, someone else might nab it?

But what if someone else does get there first? And what if that someone is your sister?

That’s exactly the situation one mum-to-be has found herself in and she’s turned to the Internet for some advice on whether or not it is ok to use the same baby name as her sister.

Posting a thread on parenting site Mumsnet, the pregnant mum asked whether or not it is ok to steal her sister’s baby name?

“Two years ago my sister had her second son and named him Benjamin but he is always referred to called Benji,” she wrote.

“Benjamin was going to be our name for a boy. My sister didn’t know this and I didn’t tell her this after she had him either but I did mention it to my mum when she told me he’d been born and the chosen name.

“I am now pregnant and it’s a boy and there is literally not one other name I can find that I like for boys, never mind one that my DH [darling husband] would also like.

“It’s quite unusual and I tend to prefer old-fashioned, traditional names. I have read websites full of lists of names and still there is nothing I can find.

She ended her post by revealing that she only sees her sister about five times a year and asking whether as “Benji is Benji how unreasonable do you think it is to call my son Benjamin?”

“I don’t think she’d be thrilled about me choosing the same name as her but I don’t know if it would bother her that much especially if we call him Benjamin and never Benji,” she continued.

“It is not a particularly unusual or unpopular name, always in the top 50, so I wouldn’t be bothered if a friend also used it but with it being my sister’s child’s name I do feel a bit like I am overstepping the line.”

And fellow parents were quick to step in and offer their own opinions on the thorny subject.

Many were of the opinion that the mumt-to-be should choose another name.

“I wouldn’t do it,” one user wrote. “There are 100s of boys names. I think you’re being a bit ridiculous thinking you can’t come up with another name … what if you went on to have 3 boys yourself … are you going to call them all Benjamin? I highly doubt it.”

“He’s Benji now but there’s every chance they’ll both be Ben when they’re older,” another wrote.

“I really wouldn’t. I would find it quite a weird thing to do tbh.”

“Don’t do it. My sister did this to me and it was just weird. My mum now has 2 grandkids with pretty much the same name,” another mother offered.

But not everyone was against the idea.

“Call him what you want to it’s nobodys business,” one parent said.

“No one has dibs on a name, she can’t reasonably ask you to not use it,” another mum wrote.

“I must be weird as I don’t think this would bother me. Talk to your sister I think,” a third woman said.

Is it ever ok to steal someone else’s baby name? [Photo: Getty]
Is it ever ok to steal someone else’s baby name? [Photo: Getty]

The topic is clearly a divisive one as another post on Mumsnet on a similar theme has also got people debating.

“My husbands cousin is TTC (Trying To Conceive) and we were chatting about baby names,” the post reads. “I’m 6 months pregnant and love the baby name she’s chosen. Would I be the worst in the world to steal it?”

“They live at the other end of the country so we only see them at family weddings – but they are a close family with lots of FB groups etc.”

Once again posters were divided about whether or not stealing a baby name was ok.

“No one owns a name…. but, I think it’s a pretty shitty thing to do,” one user wrote.

“Unless you already liked it and had thought of it then I think it’s a bit of a rubbish thing to do,” agreed another.

But others didn’t see anything wrong with using the name.

“I don’t think you can ‘steal’ the name of a baby who hasn’t even been conceived yet, and who might be a different sex from yours anyway,” one parent wrote.

“Ignore all the indignation. Lets be clear no one has dibs on a name. Can’t steal a name,” another poster agreed.

According to the baby naming experts, you can’t actually claim ownership of a name when you’re not even pregnant.

“You cannot call dibs unless you are actually expecting a baby, which people try to do,” Pamela Redmond Satran, creator of Nameberry, tells Personal Space.

In fact, order to ‘claim’ a name you have to have a really solid reason.

“It has to be a name that you have some personal association with, not just a family name,” she continues.

“If it’s your grandmother’s maiden name, if it’s the great, great grandfather’s middle name and you have 50 cousins who also like it, you can’t call dibs.”

It’s also not ok to lay claim to names that appear in the most popular list, or a hipster or trendy name, whether or not they have a personal meaning to you.

“If you are expecting, and say it’s a girl, your grandma was Elizabella, you are completely in your rights to call dibs in that sense among your close friends and family members. You can call dibs to people you’re likely to see and have a part in your baby’s life as your family grows up.”

So there you go. Told you baby names were quite the political problem.

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