Name Ownership: Can You Steal A Baby Name?
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Name Ownership: Can You Steal A Baby Name?

From popular baby names to unique baby names – names are always a hot topic around Mabel’s Labels. But what is the etiquette around “stealing” baby names?

We all know about the whole “you stole my name” phenomenon. Think back to that episode of Friends, where Monica accuses Rachel of stealing her girl name, Emma. (Also note that Monica didn’t have a baby at the time.)

I have six children with fairly unusual names. Not one of them would be on a top 100 baby names list anywhere. My youngest son’s name is Finian, which is perhaps the most common of the lot. I’ve had a couple of friends express that they liked the name and have asked me how I would feel if they used it. I appreciated the gesture of checking in and of course, told them to use the name with all of my blessings.

The funniest “name borrowing” moment for me was when our friends recently got a puppy and gave him the name of my son, Clancy. I had to admit, Clancy is a great name for a dog or a kid. Now the ongoing joke is that we named our son after their dog.

We recently had a family member name their new baby son Clancy. My Clancy was delighted to have a little namesake and feels quite special about it all.

The parents didn’t mention they were going to use the name, so I was a bit surprised since it’s such an unusual name. But I wasn’t bothered, in fact, I was delighted someone else thought it was a cool enough name to use.

The thing with asking “permission” is that it can be risky business – if you ask the question, you better be prepared to respect the answer.

What if you ask to use a name and someone says no? Maybe when it comes to naming children, you’re better off sticking to the mantra “it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”

So what is your name story and what’s the etiquette? Can you use a name that your friend has either used or claimed for future children? Is it a courtesy to run it past them?

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