Ask the Name Lady

Ask Now

Is The Name I Love "Taken"?

I have always loved the name Jack, so when I got pregnant I chose Jack as a boy's name. My boyfriend and I never even considered other names. I've told all of my MOM'S family and my friends the name for four months now, but just found out that my cousin on my DAD'S side has decided to name her baby (due two weeks before mine) Jack, completely by coincidence. Can I keep the name or should I give it up?

It's admirable that you're prepared to give up a name you've loved all your life to promote family harmony . But I'm glad to tell you it's probably not necessary.

We can all recognize the feeling of a name being "taken." In our name culture, the name belongs to the first parents in a social circle who "claim" it -- planting their flag on the territory like explorers of yore. The question is, how big is the territory? How far do their exclusive rights to the name extend? And what happens when two families stake their claims on the same name months before their due dates?

Three main factors determine if a name is taken. First, consider the name's history and popularity. It's harder to claim a familiar classic Jack than a creative newcomer like Briar. A hallmark of Briar is its rarity, so adding a second Briar to a social circle could indeed feel like stealing an idea. But with almost 9,000 Jacks born each year (and 12,000 Jacksons) it's hard to argue that your cousin thought up the name...or that one more Jack will change the way the name comes across to people.

The second factor to weigh is your closeness to the the other family. In your case, you're due at the same time but haven't discussed baby names together; it sounds like you aren't especially close.

Finally, there's timing. Neither baby has been born yet, and your joint choice is pure coincidence. Add in your lifelong attachment to the name, and it all spells sticking to your guns.

That doesn't mean ignoring your cousin's feelings, though. Take the direct approach. Pick up the phone and cheerfully let her know about the amazing coincidence -- and compliment her on her fabulous taste. If you set the tone right, the name you both love may become a special bond rather than a point of conflict.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

June 7, 2010 11:00 PM
By Sebalek (not verified)

And if you're lucky, she just might change her mind.

June 8, 2010 6:18 AM
By elleireland (not verified)

I went to college with a very pretty girl named Kresson, and she was supposed to be Christine. Until her mom's cousin used the name, 2 weeks before her birth.

So Kresson it was, and she got the better name, in my opinion. I tend to prefer classics, but Christine is so common that it's hardly heard for the lovely sound it makes. While Kresson is just that, a lovely sound.

So use Jack if you still love it.....or get creative, and find a name with a similar sound that you can love. Like Brock, or Mick. Good luck.

June 8, 2010 11:59 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

In my family we all have similar taste in baby boy names. My nephew is the 3rd Benjamin to be born into our paternal branch of the family. The reason that it works for us is that the Ben's are all a couple years apart, and they all have different last names. (We also have 2 Andrews, and since that is a favorite of mine we will eventually have 3, although one goes by Andy, the other Drew and I prefer the full Andrew, and again they will all be years apart and have different last names). It would seem that your Jack and his cousin would have different last names as well, so I see no problem on the surface. However, you do need to consider how close you are with this cousin, and if your children will be attending the same schools. While it can be fun to have relatives attending school together it could be breeding ground for conflict in those oh so lovely teen years. Definitely talk it over with your hubby and your cousin and see if there cant be some kind of compromise, i.e. perhaps she uses Jack as a middle name? If she wont budge, then it's up to you to decide if the name is more important to you than the family harmony.

June 8, 2010 12:23 PM
By Fiery (not verified)

I so feel your problem. We have 3 babies due with a 3 week period, all girls. Thankfully we all have different tastes in girl names so we should be ok. I know my cousins name choices but not my cousin's girlfriends name choices. Though I honestly doubt I have anything to worry, I prefer uncommon names and tend to go for meaning as much as name sound. Though I know it's going to cause just a bit of an issue that I plan on using varient/related names to my grandmothers to honor them and my cousin was talking about using her grandmothers names as the baby's middle name. Though what can I say their names will totally be different.

If I didn't tend to pick certain types of names then I would likely be a bit more concerned. I also know that one of my cousins loves my dad & Grandfathers middle name and would love to use it for a boys name when she has kids. I plan on using it as well and I absolutely would not pass up the name even if she named her son that. Though right now I plan to use it as a middle name.

I would keep the original choice. Worse comes to worse at family gatherings the kids can go by nicknames.

June 8, 2010 12:25 PM
By lo (not verified)

Since Jack is a traditional nn for John would you consider using John with Jack as a nn?

June 8, 2010 1:02 PM
By Paula (not verified)

Twenty-something years ago, my cousin and his wife had their second son and gave him the name James along with the mother's maiden name as his middle name, and decided to call him Jim. Less than three years later, this cousin's younger brother and his wife had their first child, also a boy, and named him William James (insert last name) III, after his father and grandfather. William James II goes by Bill, and William James I (now deceased, but very much alive and well at the time both grandsons were born) went by a nickname unrelated to either William or James. Cousin and wife decided to call William James III Jim as well! Remember, the fathers of these two Jims are brothers, so the Jims share a last name as well as a first! That made for plenty of confusion in the family, to say the least, and I don't think the parents of the older Jim were pleased that his name was duplicated.

However, what I think they objected to was that there were several other choices that the second Jim's parents could have picked - Will, Jay, etc. - they didn't HAVE to call him Jim! But they did, and these two Jims are now in their 20's, both fine young men, who have established themselves in very different professions. They also grew up two states away from each other and went to different colleges, so it's not as if there's any confusion outside the family.

One funny aside: At one time, the two Jims had girlfriends who had the same first name, but spelled slightly differently. The older Jim married his girlfriend in 2005 and they recently had their first child; the younger Jim and his girlfriend are no longer together.

June 8, 2010 1:13 PM
By Heidi (not verified)

My mother had this same thing happen with me before I was born. Her cousin named her daughter Heidi before I was born. My parents decided that it was unlikely we'd be in each other lives much, so they stuck with naming me Heidi. I met my second cousin who shares my name once when I was a child and we both thought it was fun that we shared a name. I haven't seen her since. So, I say go ahead and name your son Jack.

June 8, 2010 2:30 PM
By Elizabeth (not verified)

My brother is named Christopher, and so is one of my cousins. They even share a surname. We call one Chris, the other Christopher, and it really hasn't been a problem. Of course, they're a few years apart, which helps, but still. It's just one of those things that happens. (I do, however, strongly agree that you should warn your cousin so she doesn't get a rude surprise when her baby's name gets re-used two weeks later!)

P.S.: captcha is Rotenza Whitcomb. Now there's an unusual name!

June 8, 2010 3:04 PM
By Allison (not verified)

Three and a half years ago I named my daughter a double name for both my grandmothers. This spring my cousin announced that his first daughter would be given the name of the grandmother that we share - the name we call our daughter by!

At first I was livid - this was MY child's name! But, in all honesty - it was OUR grandmother's name first and he had every right to use it.

The girls are more than 3 years age difference, have different last names and live over 500 miles apart. I expect to only see this child once a year - if that. I still haven't met the child and she's about 3 months old.

June 8, 2010 3:30 PM
By C (not verified)

I have always loved the name Jack too! It is my Dad and Grandpas' name too.IT was actually their nickname! Their given names were John . Have either of you considered such a scenario. Then when family gathers you can use the given name but otherwise refer to him as Jack! Or use Jack and the middle name like Joseph and call him JJ .All, ways to make people happy! All said, do not change your dream! Family is forever, but even family goes their separate ways too . It would be ashame to change it and then have your cousin move and not see her for years etc. It is your child enjoy YOUR favorite name ,Boys (and men)named Jack are awesome people! I wanted the name for my boys but my last name is ASher . Drop the s and add an s you will understand why my sons are not named that! Lol Poor kid would have got picked on , so glad I thought about that one!

June 8, 2010 3:32 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have two nieces named Reese born 4 days apart, one is my husband's brother's daughter (born first) and the second is my sister's daughter. They do not care, they rarely bump into each other unless they are both at my house, and they attend different schools. I think it is funny and cute that I have two "nieces named Reeses"! Nobody has had hard feelings. I would also tell the other mom before babies are born. In fact when three of my girlfriends and I were expecting at the same time 8 years ago I told them all our daughter's name and told them they were welcome to use it as well but this was the name we were choosing regardless of what they chose. That way there were no suprises and it sounds like you have told plenty of people for a very long time so it isn't like you heard her choice and are using it as well. Just be honest and tell her and let it go, if she gets offended that is her business. God Bless!

June 8, 2010 6:32 PM
By Tiana (not verified)

I think she should decide how much it would bother her to have two Jack's in the family. If it doesn't bother her, then she doesn't have to change her choice. She should let her cousin know her name decision & if the cousin has a problem, she can make her own decision about the situation. I definitely don't think she should have to give up Jack just because the cousin is due 2 weeks before her. The fact of the matter is, she could be early & her cousin could be late, allowing her Jack to be born first.

It wasn't that long ago when it was quite common to have multiple names in a family. Especially if the extended family is not that close knit. My mom has multiple cousins named Michael, all on the same side of the family.

June 8, 2010 7:34 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

One of my very good friends and I were pregnant at the same time, due less than 2 weeks apart. We discussed the process of selecting names, but always kept the actual names that we were considering private. Our little daughter, Sophie, was born first. Then only 5 days later, I received a text from my friend announcing that their daughter, Sophie, had been born that morning! I laughed and told my husband that we had unintentionally "stolen" their name, as I knew that they had settled in on their name choice months before us. I'm actually very happy that we kept our name choices private, as we were free to choose the name that we loved without feeling like we'd stolen someone else's choice. I happy that they didn't feel that they needed to make a change just because we'd also loved that name and given it to our daughter. The two little Sophies will be able to grow up together and both sets up parents were able to use the name they love.

In your case, the cat is already out of the bag on the chosen names, but I think the same thing applies. You've both chosen the names independently and you should both stick to your decisions and use the name that you love!

June 8, 2010 7:40 PM
By Kell (not verified)

So funny, 3 family friends were all recently discussing their intended future use of the name Jack/Jackson. They're all at very different stages, (one with one child-who would have been Jack if she were a boy, one currently pregnant, but not yet sure about the gender yet, and one not even trying to conceive yet) so it's not really a big deal at this point in time.

I guess the name has really grown in popularity lately.

June 8, 2010 9:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My family has many multiple names. My grandfather/uncle/cousin/cousin all share a name. Two of my uncles (one blood, one my marriage) share a name. Two of my cousins share a name. It has never been a big deal at all. The Janes even joke abot being Jane 1 and Jane 2. It's family; there's no such thing as perfect harmony. Everyone just kinda deals! Name your boy Jack but definitely tell your cousin first!

June 8, 2010 10:49 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Just give your son the name you like. I was struggling with the same kind of thing during my pregnancy with my son. I had a favorite name but was hesitant to use it because there are already two men in my family with that name. I went ahead and used it anyway. It's HIS name and I'm glad I used it. I would have felt worse giving my son a name I wasn't crazy about just so my family wouldn't think anything.

June 9, 2010 6:40 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with everyone--warn the other mom before hand and use Jack. My husbands family only hasa couple first names and they've managed to survive having 4 Sarah W.'s (that's same first AND last name), 2 Anthonys and a Toni, 2 Mikes (that grew up in the same house).... I didn't use any of their set on our kids, but they have a serious naming problem. 2 Jacks is totally do able.

June 9, 2010 8:09 AM
By CP (not verified)

I agree, warn the other mom but keep the name you love. My oldest son was going to be Luke but one of my many cousins & his wife named their son, born four months earlier Luke so my oldest is now Elijah. I have occasionally regretted not just going with Luke as we rarely see Luke & his family (& they have different last names). I used it in a roundabout way, though, I now have a daughter Lucy.

Also, we have lots of name repeats in my family (I have 27 first cousins on 1 side, most of whom have children) - Jack(!), Jacob, Sarah, Matthew, Michael, Benjamin - and that is only counting my cousin's children, not my cousins (David, James, John, Paul) or cross-generational repeats. Some of the above get a kick out of repeats like Big Jake & Little Jake. None of them really seem to mind sharing their names.

June 9, 2010 10:09 AM
By Kristina (not verified)

I had a similar thing happen while pregnant with my first. We chose not to find out the gender, so we picked out names for a boy (Liam Taylor) and a girl (Catherine Fiona). One of my friends, who "luckily" lives 1000 miles away, was telling me about her names one day, and it turns out, they had picked Liam if it was a boy, too. She ended up having Liam 5 weeks before I had Catherine, but because of the geographical distance, I think we probably would have stuck with our Liam had we had a boy.
If she lived close by and they were going to be in the same grade at the same school, I might have thought twice.

June 9, 2010 10:27 AM
By Anna (not verified)

Shhhh Name Lady, Briar is supposed to stay a secret name that no one thinks of!! I love that name, girl or boy. (Jack is nice too though!)

June 9, 2010 11:17 AM
By Jasmine (not verified)

I would absolutely not change it, or try to convince the cousin to change it. If you love the name, use it, but do let your cousin know before hand so she isn't blindsided by it.

In my family we have a tradition of J names. Our kids are the 4th generation of J's, so needless to say finding an unused name is getting harder, and we do have some duplicates.

Last year my cousin and I were both expecting and she was having a boy but we didn't know what we were having. We ended up having a girl and when her boy was born, she used one of our top boy's names. Later that year, another cousin had a baby and used one of the names on our girls list.

I'm keeping both names on my list, we only see them a few times a year, and I think if anything it will just be a funny similarity for the kids to share should we end up using those names.

June 9, 2010 2:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I would STRONGLY advise choosing another name. I knew 2 cousins who had the same name (first and last), they were commonly known by the streets they lived on to distinguish one from the other. It was very confusing and I've always felt that the mother of the younger girl should have chosen a different name knowing that her cousin (who went to the same school and lived in the same town) already had that full name. In your case you are asking for help so you are trying to be the bigger person. Maybe you should try "reversing" your names and using your chosen middle name as a first name and keeping Jack or Jackson (whichever sounds best) as a middle name.

June 10, 2010 3:36 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

When my mother was pregnant with my older sister, my father's youngest sister was due three months later. They both decided separately to name the two babies Vanessa if they were girls. My mom and dad decided they'd let my aunt use the name instead, and they named my sister Elsa. My aunt like the Elsa, but didn't want to use it and named her daughter Ellen instead. No one ended up being named Vanessa after all. So go for it!

June 10, 2010 2:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have always loved the name Jack. It was my Dad's name. The problem is two of my friends DOGS are named Jack, and my sister-in-law's 5 month old is named Jackson. I still want to name my son Jack,who is due in 2 months. My boyfriend says "no way". I just can't seem to come up with another name. Even before my dads death, I had my heart set on Jack. Now, more than ever, I would like to carry the namesake on. What now?

June 10, 2010 2:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have always loved the name Jack. It was my Dad's name. The problem is two of my friends DOGS are named Jack, and my sister-in-law's 5 month old is named Jackson. I still want to name my son Jack,who is due in 2 months. My boyfriend says "no way". I just can't seem to come up with another name. Even before my dads death, I had my heart set on Jack. Now, more than ever, I would like to carry the namesake on. What now?

June 10, 2010 3:02 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have always loved the name Jack. It was my Dad's name. The problem is two of my friends DOGS are named Jack, and my sister-in-law's 5 month old is named Jackson. I still want to name my son Jack,who is due in 2 months. My boyfriend says "no way". I just can't seem to come up with another name. Even before my dads death, I had my heart set on Jack. Now, more than ever, I would like to carry the namesake on. What now?

June 10, 2010 11:09 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I loved the name Jack too. But when i was pregnant with my son I was worried about the name being to common. So we decided to name him Jax instead. I love it even more than Jack. Just a thought.

June 14, 2010 10:38 PM
By Angel (not verified)

My first and middle name is Angel Marie, but when I'm around my cousin, I'm Angel 2. We were both given the same first and middle names without our mothers realizing it. Our mothers are sisters, but not especially closse. They talk more by phone or computer then they actually see eachother face to face. When we do get together, my cousin and I have to go by nick names so you can get the right person the first time you call for them. It was tiresome for me to have to be refered to as Angel 2 or Angel D (because of my last name) and I really didn't like it. When we were younger, I saw that side of my family at least once a year. It just made things confusing and more of a pain than anything. I feel that if you are going to give your child the same name as someone else, try to make sure that they have different middle names so they have something that is uniquely theirs. That's something I wish could have been the case for me and my cousin. Thanks.

June 14, 2010 11:32 PM
By Mandy (not verified)

About 2 months after telling the family that I was pregnant and her name was going to be Kaylee, my nephew announces that his girlfriend and him are having a little girl and that they were going to name her Kaylee (spelled the same and everything). However when they found out that I had already picked the name they just simply changed it a little bit to Makaylee. Now it confuses both of the girls when they get together and get into trouble.

June 15, 2010 3:56 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My wife is from New Zealand and 1/2 Samoan. We wanted a traditional Samoan name and a middle name that can be shortened as a nickname. She left it to me and I chose Sina Elizabeth. Sina has some folklore associated with it in the Samoan culture and Elizabeth seemed to roll off the tongue effortlessly to make a name as beautiful as my daugter.
My wife visited NZ when my daughter was 2 years old and the wife of her cousin, she was close to him growing up, remarked how she liked the name. 4 years later they had a child and gave her the EXACT same name. My wifes cousin's wife has Elizabeth as her middle name but, goes by her first name.
I found this to be very rude. Granted we don't live in NZ now but, we have in the past and may someday again. The entire family in NZ is pretty close and I feel offended by their action and now have concerns of potential future stolen identities and/or credit mix ups,not to mention the awkward family reunions. Are my feelings justified in your perception?

June 16, 2010 2:06 PM
By Ainsley (not verified)

I think it also depends on the last name. I know from personal experience that it sucks when there is a family memeber who chooses to name their child the same thing. My father's cousin named their daughter Ainslie, 4 years after I was born. Yes, the spelling is SLIGHTLY different, but we have the same first AND last name. C'mon - you couldn't be a little more creative? How common is Ainsley? It's not, so now there are 2 of us in a small area and people comment about it all the time. Thankfully I have recently married and no longer get the confused: "Are you so-and-so's child?", "Oh, you went to such-and-such school with so-and-so" having to explain myself junk.

With Jack - you should be fine. It's simple, it's common place.

July 9, 2010 12:52 AM
By Julie (not verified)

My parents had been planning on naming their first daughter Julie 10 years before I was even born. If my first brother had been a girl, the name would have been Julie. If my second brother had been a girl, the name would have been Julie. So then when my mom found out she was getting a girl - the name was definitely going to be Julie. But my mom's sister was pregnant with her daughter at the same time my mom was pregnant with me - only she was due three months before. They named their daughter Julie 3 months before I came along! Keep in mind that my mom and her sister were close but 9 years apart in age and my mom doesn't remember if they ever discussed names or not. So it could have been accidental theft (if my aunt heard my mom say it and then she fell in love with it but maybe didn't remember where she had heard it before) or just plain old unlucky coincidence. My parents tried thinking of other names and I was even Jill for a day in the hospital. But after looking at me they both decided that I was a Julie and called and made sure it was okay with my aunt and uncle. So at every family gathering, I was Julie Anne and she was Julie Kay. However, my cousin Julie Kay lived closer to the majority of my extended family and so everyone tended to call her Julie and call me Julie Anne except for my immediate family. Its one thing to feel like your name isn't all that unique but to not even be an individual in your own family felt pretty lame to me. But I would like to add that I would rather be named the same name as my cousin and know that my mom loved my name so much she had to use it then be a Jill just because Julie got used first.

July 10, 2010 12:55 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

My name is Stephanie.
So are my two younger cousins and apparently two more are on the way. I wouldn't mind sharing my name, except for the fact that I was born 3 years before all the others and everyone tries sticking me with a nickname or making me go by my first name along with my middle name which I loathe. So, if you are not close it may not be an issue, but don't expect the kids to want to use nicknames at get togethers.

July 11, 2010 9:03 PM
By Jackon's Mom in VT (not verified)

We didn't tell anyone what we were naming our son until he was 24 hours old. We had a list, that we didn't share, but didn't know for sure until after he was born. We wanted a family name and both of our maternal grandfathers were named Jack (not John, Jack). Jackson just worked for us, even though it is popular.

However, my cousin (father's side) had already named his son Jackson, 7 years earlier. We decided since they live over 1000 miles away and we never see them it was okay. They actually think it is pretty cool that we used the same name. I think the boys will too when they are older (different last names after all).

On the other hand, my sister's best friend's sister had her son 5 weeks to the day after our son was born and they also named him Jackson (chosen way before).

PS. I actually know a guy named Jack Briar!

June 15, 2011 11:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Amiable brief and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you seeking your information.

September 20, 2011 11:29 AM
By bonusy bukmacherskie (not verified)

Many thanks to the person who made this post, this was very informative for me. Please continue this awesome work. Sincerely..

March 22, 2012 3:46 AM
By brother quotes (not verified)

Working on the given topic is really a difficult task but your this tutorial made it easy for me to handle it without any problem. If anyone seeking information then this blog is the best place for him as it has quality content for your required information. Thanks for sharing.

May 7, 2012 3:37 AM
By Adidas Jeremy Scott (not verified)

Socialist Francois Hollande claimed the presidency from Nicolas Sarkozy. The move was widely expected but investors anxiously awaited details of his economic programme after he proposed a tax for the ultra rich, a financial transactions levy and a longer timeframe for eliminating the country's deficit.

June 4, 2012 6:23 AM
By Tampa Loan Modification (not verified)

This is what I have been searching in many websites and I finally found it here. Amazing article. I am so impressed.I think you have a great knowledge especially dealing with such subjects.

June 7, 2012 2:43 AM
By dc photo booth rental (not verified)

You made several good points there. I did a search on the issue and found nearly all folks will go along with with your blog. Just please keep us updated through email and I will keep visiting this site often.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.