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Does the Dog Have Dibs on My Grandma's Name?

My grandmother's name was Annabelle, and I was very close to her and would love to pay tribute with my daughter's name. Recently, my friends got a puppy and named her Bella, when I mentioned it, people have asked why I would want the same name for my baby as a dog. Is there a way to address this in a day when people are taking dog names from baby books?! - Bella Lover

If a dog steals your grandma's name, you have the right to steal the dog's name, don't you think? Fair is fair.

Seriously, there's a pecking order when it comes to names being "taken," and the number one spot is occupied by parents honoring someone who was important in their lives. In fact, you could name your baby after your beloved grandmother even if the other Bella were your friend's daughter, not her puppy.

Namesakes get extra leeway. They can even override basic principles like the "first come, first served" rule. For instance, if two sisters married men named Kyle, they could each name a son Kyle Jr. if they desired.

This namesake exception is narrowly defined. It has to be somebody you want to honor because you loved the person, not just because you love the name. Merely finding a Great-Great-Great Uncle Silas on your family tree doesn't give you special rights to duplicate the taken name Silas. Creative offshoots don't count, either -- your Uncle Mel doesn't give you a dispensation to copy your best friend's baby name Melisande.

As with all delicate social situations, approach the namesake exception thoughtfully. It doesn't outweigh the demands of sensitivity or common sense. If a dear friend next door is hurt by the thought of sharing her child's name, try to find another way to honor your loved one.

As for your friends' reaction that the name now means "dog" to them, I wouldn't worry. Once they get to know your daughter, that will all melt away.

Comments

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July 5, 2010 1:33 PM
By Sebalek (not verified)

You friend chose to use a popular HUMAN name for her dog, not the other way around, so what idiot would really think "Gee, you're naming your daughter after a dog?" Besides, the dog's name probably comes from the Twilight character.

There are other nicknames you can use for Annabelle besides Bella. Anne or Annie or Anya. Personally, though I like Bella in and of itself, there are TONS of little girls with some version of Isabel or Isabella going by Bella instead of Belle or Izzy or Isa, so it's not a nickname I would choose when you have less used options.

Use Annabelle if it has so much meaning to you, and either use her full name only or pick a different nickname. There's nothing particularly special about Bella in this case, only Annabelle.

July 5, 2010 8:03 PM
By Kell (not verified)

A no brainer to me. Use the name. A friends dog is like, the furthest possible connection to a name. Your family members wouldn't connect the name to the dog, and neither would any other non-mutual friends. Additionally, your child will (god-willing) out live the dog, and possibly even the friendship.

And I agree with Sebalek that I would use Ana, Anne, Annie, or Bell(e) as nick names before using Bella, it's just too popular right now. And since your choosing the name because of the namesake and not the popularity of Bella, I would just skip that whole problem.

July 6, 2010 1:34 AM
By Bebe (not verified)

Annie is SOOOOOOO much cuter as a nickname anyway.

July 6, 2010 12:24 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Our 6 year old daughter is Annabelle and we loved the "vintage-ness" of it. Annabelle and Bella are different enough that no problem should exist. In fact, after six years we haven't shortened Annabelle's name with the rare exception of calling her Anna (though she has a close friend named Anna, which probably keeps us from calling her that). We have two dogs that proceeded our kids by four years. We call them Francine Ann and Ella Belle and always wondered if that is where we subconsciously pulled Annabelle's name from.

July 6, 2010 12:55 PM
By v (not verified)

I love the name Annabelle! You should use it and don't worry about what your friends think. Besides, Bella is so overated.

July 6, 2010 1:20 PM
By Katsy (not verified)

Without sounding trite: use the name! Annabelle is such a pretty name and it honors someone special to you. If it really bothers you, try to find a variant of it: Anna, Annika, Annalea, etc. You get the idea. Or, use her middle name or nickname. Best of luck!

July 6, 2010 7:36 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I recently went to a BBQ where kids and dogs were invited. It was very weird for me to realize that two of the dogs running around were Max and Isabel (nn Izzy). Those are the names of my two kids who were at the party. Very disconcerting! Use the name. Just because people use human names for dogs do not make them dog's names only.

July 6, 2010 8:25 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Well, for one thing, Bella is not the same name as Annabelle -- duh! And, for antoher thing -- who the heck cares what your friend named her dog ...

July 6, 2010 8:26 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Well, for one thing, Bella is not the same name as Annabelle -- duh! And, for antoher thing -- who the heck cares what your friend named her dog ...

July 6, 2010 8:26 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Well, for one thing, Bella is not the same name as Annabelle -- duh! And, for antoher thing -- who the heck cares what your friend named her dog ...

July 8, 2010 4:07 PM
By Janice (not verified)

Lighten up. Just FYI, I take my dog to the dog park almost every day and there are at least 4 "Bellas" there. We had a dog named Chester. So what? use your grandmother's name and like the other comment said, no one is going to think you named your baby after a dog. BTW, what if it's a boy?

July 12, 2010 5:20 PM
By Mia (not verified)

1. Annabelle and Bella are two different names.

2. Who cares what your friends name their dog? They get to name their dog whatever they want and you can name your kid whatever you want.

July 13, 2010 1:36 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love the name lady's rules about "narrowly defined" namesakes. I have read so many threads on another name site where people claim that a family name is any name you found on your family tree. That drives me crazy! I family name is a)someone in your family whom you knew and loved or b) a name in your direct ancestry. Just because my great-great-aunt by marriage had a maiden name of Rivers does NOT mean I can claim it as a family name for my daughter because I happen to like the name!

August 5, 2010 10:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Is this serious?

August 15, 2010 9:16 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Hey... we named our son(Peter)after an old family dog. Pete was a really great dog. Now, if he had been a bad dog, that would have been a problem. PS IMHO, both Annabelle and Peter are quite ~Fetching~ : )

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