Weekend Post: Calling Dibs


Snapped by me at the London Transport Museum

I mentioned this week that my sister has recently decided to declare dibs on the name Edith. To put this in context, Ebs and I have – in a light-hearted manner  – been calling dibs on a variety of names over the past few months, without input from our other two siblings. To be honest, I mostly went along with this at the beginning  just to see what kind of naming style my sister has.

The idea of someone ‘stealing’ a name previously dibbed by a friend/relative is a frequent point of contention on name boards – for example two cousins are pregnant at the same time, and both want to use Emily. In terms of my sister and I, I’m actually surprised that so far my sister and I haven’t really clashed – although we did both initially call dibs on Beatrix, but Ebs happily claimed Bellatrix instead as a compromise. That said, we’re not exactly taking this entirely seriously at the moment – probably because neither of us are planning on having children in the near future.

In terms of the whole idea of ‘name stealing’ I personally find myself mostly with no qualms about the idea of my child sharing a name with the child of a friend or distant relative. This could be because I take a relaxed approach to life, but I guess it may also be because I know that since I employ a variety of nicknames for everyone I’m close to, in all likelihood if I were to have a child named, say, Dexter, I doubt I’d ever call him Dexter during day-to-day life. I can’t actually remember the last time I called my sister Heather to her face – she’s always Ebbie or some variation of that. I accidentally referred to my other sister as Sippy to a friend the other day, leaving her thinking I had a pet rabbit I’d never mentioned before, until I realised otherwise.

Some people say that they prefer to keep the names they especially like quiet, so that there’s no chance of someone taking a liking to it and then going on to use it. Some say the opposite – that if you announce your intention to use Emily for a future daughter that lessens the chance of anyone close to you using it as well.

Something else to remember about this is that if the name you like is at least the Top 100, I think it’s important to stay open to the idea of other people using it – especially when you get to names in the Top 20.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this matter, since I’m mostly indifferent about it at the time being. Oh, and for the time being, here are some of the names Ebs has called dibs on:














Categories: Weekend Post | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Weekend Post: Calling Dibs

  1. I think it is fairly easy to call dibs on names that you like in theory, names that are without a family tie, etc. It gets more heated when you’re actually in the baby naming zone and talking about a smaller pool of choices.

    When I was expecting child #2, and my sister was thinking about her first, she was very upset about the possibility that I’d “use up” all of the family names. I felt strongly that she was welcome to use the same names we did – we’re a crazy nickname family, too, so there’s no danger of being mis-identified at grandma’s house. But I think she felt like her child would feel less valued to receive the second iteration of the name – and I can see that.

    So … in theory, I think it is easy. Having watched my sister agonize over the question, I think it is harder when you’re actually down to the final few possible names.


  2. Emily

    To put it quite simply, I think the entire concept of name “stealing” and “calling” a name is just silly. You can’t “own” a name regardless of how much you love it or want to use it. I wouldn’t have any issue with a relative’s or friend’s child having the same name as my child.


  3. Pingback: Names Spotted Over the Summer, at Home and Abroad « Waltzing More Than Matilda

  4. I think people who come up with something very unusual for their child, or even invent a name, by combining their names for example, are probably going to be a little more miffed if someone close to them ends up using the same name.

    If you pick Alejandro Swansea Saltwater as a baby name, based on your favourite song, football team and fashion label, it will be hard for you to accept that your third cousin “just happened” to think of the same name after you discussed baby names with her.

    Unfortunately, many people believe Xavier Lucas is a unique name, and get ridiculously upset when they discover the couple across the road have also picked it.

    (To be fair, as I discovered in my name travels, in some areas, Xavier Lucas actually IS a very unusual name to have – my own fairly boring name of reasonable popularity in its time was unique in the town where I grew up, and in the town where I attended school. Still, I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have cared if anyone else had used it).


  5. My brother has this funny tendency of ‘suddenly’ liking all the names that I like. Since he is much closer to the age of having children than I am, and I don’t plan on having any babies any time soon, I don’t really mind if he ‘steals’ names. At least I know he will name the child something good.

    However, if I were about to pop and he decided to use a name that I loved and was also planning to use, I don’t think I would be so good natured about it. I would probably be quite annoyed and upset, but I think I would say that whoever had a child first would have first dibs. If it were a friend who ‘stole’ the name after I told them about it, I would probably question how good a friend he/she was, but still use the name anyway. I just wouldn’t want to repeat names within the family.

    To avoid the whole thing, I just wouldn’t talk about names to anyone except the husband or partner.


  6. Entirely in agreement, Lou. Indeed, this whole dibbing business is a bit of a pet peeve. As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t consider what friends are calling their children at all, and only worry about cousins — even siblings — if you actually spend a lot of time with them. Otherwise, I’m sure everyone will manage just fine with the fact that there happen to be two little girls called Emily at a party now and again! Time was, when it came to family names (certainly in the UK), everyone used them, and you’d have twenty cousins all called Marmaduke or Jolyon or whatever. I suspect that it actually contributed to family unity, rather than weakened it.

    Plus, in my experience, children actually find it quite fun when they’re with someone with the same name, especially someone related. The two little bridesmaids at my wedding shared the same name (one my niece, one my husband’s) and they thought it was an absolute hoot. It really brought them together.


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