Sunday Summary: 11.29.20To some degree, we all follow a no-repeats rule. Very few of us give the same name to more than one child. (I mean … George Foreman is the glaring exception.)

Cousins typically don’t share names, either – though that’s relatively new. In some cultures, names were dictated by family custom. Two brothers might both name their firstborn sons after grandpa, nevermind the potential confusion.

Those days are (mostly) over, but how far does the no-repeats rule extend?

It’s a mix of considerations.

In some cases, you know your kid could share the name. But hearing it in use – even if it’s a friend-of-a-friend – just plain takes the shine off.

Maybe it would be awkward. How do you tell your boss that you used the same name for your daughter, too?

Or you know that your friend would feel hurt by the duplication – no matter why you chose the same name.

But here’s the thing:

The no repeats rule doesn’t exist.

When there’s a relationship – friend, boss/employee, cousin – to consider, then by all means. There are good reasons to decide that a name is off the table.

But if there’s no relationship?

Then there’s no worry. You may use the same name that another family at church just used, or that you think so-and-so from accounting picked out for her baby.

Still not sure?

Apply the holiday greeting card test.

Okay, I just made this up, but I think it works.

Think about the parents of the child whose whose name you plan to duplicate.

Would you be shocked to get a holiday card from that person? If so, then you don’t need to worry about duplicating names.

Or, maybe a holiday card is your only communication that’s not casual likes of each other’s vacation pics on social media. It’s that college friend who moved across the country, a cousin-by-marriage from a marriage that has since dissolved. You’re happy to stay in touch – kinda sorta – but your kids can clearly share the same names.

Agree or disagree? Would you draw the line differently? And what does your no-repeats rules look like … if you have one?

Elsewhere online:

A supernatural series set in Victorian England? I’m intrigued by the premise of The Nevers, even before I heard that the characters include a Primrose … and a Penance. It won’t be out on HBO until next summer, though … so I shall prepare to wait.

Oh, and speaking of supernatural series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina returns on December 31st. It debuted in 2018, and sure enough, there’s an uptick in the use of Sabrina in 2019. Small, but undeniable.

While we’re in England, let’s check in on British Baby Names. There’s a Digby in a recent set of birth announcements! Plus a Freddie. Oh, and a Bluebell Matilda Poppy in this week’s bunch!

This is a fascinating naming challenge – what would you name a twin brother for Kit Inde, and a younger brother for Rocco Amsterdam? Duana pegs the issue. Sometimes it’s not about style, exactly. It’s about how a name feels when you say it – high-energy, plenty of impact, fun to say. Choosing from the same category of names isnt’ enough; the key is to match the vibe.

A story about pandas and names. Because 2020 needs at least a few feel good stories. And also because I’m wondering if parents will also look for positive, uplifting names when naming their children. The new panda at the Smithsonian Zoo is Xiao Qi Ji – Little Miracle.

That’s all for this week. As always, thinking of you!

boy names 11.29.20 girl names 11.29.20

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. It would be strange if a sibling or in-law of mine used one of my kids’ first names. I suppose because of the sense that we already have one of those in the family. However, I think outside of the family, names are up for grabs!

    Also, a fun thing I’ve learned from living in a Latin American country is that names can be repeated and are encouraged to be repeated as much as possible within a family. I know multiple families in which all of the daughters or sons have the same first name but go by their middle names!

  2. Name repetition is such a funny thing! I think my son’s class has a Collins with a baby sister Reagan, and a Reagan with a baby sister Collins. Is this a coincidence? Or did these kids and their families hit it off so well in kindergarten that their parents named their babies after their kid’s bestie? There’s such an amazing diversity of names among today’s kids that I find it so interesting to see which names get duplicated. It feels much more surprising to have two Enzos than two Jacksons. So far the major repeating name in my kids’ classes has been Joshua, but my daughter’s class once had a notable cluster of Leah/Lena/Alia etc.

  3. My dad jokes that our family wasn’t able to afford a bunch of names so we kept reusing the ones we had. I had an uncle and a cousin with the same first and last names, and when they were both around we’d use the full name for my cousin (they both normally used the common nickname) or call him the “little” one. On the other hand, the family name that got used the most (in honor of a late uncle), never actually said in full in our family, everyone with that name went by another variation or completely unrelated nickname.

    My BIL & SIL let us know which honor names they were planning on using so we wouldn’t end up with kids with the exact same first and last name. Luckily it seems like their naming styles are different from ours and at most there might be overlap with initials (they use the first initial to honor someone as opposed to the full name)

  4. I think where one draws the lines on repeats probably has a lot to do with where one draws the line on popularity in general. When a family in our (smallish) church chose the name we were thinking of, we took it off our list. I don’t think we would have done that if it were a more common name to begin with. But when a name has never been in the US top 1000, having 2 in the same Sunday School class would’ve been a bit odd. (And may have looked like copying/stealing, even though we’d had it on our shortlist for 4 years.) Thankfully, that baby ended up being the other gender anyway so it wasn’t even an issue.

  5. My Brother and his 3 sons all share the same middle name and it drives me crazy. With so many great names, why keep using the same one.
    On the other hand, my best friend used my favorite girl name 10 years ago and I would have repeated it but my husband has a niece with that name and they would have shared the same first and last name. That was too close of a relationship for me. We ended up choosing trendier names that aren’t used in our circle of friends that use more traditional names.