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Handling Celebrity Name Theft

September 23, 2020 Abby Sandel
celebrity name theft

They had the perfect baby name all ready to go, until a famous singer gave it to his daughter – just weeks ahead of their due date! How do you handle celebrity name theft?

Emily writes:

I’m hoping you can give us some advice. I’m due with a baby girl soon. My husband and I have had our hearts set on naming her Lyra since I found out I was pregnant.

Now Ed Sheeran has named his baby Lyra!

It sounds dramatic but I feel crushed, and I’m losing sleep thinking of new names. In your opinion, will people associate the name with Ed Sheeran and do you think it will become very popular?

I can’t decide whether to stick with Lyra or try to find another name.

The Name Sage replies:

Celebrity name theft is frustrating, isn’t it?

You’ve found this perfect, under-the-radar name that you both love, and now it’s all over People.

It happens. But should it change your plans? There are two factors to consider.

One: Is this the first prominent use of the name?

Many people hear Lyra and have an immediate association – and it’s not Ed Sheeran.

After all, she’s the heroine of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. (If you’re not a fan of the books, movie, or the new BBC/HBO series, Lyra Belacqua ends up in the middle of a cosmic battle between good and evil when most kids her age are still in middle school.) It’s not quite Harry Potter-level famous, but for nearly thirty years, Lyra has been a hero name.

It also succeeds on sound. Think of Lily, Layla, and Lyla. And, of course, it refers to the stringed instrument and the constellation, making it as musical as Aria or Melody; as celestial as Stella or Luna.

Ranked number 673 as of 2019, Lyra is the kind of name others will recognize, but few will share.

Truly unique names – Chicago or Apple-level unique – make headlines. If you named your baby X AE A-XII, we’re all going to assume you borrowed it from Elon Musk … even if you planned the name out back in middle school.

Lyra has a solid – and inspiring – history of use that pre-dates Ed Sheeran and Cherry Seaborn‘s daughter, so the name easily passes this test.

Two: Are the parents likely to keep their kiddo in the spotlight?

All but the wildest celebrity baby names fade quickly. After all, unless they’re reality stars or royals, few celebrity children remain in the spotlight.

Here’s a quiz: name the children of Pink, Justin Timberlake, and Carrie Underwood. No Googling allowed!

Nameberry readers can probably come up with a few, but how many people really know that it’s Willow and Jameson, Silas, and Isaiah and Jacob? (I scored three out of five.)

We’re always curious about what celebrities name their babies. But unless it’s a favorite – either the star or the name – we quickly forget.

My best guess? We’ll see the occasional picture of Lyra Sheeran, but she’ll mostly stay out of the spotlight. (After all, the couple didn’t say much about the pregnancy.)

That means Lyra passes the second test, too.

There are lots of reasons Lyra could rise in the popularity rankings. Maybe Ed and Cherry’s daughter will contribute, just a little. The HBO series seems like it might have a bigger impact. (Just think of Khaleesi.)

But if Lyra doubles in use between 2019 and 2020, and then doubled again the following year, it still wouldn’t rank in the US Top 100.

Should you introduce your daughter and someone replies, “Oh, like Ed Sheeran’s baby?” You can absolutely tell them that you thought of it first.

Readers, have you experienced celebrity name theft? How did you handle it?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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