Name Sage: Debating a Name Theft Dilemma

Name Sage: Debating a Name Theft Dilemma

One of their favorite boy names is already used – twice! – by families in her extended circle of friends. Now they’re debating a name theft dilemma: can Ezra still go on their list, or is it taken?

Jessica writes:

My husband and I are expecting our first at the end of March.

We don’t know whether we’re having a boy or a girl, and my husband is a big believer in waiting to meet the baby before deciding on The Name.

It’s become pretty clear that Ezra is at the top of our choices for a boy.

There’s just one hitch.

We already know two baby Ezras, both the children of casual friends. I’m bound to cross paths with them from time to time.

Is it weird or rude to give my baby the same name as two friends? I don’t feel close enough to either to ask them if they’d mind … but might they be offended or annoyed if I announce the arrival of our own baby Ezra?

I know the name is rising in the charts, and may climb even higher in the years to come. As someone who grew up with a super popular name, I’ve been hesitant from the outset to give my kid a name that he or she is likely to encounter everywhere.

Other contenders are Ephraim, Quentin, and Theo.

Is the fact that we already know two Ezras the warning sign that choosing another name would be best? Or, is Ezra’s growing popularity a good excuse for “stealing” the name, if we meet our baby and decide that yes, that name really is the one?

The Name Sage replies:

What you’re describing isn’t name theft at all!

I’d call it potentially awkward name duplication.

Not as catchy, right?

Here’s the thing: you know that Ezra is rising in use. From 1990s pop band Better Than Ezra to Fantastic Beasts and Justice League star Ezra Miller, it’s been in the atmosphere for years. Knowing two toddlers with the name? That’s a sure sign of Ezra’s growing popularity.

Of course, lots of parents choose Isla or Miles or, well, Ezra, hoping for something fresh and distinctive. When they realize it’s already a mainstream favorite, their disappointment is understandable.

But it doesn’t make it name theft. As you already mentioned, the more popular the name, the harder it is to accuse other parents of stealing.

Ultimately, if you’re not close enough to bring it up, would it really be an issue if they were bothered by the shared name? No matter what you name your child, chances are that both families already know – or soon will – another baby Ezra.

I think the real question is this:

Does the name’s rising popularity make YOU want to choose something different?

My hunch is that it’s not your friends’ possible hurt feelings that give you pause. It’s knowing that your kiddo is the third Ezra.

The name Ezra has gone from Number 430 in the US in 2000 to Number 49 as of 2019 – and shows no signs of slowing down.  

Theo, likewise, is more popular than you might prefer. While Theo is just inside the US Top 200, Theodore ranks Number 36.

At Numbers 593 and 979 respectively, Quentin and Ephraim sound more like what you had in mind when you were one in a crowd of Jessicas.

Of course, popularity has changed dramatically since then.  Even a Number One name isn’t what it used to be.

I think this is the discussion to have with your husband in advance. Because even if your baby looks like an Ezra, you might feel more content with an Ephraim.

That said, duplication isn’t necessarily name theft. If you decide that this baby really is an Ezra, then I’d encourage you to choose the name you love – even if it sometimes means sharing.

Readers, did you eliminate names based on popularity rankings? Or a concern that a name would become too popular? Please join us in the forums to discuss.