Name Sage: Is This Baby Name Theft?
By Abby Sandel
Mikayla’s family lives in another state, but we’re part of a large group of friends, and we do see each other a few times a year.
Given the circumstances, can we still use the name Mika?
If we do use the name, what is the recommended etiquette we should follow? I don’t think we should have to ask to use the name, but I’d hate to see it cause problems in our group of friends. I also worry that our daughter would be called “the second Mika.”
The Name Sage answers:
There are two questions here. Let’s start with the easy one first: whether you can still use the name Mika for a daughter.
Conventional etiquette doesn’t address name duplication – maybe because, until recently, sharing names was the norm, even within families.
What matters, I think, is being sensitive to the feelings of others. There is no way to know how Mikayla’s parents might react to your name choice, but you’re right to want to handle the situation with consideration and tact.
When you do talk to your friends, keep it simple. Explain why you chose Mika, how much you love the name, and your hope that it doesn’t cause confusion to have two families with children with similar names in your circle of friends.
There’s no need to begin with an apology, and you should not offer to change your name choice – unless you’re truly willing to do so.
The second question is when to talk with your friends. There are three possible approaches.
First, you could tell them your favorite name for a girl is Mika, before your child is born.
It’s good to get things out in the open. And it’s possible that Mikayla’s parents will be delighted that you share their appreciation for the name Mika – or at least unfazed by the possible duplication. The downside? Your friends might feel doubly hurt. Not only did you “steal” their name, you also refused to change your mind. If they were very close friends you saw regularly, I’d take the risk. But if they were very close friends, I suspect you’d be more open to the idea of finding another name.
Alternately, you could wait until your daughter arrives, and then tell your friends first, before sharing her name widely.
This seems like it would be a tactful approach. Except that it assumes that you will be calm and organized and ready to think of others within hours of giving birth. That’s a lot of pressure!
Finally, you could share the good news as you normally would, and contact Mikayla’s parents afterwards.
Even though it seems a little evasive, I think this is probably your best option. If they’re not friends you see regularly, it might feel awkward to bring up the topic of baby names. Once Mika has arrived, there could be a natural opportunity to reach out – maybe to say thank you for a new baby gift, or before the next big gathering of friends.
The risk you take is whether your circle of friends refers to Mika as “the other Mika” or “little Mika.” But here’s something to remember: name duplication doesn’t just happen at birth. As new parents, chances are that you’ll meet lots of other young families, and as you know more kids, you’ll naturally come across more and more repeating names. I’d guess that Mikayla’s parents have already encountered a few other Kaylees and Makaylas, and won’t be so surprised to hear another similar name in use.
Readers, never have I been more eager to hear from you! How would you handle this situation? Would you change your name choice? Have you ever been on either end of name duplication?
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on June 9th, 2015 at 11:19 pm
I would use it. Names with those standards are hard to come by!
on June 9th, 2015 at 11:20 pm
I don’t fit the nameberry norm on this issue.
I think naming your daughter Bill or your son Anne is stealing a male or female name.
But as for choosing a name a friend or relative has chosen? To me that is not stealing. It just means you love the name too.
I’ve never understood the folks who wrote in and said my third cousin’s named her son Gideon and he lives three states away, can I use Gideon too or my postman’s cat is named Delilah, can I use that too.
Maybe it’s b.c. I teach school, and for over 25 years I’ve been meeting many many kids with the same or similar names. I suppose it would feel more awkward naming your daughter Garnet Tangerine if your best friend had already done so, but with any name less common, I don’t see the big deal. Before you know it your children will be out in the world with a bunch of other same-named kids and they will be fine.
on June 9th, 2015 at 11:22 pm
Oops, I meant to write with any name more common. Time for bed. 🙂
on June 10th, 2015 at 12:44 am
There is no such thing as “baby name theft,” so you can use Mika if you want.
on June 10th, 2015 at 1:40 am
I would say talk to them before hand and give them the heads up. You don’t have to ask permission, just let them know your plan. I think not telling them might cause an awkward spot in your relationship. I don’t have any children yet, but my cousin was kind enough to ask if I minded her using names to honor my sister and my dad when she was looking for names for her first child. I didn’t mind and don’t find name duplication a big deal, but I appreciated her asking me. I would have been hurt if she would have used my dad’s without even letting me know.
on June 10th, 2015 at 1:52 am
The two names seem separate in my mind…like if a close friend had an Emily and I really loved Emmy. I also think it isnt as big of a deal since you only see them a few times a year!
Just my thoughts:)
on June 10th, 2015 at 5:51 am
Yes, there is such a thing as baby name theft. But my story is more horrible than most. Our son Theodore died from a placental abruption during early labor at 37 weeks gestation. We had chosen his name months earlier because my mom was dying from cancer and I wanted her to know his name before she died. Three months after we lost him, my husband’s cousin, who lives in the same town as us and who we see many times a year at family functions, had a baby boy and named him Theodore. It has been a year, and it is still so hard to want to face them at family events. Theodore’s name was the only thing we were able to give him in his short life, and it hurts me that they chose take it away from him. Oh, and they never reached out to us at all. We found out his name on Facebook.
So I guess in inclined to say that letting them know as a courtesy ahead of time is a nice thing to do. But if my Theodore had lived, it wouldn’t have bothered me nearly as much.
on June 10th, 2015 at 7:09 am
I personally would ask permission. Their reaction will probably be gracious, but it’s better to know beforehand if using the name would cause deeply hurt feelings. To me, the damage to the relationship would not be worth it, even if the name was “perfect”.
on June 10th, 2015 at 8:02 am
I would definitely use your chosen name – no explanation, no apologies. Mika is a beautiful name with special meaning to you, and if your friends aren’t even using it as a nickname then I really don’t see it as being an issue.
I LOVED a particular name for my daughter, it was my late grandmothers name so held a lot of significance for both myself and my mother to whom I am very close, but at the last minute my husband and I chose a different name – because it was also the name used by friends for their then three year old. Even now almost two years later I still regret it. Go with your instincts or like me you may have name remorse!!
Other people come in and out of your lives but your child will have their lovingly chosen name forever.
I too considered discussing it with our friends first but to be honest you might be making it a bigger issue than it is. It’s best left alone and if after your daughter is born and her name announced they happen to mention any hurt or disappointment you can explain your decision then, but I think it’s highly unlikely. Mikayla is a completely different name and true friends would not have an issue with your choice. Best of luck!
on June 10th, 2015 at 8:48 am
@shieldsc – I am so sorry for your loss. What horrible, insensitive “family” members you have. I can’t imagine how hurt you must be.
on June 10th, 2015 at 9:02 am
I agree with the advice of name sage.
But maybe you could offer to nn her Mimi at gatherings if they start using Mika? I really love Mika Marie ! So cute and pretty
on June 10th, 2015 at 9:23 am
I disagree with Katieloves. I wouldn’t be like “Oh, we’re naming her Mika, but if you ever start calling Mikayla Mika, then we’ll just call our Mika Mimi.” That seems like you’re handing them the power of what you call your child. I would just let them know before hand. Like, talk on the phone and be like, “It’s so close to my delivery date blah blah blah, DH and I were talking about names and we love the name Mika Marie because it honours our heritage and lets us honour the people we love! I was hoping you might want to get together after the birth so our kids could meet!” I wouldn’t even ask permission to use the name, or ask how they felt. I’d just announce it and keep going.
on June 10th, 2015 at 9:23 am
P.s. You cannot dibs a nickname – especially if their daughter is already born and they aren’t using the nickname.
on June 10th, 2015 at 9:51 am
Don’t ask for permission. Let her know your chosen name and what it means for the two of you .
on June 10th, 2015 at 9:52 am
In my honest opinion you should use Mika, not say anything to your friend ahead of time unless the subject should come up and not change what you call her should they suddenly decide to us Mika as a nickname for Mikayla. I say this because to me Mika is a name in its own right completely separate from Mikayla. Now my feelings might be a little different is their child were named Edward and you were considering naming your child Ed. Actually no, I think I would say pretty much the same thing because personally I see nothing wrong with two children growing up with similar names, except in a case like @shieldsc, because that was cruel and completely insensitive of her husband’s cousin. As for your situation Mika is a gorgeous Japanese name that I am assuming works in Korean as well, while Mikayla is a popular spelling for Michaela. They are two different names from two different roots. So if Mika Marie, which is adorable and will grow so well with her, is the name you feel is the name for you daughter then use it without a second thought. Who knows maybe little Mikayla will find it cool that her possible future friend has a name similar to hers. I know growing up I always had at least one friend named Erika/Erica and my name is the same name just spelled differently… Arika.
on June 10th, 2015 at 9:56 am
I would tell them ahead of time. Since you only see them a few times a year and it’s not like the kids will be in school together, I’m sure they won’t mind. My daughter’s name is Lucille, nn Lucy. I’m not going to lie, if a close friend of mine named her daughter Lucy and didn’t even tell me ahead of time and I just found out on the facebook announcement like everyone else, I’d find it a little weird. It makes it look like A. you didn’t even care enough about them and their daughter to realize that your name was the same name they wanted as their daughter’s nick name. or B. You did realize but were afraid to tell them because you thought they’d be mad so you just let them find out with everyone else to avoid confrontation and your hoping they’ll never bring it up.
on June 10th, 2015 at 10:02 am
I juat think everyone has gone a little overboard with name dibs. In life you are going to meet others with the same name,unless yoi name your child something super out there like Cardboard (and even then, who knows!!) . I have never felt slighted meeting abother Nicole. I met another Annabelle (my daughter’s name) and I complimented the mom on an excellent name choice!
Not picking a name you LOVE because it might be the nickname of another name for a friend is insane …go with it. If you feel you must say something, let them know ahead of time like the person above said…we love this name and what it represents. We can wait for you to meet Mika! Also, if she winds up being called Little Mika once a year when you guys get together, who cares? Its cute!
Love Mika Marie and congrats!
on June 10th, 2015 at 1:25 pm
I just went through something similar. One of my best friends had always wanted to name her son “Alexander” since she was pregnant with her first. She ended up having a girl. She was pregnant again, she said she wanted to Use the name Alexander, however she is pregnant with another girl. She decided to name her girl Alexandra.
We were pregnant at the same time but I was further along, and having a boy.
My husband and I struggled with selecting a first name for our son. We knew with 100% certainty what his middle name would be, and that he would go by his middle name. At the end of the day the only name that worked—for various reasons— was Alexander. I struggled with moving fw with Alexander because I felt it could be hurtful to her since she wasn’t having a boy (which she and her husband really wanted). Plus she was naming her daughter Alexandra…. I consulted with several other friends who said I was being silly and I definitely didn’t need to “ask permission” to use the name.
Anyway, our second day at the hospital, without a name still!- I explained our dilema to our friend and also let her know that he would not be going by Alexander or Alex, but by his middle name. She laughed and thanked me for my concern, and said she absolutely didn’t mind and couldn’t wait to see the two “Alex” kids together.
I felt one million times better about my decision. I would never have moved fw without asking her, potentially risking her feeling slighted (even though she thought I was being silly). I think you should definitely acknowledge and address the fact that Mika is like Mikaela, etc.
I just think it’s a courtesy and could only make you come across as compassionate and caring of their feelings… Silly as it may be. You will feel better and any awkwardness that could’ve ensued at your next encounter will be totally non-existent!
on June 10th, 2015 at 1:30 pm
I agree with others, you can not steal a name. The idea is absurd. I have sympathy for those who have lost a child, but the death of someone, even a child, does not mean that a name is verboten.
If Mika Marie is the name, then that’s the name!
on June 10th, 2015 at 1:50 pm
I think telling them ahead of time is very courteous and a great way to handle it. Don’t ask permission or say you’re willing to change, be clear that this is The Name. Honestly, they may be a little flattered that the nickname they like is also liked by a close friend. However, I think if you never mention it and then do a general announcement to the world, it could set things up for some awkward moments in the future. I bet anything your friend will feel very honored you considered her feelings this carefully and cared enough to come to her and let her know The Name beforehand.
My daughter is a unique name, but if I had a friend come to me and tell me they loved the name Nova and they strongly feel it’s The One, I would happily give them my blessing. But if they never said anything to me, throughout the whole pregnancy, and then announced on FB or somewhere that their new baby girl was named Nova I would wonder why they never mentioned it to me and it would feel deceptive. Like they felt guilty for using it, which is silly! Anyways, I hope that makes sense. Tell them, don’t make apologies, but tell them.
on June 10th, 2015 at 2:42 pm
While technically you can’t steal a name, you can cause hurt feelings. Whether it is right or wrong to get hurt feelings over a name doesn’t matter, the fact is that it happens. My extended family is extremely large, I have over 20 first cousins, and so far from those cousins there have been 29 children born plus two currently on the way, and many more to come! For the most part there have been no major problems with naming but there has definitely been a couple scrapes here and there. We have a Kaylee, a Shaylee, and an upcoming Jolee. These I don’t find very bothersome because they are at least a little different. We have a 7 year old Lily, and just recently we got a new baby Lily. That did raise eyebrows and hurt feelings a bit, and I can understand why it would. And yes, everyone comes across people with the same name over the course of their lives, but it is a little different when it’s within a smaller more familiar group, and it’s not for reasons of passing on a family name, which can’t always be controlled.
I think the fact that the OP was concerned enough to write a letter about it indicates that it needs to be handled in a way other than just ignoring it. I do think the OP should use the name Mika – I might disagree if she wanted to use Mikayla, but Mika is at least different. But I do think it doesn’t hurt to just bring it to the friends attention. “Hey, we’ve loved the name Mika for a long time for these reasons, and we’re going to use it for our daughter, but we know it is close to Mikayla and just wanted you to know we aren’t trying to copy, we just enivision our daughter with this name.”
They’re friends for a reason, they’ll probably be fine with it and appreciate you being thoughtful enough to bring it up ahead of time. If they actually get upset over it, well that tells you they probably would have gotten especially upset after the fact, and at least you took the high road.
@shieldsc – I’m sorry for your loss, and I definitely understand your feelings.
on June 10th, 2015 at 2:49 pm
My elder sister and I were expecting at the same time; my niece Alyssa is 4 months older than my daughter Calyssa. I chose my daughter’s name when I was in my teens, so imagine my surprise when our mom called me right after my sis’s sonogram and announced that, if my baby turned out to be a girl, my longtime “name crush” choice was out since my sister had found out the gender first. Mom insisted that it’d be “too confusing for everyone” for her two grandbabies to have such similar names. So, I called my sister, who assured me that she had no problems with the similarity whatsoever; after all, the girls; middle and surnames are quite different. Our girls are now 11 years old and though we see each other 2-3 times per year, there has never been an issue.
on June 10th, 2015 at 2:50 pm
My elder sister and I were expecting at the same time; my niece Alyssa is 4 months older than my daughter Calyssa. I chose my daughter’s name when I was in my teens, so imagine my surprise when our mom called me right after my sis’s sonogram and announced that, if my baby turned out to be a girl, my longtime “name crush” choice was out since my sister had found out the gender first. Mom insisted that it’d be “too confusing for everyone” for her two grandbabies to have such similar names. So, I called my sister, who assured me that she had no problems with the similarity whatsoever; after all, the girls’ middle and surnames are quite different. Our girls are now 11 years old and though we see each other 2-3 times per year, there has never been an issue.
on June 10th, 2015 at 3:16 pm
Oh, shieldsc – that is heartbreaking! I’m so sorry. And I do think that’s a very different situation, and must be incredibly difficult.
on June 10th, 2015 at 4:01 pm
You’re worried about how your friends will feel about you using a name that they wanted to use as a nickname. Which they’re not using. You can address it, if you’d like. It would be courteous and empathetic to address the name similarity. But remember that we’re not talking about your casual friends naming their child Mikayla, and then you naming our child Mikayla. We’re talking about them naming their child Mikayla and saying they would like to use the nickname Mika. And then not using that nickname. While it would be kind of you to address the issue with your friends, this is not a huge deal. They’re not even using the name.
on June 10th, 2015 at 4:07 pm
In my opinion, if you have the perfect name, I would go for it. You don’t know if those friends will be a part of your life in a number of years, and will this really matter decades down the road? I wouldn’t explain it ahead of time, as that might cause trouble. You can explain it after the fact, if the occasion arises. Hopefully, they will respond with maturity. It’s not like you’re doing it out of spite.
You could always call her Mikki, or another cute nickname.
on June 10th, 2015 at 5:17 pm
We have good friends who decided to name their daughter Evangeline, nn Evie. However, when she was born, they said that she would go by her full name only. I think that this left Evie up for grabs, no strings attached, so a couple of years later we named our daughter Eve nn Evie. I never mentioned it to our friends because they never even used Evie at all. I never saw any reason why I should have, when they never used the nickname.
A few years later, these same friends decided to name their son the exact same name that we had already used for one of our sons. It’s outside the Top 1000 so pretty unusual. They did mention it at some point before the baby was born, just in passing while we were chatting anyway, saying that they were afraid we would think they were “copying.” It was nice of them to bring it up, particularly since it’s an unusual name, but it’s not as if I have copyright on the name or anything like that. The mom and I were kids together and we read the same kinds of books, so it’s really not a surprise that we might like some of the same names.
Anyway, I thought it was nice to bring it up when the exact same name was used, but when it was a nickname that ultimately wasn’t even used, it didn’t seem necessary to have a conversation. I think that our friends came to the same conclusion. I think it’s nice of you to consider your friends, but it’s completely unnecessary to tell them ahead of time. If they wanted the nickname, they have had plenty of time to use it at this point. I think it’s fair game.
on June 10th, 2015 at 10:24 pm
Just my take, but Mika & Mikayla aren’t related names at all. The friends aren’t using Mika as a nn, & there are few opportunities in which the families will be together. If it were me, I’d use Mika & feel no need for a heads-up, explanation, etc. Two different names, few opportunities in which the babies will be together.
I would feel differently if it was like what happened to an ex-SIL…she had wanted to use the name Megan since she was a preteen. When about six months pregnant w/her second, she was at a family gathering on her husband’s side, & one of his cousins was about one month farther along. They were discussing names & my ex-SIL said that if her baby was a girl, the name was going to be Megan because she had wanted to use the name for over 20 years. The cousin-in-law said they hadn’t decided on a name, but were thinking about X, Y, & Z (I don’t know what the names were, but none of them was Megan). Lo & behold, when the cousin’s baby was born, they chose Megan. My ex-SIL & her family live very close to the cousin & interact w/them every month or so, so in that case it would have been identical names w/i a family that are together pretty frequently.
It still irritates me that my ex nixed my absolute favorite girl’s name because his niece had a rhyming name. We lived in a different state six hours away (& were never going to live any closer) & saw that branch of the family only three times a year max.
shieldsc, I’m very sorry for your loss…& for the fact that you have such insensitive family members. 🙁
on June 11th, 2015 at 2:05 pm
I agree that you can’t steal a name, and there’s also the issue that Mikayla (in all its spellings) is an extremely popular name (though perhaps not as popular as it was 5-10 years ago). If her parents didn’t like the idea of their Mikayla coming across at least a dozen other girls with the same name before finishing elementary school, they probably wouldn’t have chosen that name. Like others have said, it’d be a little different if her name was Starflower Moonberry or something.
Also, as others have mentioned, you aren’t actually using Mikayla at all and they aren’t using the nn Mika.
That said, if it was me, I think I’d feel best about mentioning your name choice to this couple before it goes “public”. Either while you’re still pregnant (or, if you’re keeping the name a secret, before you announce the birth officially on Facebook or wherever). I don’t think you should ask permission or apologize, but the worst that can happen is that they’re annoyed. At least if you talk about it before hand, they have time to get used to the name before Mika comes along. Hopefully, by this point they will have gotten over any annoyance and just be able to be happy for you. If not…then, that is really kind of petty. And not your fault.
shieldsc, that must have been heartbreaking, I cannot imagine going through something like that only to have relatives rub it in your face. I’m very sorry for your loss. 🙁
on June 12th, 2015 at 6:06 am
I think you should give them the heads up by saying that you want to use the name Mika Marie to honour family and would love for your Mikayla too meet your Mika after Mika is born as it gives Mikayla’s parents the heads up but doesn’t suggest your going to change your mind. However it does give Mikayla’s parents the opportunity to address any issues with you regarding Mika’s name before she is born instead of the name becoming an awkward spot in your friendship which would be a shame. I would address any issues beforehand and then move on before Mika is born.
on June 14th, 2015 at 8:16 am
I think you should go with your gut, stick with the original name you selected & just know that as long as you select a baby name that isn’t a bunch of nonsense sounds strung together that sounds horrible that you are going to run into name duplicates! The exception, in my opinion, would be if this is a very, very close and dear friend that is like family to you & your children will likely be just as close to and spending time with also. Good luck!
on June 29th, 2015 at 2:32 am
Hi I do not know if I’m too late or not but I think I can help. My mum is a Japanese and my dads from the state. Mika is a really nice name and I don’t think it’s a theft if u name her Mika but if u feel uncomfortable maybe I can give u some Ideas.
Aya Marie, Aya means Colourful
Yuki Marie, Yuki means Snow
Hana Marie Hana means Flower
Miki, Marie there is a famous figure skater named Miki it means Princess
It means the flower will bloom
This name has a lot of meaning so maybe u can choose one
And many more…
I hope I was of a help
Make sure that u can tell ur daughter proudly what her name means…
To me Name Meanings are very important I want my child to live up to the name for example if I name my daughter Beatrice (I don’t plan to name her this its just an example) which means She who brings happiness I would want her to just be her self and be happy just as the name suggest and if I name her Alice (also an example…)
Which means Nobel I would want her to be strong and healthy as a mum that’s all you want. If I name my child with a meaning flower I would just want her to grow and stay strong even if there is a obstinate in life I just want her to overcome it just like a flower rain or shine hurricane or typhoon stay strong and that is what I would want my daughter to be and that would be my ultimate goal as a mother.
I hope ur daughter will have a wonderful name and a good life ahead.
on December 3rd, 2015 at 12:25 pm
The child in question doesn’t live in the same state, you don’t see her regularly, and her name isn’t Mika, It’s Mikayla. I understand your reservations, but I don’t think any of the factors in the situation work against you. Don’t ask permission, don’t apologize, and be proud of the beautiful name that you have chosen for your daughter–which happens to be a standalone name from the one your friends have chosen.
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