Here's When You Can Actually Call Dibs on a Baby Name ... and When You Can't

Not every name you think of is yours and yours alone. 

Think you're sitting on a totally original baby name? Afraid if you tell ... someone will steal it?

Most people used to keep baby names a secret until birth, but many moms and dads have told people the name way beforehand in order to prevent name thieves from lifting their moniker.

Pamela Redmond Satran, creator of Nameberry, tells Personal Space there has to be a really solid reason you would get to “call dibs” on a name.

"It has to be a name that you have some personal association with, not just a family name,” she says. “If it’s your grandmother’s maiden name, if it’s the great, great grandfather’s middle name and you have 50 cousins who also like it, you can’t call dibs."

You also can’t “own” a popular or trendy name, say, "like Samuel or Savannah," says Satran, even if they have personal meaning, "those names are up for grabs. You’re not the only one."

In order for you to claim a name early on as your own, is that it has to be a really special case.

"The thing about calling dibs on a name once your child has that name [is] it’s out there," Satran says. "It seems bizarre that people get upset that someone in their town uses the name … it’s like, yeah people hear your child’s name."

Can you call dibs while you are trying to get pregnant? That’s a solid no.

Satran says, one major issue is timing. 'You cannot call dibs unless you are actually expecting a baby, which people try to do."

"If you are expecting, and say it’s a girl, your grandma was Elizabella … You are completely in your rights to call dibs in that sense among your close friends and family members. You can call dibs to people you’re likely to see and have a part in your baby’s life as your family grows up.”

Interesting fact: If you invented the name when you were a kid, and it’s original and you love it, then yes you can call dibs on it. "You can among your friends and family," Satran says.

Think these rules are innately understood? Think again.

Friendships have broken up and bitter feelings have taken over when a name is "stolen," says Satran.

"Stealing a name or naming the same name, there are sticky situations. Say two coworkers at the same company who are not especially friends, one of them may mention one day in the lunchroom the name, and the next thing the coworker has the baby first and uses the name That is a sh***y thing to do."

People aren’t usually being malicious, she adds, they just think "I love the name, it’s not like she owns it."

"I've heard a lot of cases of people who are in the same family who live hundreds of miles apart, who share the same family member name and it can cause hard feelings," Satran says. “Any way to lay down a rule that’s going to make it easy and not hurtful helps.

It’s a gray area, because it’s all based on the honor system.

"People in general are looking for special names," says Satran. "Everyone is on the hunt for their own special name."

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