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Is it okay to reuse an honor name?

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You were all set to honor Aunt Jane, but your brother and sister-in-law beat you to the punch. Now what? Is it okay to give your baby the same honor name?

Families run into this problem all the time, particularly large families with several cousins of the same age. Pregnancy begins to feel like a mad dash to the finish line, with the winner getting first dibs on the best family names. Some cousins even have prearranged agreements to this effect. But does it have to be that way?
Absolutely not. Bottom line, if you like a name and have decided it belongs to your baby, give him the name. There is no law! Think back to a century or two ago. Names like John and Margaret belonged to so many children, people invented all manner of nicknames — Jack! Daisy! — to distinguish one from the other. Fear of reusing an honor name exists as a fairly modern problem.

If it helps, think about the concept of naming firstborn sons Junior, the third, and so on. No one blinks an eye at all these boys with the same names, and they manage to make it work living under one roof. Cousins can share names with far less confusion, and many report it gives them a special bond at family gatherings.

Also, even if you are the first in your family to use a particular honor name, you might not be the last. Sharing names with peers is something parents can neither control nor avoid — even with unique names. There are no guarantees!

Plan B: Rework the name

If you still feel like using the same name won't work or will cause hurt feelings within your family, try reworking the name. Did the honoree have a nickname or a kicky maiden name you could choose instead? Many will argue only identical names count as true honor names, but all that matters is the opinion of the honoree. Certainly if someone came to me and said they were naming a child after me by using my middle name, I would feel nothing but honored. Especially if the reason was because someone else in the family had already given their baby my first name.

But you know the honoree best. Would they be touched by a shared initial — or three, if possible? What really matters is that using your baby's name reminds you of the loved one you chose to honor.

More on honor names

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