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Can a baby girl be a Junior?
August 8, 2007 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Really random question: My best friend is getting married to a man who happens to have the same last name... (no they are not related) Anyway, discussions turned to having kids and I came up with the (in my opinion) brilliant realization that she could have both a boy Jr. named after the dad and a girl Jr. named after her. So is this possible??

Could a woman named Martha Anne Davis who is marrying a man named James K. Davis have a daughter named Martha Anne Davis, Jr.??

What would the technicality be here? Would she have to claim to have kept her own last name? We just really like the idea of being able to name a girl Junior.

Yes this is hypothetical but I'm giving a speech at the wedding and think this would be a funny angle to explore.
posted by CAnneDC to Human Relations (49 answers total)
 
I prefer 'the second' Martha Anne Davis II like a queen
posted by zeoslap at 9:08 AM on August 8, 2007


Actually, II is only used for a person named after a relative who is not their parent.
posted by decathecting at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2007


Not intimately familiar with the relevant law, but I believe you can name your kid anything you want; there is no legality surrounding suffixes.

However, I would caution against this rationale:

We just really like the idea of being able to name a girl Junior.

People really need to think more when they get the idea to name their kids creatively. SHE has to live her life with that name, not you.
posted by mkultra at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2007


Sure, they could name their son Sue, also, if they wanted to. IANAL, but I doubt if "Junior" , "the third", and other name suffixes have any legal standing at all, as part of the birth certificate name, they're just usages to distinguish one from the other. Just because there's no societal norm to apply the name to females doesn't mean it can't be done.
posted by beagle at 9:14 AM on August 8, 2007


Yeah I agree with that, mkultra. This is more an exercise in hypothetical.

I understand that you can name your kid Blah Blah Blah the 4th if you felt like it, but could you do it so that it was technically right?

As in, a boy who shares the exact same name as his father is naturally a ,Jr. Can the same thing go for the woman if she has the same last name?
posted by CAnneDC at 9:16 AM on August 8, 2007


They can name their kids whatever they want. They can name them something totally unrelated to their names, including a different last name, and then append the Jr. anyway.

They have 4 kids and name every one of them Sir Capt. Dr. Jr., OB/GYN/DDS.

At least in the U.S., there's nobody who looks at the birth certificate and decides whether the given name is cromulent or not or who checks to see if the kid you named Hank Williams IV really is the great grandson of Hank Williams. Of course, I have a friend who, during her residency at a hospital on the East Coast, had to explain to a new mother that Chlamydia has a not-so-pleasant meaning, and might not be a super cute baby girl's name, but if that mother had put her foot down, there's nothing the hospital or the state could have done to prevent little baby Chlamydia from being so named.
posted by The World Famous at 9:17 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


If they'd like, they can name the kid Davis Davis Davis XIV. Which is to say, yes.
posted by Partial Law at 9:17 AM on August 8, 2007


Sure. One semi-famous one is designer Carolina Herrera's daughter, Carolina Herrera Jr.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:18 AM on August 8, 2007


I'm going to out myself as a reader of fashion magazines, but I believe that Carolina Herrera, the daughter of the fashion designer also named Carolina Herrera, is often referred to as Carolina Herrera, Jr.

I'm not sure why you'd want to name your kid the same name as you: it's always seemed narcissistic and potentially confusing to me. But I'm from a culture where it's not done, so maybe that's just my bias showing. (Having said that, my former roommate had the same first and last name as her mother, and she ended up officially changing her name to her nickname, just to avoid confusion.) I'm sure that you could do it if you wanted to, and I'm not sure that it would matter whether the mother married someone with the same surname as her or changed her name at marriage.
posted by craichead at 9:19 AM on August 8, 2007


Oof. Cmgonzalez beat me to it!
posted by craichead at 9:21 AM on August 8, 2007


Similar to The World Famous' friend, my sister in law had a patient who named her kid Meconium. People come up with some nutty names, but there's nothing to stop them. Jr seems pretty harmless compared to these...
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:24 AM on August 8, 2007


I've heard of a couple girls named after their mothers. For some reason, the girls didn't have Jr. after their names like men do. At least if they did, it wasn't used in the "normal course of business" if that makes sense. I don't think the mother would have to claim anything, since the daughter is still named after her mom, even with the new name. The ones I knew were named after their mother's married name (i.e. both were Mary Smith or whatever, even if the mom started out as Mary Davis).

Also, if this were done, would you refer to both kids as Junior? That could get a little confusing.

(on preview, re: partial law, I actually knew a girl that was named like that, first and last names were the same.)

As a sidenote, I'd be wary of bringing up kids at the wedding. I hear a lot of friends complain that the minute they get married, everyone is pressuring them for kids, and some even at the wedding itself. They got really ticked with the people that brought it up at the wedding. This might encourage that. :) YMMV of course.
posted by ml98tu at 9:33 AM on August 8, 2007


I have a friend who, during her residency at a hospital on the East Coast, had to explain to a new mother that Chlamydia has a not-so-pleasant meaning

No you don't.
posted by electroboy at 9:36 AM on August 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


And that goes for Meconium, as well.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:39 AM on August 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


An acquaintance did this. Eldest daughter named for her, eldest son named for him. Neither gets addressed as "Junior" per se but sometimes in conversation they clarify whether the topic is "Jane junior" vs "Jane senior". Most of the time, though, context makes it obvious anyway.

Mail must get messy though.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:43 AM on August 8, 2007


No you don't.

Why do all my friends turn out to be liars?
posted by The World Famous at 9:47 AM on August 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, Lorelei Gilmore.
posted by decathecting at 9:47 AM on August 8, 2007


Do people typically register titles like "Jr.", "III", etc. on the birth certificate itself?
posted by mkultra at 9:48 AM on August 8, 2007


could you do it so that it was technically right?

I think the problem is there IS NO "technically" here. There is only tradition. Tradition has held that it is only the male heirs who take suffixes, but that tradition may be changing.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:49 AM on August 8, 2007


From my dim recollections of Latin, -ior is added to some adjectives for both masculine and feminine, so junior (younger in Latin) would not, linguistically speaking, be incorrect for a girl. Of course in the normal way what words used to do in Latin needn't have anything to do with how we use them now, but it might be a point in backing up your hypothetical. (Until someone comes along and corrects me.)
posted by frobozz at 9:51 AM on August 8, 2007


This is pretty common in older, deep Southern, African American families. You meet a lot of ladies in Alabama named "Tee" X. Where her mother, grandmother, or aunt, her namesake, would have been X. The "Tee" is a derivation of petit. My next door neighbor and the best pie maker I've ever met was a sweet 8000 year old lady named Tee Ester, her mom was Ester.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:51 AM on August 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Pollomacho, I hadn't heard that before. That's really a sweet tradition.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:56 AM on August 8, 2007


I'm also impressed that your neighbor lived for eight thousand years. I hadn't heard of that before either.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:57 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


If people can get away with naming their kid "Shithead" (shu-TEED, apparently), I think you can name a girl 'Junior,' if you want to. Or just crack open your favorite unabridged dictionary and pick the first thing you find. Nobody's really going to stop you.

The Jr./II/III/IV thing is really just tradition. I don't think there's even agreement on whether it goes onto the birth certificate or not. I know some people who definitely have had the "Jr." or "III" as part of their legal name (on their drivers license, etc.), and also a few that haven't.

I think whether it's part of your legal name or not, gets wrapped up in whether you plan on dropping the "Jr" (or moving up one notch in the roman numerals, from III to II, say) when the person ahead of you in the lineage dies. That varies from family to family. I've known people who have done that -- men, usually, who drop the Junior and start using the un-suffixed name when their father died -- and I know people who have kept the "Jr" their whole lives.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:02 AM on August 8, 2007


And that goes for Meconium, as well.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:39 PM


Well, I have no doubt that my sister in law was in fact, relaying her own experience despite that snopes link. Whatever though...
I think my friends brother - who's named Yes (after the band) - probably has the oddest name I've heard.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:03 AM on August 8, 2007


Wow thanks for all the help guys. I guess it seems to be the consensus that you are ALLOWED to do anything you want for kids. That makes me a little more grateful to my parents.

I'll pass the word around and be sure to update this conversation in about 5 years when they actually start having kids!
posted by CAnneDC at 10:04 AM on August 8, 2007


You can also have girls named after their fathers.

As someone who has always wanted to name his [totally theoretical] third-born "Magglio," I do consider the Ordóñezes' name choices to validate my choice. A name so nice they used it twice!

Pollomacho's detail makes Alabaman "Tee" Martin's nickname seem a little, uh, odder.
posted by backupjesus at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2007


Named after their fathers? You forgot Alanis Morissette.
posted by oaf at 10:21 AM on August 8, 2007


While I think you can name your kid anything you want, I think the absence of "Jr" from female names has to do with the custom of identifying people and families through patronomy and the assumption that the girl will live out the heterosexual narrative and take her husband's name.

Martha Anne Davis Jr., will likely become Martha Davis Fitzpatrick or Martha Anne Fitzpatrick should she elect to change her name if and when she gets married.
posted by MasonDixon at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2007


Named after their fathers? You forgot Alanis Morissette.
And JonBenet Ramsey and Nigella Lawson. (Nigel Lawson appears to have given all of his daughters silly names and all of his sons sensible ones, which is an indicator of jerkishness in my book.) And a whole lot of Stephanies and Nicoles whose names are otherwise unremarkable.

I definitely agree that "Jr." hasn't typically been used for daughters because it was assumed that a girl's birthname was temporary. That could be changing now, for a number of reasons: more women keep their names after marriage; women wait longer to get married; more women have direct relationships with the state and employers and other entities that need to use their real names. Before women served on juries, there wouldn't have been any question about which Martha Davis was being called for jury duty. And women didn't routinely serve on juries until the 1960s.
posted by craichead at 10:40 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The answer to the question is no. In common usage, 'Sr.' and 'Jr.' apply only to men and their sons. This is all addressed in a poorly cited wikipedia article.
posted by nixerman at 10:44 AM on August 8, 2007


Well, I have no doubt that my sister in law was in fact, relaying her own experience despite that snopes link.

Can you ask her which hospital, and when this happened? I suspect that the story would evolve to "okay, it wasn't me, it was a coworker, but it really happened..."
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:44 AM on August 8, 2007


Do people typically register titles like "Jr.", "III", etc. on the birth certificate itself?

There's a space for it. Or at least there was four years ago in New York, when I registered lil' Mr. Corpse Jr.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:45 AM on August 8, 2007


If you do decide to name your child after yourself, I highly recommend putting the suffix on the birth certificate.

When your child gets old enough to enter into a contract, and his or her name, address, phone number, etc. are exactly the same is yours, problems are bound to occur.

I have the same name as my father, and confusion is inevitable, but I can't imagine how much worse it would be if I didn't have that suffix to point at.
posted by Quonab at 10:49 AM on August 8, 2007


Unless, of course, you enter them as a III, which is supposed to change when the grandparent dies, reverting the Jr. to the original and the III to a Jr., but if it's on his birth certificate, he's going to look like some prep-school royalty douche.

I say this, married to an inadvertent, birth-certificate Third. It's terrible.
posted by mckenney at 11:43 AM on August 8, 2007


I've run across several instances in census records where a daughter with the same given name as her mother had a "Jr." appended. Could well be that it was just done for the benefit of the census-taker, though, and I think every such record I've seen was pre-1900.
posted by worldswalker at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2007


Unless, of course, you enter them as a III, which is supposed to change when the grandparent dies, reverting the Jr. to the original and the III to a Jr., but if it's on his birth certificate, he's going to look like some prep-school royalty douche.

Huh? I've never heard of this- my friend growing up, for example, was a V. By that logic, his great-great-grandfather would still have to have been alive.
posted by mkultra at 12:05 PM on August 8, 2007


My first name is the same as my mom's and it sucks because a) it feels like her name and not mine at all, and b) no one ever expects a mother and daughter to have the same name and so they keep remarking/harping on it and c) whenever we travel together inevitably my ticket will get cancelled at least once even after confirmation because someone will think that it's just the same person overbooked and I always have problems with passports and visas too if we apply at or around the same time.

B and C are inconvenient and unpleasant but A is the one that's really painful to me. I will probably change my legal name to my nickname at some point so I can feel like my name is actually mine. Something for you and your friend to think about.
posted by lia at 12:09 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah my father is the III and neither his dad nor grandfather are alive. My boyfriend is also the III ("Trey") and he says he has no intention of changing his Roman Numerals when senior and junior die.

But I do know that on my boyfriend's birth certificate he is John Jacob Doe, III.
posted by CAnneDC at 12:17 PM on August 8, 2007


They can name their kids whatever they want. They can name them something totally unrelated to their names, including a different last name, and then append the Jr. anyway.

Actually, in DC, the location of the question asker, they can't.
posted by Wet Spot at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2007


As a "junior" myself, I'm befuddled by the notion that it wouldn't be on my birth certificate. Of course it's on my birth certificate -- it's part of my legal name! As the corpse says, the government puts a space for it on birth certificates. And it's not going to change when my father dies, because it's part of my legal name. (I just won't have to use it socially, then.) Jeez -- it's 2007, people! We have to keep our identification papers in order!

I say name the girl "Junior." All the rationalizations against it are 20th-Century sexist nonsense. Naming is an area where people are always trying to make "rules" out of inconsistant customs, and customs waste a lot of time treating women like second-class citizens. Women deserve to experience all the glory and pain of goofy family names and traditions, just like us men folk do.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 1:55 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


She could do the hyphenated-last-name thing, and be Martha Davis-Davis.

As other people have said, you can put anything you want on a birth certificate (on preview, I guess not in DC). However, putting something unusual, like Jr. for a girl, dooms the child forever and ever to Hurf Durf Your Name is Funnay jokes everytime she meets a new person. That's got to get old after a while.
posted by ctmf at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2007


Wet Spot, that article is from 2002 and is out of date. After the mother in that case filed suit against the city, the DC government adopted a new regulation allowing parents to give their children either or both parents' surnames. So in fact, they can.
posted by decathecting at 2:24 PM on August 8, 2007


I'm surprised no one mentioned George Foreman:

Trivia: All five of his sons are named George Edward. Two of his five daughters are also called George.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:38 PM on August 8, 2007


Yea, because being a young girl w/ the suffix "Jr." would kick ass.

I don't particularly understand the self-absorption that goes into giving a kid your own name anyway.

With that said, my name has been handed down, skipping a generation for about 6 generations now. There is no way I'd name my son my name, but if he wants to continue the tradition, that's up to him.
posted by TomMelee at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2007


Trivia: Christina Crawford was originally named Joan Crawford, Jr.
posted by deborah at 9:21 PM on August 8, 2007


I can't believe any American jurisdiction would adopt that DC policy, even briefly.

But the best part: The guy who wrote the regulation was named Urbane Bass III.
posted by SuperNova at 12:45 AM on August 9, 2007


Yea, because being a young girl w/ the suffix "Jr." would kick ass.

It's an exercise in the hypothetical. I am wondering if it is possible as I don't think there are too many times when a person happens to marry a person with the same last name. (and are not related)

Thanks to everyone for these comments.
posted by CAnneDC at 8:33 AM on August 9, 2007


I have a late addition to this topic: Today, I was making small talk with an attractive young lady who happens to work for a collection agency. Somewhere in the small talk, the fact that I'm a junior came up. Later on, since I also have a job that involves calling strangers a lot, we ended up discussing strange things like databases that mix up relatives, and she happened to mention that there are a lot of female juniors in America nowadays.

What?

She explained that in the database searches she runs to find debtors, she often sees daughters who are named after their mothers, complete with "Jr." The odd thing (to her and me) is that girls named "Junior" almost always have Spanish surnames.

Now this has got me curious. Is there some latino-american naming tradition here that I've completely missed (perhaps created by blending Spanish naming traditions with the Anglo-American ones we've been discussing), or are financial companies unceremoniously grafting "Jr" on to women's names to simplify record-keeping? My Google-Fu must be weak tonight, because it can find nothing supporting either hypothesis.

If it's not credit bureau mischief, there may be more female juniors out there than any of us realized.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 8:59 PM on August 11, 2007


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