Should I give my baby the same name as my cousin's child?
November 18, 2013 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm pregnant with my second child (yaaay!) and am mulling over naming options with my husband. Two of my favorites are family names, but already taken by the children of cousins. Is it weird for us to use the names, too?

My husband and I both come from large extended families with a dozen-plus cousins. We live 2000 miles away from our hometown and might get back one or two times a year, so these are not people we see weekly for Sunday dinner. At the same time, we still stay in touch with family via email/facebook/our parents, so it's not a completely detached situation. My family has a pretty solid history of sharing names/namesakes, but that is mostly one per generation (eg father-son-grandson). My husband's family does not have a lot of namesake naming convention. Neither family has any member of the same generation sharing a first name.

One of the names on my short list is my grandfather's name, which is also the name of my cousin's husband (and it is now her son's name). Another name is my brother's name, which is also the name of my husband's cousin's grandfather (and it is now her son's name). Both kids in this case will be preschool to kindergarten age when our son comes, so this isn't a case of pregnancy overlap where they chose a name we'd already had in mind, but just happened to have an earlier due date. Both moms are people I like and have a good relationship with, although not extremely close (due to distance). Given the distance between families, I just don't see a lot of potential for in-person confusion that really impacts anyone's life in a serious way.

We're already planning to use my dad's name as a middle name, so the solution of using the duplicate names as something other than the first name isn't really my best option. I'm trying to get some impartial opinions on if it would be weird for us to use either grandpa's name or brother's name - if you were the cousin with the already-named kid would you think it's odd? Insensitive? Not that big a deal?
posted by handful of rain to Human Relations (65 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you can name your kid whatever you want, but I would think it was weird if I were the cousin. I don't think insensitive is the word... Weird for sure. I have a dozen plus cousins and I know if one of them named their child the same name as my kid I would think it was weird. I wouldn't kick up a fuss or anything, it wouldn't be a Big Deal, but I would think it was weird. I'd get over it awfully quickly though. Who cares if they have the same name? People also often have nicknames, so they may not even be called by the same name when it comes down to it.

Why don't you just talk to your cousin about it?

On a secondary level, my nephews have two uncle's with the same name. I don't see how that would be any more confusing for people. (ie. not confusing at all)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:53 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Due to complications of emotional memory, my cousins and I end up being called each other's names interchangeably by the rest of our family all the time. There are only four of us and we all have different names. Doesn't matter. We could all be named Bob and the only difference would be that it wouldn't be so obvious that Grandma just called you the wrong name.

I have a very small family, but my grandpa's side had a lot more people in it and there were some duplicate names. This only ever comes up when my mom and uncle are recounting some story from their youth, and they'll start talking about Cousin Kurt, and then one of them will be all "Cousin Kurt with the pig farm or Cousin Kurt with the apple orchard?" That is the extent of confusion that has happened in my family.

I don't really see this being a big deal.
posted by phunniemee at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2013 [9 favorites]

I cannot tell you how many Davids there are in the Gungho clan. Makes for some interesting times at the holidays.
posted by Gungho at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

IMO, not weird. I have two cousins with the same names, on the same side. So that means that a brother and a sister each named one of their children the same name. Not weird!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

A friend named her kid the same name as my daughter. I was flattered.

An aunt named her daughter the same name as my sister. My parents thought it was adorable.

Use the name if you like it.
posted by Dragonness at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's weird. There are only so many names (particularly for boys, IMO- every time I go to the playground, some other Mom is calling their son by my kid's name!). And it's not like you're grabbing their name "just" because you like it; there's family history there. They don't get to hog all the history!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:56 AM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

It never seemed to bother my friend David, and his cousin David.

But yeah, mention it to your cousin first.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:57 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

But yeah, mention it to your cousin first.

I don't think it would be a big deal--I share a name with some other relatives that I was not named after--but I'd personally advise about asking first.

This seems like one of those cases where it's better to ask forgiveness than permission. You have every reason to choose the name yourself. If you ask Cousin whether or not she objects, what will you do if she unreasonably says that she does?

In that case, you get to be a jerk and have bad blood over it forever. But if you choose the name and then she makes a stink, what could she do? She can't make you rename the kid, and she seems like the jerk.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:00 AM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's a family name. No big deal. But be prepared to have your kid referred to as "Little Name" or "Name Two" or by middle name at family gatherings.
posted by Etrigan at 11:01 AM on November 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

If the names are relatively common, I don't see anything wrong with that. If they're Hezekiah or Slartybartfast, it might be weird.... but you're using family names and hey, just happens to be a big family. Might want to just tell your cousin first, but I can't see it as being a huge big deal.
posted by sonika at 11:02 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's weird. I have 26 cousins on my father's side and a few in the next generation of kids ended up with the same names. We see each other at least monthy, and no one thinks it's weird. These are things that happen in large families. You don't need to ask anybody for permission, a name does not entitle you to anything.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2013

I admit that I was annoyed when my cousin named her son the same thing as I'd named my son. I would have minded much less if it had been a family name, which it was not for either side. At the same time, it doesn't bother me anymore, but it was really weird at the time.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I feel like these names are sufficiently close to you and that these relatives are sufficiently far from you that you can use these names without worrying about it overmuch. If someone asks you can say honestly and with a little rueful laugh, "You know, I did think about the similarity but i do so love my grandfather/brother and wanted to honor their memory/our relationship." And, yeah, your kid will be Little Joe or whatever. No big.
posted by amanda at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not weird, especially since you live far apart.The worst that will happen is that at family gatherings, your son might be asked "Are you handful of rain's Peter or [cousin]'s Peter?", and speaking from large far-flung Irish Catholic clan experience, even if you named him something unique, he'd still get the "handful of rain's [son name]" thing.
posted by kagredon at 11:09 AM on November 18, 2013

Will they have the same last name? I'm guessing not, from your description, but that's the only thing that might make me hesitate, I think--it'd just be too awkward (and possibly cause some identity mix-up by third parties--like credit cards or billing agencies--in the future). Otherwise, it's your cousin, it's not your sibling, and there's enough geographical and age distance for it to be OK.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2013

No. It is not weird.
Name your children what you want.
posted by Flood at 11:15 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is rampant on my wife's father's side of the family. Uncle Mike, and cousins Big Mike, and Little Mike. Uncle Chris and Cousin Chris. Etc. It's really not a problem at all, unless you're offended by silly family nicknames.
posted by that's candlepin at 11:19 AM on November 18, 2013

FWIW, my mother did this with me. Her older sister had already named my cousin with the same first name, different middle name. It's not a family name, just a semi popular girl's name. I think my aunt (who gets mad about little things all the time) was a tiny bit miffed and to this day refers to me by my first and middle name together, while everyone else refers to us as "big" and "little" Name at family gatherings. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
posted by permiechickie at 11:20 AM on November 18, 2013

It's never a kind thing to appear as though you "stole" a family member's kid's name. If the relationship is important to you, please discuss it first and ask for their blessing to use the name - even though you don't have to because it's a free country, it's a small gesture showing you care about their feelings.

However, @sonika here is right - if the name you want to use is very common (objectively defined as one of the SSA top baby names), then it's fine to use it without telling your cousin first. Nobody in the US this year needs to claim dibs on the name Jacob or Liam.

It is highly relevant that this is a family name, therefore it would be in keeping with tradition to give it to any baby boy in the family, IMHO. If it is an uncommon name, then the family aspect would prevent this from looking like name thievery.

My husband and all of his firstborn male cousins are named for their grandfather, so there are 5 of them with the same super common, classic Biblical name. But - they all have different last names. If your son will have the same first and last names as another baby in his family, I probably wouldn't do it. (on preview, what @dlugoczaj just said.)

Finally, anyone naming a new baby should go read The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg. She has a new edition that came out this year and a great name blog.
posted by hush at 11:24 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Naming your child after your (shared) grandfather seems totally uncontroversial. I'd be more likely to ask your brother about using his name, though I come from a culture where you do not name people after living relatives. Your cousins' children with the same names will survive.

If you're choosing a name with multiple nicknames, it would be nice if you chose a different nickname from the other family members if possible, though.

Note that I come from a culture where you don't name your kids after living relatives, so my feelings might be a bit off.
posted by jeather at 11:25 AM on November 18, 2013

I have a picture of 5 men in my family with the same first and last name. No financial records problems, no spats. You could have staged at least another 5-6 where there were two people with the same first and last name.

But then, this was a big Catholic family, and so traditional names and big families made this completely expected.
posted by mercredi at 11:28 AM on November 18, 2013

I have a 2nd cousin who has the same first, middle and last name I do. Cousin's first and middle are spelled slightly different from mine. I saw my cousin about once a year growing up, and family always referred to us as "Orange-with an e" and "Orange-with an i" to distinguish us (usually shortened to "Orange-EEE" and "Orange-EYE". We have always called each other "eee" and "eye" and her kids call me "Aunt--EEE".

I have no idea what the adults involved thought about this, but my cousin and I always thought it made us special. We used to say that we were in a club, and you had to have this exact name to be in the club. We've never been super close because of distance, but we've always felt like we had a special connection because of our names.

So based on my own experience -- the kids might like it, even if the adults don't!
posted by OrangeDisk at 11:29 AM on November 18, 2013

Use the name you want.

It does bring to mind the Big Fat Greek Wedding quote: "Welcome to my home. Over here is my brother, Ted, and his wife, Melissa, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Over here, my brother Tommy, his wife Angie, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. And here, my brother George, his wife Freda, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Taki, Sophie, Kari, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, uh, Nikki, and I am Gus."
posted by cecic at 11:30 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Discuss it first, and as Etrigan said, be prepared to have a qualifier added, and for it to stick; a family member was known as "Young [Name]" to distinguish him from the uncle he was named after. This continued after his uncle was dead, and indeed "Young [Name]" went to his grave in his eighties still with the "Young" epithet attached in all family conversations.
posted by Coobeastie at 11:31 AM on November 18, 2013

My boyfriend's brother and half-brother both have the same name (it is a family name, the father decided to name two sons after himself. There is a huge age difference, so they never had to grow up together with the same name). I was amused for about 2 minutes when my boyfriend first told me about them having the same name, and then I got over it, and now it doesn't seem like a big deal at all. The two people with the same name see each other at family events several times a year, and even then it's not weird.

It helps that all his family members have nicknames, but even if they didn't, it's not a big deal.

So considering that the cousins live 2000 miles away, I think it is totally fine, since 99% of the time your kid will be the only kid with his name in your immediate family.
posted by at 11:33 AM on November 18, 2013

If it's your cousin's child (as opposed to your sibling's child/your children's cousins) and you don't see them often, sure, why not?

I have a really common name. There are no other Saras in my generation of my family, but I've been one of several pretty much every day of my life, wherever I go. I don't see how having a distant cousin Sara would have an impact on my life in any way. I was named after a great-aunt Sarah who I see once every decade or so. So far no family gatherings have ever been confusing.

One of my brothers has a very similar name to one of our first cousins (think Edward and Edwin, though it's not those specific names), and it is really not a big deal at all. That said, their family has always lived far away and we only see those cousins once a year or so. It would possibly be different if we'd grown up next door from each other.
posted by Sara C. at 11:40 AM on November 18, 2013

I have a 2nd cousin with the same name (relatively common). We rarely saw each other, but when we did, they always referred to us as Big Mchelly and Little Mchelly. Now we're both grownups and we still sometimes find ourselves referring to ourselves that way - even when Little Mchelly was 8 months pregnant and way bigger than me.
posted by Mchelly at 11:40 AM on November 18, 2013

Oh, and to spell out exactly how NBD this is, I just realized another of my siblings has the same name as a distant cousin (my dad's cousin's kid, they live in a different state, we didn't grow up together and rarely see them), and I literally typed up a whole response and didn't even think of it.

That is how little this matters.
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's a big deal at all. In my husband's extended family, there are two children of cousins with the same name - no one seems to care at all. The two second cousins are within a year or two in age, they sometimes hang out together, and it's still not a big deal.
posted by barnoley at 11:44 AM on November 18, 2013

This is rampant in my extended family as well, and as far as I know nobody consulted anybody first. In our family's case, as it sounds like it is in yours, the name is both a historical family name AND a very popular first name. (Really, does one family get a monopoly on "David" or "Michael" or "Jacob"? I don't think so.) The kids are thousands of miles apart and it's no big deal.
posted by ambrosia at 11:45 AM on November 18, 2013

I have a second cousin with the same name as me (who is actually only about 20 days older than I am) and I don't think it was a big deal, probably because our extended family is so large that we rarely see each other, and we do have different last names.

Although I did find kind slightly weird when my aunt and uncle named their daughter with the feminine version of my name (i.e. Joseph and Josephina), especially because we have the same last name and our families are rather close.
posted by mr. manager at 11:48 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ask the parents of the cousin. Really. Don't necessarily base your decision on their response, but just check out their feelings first. If their opinion is important to you (it might not be) and you worry that it will create a lifetime of drama around your kid's name, it seems to me to be a bad idea. Alternatively, if it won't create any drama or will only create drama that you are fine with, then go for it.

I guess the question as a parent is this....will naming my kid XYZ cause some indirect harm to my kid that i could otherwise avoid?
posted by BearClaw6 at 11:49 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

My brother and a first cousin both named their daughters the same thing. The families live in the same town and the girls share a great-grandparent. It's really not weird at all. Once in a great while we have to ask which girl is being referred to in conversation: "Bob's Sarah or Jason's Sarah?" but that's about it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 11:49 AM on November 18, 2013

No big deal. If it were your sibling's kids with the same name it would be a little weirder, especially if your family is small (my husband's grandparents had two kids, who each had 2 kids, and there are 2 Stuarts in that set of 4 first cousins and neither kid was named after anyone...everyone thought the mother of the 2nd Stuart could have reached a LITTLE farther afield for a name), but even then I think it would elicit more of a "huh" reaction than ANGRY HULK SMASH. Far-flung cousins and you'd be naming after a grandfather or brother= go right ahead, in my book.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2013

I have the same first name as my aunt and a totally generic middle name, and I have chosen to go by a totally different name, largely because I was annoyed by all the confusion. As a little kid, it was really really hard: "that's not your christmas present, even though it has your name on it" "I know I called your name, but I didn't want YOU" It got to where I didn't answer to my name because people didn't mean me - it just doesn't feel like my name.

I do think it's easier for guys though - it's easier to go by initials or other nicknames, and junior is much more common.
posted by ansate at 12:02 PM on November 18, 2013

a good name that's the same as your cousin's child's is better than a bad name that's completely original.
posted by bruce at 12:08 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I share a first name with one of my first cousins. It's a common name, a family name, and one that has multiple nicknames, plus we're several years apart in age. I think all of that helps.

I admit that whenever one of my cousins has a baby and gives it a name that's on my mental list, I eliminate it from the running. But that's just me; I don't think it's a universal faux pas. Ask your cousin.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I vote weird. I have an uncommon name, based on a fruit. My cousin (my uncle's/godfather's kid) was born 2 or 3 years later and was also named a fruity name. Fruity names are not a family thing.
Duplicate names are weird to me. There are millions of names to choose from.
Congrats on baby # 2!
posted by travelwithcats at 12:13 PM on November 18, 2013

I checked with my cousins James, Jimmy, Jamesy, Jim, and Bup (xian name James), and they all said go for it. I don't think my Uncle Jameses minded sharing the name either.

(In contrast I have a cousin 3 years younger who would have been given my name had she been born first, but she got the next name on the list instead. The story of her not getting the good name is still told, a family tradition I would advise against.)
posted by headnsouth at 12:15 PM on November 18, 2013

I think it's fine based on the Sopranos. Tony Soprano's "cousin" was Tony Blundetto (played by Steve Buscemi). Tony S would constantly talk about how family members called him "Tony Uncle Johnny" and his cousin "Tony Uncle Al."

Unfortunately this means one will eventually murder the other.
posted by mullacc at 12:16 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have a cousin of approximately my age with the exact same name as me (first middle and last). We have never been super close, but our families were together for at least a few hours at just about all the big holidays. It was never particularly confusing (even when you add in the fact that my father had the same name as well). My Dad was "Big David," I was "David's David" and my cousin was "Bob's David."
posted by Rock Steady at 12:16 PM on November 18, 2013

I find it weird, but it's totally a personal preference. I guess I wouldn't really be upset if a family member named their child the same name as my child, but I would never do it myself.

For example, my cousin named her daughter after our grandmother. I wouldn't use the same name for my daughter, even though we live on opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean and the kids would be almost 20 years apart in age. It's just... a little weird to me. There's already one X in the family, so that name is not available.
posted by lydhre at 12:23 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

My husband is named Michael. His Brother's son is named Michael. Two of his sisters sons are named Michael. Doesn't seem to be a problem for any of them.
posted by ramix at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2013

I think that family doubling up on family names is not weird at all.
posted by gaspode at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2013

Not weird at all. Some people might get offended or find it weird, but I think that's because of the "my child is a unique snowflake who shall also have his own unique name" syndrome. I call BS on that line of thinking.

Think of it this way: what if you wanted to name your child John Doe Jr., after your husband, John? But let's say your cousin already named her son John. Does she have more of a "claim" to it?

What I'm saying is that nobody can claim a name. If people could claim a name, then you would be committing a faux pas by naming your son John Jr. in the above scenario (which of course you wouldn't be - see how the claiming a name argument falls apart?).

Also, this will be your child's name forever. I'd hate for you to think always of this name as the one that got away. It's your life and your child's life and your decision to live with.

Do not ask your cousin first! Later, after the child is born and named, call or write and remark on how it's a lovely name and how you named your child after your grandfather/brother.
posted by trandolph at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mazel-Tov on your pregnancy!

There are four of us who share a permutation of the name Elizabeth on my Dad's side of the family, and my Mother's brother thought it would be a hoot to name his daughter Elizabeth too.

My Dad's name is Herbert, but he was called Marvin throughout his childhood because his cousin, born a month earlier was also Herbert (although his nickname was Hercky).

The point is, no matter what, it's going to get weird. May as well name your little bundle whatever you want, since the world is going to give him a nickname that will make you cringe anyway.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:04 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Half the people in my family, spanning four generations, have the same first name (both male and female variants of the name). Some who don't have it have married people who do. Say the name is Robert, we distinguish them by Robert, Rob, Robby, Rob-o, Bob, Bobby, Bert, Berty, etc. It's weird but fine. As far as I know nobody has ever asked anyone's permission to join the naming fray.
posted by HotToddy at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2013

You should ask cousin about this if and only if the timing was reversed and during your pregnancy you went to the yet-to-be impregnated cousin to ask if she was planning to use the name.

Name your kid based on what you and your spouse can agree on.

Under US law, names are not copyrighted. If you want to follow that model, call the baby "handful of rain's baby-name" a la Disney. (If cousin had used the name as a trademark and we weren't talking about human beings, then you'd be SOL.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2013

Name your baby whatever you want. In my family, we had two girls with the exact same name, first and middle. We got around that by calling them by different nicknames or adding their mom's name, like, "Hey, Sarah's Emily! Come here!" It was fine. You don't really even have this problem, I'm guessing, since you live so far apart.

Definitely don't ask your cousin. They don't own the name. I think they're more likely think it's sweet.
posted by Aquifer at 1:27 PM on November 18, 2013

Ok, you wanted honest opinion?

It's kind of... not so much weird, as the weird kind of particularly boring.
As in, you couldn't even think of a name for your child that one of their close relatives doesn't already have? (I have two cousins named the same thing. :P )
Your cousins though, either won't mind, or you will already know if they would be the sort of people who would mind.
But it is definitely below calling kids Junior, or the 'x the 3rd' etc etc.

But hey, you can disregard my opinion, as I also find it weird giving kids names common enough that you have Big David, Little David, Sam S, Sam C, and Sammy all in the same class.
(Seriously, I already have 7 friends called Sam, whhhyyyyyyyy?)
posted by Elysum at 1:53 PM on November 18, 2013

My brother named his son the same name as my dog. No biggie. We occasionally have to clarify which "Jack" we're talking about though, especially when my nephew Jack was little and still prone to having accidents on the floor.

To paraphrase Dr. Suess: "Those who matter won't mind, and those who mind don't matter."
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:53 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have a younger cousin with my name, and we always got a kick out of it. However, we were and still are known as "little Cilantro" and "big Cilantro". That was cute when she was a child and I was a teenager. Not as cute now that we are both adults, she is tall and slender, and I am short and round.
posted by cilantro at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2013

Another vote for...not weird, exactly, but a little annoying?

My cousin's wife called her second baby the same name as my sister's first one. It was an original name to our family, but (to be fair) her own sister's name. Still, my first thought on hearing what they'd called her (I'd forgotten about her sister) was "seriously? There are no other names in the world?" I'll hold my hands up and say that this is silly territoriality, but humans are funny animals. Obviously it stops being a Thing really quickly, though. However even though people won't hold it against you, I personally wouldn't want the announcement of my child's name to be met with "Oh?" instead of "Oh lovely!"

However if you do decide on it, don't ask first. They've no choice but to be gracious. They're not going to say, no you can't use it! What are they, 6? Just announce it and they'll deal with it. And congratulations!
posted by billiebee at 2:18 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it wasn't already a family name, I'd find it a little weird, but since it is I don't. I'd probably ask first, depending on my relationship with my cousin.
posted by geegollygosh at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2013

Not weird, since you're talking about family names plus it sounds like the kids will have different last names, so they wouldn't both be John James Smith: one would be John James Jones, instead.

And yeah, we've got duplicated names all over my family tree, but it's no big thing telling one of my three Uncle Harrys from the others or which of my SIX Cousin Scotts is being referenced, but we're kinda extreme examples of re-using certain names over and over and over.... It's sometimes a bit of a pain in the butt when I'm working on our genealogy (don't get me started on our *dozens* of Georges and Elizabeths!), but that's not something that comes up in daily use. Use it and be happy.
posted by easily confused at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2013

If it were a sibling's kid I think it would be a little odd, but your cousin's kid? Eh. I have the same name as my mother's cousin's kid and my cousin (my mother's sister's kid) has the same name as our mothers' cousin. My mother was named after her mother. My aunt was named after her grandmother. My dad was named after both his father and grandfather (combined the names). My cousin is named after my grandfather. My other cousin is named a family last name. It never occurred to me that it was weird, but then again the extended family isn't super close and basically 50% of us have a family name so there is lots of repetition.

Apparently my mom stole my name from her sister (which people still joke about to this day), but my mom was pregnant and my aunt wasn't so she beat her to it. And anyway my aunt stole the name from their cousin, so she couldn't be too territorial about it. Then she named her daughter the name my mother was nearly named, but then was changed at the last minute by my grandparents due to ridiculous family politics.

Apparently when it comes to names my family is not to creative.

So in sum, 1st cousins with the same name is a little much, but once you are beyond that and talking 2nd, once removed cousins etc I think it's fine.
posted by whoaali at 3:37 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my family this would be no big deal at all. Second cousins, who don't live near each other, with different last names, several years apart, named for the same great-grandfather? Nothing could be simpler. As suggested above, if different nicknames are an option that would be nice, but otherwise, pfft.

My great-grandfather John was married four times. The oldest son from each marriage was named John. Each of those Johns ended up with multiple GrandJohns and Great-GrandJohns. Weird thing is, almost none of them ever went by "John."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:32 PM on November 18, 2013

Since the names under consideration are family names, no, you don't need to tell your cousin or try to get permission. IMO, family names are for use by anyone in the family. ("Family" name, to me, implies a shared legacy.) One thing you might look at is a slightly different version of the family name, or a different nickname, for your kid if that is possible. (If you have two Elizabeths and one is Liz and the other is Beth, it's easier to keep them distinct.)

In some times and places, this wouldn't even be an issue; I've heard of cultures where the firstborn son always gets the name of his father's father (and the result is a plethora of cousins with the same name, like all the Nicks in My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:54 PM on November 18, 2013

My sister’s living at my house right now with her kids because of some stuff she’s going through with her husband. The older one has the same name as my young one. It’s pretty amusing when we’re all talking to each other or about each other (though when she was pregnant and knew that I loved that name, she wasn’t as amused because she knew I was serious about naming a future child that name). The thing is, even with so much more interaction now between us and the children who share the name, (a) it's easy to figure out who is talking about whom and (b) it’s really not a big deal. Now in your case in particular, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to be around this cousin and her child that much. I would hesitate more if it were a sibling’s child—though I would still think that’s okay—but in this case, go for it. Maybe you guys will laugh about it later like my sister and I do.
posted by juliagulia at 7:07 PM on November 18, 2013

I have a huge family with a small selection of family names, so at reunions (the family is massive enough to run to a couple of hundred people) you may find yourself hearing, "Hey, give the steak to Michael's Sean - no, not Christopher's Michael's Sean, Sean's Michael's Sean. Ask Sean's Christopher's Michael where he is if you can't find him."

If this prospect amuses you, proceed with love. If you cringe, why not try a name like Aramis, Zenith or Bort?
posted by Jilder at 8:49 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine named his daughter for his sister; the kid is called by the Spanish pronunciation.

My father and all his maternal first born male cousins were named Aaron for their grandfather, however Daddy has been called Andy by his family since he was in utero. I have no idea why my grandparents didn't just name him Andrew.
posted by brujita at 11:16 PM on November 18, 2013

I haven't read the many answers. I named one of my children the same as my first cousin who lives 3000 miles away (my family size if relevant - I have 6 first cousins on this side of family). Further complicating, child's middle name (my maiden name) is cousin's last name. This did feel slightly weird when we did it but we really liked the name. Now, cousin and child have a special bond. I - and they I think - like that they have the same name. In this particular situation we see this cousin no more than once a year.
posted by RoadScholar at 5:34 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree that this should be no big deal, but that doesn't necessarily mean it won't cause a huge drama. As an anecdote - a friend's sister-in-law wigged out about friend's sister using the baby name she had picked out for the girl she will probably never have. (i.e. they already have 3 boys, hubby has said no more kids, etc.) So do consider the level of craziness and drama naturally present in your family before you proceed!
posted by Cheese Monster at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2013

Not weird, especially since it seems you are just talking about first names. I think naming second cousins same first, middle, and last name would not necessarily be weird, but it might create confusion in our digital age.
posted by hworth at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2013

In my family, names were largely predetermined by a formula, with children named after grandparents, deceased aunts and uncles, and so on. As such, there was a LOT of overlap. My mother, for example, had two Aunt Maries, both sisters, although named after different Maries. That overlap was in turn passed along.

I wouldn't worry about it. A heads-up to the cousin (a heads-up, not a vetting) would be a courtesy, although not strictly necessary.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:51 PM on November 20, 2013

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