Is there really such a thing as a 'baby name copycat'?

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck named their daughter Violet, while it's rumoured that Blake LIvely and Ryan Reynolds ...
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck named their daughter Violet, while it's rumoured that Blake LIvely and Ryan Reynolds have - gasp - also used the name. Photo: Getty Images

In case you missed it, the beautiful Blake Lively and the equally gorgeous Ryan Reynolds have welcomed a (no doubt genetically blessed) new addition. Rumour has it the baby girl may be called Violet.

Full disclosure, it hasn't actually been confirmed that Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds' baby has been named Violet. According to several sources, a nurse from the hospital in which Blake gave birth tweeted "congrats @blakelively #blakelively glad to have you and baby violet in our care." It was subsequently deleted and replaced with "I think I'm in trouble."

The issues of the tweet most likely being fake (US Weekly later reported a source as saying the name is "definitely not" Violet), and a massive breach of confidentiality aside, the internet leapt on the "news" with gusto. And it lead to an article, published on Jezebel, titled "Blake is a big baby name Copycat."

How is naming a baby girl in this age being a "copycat", exactly? Well, the writer states "Has Blake Lively opted to assign her firstborn the very same name as Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's daughter? Scandal! Drama! Family feud!"


Baby name "theft" is often discussed in the context of a friend or family member "stealing" a name you've had your heart set on. It's one of the perils of sharing a baby name before you've actually given birth, and one of the reasons that parents often keep their choice a closely guarded secret. Well, that and the often insensitive opinions offered about names before a baby is born, something that (rarely) happens after a child has formally been given their moniker.

And yet, the accusation directed at Blake and Ryan made me think: at what point is using the name another parent has given their child still considered copying? I mean, Violet Affleck is nine years old; is it really considered stealing/copying that long years after the fact? It's a beautiful name and it's going to be used again. In fact, in 2013, it was number 69 in the top baby names in the US.   

And it's not as though it's particularly unique (as in Apple, Egypt, North or Suri).

Late last year, a former work colleague announced that he and his wife were expecting a baby boy. He mentioned that he'd considered my son's name and that it had been high on their list, but that he'd been told by another colleague, "But that's Ariane's baby's name!" I laughed and told him not to be ridiculous; I don't own the name and he should feel free to use it. Because I love my son's name – that someone else does too doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I just thought my colleague had good taste.


But the politics of baby naming can get rather complex. For example, is it okay to use the name of a child from your mothers' group for your second baby? I personally see no issue with this, but I know of others who do. What about cousins? If your brother calls his child Harry, should Harry be off-limits for your own children?

If you like your colleague's husband's name, are you a copycat if you use it for your baby?

And my son shares a name with my best friend's first dog. Does that mean I'm guilty of name theft too? I'm not sure I understand the rules. Can anyone help?

What do you think? What constitutes being a 'baby name copycat'?