That Name Game

It’s been a streak of heavy posts lately so I’m going to shake things up and give you something frivolous that I know so many of you have been curious about. What are we going to name That 1?

I wish we knew. :) As of this writing we don’t have a name picked out, or really even any top contenders. Even if we did though… we would probably pretend we didn’t. I learned very early on that sharing names you like is a bad idea. Unless you make it clear that the name you are sharing is THE name, the one you will grace your child with, people close to you aren’t afraid to let you know what they really think. I’m guessing in hopes that they can influence one way or another? Barring a few very close friends who can give the kind of feedback we think is important (initial reaction, bully possibilities, best spelling, etc) we won’t publicly be revealing our final choice until baby is officially christened.

We’re working on choosing at least one male and one female favorite, although we would prefer having two of each that we like in case one doesn’t “fit”. The baby will be given an English-style first name, Polish middle name, and That Husband’s last name. (Yep, I’m still Jenna Andersen, and it looks like I’m going to stay that way!) Once we’ve chosen our favorite first names we’ll ask his family for some options from TH’s family tree, and work to find a combination that sounds perfect to us.

The reason we’ve made scarcely any progress is because our naming criteria are pretty specific (okay, mine are REALLY specific) and really different from each other

That Wife:


  • I want to pick a “theme” now and stick with it. Whether it’s a time period, type (literary names maybe?), people who profoundly changed history in some way, family names, or pattern, I want all of my children to have names that feel like they go together in some way.

Not popular in recent years

  • I was always really excited to find another girl named Jenna, because the name was *just* popular enough to be used throughout the US, but not enough that I was forced to go through school as Jenna A to distinguish me from all of the other girls with the same name. Anyone born in the 80′s named Jessica, Jennifer, or Amanda would not have been so lucky. Granted I was from a small town so the likelihood of sharing a name with someone were few already, but we did have a Heather B and Heather D in my graduating class of 70 kids, meaning choosing anything within the top 10 for that decade is probably a bad idea no matter where you live.

Not used by other people in my life (He has rejected names for this reason as well)

  • I tend to reject a lot of names based on who I knew in the past that shared it. “That one’s out because I didn’t like her very much in high school,” I’ll tell TH. Or because the nickname of the name in question was also the name of my high school boyfriend. Or because the only person I’ve ever know with that name rolled marijuana cigarettes in the back of our Washington State history class.

That Husband:

Not recently made up (for we realize that most names were made up at some point).

  • What’s a made up name? Watch one episode of America’s Next Top Model and you’ll be overwhelmed with your choices. Over the past few years the show has featured contestants named: Kesse, Jenascia, Norelle, Keenyah, Furonda, Nikeysha, Kortnie and Ambreal. Either completely new to the world within X number of years or spelled in a way that no one would ever guess, names in this vein are out for us.

Sounds good in Polish

  • This criteria is toughest for me because I have absolutely no idea what is universally thought to sound awful in his native tongue. I do know that we are avoiding boy names that end in “a”, like Dakota, Luca, and Joshua, because names that end with “a” are girls names (always) in Polish. For girls, “r” endings are out, like Jennifer, Heather, and Summer. Otherwise I ask on a case-by-case basis to figure out what the Bertha and Gomer baby names of the Polish language are. (i.e. names that are pretty widely accepted as a bad idea in the states.)

I tend to like grandpa/grandma names, like Stella, Mabel, Hazel, Howard, Perry, and Willis. He has suggested Annie but I keep shooting it down. We agree on so few names that this poor little creature kicking at my rips doesn’t even have a nickname! We just call him/her Baby.

Lately I’ve been on a family name kick, after spending some time reading in the Bible and Book of Mormon. The way they talk about names, as heirlooms to be passed down or as mediums to inspire greatness, really made me want to seek out a name that would have some kind of story behind it. The Angel Moroni who revealed the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith was named for Captain Moroni, a man described in this way: if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. I spent some time on a site for LDS members called Family Search, filled with information about hundreds of my ancestors, on some sides going back as far as 14 generations! (And I got tired of expanding eventually so it might go even farther.) I wrote down my favorites and have been working on listing them off for That Husband to see if there are any we can agree upon, which isn’t many.

If we can’t find something from my family we agree on, I’d like to find a name that comes with a story or significant meaning, so we can tell our child a reason behind our choice other than “We thought it was cute.” Who knows though, it’s possible I may fall in love with a completely random moniker that has no linguistical significance whatsoever. Even if we don’t choose a family name for the first name I hope to pull from That Husband’s family history for the middle.

I think the question I’ve been asked most is whether we will be sharing the name publicly. As with That Husbands name, we’ll be working to make sure that the baby’s name isn’t “googleable”, at least in relation to this blog. If you read regularly you’ll know That 1′s name through photos and (possibly) video as we’ll only be working to avoid text, not other mediums. I’ll be referring to baby as either That 1 (which I think sounds a bit awkward so I probably won’t stick with it) or the English name for his/her Polish middle name in my posts. The Polish thing sounds confusing I know, but only when I describe it so abstractly. For example, Lucja is the name of one of TH’s grandmas, and if that was a middle name we chose the baby’s blog name would be Lucy. I’m pretty proud of myself for coming up with that clever solution.

For those who are playing the name game as well, I’ve found a few favorite websites for brainstorming ideas: One of my criteria as noted above is that a name not be really popular, and I double check every option on Name Voyager to see how it is trending and when it peaked. I tend to eliminate anything that’s rising rapidly or currently sitting at a rank of 300 or less. Plug in your favorites and Nymbler will suggest similar names. See name possibilities based on personality traits, cultural backgrounds, names of famous babies, and options inspired by pop-culture favorites like Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Now that you know all of our criteria, you can either…

A. Suggest options you think might work (although to fulfill part of TH’s rules you might have to be fluent in Polish!)

B. Give one boy suggestion and one girl suggestion for what you think we’ll name the baby. If you’re right you can email me in April and I’ll send you a little something special for being such a smarty pants. :) If you suggest more than one name for each gender no special thing for you though. You’d get it right eventually if you tried enough options.

Family and close friends are free to guess all they want because I guarantee you no one actually knows what names we are going to end up with, that’s how far we are from picking something!

68 thoughts on “That Name Game

  1. If you like older sounding names, I will “give” you one of the choices I was considering for a girl (but have since ruled out).

    Maizy (also spelled Mazie)

    I’ve always thought it was adorable, and it was the name of my grandpa’s sister.

    We don’t have a name for sure yet, either (we’re getting close, I think) but does it annoy you when people ask you all the time if you have one picked out?! We always feel so pressured, haha! It’s crazy how badly they want to hear the name, but it’s just like you said – if you tell them names you’re contemplating, they give you a hard time about it… our names are all unusual (not for the sake of being unusual, just most names in my family are – for example: Kaibry, Kamille, Kindal, Kalen (me!), Aubrey, etc.)… and people really give us some mean comments about some of them! Crazy!

    Ashley Reply:

    My sister is an Aubrey! It’s a pretty unusual name, though I think it’s getting more common. I hate mean comments about names. Just uncool.

  2. I think it’s a great idea not to tell anyone. I’ve seen way to many friends and family members hurt by insensitive people telling them, point blank, that they don’t like the baby name they’ve picked out. My great grandmother FREAKED when my Aunt told her she was naming her daughter Madison. After that I decided I’m keeping ours a secret until it’s on the birth certificate!!

    I can’t even guess what y’all are going to name That Baby! Whatever you choose, it will be wonderful. :)

  3. Have you looked into Danish first names? Since you’re of Danish ancestry that might be neat. Or perhaps Danish mixed with Polish is just a mouthful! :o)

  4. ok so i know its like a TOTALLY different thing but we’re getting our babies (kittens) on sunday and i cant think of any name i really really love. randomly we already have baby names picked (not that i want kids like anytime soon) but kittens…now that’s tricky. my current possibilies for the girl are Opal or Vivienne (Westwood) haha!

    amanda Reply:

    i named my hairless chinese crested dog joe strummer because he has a mohawk, so i am all for pop culture references as names. well, for pets at least.

  5. Mae for a girl. Total grandma name and I think it’s so cute! It was in the top 100 for girls names around 1900, but isn’t even in the top 1000 now.

    Finn for a boy. Getting more popular lately, but still in the upper 300s.

    You’ve probably been there many times, but just in case, was my favorite site when looking up baby names. So many baby sites rank popularity, but most of them are based on people saying they like them, not ACTUAL number of children named it. This one is for real.

    Good luck, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect name. And no matter whether people like it initially or not, it seems that every kid grows into their names and everyone loves it. I have loads of nieces and nephews where I thought their parents were crazy at first, but now I can’t imagine them being named anything else and it fits them perfectly.

    Erin Reply:

    I love the name Finn – but it must be trending up. Of my four friends who had babies in 2009, 2 went with Finn for a first or middle name. I hear it everywhere now. Whatever you name your baby, you just need to keep your fingers crossed that the next American Idol or crazy reality TV celeb doesn’t share the name! My good friend was named Madison before the movie Splash (when it was super rare as a girl’s name). Her rare name has been in the top 20 for decades now!

    Kelli Nicole Reply:

    I also know at least 2 people who named their baby Finn!

  6. I wish I could help you, Jenna, but my husband and I are having the same problems! I love the idea of having SOME sort of theme to babies names, and I also have been more drawn to “grandma” names (I even suggested Mabel, though my husband quickly rejected it). And I love Stella, and it’s also a family name, but my aunt who is a labor/delivery nurse assures me it is VERY popular right now. We know we are having a girl, though, so that makes it a little easier.

  7. Wow that’s a hard one. I actually would have thought that Annie would have been on top of your list. At least you don’t have to deal with the Hebrew issue. There aren’t that many great Hebrew names that haven’t already been taken.

    I am sure you guys will find a name and it will just fit.

  8. I’ve been thinking of baby names since I was in middle school. I guess I always knew I’d have a hard time deciding on one. My husband and I aren’t even close to having a baby, but I still love thinking about it and throwing out names on occasion.

    I’m totally with you on the not-sharing-names thing. And we have a similar issue as you and TH with the multiple language thing: our kids have to have speak-able names in Portuguese.

    I wish I had some suggestions or guesses, but I don’t know a word of Polish to know how the name would sound to your in-laws!

  9. I want to name our (not-yet-conceived) kids Jack and Rose. Both family names honoring my dad and grandpa and my husband’s grandma. I try to tell people one name, talk for awhile, and then tell the other name – but inevitably they say “Titanic!!” I’m hoping everyone will have forgotten the movie in 5 years (the time that #2 will hopefully be born)!

    Cristin Reply:

    They’re family names for me too, along with Emma. Between Friends and S&TC, all three have been becoming way too mainstream!!

  10. I knew a Polish girl names Anja (or Anya?) I don’t remember how it was spelled. I liked that name a great deal. Good Annie alternative!

    You seem to bring up Harvey a lot so I think that’s a contender for a boy!!

  11. I don’t know Polish names, but how similar are Polish names to Russian?? (I ask that more with consideration of the Soviet relationship–not because I think the 2 countries are just alike or anything, because I don’t. And I really don’t want to offend anyone that’s Polish and may hate Russians. =D)

    I’m with SAS. If there IS a Polish equivalent my favorite Russian name is probably Anya. It’s a short name/nickname for girls who are named Ann/Ana, but I like it much more.

    (It’s on my list, but Chris is somewhat hesitant about really Russian names.)

    Evelyn Reply:

    If there are similar names in Polish, here’s a few you may consider (I just thought of them):

    Svyeta/Sveta/Svetlana (it means light)
    Alexandra/Sasha (Sasha is the short name)

    Gosha (it’s a short name, but the long name is equivalent to George)
    Alexander/Sasha (Sasha is the short name)

  12. Ahhhh I LOVE grandma names! And I also love the Baby Name Voyager, even if I’m nowhere near having a baby — it’s fascinating!

    As for favorites, I’d have to say Claire, Mae, Vivienne, and Ava (which is sadly increasing in popularity — boo!).

    Rebecca Walters Reply:

    What about Aviva…kind of a combo between Vivienne and Ava…my friends named their baby this and I was reading Feakonomics…which has a great chapter on names and it said Aviva was actually going to be popular!

  13. For me, I won’t even consider names that have been in the top 1000 names (according to the Social Security website) EVER. I love having a unique name (but that isn’t made up – it’s just more commonly a last name). We’ll probably go with names that are more commonly last names too, since both Bart (Barton) and I have those and we’ve liked it.

    I have a friend who plans to name all her kids after presidents. So far they have a daughter, Reagan, and a son, Lincoln. I don’t like names that are too theme-y, though. All the same first letter? Bleck.

  14. How about Joanna for a girl? I have a college friend who is from Poland with that name. Her sister had a very unique name that I have no idea how to spell but we called her Aga for short. I think it was a Polish form of Agnes, which is a gma name and I think it could be cute. Jenna and Joanna sound nice together…
    I feel like you are having a girl :)

    Marissa C Reply:

    I believe Joasia is Joanna in Polish–that is my cousin’s name. She goes by Asia (ah-sha)

    Erin Reply:

    Yes, my friend goes by Asia as well. Confuses some people though since it is not pronounced like the continent… I think it would be cute to call her Jo… And there you go, that is literary (Little Women).

    phruphru Reply:

    I love Little Women!!! And I love the name Jo for a girl.

    Jenna Reply:

    I brought up Josephine the other night actually! TH has never seen or hear of Little Women so he thought the idea of calling a girl Jo was ridiculous so it was rejected. :)

    Megan Reply:

    I have a friend with the name Josephine, but she goes by Josie.

    Agni Reply:

    I believe that the name you’re looking for is Agnieszka, which is my name! It’s super popular in Poland, and although I think that it’s very pretty, I wouldn’t wish it upon a North American child :P

    My brother and sister have names that translate pretty well. His is Arkadiusz (Ar-kay-dee-us), it’s very “gladiator” sounding. My sister’s name is Renata.

    One of my favorite names is Josephine, and it translates well too. Unfortunately, my cousin just named her son Joseph, so it’s out :(

  15. i won’t offer name options, but have you looked at the social security administration page for baby names? i know you love research, so you might really find the page useful.

    if you are trying to avoid popular names, this is a great source.

    amanda Reply:

    a nice feature of this site is the change in popularity page which gives you the rank changes of a variety of names.

  16. Names are so hard. We’re nowhere near ready to have a baby, but we still discuss and have “spirited debate” about names fairly frequently. It is especially hard trying to find unique names- just like everyone else. We have some nice contenders for girl names, but boys are so much harder. I love Aidan for years before it was cool, but I just don’t think I could do it now.

    I like the idea of having something tying names together – but for me every child having a polish middle name would be enough of a theme. But that is just because I would feel restricted, I wouldn’t want to cut any first names that I fall in love with out of contention because they don’t fit. We kind of like the idea of doing a semi-theme with middle names (strong historical female figures for the girls and family names for the boys). Like you, I want the names to mean more than just me liking it. Also, I bless you a thousand times for avoiding made-up names and “creative” spellings.

    I don’t have any actual suggestions, just lots of good luck wishes aimed in your direction. I’m excited to see what you come up with.

  17. Hmm…I have Polish relatives, so I’ll steal their middle names…

    Sophia Ania

    Jason Krzys

    I really like the Polish name Joasia as well

  18. I had two polish friends when growing up. One was named Ewa (pronounced Ava)- I can’t remember what her sister’s name! The other Gabriela (but we called her Gabbie).

    Katherine (a.k.a. Sparkles) Reply:

    I remembered the sister’s name now- Agnieszka Anna… wow- that just came out of the corner of my memory. Geeze.

    Katherine (a.k.a. Sparkles) Reply:

    oh and Gabby’s sister’s name was Magdalena… and everyone called her Maggie.

  19. FUN. I LOVE names. (Mostly because I’m a fiction writer.) I picture you leaning towards sort of old-fashioned, classic, elegant names. I saw one commenter suggested Mazie, which is so funny because I was going to suggest that too (only spelled Maisie).

    My suggestions, for girls:


    Rebecca Walters Reply:

    Love Adele. What if you themed the girl’s names around the names of mothers of important people in history and the boys names around fathers of the same.

    What about Ada? The name of President Hinckley’s mother?

    Verena Reply:

    And if you wanted to honor TH’s grandmother, Ada Lucja is really a pretty combination. :-)

    I had a friend, growing up, who visited us in Germany from Poland, and her name was Justyna. I always fancied that name.

  20. I think you’re right to hold out on announcing the names. Sometimes I kind of wish I had done that.
    We’re naming our little girl Dorothy Jane, which is a family name, and I adore it. But I’ve had a ton of people say things like, “What? That’s an old lady name.” And it kind of makes me feel a little stabby.
    Our other options for older names were Alice, Charlotte and Evangeline. For a boy, we always knew we’d use John Huckabee, also a family name. Since this is our last child, that name will now be foisted upon my baby sister! ;)
    Can’t wait to hear what you christen the little one!

    Rebecca Walters Reply:

    Love Charlotte.

    Rebecca Walters Reply:

    And I think Dorothy Jane is adorable. My sister’s name is Emily Jane…love that too.

  21. This is a HARD one! I can’t yet imagine the challenge of picking a name for someone that they will have for their entire life!

    Good luck in your search :)

  22. Here are some old school sounding names of polish origin that are also english sounding….

    Kinga(an eldery neighbour when I was young was named this and she was fantastic, baked us goodies and played board games with us and was always singing.)

    My friend just named her baby Nina, which is not very common these days at all.

    Genavee Reply:

    I’ve never really thought about Felicia, but I think I love it a little bit. It’s adorable, but not too little-kid sounding, and has a great old vibe.

    Helena Reply:

    Helena is my name – and my Polish grandmother’s, too. It’s been a great name, different enough that I didn’t have to share it and classic enough that people aren’t totally perplexed when I tell them what it is.

    I recommend it! ;-)

  23. My perhaps unhelpful contribution: There were two Polish girls in my elementary school named Violet. I don’t even know if it’s a traditional Polish name but it’s an unusual and beautiful name that also is super easy for American tongues to say.

  24. Oh I love Annie! That is such a great name. Or if you want a longer name how about Aneesa and call her Annie? That name is a family name in my family.

    Boys names…what about Gregor or Davis? I love Perry.

  25. A favorite name of mine is Genevieve, but pronounced ZHAWN-vee-EHV

    I like Elizabeth (a little too popular for you, but we’re planning on using the nickname “Eli” which is not that traditional). Also.. Charlotte. Helena. Sophia. A few people have suggested those, too, but they are all lovely.

    Have you thought about using Annie as a nickname, and choosing another first name that Annie could be extrapolated from?

  26. Oooo…I love the name Hazel (hubby vetoed it though). I mentioned on Good Finkings blog on how tricky names can be!

    My sister has a Polish history (we have different Dads)…her name at birth was Swanishka (or something like that)…she went by Swan which was perfect for my hippie Mom. After my Mom married my Dad, they changed her name to Karen as she was teased in elementary school (kids are mean!).

    I love classic names myself, and our little daugher will have one :) Although I’d be a total fibber if I wasn’t drawn to many of the popular names as well (Emma, Chloe, Audrey, Isabel, Abigail etc).

    Up until this afternoon I was a very strong supporter of NOT sharing the name until baby is born. My sister-in-law has shared that she will likely be naming her baby Julian if it is a boy (ick!!!! nobody is thrilled with this name in our family…for a lot of reasons)…anyway, had she kept it a secret she wouldn’t have to listen to us tease her about it…

    BUT then this afternoon my MIL emailed me to let me know one of my hubby’s cousins just had her baby boy. She named him LOGAN – hubby and I were going to name our little one Logan should she had been a he. Had we expressed this to her, chances are she would’ve went with another name…or at least not left us so suprised! He named her first son Andrew – which was another top contender…oh well.

    Try to have fun with the naming (which it sounds like you are)…just don’t get stuck on a theme to much, you don’t want to limit yourself too much with future children :)

  27. I’m 22 weeks and my husband has had baby names picked out for years, since he has always wanted kids. Which made my life so much easier since I liked the names and had never really thought of it. We weren’t going to share it, but my husband can’t keep a secret. We are going with Gabriel but had it been a girl we would have went with Abigail. We batted around middle names and right now it is Asher and my mom very much dislikes Asher, but as I told her, we respect her opinion but this is our baby and we like it. Anders was a close second.

    We get very mixed opinions on Asher, not that we ask for them, but people feel like they can chime in on this.

    If it wasn’t so popular, you could always go with Anderson for a boy and that would still be a family name.

  28. I love that you’re coming up with a real reason to give your sweet baby a particular name! I was named after a helicopter pilot from the TV show Airwolf, because they couldn’t think of anything else. If I had been a boy they were going to name me after Harrison Ford. :P

    Personally, I think literary names are a great way to go! I don’t know if you’ve ever read A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter, but the two main characters are Elnora and Phillip…both really good names, and neither very common!

    (Plus the book=awesome.)

  29. Love the criteria – - you’ve read my thoughts on the subject before and I agree with you!

    By throwing in the whole Polish requirement means I’ve got nothin’! I have no idea what would sound good with a Polish name…so even though these won’t fit at all, here are my favorite girl names right now *Paige, *Avery, or *Megan. Having to name 2 boys has already taxed my boy naming ability (though I love the name Evan).

    I also agree that its special to have a family connection in there somewhere – G’s middle name is my husband’s first name, K’s middle is after my brother Larry (we use Lawrence) who died about the time I found out I was pregnant with K, and if/when it’s ever a girl, it will be Louise (after my grandma and his grandma).


  30. While I totally understand your reasoning for keeping it a secret.. I still want to know! ;)
    I am partial to old-fashioned names, french and spanish names.
    Here are some ideas: Marcheline, Esme (short for Esmerelda), Paloma, Ruby, Olive, Olivia..

  31. I love Andersen as a first name, for a boy OR a girl! I have a (girl) friend who goes by Andi…love it.

  32. Yay! I love picking baby names. No, I am not pregnant and never have been, but I do have a working list on my computer of baby names that I love!
    Here are some which I think may or may not (but hopefully “may”) fit your criteria:
    Ada (AH-da)
    Lena (LEH-na)
    Lisa (just had to!)

    Paul — Pawel ;)

    Sorry my boys’ names are pretty common but they have already reached their peak a couple decades ago and are on the decline. Good thing, right?
    Have fun picking a name! It sounds daunting but I’m sure you’re still having fun with it and will end up picking a BEAUTIFUL name for your little one!

  33. If we have a daughter, her name will be Margaret, Molly for short. I like that it’s old fashioned and a family name. Margaret has a lot of variations and diminuitives: Molly, Maggie, Peggy, Gretchen, Greta, and so on. There are multiple Polish forms as well.

    We have to blend English and Cambodian names for our kids, so I totally empathize!

  34. One of my favorite books was My Antonia. Willa Cather books could be a great inspiration for you, in terms of names, many of her characters are Slavic immigrants to the great plains.

  35. I will be totally unoriginal & suggest my own name! I’ve never met another one, so it’s definately unique. My unique first name is paired with an “older” middle name (Louise-after my grandmother’s middle name). Yes, my name is often mispronounced “Tealie” because of the added E on the end, but it makes it more unique than just “Teal”.

  36. Anna > Annie

    The hubby and I had decided for quite a while that we’d name all of our kids something Beatles related… but I just don’t want to commit to a strict pattern like that. My sister’s kids names all end in N and I think it’s silly. Our first born son will be Jude, no matter how popular it is. I also love the name Collin. We’ll see how I feel in 3 years when it’s actually time to have a baby. I think as long as they feel like they go together I’ll be happy. Maybe so they all sound a bit British for a throwback to my ancestry.

    Anyways, would interest you I think. A great community of people with great ideas.

    Jenna Reply:

    You should tell Dumpling of about your Beatles plans. The two of you will instantly become BFFs (and she’s super sweet, the kind of person you want to have as your BFF!). She’s so in love with everything Beatles related!

  37. I, too, had a theme for my babies’ names. They all must begin with the letter “Z” and must be unique (because my own name is also unique!). Thus, my children’s names are Zebediah (b), Zoya (g) and Zara (g).

  38. More from me…


    Boys(Boys names for me are so much harder)

    Alistare/Alistair(not sure of spelling.)

    Jenna Reply:


    I like!

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