2017-01-26 - choosing a name for a child

sounds like a non-technical task? just read on… :)

how to select a reasonable name is quite a difficult task actually, yet i have not seen any tools to help with that around. keeping a matter of personal preferences for some names vs. others aside, let's focus on more measurable aspects.

first thing is uniqueness. you do not want to select name that is too popular. if you do, child may have 4 friends in a class, that are named the same. it's just not too distinguishing…

on the other hand you do not want to select a name that is next-to-unused in child's generation. even though it will be (very) unique then, it might be hard to remember. there is also a good chance it was popular years ago, effectively associating child with group of people 20 years older then itself.

so the choice should be somewhere in between. think how many children with a given name, in a class of 30 might there be? choosing name that has a popularity of 1%, means there will be one such child in 3 class school, and 4 of them in 4 years, of 3 classes, in school. where's the exact border? i leave it for you to judge.

how tools help?

in order to process the statistical data, you can download official records from government's statistical office (GUS in case of Poland). then all you need is a set of tools to analyze names over time.

for instance for my name, i can see it is very popular and it was super-popular among children born about a decade ago:

relative plot absolute plot

you can also specify range of percentage for names, to be selected. example results between 1% and 1.8%:

OLIWIER  ->  median  1.38393638684  average  1.3631010423
NIKODEM  ->  median  1.05499811114  average  0.943908827288
KRZYSZTOF  ->  median  1.36523623244  average  1.35055512726
MAKSYMILIAN  ->  median  1.36090149358  average  1.35048363984
BARTŁOMIEJ  ->  median  1.21620139308  average  1.20137801002
PAWEŁ  ->  median  1.74911789978  average  1.68299771132
FRANCISZEK  ->  median  1.55761948199  average  1.47722826836
OSKAR  ->  median  1.62994904682  average  1.6204037682
ALAN  ->  median  1.19060677526  average  1.15634884651
SEBASTIAN  ->  median  1.10861665934  average  1.07486624005
KAROL  ->  median  1.52584134021  average  1.61267488051
KRYSTIAN  ->  median  1.05669207847  average  0.969100560537
MIŁOSZ  ->  median  1.05499811114  average  1.10955108229
MARCEL  ->  median  1.56130506491  average  1.49543540293
TOMASZ  ->  median  1.34121591812  average  1.34879158451
HUBERT  ->  median  1.27352748385  average  1.25000014053
KAMIL  ->  median  1.59280791239  average  1.66962072658
ADRIAN  ->  median  1.19791952321  average  1.1153006219

you can also compare a set of names, and observe trends:

names comparison example

it is also worth to analyze trends. if the name is quite popular, but diminishing over time, name might be assumed to (nearly) disappear soon, thus might not be adequate for a young man/lady. for instance we can see Marcin was a very popular name, but it is pretty much out of the scope now:

marcin name plot

on the other hand, names that are “ok” in terms of median of popularity, in recent year, may actually be too popular in the near future. having a look at the following plot, you really do not want to name your child Alicja:

alicja name plot

this is where we approach “predicting future” issue. bad news – it's not possible, currently. good news – there are heuristics. :) as a start ask your friends about the well known and popular characters in soap operas, TV shows, actors, etc… these are good candidates to become “too popular” in a near future.


there are loads of other hints and tips on naming a child reasonably, available on the internet. read and learn. once you narrow down your search filed with provided tools, you'll need to think about each of remaining 10-30 candidates, you're left with. crossing out “impractical” or “dangerous” names will narrow it even more… then the fun part – select the one you like the most! :)

blog/2017/01/26/2017-01-26_-_choosing_a_name_for_a_child.txt · Last modified: 2017/01/26 20:36 by basz
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