sharing a name

Mr. M and I both have very common first names here in the United States. His barely ever leaves the top 10, and mine is still hovering in the top 50-ish. So when we looked for baby names, I was very cognizant of choosing a name that wasn’t in the Top 10 for any of my finalists, but at the same time wanted a name that wasn’t too out of the blue. No celebrity crazy names here… we’re just not cool enough to pull it off and we’re a long way from the LA city limits.
And that’s how we came upon Lena’s name – looking for names that were popular outside of our little bubble. Since our last name is a pretty strong German name, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look at German name lists to see if any would match up. Lena popped up as a contender, and Mr. M snatched it up as one of his choices. And as far as popularity goes, it happens to be the #1 name in Austria, #2 name from German Switzerland, and #4 name in Germany. Guess we’re setting her up for a comfortable trip to Europe in her college years?  But how popular is it in North America? Well…. it’s only #440 in the US (and #302 in Alberta, Canada?)… so I guess we did well with our picking. Marie also happens to be really popular in western Europe as well while it’s pretty underused in America.
What is your view on “popular” names? Do you care enough to look? Or do you prefer popular over rare?


  • Disgruntled Julie

    I very much agree with your strategy — something normal enough that people know it, but not common. I always liked that about my name, since Julie isn’t rare, but I was always the only Julie in any of my classes from kindergarten straight through graduate school. While many years away from thinking about children, we will have to name our child something starting with R (in Judaism, children are always named after a deceased relative and my husband’s father was Raymond) and I’m already struggling — R names seem to be the bizarre/unflattering or the super common and not too much in the middle!

  • Amber

    Is it pronounced “Leh-na” or “Lee-na”? I ask because my sister in law is Arlene, forever called “Lena” (Lee-na). Either way, it’s a beautiful name, I just love hearing about how names are chosen.

  • talda

    i strongly believe that names have meanings so it’s important to pick a good name/meaning since those characteristics will eventually start showing up in that person, so i always had issues when people just make up crazy names for no reason, or pick a name they don’t know the meaning of. who knows what you’re speaking over your kid!

    that said, i have a fairly common name with an uncommon spelling [my mom and i both don’t like the typical spelling of my name], but in my whole school career, i’ve been the only one with that name in class except for the 4th grade – needless to say, we did not get along. well, it was more she didn’t like me. lol. that’s probably here nor there. but i really want to give my kids unique but not crazy names. i want something that i can pick out of a name book.

  • Cathleya

    I have a pretty uncommon name and while I shed a few tears over it when I was little (I was lame), I love it now and I think it’s so beautiful and I’m so glad my parents gave it to me. I’m big on names with meaning—so I don’t put a lot of stock into common/uncommon names… I just want them to sound beautiful. :) Lena is a beautiful name!

  • EP

    I have nothing against popular names. Hell, my name is Elizabeth Anna. Talk about the top 10. But I love my name.

    For my children, all I wanted were good, strong names. And at least one of each of our children’s names were in the family. David, Charles, and Nadine–grandparent and great-grandparents, respectively. I honestly wanted old-fashioned names. And Lillian Nadine and Charles David were born out of that.

  • Michelle

    I like classic names. Not popular or trendy. Names are becoming so out of this world that names that were “popular” in the 80’s and 90’s are now unique and rare, which is kind of cool. Lena is a gorgeous name. Original without being weird. One of the students I work with is named Lena and she is absolutely delightful. And Lena Maria M has a nice flow to it. Well done! Names are so difficult but you guys did a great job!

  • Janet

    I think you did such a nice job! The name Lena is beautiful and real without being trendy. Looking for popular names in other countries is such a good idea!

    I feel exactly the same way you do – I want to find a name that is pretty, real and not made-up, and also not too popular. My best friend went through the same thing and ended up naming her new baby girl Claire. I love it!

  • Lindsey Kaye

    Lena is so lovely (the girl and the name)! I had a friend whose sister is named Lena and have loved it since then. They are Italian so I always assumed it was of the sane origin – I never would have guesses it be so popular in germany. Thinking of it now her middle name was Maria too, and I still haven’t heard that name again until now.

  • TwoWishes Tara

    I really wanted to name our daughter Lena! My mother nixed it because of dumb jokes known only to Norwegian people in Central Wisconsin, and I didn’t have the energy to fight it. But I still looooove the name, and it makes me take a special interest in your little Lena. I think she’ll love her name throughout her life.

  • Sherry

    Beautiful name! And I really liked your strategy on choosing a well-established name that’s not as ubiquitous here in the US.

    Btw, my mom’s Chinese name is also Lee-na, but it’s pronounced “Lee-NAH” (the emphasis is on the “Na”).

    I’m not sure what strategy Derek and I will employ when we eventually start a family. The two of us actually had the opportunity to choose our own English names at the tender ages of 3 (me) and 8 (him) with very little working knowledge of English when we immigrated here! Thankfully, we didn’t choose bizarre names and actually ended up with selections that we’ve grown to love. Wonder if we could somehow give our own kids that opportunity to choose their own names as well…

  • Mr M

    Okay, so I couldn’t help but google Lena Norwegian jokes…

    LENA WAS in the bathtub when the door bell rrrang.
    “Who is it?” she called out.

    “Blind man,” came the answer from the front door.

    Lena got out of the tub, walked straight to the front door without so much as a stitch of clothes, and threw open the door.

    There stood a man who asked, “Where do you want me to put these blinds, lady?”

  • HamiHarri

    lol: Mr M

    There are many popular names that I loved, and a few that we came close to using: Chloe was one of them ;)

    But DH went through an entire book of baby names with meanings on our communte to work…Clara was one be both loved, and loved the meaning of. We didn’t really care if it was trendy/popular or more traditional.

    I will say, that often when people ask us her name they tell us “oh, that is traditional/old fashioned”…which I guess it is, but that wasn’t really one of the reasons we named her that ;)