Vol. 71 No. 1 (2023): NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics

Birth Order, Gender, and Naming Preferences in Contemporary Poland

Paweł Tomanek
University of Warsaw

Published 2023-03-14


  • first names,
  • naming preferences,
  • birth order,
  • gender,
  • popularity,
  • traditionality,
  • Poland,
  • anthroponymy,
  • socio-onomastics
  • ...More


The paper investigates how birth order and gender jointly influence naming decisions among Polish parents. The impact of birth order on the choice of first names has been extensively documented in historical and anthropological studies worldwide, but it has been largely ignored in sociological research on contemporary Western countries. The study is based on a survey of 317 users of a Polish parenting forum devoted to first names and naming decisions. The names of the first-born and second-born children of the research participants are compared in terms of their popularity and traditionality, measured both objectively and subjectively, in regard to the subjective motives declared behind the naming choices. The findings show that, on the whole, the first-born children received more popular and more traditional names than the second-borns. However, when the gender of the children was figured in, the difference between the first-born and the second-born boys turned out statistically significant only in the dimension of traditionality, whereas between the first-born and the second-born girls, only in the dimension of popularity. In a within-family comparison, the names given to siblings were found to be fairly consistent in both dimensions, and the gender of the first child influenced the preferences for the second one, especially if the latter was a girl. Those results can be interpreted in the frame of different social expectations towards the genders, with a particular focus on gendered concepts of the self.


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