Baby Girl Mena

We have Mena as a top contender for a girl‘s name. This name would honor my late grandmother, Philomena. However, I’m having trouble finding any info on it since it’s pretty uncommon (although Mia is in the top ten, which isn’t much different sounding). What is the consensus on Mena? I did find a random site that says it sounds Spanish. Does it sound like a Spanish name? I personally don’t think so, but all input on Mena is greatly appreciated!!! I look forward to the responses! 


By EVie
September 7, 2018 10:25 PM

From what I can tell, it's just a short form of any longer name that ends in -mena (like Philomena). If those names happen to be Spanish, I guess you can say it's Spanish, but I've always heard Philomena pronounced with the ending MEE-na, and I think in Spanish it would be more like MAY-na, right? (Elizabeth T.?)

I don't think there's any reason you need to find any further information on it, really. It's a short form of your grandmother's name, Philomena (great name, by the way!), and that's a perfectly legitimate derivation. If it means anything to you, though, Philomena is a Greek compound name from the roots philos (friend, lover) + menos (mind, strength, force), so you can certainly cite the second half of that as the "meaning" of Mena if you like.

September 7, 2018 10:41 PM

I've heard Philomena also said as fill-o-MEN-uh.

I was debating whether Mena was supposed to be MEEN-uh or MEN-uh but I couldn't quite figure out why. I just realized that the lady who runs my local bakery is named Mena pronounced MEN-uh, which is not an association that most people will have, and thus I think that MEEN-uh will be the default pronunciation.

And I 100% agree with EVie that thinking of it as trimmed-down version of your grandmother's name is all you need and that in this context, the "meaning" of Philomena is the perfect source, since ultimately that's where the name is from.

September 12, 2018 12:44 PM

Thanks you for the replay and all the great information. I like the additional info on Philomena too!

September 7, 2018 10:31 PM

The ones I saw mainly  Spanish and the original Philomena is greek;  It sounds ok,  I keep saying mean a though - not sure if that would be too much for teasing



Gender: Female Origin of Mena: Spanish, diminutive of Filomena Meaning of Filomena: Greek, "lover of singing"; Spanish variation of Philomena

Derived from the Greek Philomenēs (lover of strength), a name composed from the elements phelein (to love) and menos (strength). The name Philomena was borne by a young 3rd-century Italian martyr whose bones were found in the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome in 1802. A cult rose up around her in the 19th century, but 20th-century scholars decided the remains were not those of the Philomena in the inscription and technology found no evidence she was martyred. in 1961, her feast day was discontinued and her shrine dismantled.
Mena is both a Basque and Sephardic surname and a feminine given name. Meena tribe of India is also spelled as Mena.

The surname Mena is a habitational name from the province of Burgos, derived from the Old Spanish word "mena" and the Latin word "minae" meaning "battlement." The name was typically given to someone who lived on a high spot or mountain. Mena was also a Roman goddess.

Origin of the name Mena

  • hindu (click to see other hindu names)

Meaning of the name Mena

mother of Menaka

What does Mena mean?

Mena as a girls' name has its root in German, and Mena means "love". Mena is a version of Mina (German).


September 12, 2018 12:46 PM

Thanks for all the great info! I was wondering the Mena / mean teasing. You bring up a point that I will have to consider. 

September 13, 2018 9:24 AM

It's not the name that's teased, it's the child. Put certain personality types and learned behaviors together, and they'll find something to tease about. (Or to put it another way, _every_ name has teasing potential.) If you're extremely worried, I suppose there's Minna, but I really don't think it's necessary.

September 13, 2018 4:26 PM

I would pronounce Minna differently, like the first syllable of minnow and minimum. 

I think I'd choose Mena given this situation where you're honoring a Philomena, even though Mina is probably slightly less ambiguous in pronunciation.

September 13, 2018 4:35 PM

I 100% agree with everything here. 

By the way, even though my personal preference is for long names, I love Mena with Ev@n and Gr@nt! Yeah, she may need to correct people sometimes, but if you model casual correction and a zen attitude about it, there's a good chance that she'll follow suit. And a quick, "I'm named after my great grandma, Philomena" makes the connection crystal clear and easy to remember.

September 17, 2018 2:48 PM

I generally agree with this sentiment, but for me the anagram makes this a different kettle of fish. I would be concerned more about things like typos and auto-correct errors and subconscious associations for adults, rather than teasing by children. I've read a couple of different books with characters named Mina and never associated it with the word mean (even though in my head it's said like mean-uh), but Mena I can't help but see that way. This is really primarily a visual issue for me, so if it were a nickname for a longer name the association would be much diluted, since nicknames are mostly heard first (and it would be entirely avoidable on things like resumes).

September 7, 2018 11:02 PM

I'm also very curious to now how you're pronouncing Mena?  I live in south Texas where we have a very large Hispanic population.  I've never met anyone named Mena but my inclination is to say may-na because that's how e is pronounced in the Spanish alphabet.  However, when I see Philomena I automatically think more like mee-na.  

Regardless of how you are saying it, I think it's cute.  But I wouldn't think twice about simply using Philomena with the nickname Mena either.  I also think that for me the middle name would make or break this one.  And I think honoring your grandmother is a fabulous idea.

September 12, 2018 12:50 PM

My grandmother was certainly a special woman so this means a lot to me. However as a mom to be I am doing all my “homework” prior to committing to the name! I appreciate all the input. I picture a spunky, cute little girl when I hear Mena. 

September 8, 2018 12:16 PM

Mena is ambiguous on pronunciation: first syllable like "may", "me", or "meh"? This need not be a deal-breaker: Mia was ranked 6th last year despite having at least two possible pronunciations (MEE-ah or MY-ah).

My personal preference is to name her Philomena and use Mena as a nickname. (It doesn't hurt that I think Philomena is a great name.)

I think people get a "Spanish" feel from Mena because there are really only two traditional names that it's short for: Philomena/Filomena, and Jimena/Ximena.

September 12, 2018 12:54 PM

Thanks on the info about the Spanish question. We are Italian and Irish and would want something that is more a catch all European sounding than very ethnic. I agree with Mia is up for interpretation too! I was thinking Mia before I found our how popular it was. I don’t want her to be one of 5 Mias I’m the class! I had that growing up and it was annoying. 

September 13, 2018 8:55 AM

I think the default American pronounciation of both Mina and Mena has the first syllable like "me", and Mina is associated with the very "catch-all European" Wilhelmina (and a bunch of fairly esoteric Italian-ish things like Jacomina and Fermina), so I think the overall impression from both spellings is "European-origin girl's name". Ximena just explains why some people think specifically "Spanish" -- but those people will generally be in the minority.

To honor a Philomena, I'd definitely go with Mena.

As for the "5 Mias" worry: as I've said fairly frequently, this is statistically exceedingly unlikely in today's fractured naming landscape. I know one Mia, age 12, and there are a grand total of two of them in last year's student directory (K-5, 400-something students). You may still end up with multiple children with the same name in a class or grade level, but the nationwide (or even statewide) statistics can't predict which ones they'll be. (In the aforementioned directory, the most common name is Ryan.)

September 8, 2018 7:44 PM

I would pronounce it as Mee-nuh. That's probably because I know a Meena (she is from India) and that's what it reminds me of, plus I'd say Philomena with a long "ee" sound as well.


I like the idea of naming your daughter Philomena and using Mena as a nn, but I generally prefer longer names anyway. If you prefer to use just Mena, I think it's fine, but as others have said you may run into some pronounciation difficulties.

September 12, 2018 12:58 PM

I do like Philomena but I also do prefer shorter names. My other kids are Evan and Grant so Mena kind of fits that bill. I do have some considerations to make with the pronunciation.  Thanks for talking about Meena too. I do know of people with that name and many are from India. A pretty version though.  Thanks!

September 12, 2018 5:00 PM

I like short names too and one of my sons is Grant

September 9, 2018 6:15 AM

While I like the may-nuh pronunciation I'd automatically assume mee-nuh.  I like it but am another who prefers longer names and would probably go for Philomena nn Mena. I don't see why you couldn't just use Mena on the birth certificate though.

September 13, 2018 9:31 PM

Thanks for the input! Pronunciation is one of the deciding factors. 

September 9, 2018 7:32 AM

Mena to me is pronounced with a long 'e'. I've known both a Meena and a Mina and would say Mena the same way until corrected. There is a singer named Maria Mena who charted and hopefully will again. Her surname is pronounced with a short 'e' or an ay sound.

Mena is enough to stand on it's own. Philomena is a very heavy name to me so I see wanting to modify it. 


September 13, 2018 9:34 PM

Thanks for the reply. Philomena is a very pretty name but it long. I also have a long last name I don‘t want a tounge twister. Something to consider. 

September 9, 2018 10:30 AM

I had a Mina as a HS student a few years back as a nickname for Wilhelmina.  I was pleasantly surprised by the name and nickname.  Mena/Mina/Meena fits in very well style wise with all the Mias, Mayas, Emmas and Emilys.

If I saw the name Mena, I would guess a long E.

September 13, 2018 9:37 PM

Thank you. I actually never hears the name Wilhelmina before. Interesting. I do agree it is kind of an on trend name that actually isn’t common so it’s appealing in that regard. 

September 9, 2018 6:33 PM

I love Philomena (it was on my own lists), but I think Mena is also familiar as a stand-alone name thanks to Mena Suvari (the actress from American Beauty). She’s no longer a household name perhaps, but I think she’d influence people above a certain age to default to the Meena pronunciation.

A really sweet choice, especially given the family history!

September 13, 2018 9:41 PM

Thanks! I know for me I think of Mena Suvari too. I agree with your pronunciation of it though if people think of her. I considered too that some people may confuse it (verbally) with the name Nina? 

September 15, 2018 1:45 AM

I feel like most names have names that they can be misheard as... certainly most short and liquid sounding names do, anyway. So, there are few names that can't be misheard over a bad phone connection or in a noisy background situation. However, the pairing of a more uncommon name with a much more-common sound-alike definitely does invite it happening a little more often - this is the voice of experience, as one of my kids is one vowel sound off from a much more common name. However, I don't think this is really as big a difference in popularity between Nina and M*na as you're thinking: there were 1009 girls born named Nina last year, compared to 409 named Mina, 43 named Meena, 17 Mena, 12 Minah... and also 17 boys named Mina. Nina is more popular, but by a factor of two. Mina is not a wholly unfamiliar name. (For comparison, my kid has a name given to less than 5 kids annually and the soundalike is given to well over 8000 kids.) 

Anyway, I think you might have to emphasize the M or be sure to speak more clearly at the first introduction, but ultimately, even if you sometimes have to repeat yourself, in my experience that's a small price to pay for a meaningful name. It hasn't been a huge bother... and if your coffee says "Nina" on it when you pick it up from the barista it's not the end of the world. 


(If you want a name that's not really capable of being easily misheard, because there aren't really any soundalikes at all, Philomena comes to mind!)

By mk
September 9, 2018 8:21 PM

I like Mena on its own. I don’t consder the different pronunciations to be an issue. They exist because the name exists in several different languages. In most cases they you/she will be saying the name when she is introduced.

September 13, 2018 9:44 PM

I appreciate the input. The more I learn about it the more I realize it can be anywhere from a German name to an Indian name (Meena). It changes my idea on the whole Spanish question. This message board was helpful! 

September 9, 2018 9:54 PM

I have never met a Spanish-speaking Mena (or any other, for that matter). As noted upthread, you will have to guide people's pronunciation, but that's not a big deal and the list of potential alternative pronunciations is short. Go for it! It's a lovely name.

September 24, 2018 3:21 PM

I have also never met a Spanish-speaking Mena. If I saw it in a Spanish context, I would say "May-na," but if I saw it used in an English-speaking country I would definitely try "Meena" first.

September 11, 2018 2:15 PM

I like it, and like the full Philomena, as well. It sounds more ambiguously-Indo-European to me than Spanish.

I will say that if you want the MEE-nuh pronunciation (and aren't going to put a longer form on the birth certificate), I prefer the spelling Mina. I don't know that it's much less ambiguous, but I "see" the anagram "mean" in Mena, and if it's also pronounced that way I think it would be harder not to associate the two.

September 13, 2018 6:23 AM

I would probably have guessed Meh-na or Men-a with that spelling, but since you likened it to Mia, my default was Mee-na. I don’t think it sounds Spanish. It definitely works as a stand-alone or a nickname and I think the family connection is nice.