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How do you find cool names for your side projects?

Robin Kretzschmar
Started coding at the age of 13, now a professional software engineer and Scrum Master, creating and maintaining enterprise solutions. Eat - Sleep - Code - Lift - Repeat πŸ’ͺ🏾
・1 min read

Having side projects is fun and sometimes one of them will even be launched and used by a large crowd.

Often times it starts with an idea and the name for the project will come based on a set of features, a target market or some other aspects.

But sometimes the idea is there but coming up with a name for it is hard - I'm sure everyone knows the struggle.

How do you find cool names / codenames for your projects?

Any resources / generators you use?
A specific strategy to find a name?

Discussion (20)

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hasnaindev profile image
Muhammad Hasnain

This has to be one of the most difficult tasks that I face. I often think that the names I come up with are stupid, makes no sense ETC. Look at YouTube and Facebook, if these platforms didn't exist, no one would care about these names, in fact, they sound a little silly if not stupid.

Think of "tailwind," a word which has nothing to do with web development but we have a CSS framework. Blackberry and Apple, meh. Shopify? I absolutely hate nothing more then people post-fixing things with "ify". I understand that there are philosophies and meaning behind these names but my point is that don't sweat it.

Use words from your own native language that are meaningful to you. Choose words from other languages. People DON'T have to understand the names. However, keep in mind that bad names do exist.

For instance, an Asian restaurant that was named, "Fuk Mi." A website named and had the same domain of, "Choose Spain" (Sounds like choose pain, lmao) and a Swedish toilet paper company that named their toilet papers in Swedish called "Krap."

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

Thank you so much for this, I didn't know those brand names existed :D

Absolutely valuable advice that it does not has to make sense

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ablx profile image
Mirco

Or the ikea children’s bed β€žGutvikβ€œ which sounds like β€žgood f**kβ€œ in german ...

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

yeah as a german myself I already saw some crazy Ikea names too :D

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InHuOfficial • Edited

It is interesting to see people saying that a lot of the big names do not make sense.

Google - from Googol (10,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000.) - they want to index the whole internet, have huge amounts of information, the parallels make perfect sense. I mean, it makes a whole lot more sense than their original name for it: "BackRub" (yes we could have potentially been saying "let me just backrub that!")

YouTube - TV used to be called "the tube" as a lot were rear-projection using a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) - so "You Tube" is basically "Your Tube" or "your own TV channel".

Tailwind - I might not like it but the name is great, a tailwind when flying a plane gives you a "push" in the right direction so you get there faster and with less fuel (effort).

Facebook - originally called "The facebook" - this is what US college campus used to call the college directory, which had a list of students with their faces on it....makes sense really. Especially as it was a University / College only website for the first few years.

Apple - the story goes that Steve Jobs really likes Apples and came up with the name with Woz on the way back from "Apple Orchard". Personally I think that is the fairy tale "nice story" they tell people.

In reality I think it was called that as at the time businesses used to look up contact information in a paper based directory which was alphabetised, so "Apple" would be near the front under computers, whereas "Zefcon" would be near the end.

Amazon - even if I am wrong on Apple's origin, Amazon was simply Bezos getting a dictionary, starting at the letter "A" and looking for a word he liked.

Shopify - I mean, this name is just brilliant when you think about it. "ify" is to "'to become, or to make someone or something become, something" and "shop" is well, shop! So "Make your website a shop" is essentially in the name. It sounds dumb, but it does exactly what it says on the tin!

Does a name matter?

Yes and no.

You can build a brand around any name (my business I am working on launching is called "InHu", it makes no sense to anyone but me.)

However I also have the long form of my business name "Inclusivity Hub" which certainly does give you a good idea about what we are working on.

I would say a name counts for 1-2% of your success, learning how to market your service or product, learning to put a large chunk of your revenue aside for paid marketing or content creation etc. are far more important.

Coming up with a name

businessnamegenerator.com/

Just put the general area you are working in into that and just look at the results.

Then look at if there are any nice combinations, words you can combine, or words that you like the meaning of that you can then look up with a thesaurus to find alternatives. Eventually you will settle on something that grabs you.

And if all else fails just call it "RoKr" (Robin Kretzshmar) - that seems like a pretty good name out of the gate!

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hasnaindev profile image
Muhammad Hasnain

You absolutely prove my point. Steve Jobs liked apples, same goes for Bezos. Mark named it after a college directory. "Shopify" again makes no sense as it is not an actual word, although I agree that it is a good name.

These names again don't make "sense." It doesn't mean that people don't understand what the words mean. I know what apples are and what amazon is but if I was naming my business amazon because the actual one didn't exist, I would question myself and think my name is stupid because it isn't cool or makes sense.

The business you are launching called, "InHu," honestly does not make sense to me. But it does to you and that's all that matters. People don't have to understand it and it does not have to make any sense to them, that's the point.

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

Thanks for taking the time to write this comment!
You mentioned good examples here and to be honest I wasn't aware of most of the reasons behind those names.

Building a brand around a name, learning how to present and market it and to scale it is the best advice to me.

A small bonus for me was that you mentioned thesaurus because that is something I always have in mind but can't remember what it's called when I need it :D

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Yair Even Or • Edited

The question is wrong and should be: "How do you get creative?"

Creativity is a talent one is born with, and hard to develop IMHO.

If you are not gifted with it, simply ask others who are for bright ideas

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Bruce Axtens

Another technique is to use the scripting language's extension work for you. I'm doing Wren exercises over on exercism.io (I may make mention of that on tomorrow's broadcast at twitch.tv/axtens_b) and it has occurred to me that there's some fun to be had given that Wren script files have an extension of .wren. So look out for chopped.wren, fried.wren, tossed.wren, chilled.wren ... umm ... disassembled.wren ...

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Bruce Axtens

For a while there I was using lichen species. Now I use Anglicisations of Urdu words (seeing as I've got a fair grasp of Urdu). So a searching tool I wrote is called Talaash.

I also speak Tok Pisin. I might call a file deletion tool Bagarapim or Tromoiim (the infinitive of /destroy/ and /throw away/ respectively)

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Brian B.

Let's see, I have PC Specification Checker, Reddit Scrapper, Game v.0.1, hell I have ten projects named python_project. If it ever became important, I think I'd have to write a script and have the project name itself, lol.

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

Yeah I have some of those too in the form of language_purpose. It's easier to find what you search for, but a codename would look way cooler

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Rahul Shaw

Name doesn't matter. For example lets just take Google. The name is pretty stupid if you read it before knowing its success. Name doesn't makes the product good. Product makes the name good.

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

I agree in a way, but when it comes to marketing of a product it matter again. But even before that you need to have at least a codename and sometimes it is even hard to come up with an internal codename :)

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Saurabh Sharma • Edited
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Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited

Talk it through with a couple of friends and the brain storming will come naturally

That's also what I do with title for blog posts on DEV

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

Good point, collective intelligence is most efficient

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Vicente G. Reyes

Ritlato - this was supposed to be my photo dump site but I got bored of it. Ritlato is a witty name for Litrato, which means photo in Filipino. πŸ˜„

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Vaibhav Acharya

I use namelix.com
It just works.

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Sanzeeb Aryal • Edited

For one of my side projects, I used a fun and cool name "Come Back!". "Come Back!" sends an automatic email notification to inactive customers: wordpress.org/plugins/come-back/