Survey Reveals Friendliest Baby Names
The third in a series of reports based on exclusive user ratings of names.
There's power in friendliness. A cheerful, approachable manner can open doors, make friends, and earn people's trust. Politicians know this -- you can see it in the way they campaign under friendly nicknames rather than their full, formal names.
What makes a name sound friendly? Tens of thousands of BabyNameWizard.com visitors have rated names on friendliness, and their judgment couldn't be clearer. The friendliest names quite literally make you smile. Take a look:
Kelly-Kiley-Carly-Cory-Casey-Kelsie-Kaley! The trend isn't hard to spot, but the elements of friendliness these names point to go well beyond the letters K & Y.
A bright palette. The friendly names feature bright, crisp sounds -- the auditory equivalent of primary colors. Just like bright colors, they project a straightforward cheer that attracts people.
Short and sweet. The average name on the list is just five letters and two syllables. Of the traditional names on the list, most are nicknames.
The shape of a smile. Try saying KileyKaleyCasey aloud, and you'll find that your face ends up in a grin. Maybe photographers should use that in place of "cheese"?
Fresh and new. The names rated sexiest and most sophisticated were steadfastly traditional. The friendliest name list, though, is full of contemporary creations, especially on the girls' side. For friendliness, the name's shape and sound seem to count for more than its cultural connections.
Cuddle up. The smiley -y ending is the English fond diminutive, the way we indicate affection or call something cuddly and adorable. That ending dominates the lists for both boys and girls, nicknames and full names alike. (Note that Ricky and Joey were rated super-friendly, not Rick and Joe.) Cuteness is disarming, approachable, and yes, friendly.
So long, sophisticates. This recipe for friendliness is the virtual opposite of the style trend we found for sophisticated names. It's a good reminder that no name can hit every target.
While the most-friendly lists have a lot in common for boys and girls, the least-friendly names take very different directions. The boys' names emanate danger: Vlad the Impaler, Death Eater Lucius Malfoy, Spartan Warrior King Leonidas, Undead Avenger Draven (The Crow). None of them have ever been very common as English names, and the combination of exoticism and threat is their unfriendly hallmark.
Some of the girls' names, in contrast, are merely old. Names like Bertha and Gertrude were major hits of generations past. Even the fictional characters who are strongly linked to names on the list, like Harry Potter's Professor Minerva McGonagall and Frasier's Dr. Lilith Sternin, are just stern and severe, not murderous. Do we really find a stern old woman as unapproachable as a raging, sword-wielding man?
Methodology Notes: Ratings were submitted by tens of thousands of BabyNameWizard.com visitors over the couse of five years, rating names they chose to visit on a scale of 1-100. Rankings are based on names rated by a minimum of 150 users. Alternate spellings may be dropped from lists to avoid repetition. Rare names (outside the current top 1,500 for boys and girls and no apperances in the top 500 in the past century) are excluded as they are easily dominated by a particular character, e.g. Sherlock or Bellatrix.