What’s in a name? According to science, a lot more than you might think!
In reality, we tend to conjure up a lot of images when we hear the name of a person we have yet to meet. Sometimes these associations are good, sometimes they’re bad, but what remains consistent is that we have a hard time explaining where they come from.
Of course, our perceptions of certain names are influenced by media, as well as our own personal experiences—meeting someone with your ex’s name can easily go awry—but there is even more to it. Psychologists who have studied our perception of names believe that we automatically perceive people differently based on their names.
Some names can make you more attractive, some can make you more interesting, and others can have the opposite effect.
Check out our findings below to see what articles have men raving, and which ones might make things a little harder. Spoiler alert: men love exotic names. And no, we can’t all be Anastasias, but while there are a few names that remain somewhat neutral, some are bound to make your dating life a bit harder. If your name is Gertrude, we’ve got sad news for you…
As you go down this list, somewhere along the way you’ll notice that many of the female celebrities that consistently top “attractive people” lists happen to have names that scientists believe most of us find attractive. While this may prompt a cultural chicken and egg question, we’d argue that many of these names are somehow inherently attractive.
According to Live Science, Scarlett benefits from the double “t” present at the end.
Apparently, we’re attracted to double letters in a name. This notion may seen odd initially, but when you consider how the pronunciation of Scarlett differs when you think of two t’s instead of one, you do have to linger on that last sound in a way that hints at desire.
Alessandra is also blessed with double letters, but Live Science reports that there’s a lot more to this name that makes it exciting. First off, there’s the Greek origin, which ties into the fact that it’s foreign and therefore exciting. It’s almost as if Alessandra Ambrosio was destined to be a supermodel with a name like that because most of us imagine a foreign model when we hear her first name. Furthermore, the name happens to end with an “a,” which is apparently also considered appealing. The reasoning behind men’s attraction to that last “a” is unclear, but we think it adds an air of femininity, so perhaps that’s got something to do with it.
We think there are a lot of benefits that come with having an uncommon name. Most obvious is that it limits the chances of your name having been ruined by a not-so-pleasant person who shares it. Another is because it automatically adds to the mystery factor since people then have nothing to associate it with. Serayah certainly benefits from these advantages. Who knows more than one Serayah? Certainly not us. Serayah also benefits from having a certain smoothness of flow to it.
Live Science also reports that names with lots of vowels and a lyrical element are considered more attractive these days.
So the association with the beautiful Disney Princess certainly helps here, which brings us back to that pesky chicken and egg question. However, there is also the “a” ending that we’ve mentioned before which helps with the appeal of this name. It also has a lot of vowels and avoids feeling “clunky.” Aurora is basically the antithesis to Gertrude; “Today’s style in names is very light, full of vowels, very smooth,” says naming expert Laura Wattenberg. Whereas the double consonants in the name Gertrude make it sound very heavy, Aurora is opened up by the minimal use of consonants. In hindsight, it’s probably why the name was chosen for a Disney Princess.
Sophie is short and simple. So why is it so exciting?
While many names on this list benefit from a mysterious foreign element, Sophie has a certain girl-next-door quality.
We imagine most guys picture their older sister’s friend, a few grades above them in high school, always friendly and effortlessly pretty. Sophie lends itself to a schoolboy crush, and we imagine there are a lot of schoolboys with a crush on Sophie Turner. Rebel Circus cites it as a name that conveys attractiveness (the male equivalent would be something like Ryan). Both names are short and simple, not unusual in away way, and therefore conveying attractiveness in a way that feels very easy.
The name Leighton has a lot of things going for it. First off, it can be either a boy’s or a girl’s name. Second, it’s considered a musical name according to Biz Journals. Creative names add an air of excitement to their owners; they’re less likely to be accountants, we’d argue. We’ve never met anyone, man or woman, who wasn’t at least a little into the idea of dating a musician. Not only was the name Leighton considered appealing by users of Baby Names Wizard, but it also rated highly in terms of sophistication, creativity, and intelligence. Leighton Meester was practically destined for success with a name like that.
We know, it’s kinda hard to keep up with what men find appealing. They apparently like names that end with an “a” because of the way it hints at femininity, but they also like names that sound somewhat masculine.
We imagine that when men hear the name Sloan, they think of a woman who will sit back and watch the game with them while enjoying a cold drink.
She’d be more like a laid-back tomboy than a glamorous foreign beauty. Now, we do believe people live out their names to a certain extent, but we’re not saying that Sloan is guaranteed to turn out the way men imagine her. Nevertheless, if you’re judging someone based on their name, it’s pretty much expected that you’d take some liberties based on your own preconceptions.
Nicolette just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Uncommon enough to be special, yet easy to say, and graceful in an unexpected way. It’s like Nicole got an automatic upgrade. “A double letter was rated more enticing than a single letter. It’s unclear why that was the case,” said Laura Wattenberg, name expert and founder of a popular site for name ideas. Her site asks thousands of visitors to rate names and their research led to a lot of interesting finds. Because of the way their study was conducted, people were able to compare the same name with different spellings. For example, Adrianna was rated higher than Adriana, once again supporting our love of double letters. This sort of explains why Nicolette is considered so much more exciting than Nicole. Amazing what a difference a few letters make!
We’ve established that double letters are sensual and that no one seems to really know the why behind it. Well, let’s introduce you to another theory.
Wattenberg suggested this, “the added length may lend it more elegance…or maybe a pair of double L’s or T’s look like a pair of long legs.”
It’s wild to think of all the mysterious connections our brain makes between names and people, considering the fact that any name could belong to anyone in theory. Still, many of these associations prove to be right more often than one would think. Model Molly Sims is 5’10, and even Nicolette Sheridan is above average height at 5’7. Looking at the picture of Molly above, we doubt anyone would contest to the association of elegance and long legs with her name.
Natalia has all the classic tells of what is set out to be considered an attractive name: the “a” ending, the balanced vowel to consonant ratio, and the exotic nature. As you may have noticed, many names on this list are in some ways an exoticized version of certain English names. Natalia is to Natalie what Nicolette is to Nicole. The reality is that the differences that separate “average” names from “exciting” ones are subtle and seemingly inconsequential adjustments. If you ever feel like spicing up your life by creating a romantic alter ego, there’s a good chance that all you’ll ready need is to add a single letter to your name. Talk about an instant makeover.
She’s famous enough that she can be referred to with simply her first name. So, there’s a good chance that when men rate the name Naomi as attractive, it’s partially because they’re thinking about the supermodel Naomi Campbell. There are some other theories as to why the name is well liked by men, however.
Jennifer Moss, founder of Babynames.com says that “Names that end with an ‘eee‘ sound are diminutive and are associated with nicknames or child-like names. Men might conceive women with these names to be petite, which makes them feel more macho.”
This certainly wouldn’t be true in Naomi Campbell’s case, and anyway, we hope this reasoning isn’t true because it’s a little weird, but stranger things have certainly happened.
Shorter names are considered appealing by many men. Sasha is short and simple, but also uncommon enough to be special. Beyonce chose to name her alter ego Sasha Fierce, which pretty much confirms it’s appealing/fun/elusive nature. Not that there’s much approval necessary after the Beyhive’s stamp of acceptance, but according to Baby NameWizard, the name has meaningful associations with everything from “defender of mankind” to “the moon,” and “fortune.” Not only is the name fun and flirty, but it also has power behind it thanks to its etymology. It pretty much has all the qualities necessary to make the perfect name.
Few people would contest to Amber Rose’s good looks. At this point, you may argue that it’s not names that make people appealing, but rather attractive people making average names more appealing. However, the Rebel Circus cites that it found this to be untrue; “Instudy, volunteers were shown pictures of the same attractive person, but with different names. In terms of [allure], more participants ultimately nominated the more attractive name, despite the picture being the same.”
So there you have it, perhaps we wouldn’t find Amber Rose as gorgeous if she had a different name.
It’s hard to imagine though, so maybe she’s just the exception!
If ever there was a name hinting that the owner is hot, it’d have to be Sahara. The obvious association that makes this name attractive is the heat of the desert. The name has a good flow to it, so it maintains the lyrical quality of many of the most popular female names amongst men. Sahara also possesses an exotic quality for native English speakers. Despite the association with the desert, “Sahara” actually means dawn. We’d say that this is just another win for the name. Though they have to deal with occasionally being called Sarah or Sandra, the few people on Baby Name Wizard with the name love it. We would too!
When one thinks of Chanel, many of us think of the brand. This inspires visions of classic, expensive, and foreign luxury.
Chanel is also a name, and any woman with it has the advantage of being associated with the same ideals the brand is.
Wattenberg explains that “Exotic names have an element of fantasy. These are the names that get chosen for lingerie brands, for instance, or for perfumes.” Once you start to think about it, many brands targeted towards women capitalize on these naming patterns. Imagine if Chanel was instead called Bertha. The brand probably would not have had the same longevity that it’s enjoyed.
Yahoo cited Lexi as a “no-brainer” on a list of attractive names (it rhymes with a certain word we know well…). This connection is interesting for a lot of reasons. Sometimes words sound like the thing they describe, which tells us there’s something inherently appealing about that “exi” sound. It turns out that x’s are kinda enticing. Something about how unusual the letter is, and how it alludes to something that’s off-limits, inspires intrigue. Though sometimes a name in itself, Lexi is also a popular nickname for a lot of people named Alexandra. Men are also apparently into names that sound like nicknames.
Spelling makes a big difference in the perception of names, interestingly enough. Juliana is a fine enough name, but Guliana is suddenly more exciting and exotic.
This is because many of these names are being looked at from the perspective of English speakers.
Wattenberg noted that her site has a mostly English speaking base. She explained that Americans “still have the image of the Latin lover. These names are Italian and French and Spanish. You can even go Russian…” It’s unsurprising that what many English speakers (especially Americans) consider attractive is names that hint at a Western European heritage since there is still a romanticized notion of what Europe is among this audience.
Emma is often rated high in niceness and approachability. Though it may seem like too common of a name to make the list of what’s considered “attractive,” it gains advantage from having the same girl-next-door factor that Sophie does. There’s a good chance that men who rate the name highly have met an Emma that they liked at some point in their lives. Emma Watson is just one example of the celebrities with the name who a lot of guys think of as a “dream girl.” You’ve also got Emma Stone, Emma Roberts, and Emma Thompson. Clearly, there are a lot of crushworthy Emmas out there!
Let’s break down all the reasons Ariana is an attractive name: it ends with an “a,” it sounds exotic, it has more vowels than consonants, and it can be shortened with a lot of great nicknames like Ari.
It falls into the same family as names like Adrianna and Alessandra, so it’s perfectly fitting for a supermodel.
While Ariana Grande isn’t technically a model, she has performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, and the career she’s rocking isn’t too shabby either. Ariana can also be spelled with two N’s, which as we know, would only help to elevate its appeal. Not that Ariana needs that!
Like a lot of names on this list, Antoinette is smooth, uncommon, and somewhat romantic. By now, you are basically name experts, so you know the double letters and sparsity of consonants contribute a lot to its overall appeal. As we’ve determined, there’s a lot that goes into a name’s allure factor. “We’re all attracted to ourselves,” says Rebel Circus. They explain a phenomenon that psychologist Brett Phelman describes as “implicit egotism,” which leads many of us to be attracted to names that are somewhat similar to ours. It’s interesting to keep in mind as you observe what names you find most attractive. It offers an explanation as to why the female names women find appealing are not necessarily the same ones that men do.