The 50 Most Beautiful Baby Names, According to Science

Naming a baby is a science.
Naming a baby is a science. / Jamie Grill/Tetra images via Getty Images

Naming a baby is one of the most fraught experiences of parenthood. Whatever handle you give your kid, they’re likely to be saddled with it for the rest of their lives. So why not rely on science for an objective look at what names sound best to the ear?

Baby gifting site My 1st Years recently commissioned a study led by Bodo Winter, associate professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of Birmingham, to examine which popular baby names in the United States are most pleasing to hear. Here’s the list, with methodology explained below.

Boys’ Names

  1. Matthew
  2. Julian
  3. William
  4. Isaiah
  5. Leo
  6. Levi
  7. Joseph
  8. Theo
  9. Isaac
  10. Samuel
  11. Miles
  12. James
  13. Elijah
  14. Luke
  15. Noah
  16. Santiago
  17. Owen
  18. Logan
  19. Liam
  20. Roman
  21. Ryan
  22. Cooper
  23. Jack
  24. Maverick
  25. Anthony
  26. Ezekiel
  27. Carter
  28. Benjamin
  29. Lucas
  30. Henry
  31. Jacob
  32. Lincoln
  33. Mason
  34. Nathan
  35. Asher
  36. Jackson
  37. Andrew
  38. Cameron
  39. Alexander
  40. Theodore
  41. Adam
  42. Gabriel
  43. Kingston
  44. Daniel
  45. David
  46. Hunter
  47. Dylan
  48. Muhammad
  49. Sebastian
  50. Adrian

More Articles About Baby Names:


Girls’ Names

  1. Sophia
  2. Zoe
  3. Everly
  4. Sophie
  5. Riley
  6. Ivy
  7. Paisley
  8. Willow
  9. Ellie
  10. Emily
  11. Evelyn
  12. Eva
  13. Elena
  14. Chloe
  15. Nova
  16. Penelope
  17. Lucy
  18. Lily
  19. Olivia
  20. Naomi
  21. Emma
  22. Natalie
  23. Sofia
  24. Eleanor
  25. Violet
  26. Bella
  27. Luna
  28. Ella
  29. Victoria
  30. Isabella
  31. Maya
  32. Natalia
  33. Amelia
  34. Savannah
  35. Charlotte
  36. Stella
  37. Hazel
  38. Athena
  39. Maria
  40. Autumn
  41. Kennedy
  42. Aurora
  43. Alice
  44. Aria
  45. Harper
  46. Serenity
  47. Nora
  48. Grace
  49. Elizabeth
  50. Hannah

How can science evaluate whether a name is “pleasant”? This study builds on research conducted by James Adelman and colleagues at the University of Warwick in 2018 [PDF] on the emotional valence (degree of pleasantness) of words by examining phonemes, or units of sound in a word. A pleasing phoneme at the beginning of a word (or name), for example, can signal positivity to the listener.

Baby names were broken down phonetically and then evaluated using Adelman’s table to come up with a valence score for each phoneme in the name. The higher the score, the more pleasing it may sound.

Naturally, naming babies is still a deeply personal exercise, and you may disagree with linguistics on certain matters. Sophia might indeed be a nice name, but not if your last name is Adams—the two As at the end of the first name and beginning of the last will blend together.  

If you prefer originality over phonetic appeal, you can always grab one of the least popular baby names from over a century ago. Parthenia may not stand up to scientific scrutiny, but it’s memorable.

[h/t My 1st Years]