Names That Sound Smart
One of my most vivid memories of writing our very first book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason, is of Linda and me cracking up as we read aloud from our list of what we called Intellectual Power Names. Frances, Ruth, Howard, Norman…
We couldn’t help laughing. We might as well have been making a list of nerd names.
When we reinvented the book as Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana, we abandoned the Intellectual Power names in the book’s Image section to talk more about classic names and unusual names and how those qualities influenced the world’s perception.
And I suppose we felt a bit squeamish about pegging names too closely with qualities like intelligence and attractiveness that have more to do with the person than with his or her name. A Ruby or a Rylee, after all, may easily be every bit as smart as a Ruth.
But sometimes, I see a name and instantly think it sounds intelligent. Makes me expect, if I met that person, that they would be smart — and not just smart, but studious, serious, cultured, intellectual.
So I decided it would be fun to update the Intellectual Power names, Nameberry-style, with a contemporary twist and sensibility.
Many of you may differ with the choices I suggest — and I hope you will. Let us know what names you’d add or subtract.
What names sound smartest to you?
Photo by Alex Ho.
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on November 29th, 2012 at 12:47 am
Your list to me gives off more of a fussy/proper vibe than an intelligent vibe. Of your list I would keep:
on November 29th, 2012 at 12:47 am
on November 29th, 2012 at 12:53 am
Sheldon sounds really smart and kind of geeky to me but that might just be because of the character on The Big Bang Theory.
Sad that Sheldon isn’t on this list.
on November 29th, 2012 at 1:39 am
Spencer. But I love Criminal Minds so…
on November 29th, 2012 at 3:18 am
Apparently I’ve got a smart name – yay! I have to say I haven’t really noticed Annas being stupendously smart in my experience (or very fussy either). They seem more hard-headed to me.
Stella and Lucy both sound intelligent to me, and for boys Henry and Thomas.
on November 29th, 2012 at 4:17 am
For the boys I think Cornelius and Winston take the prize and if you need an extra name then I think that Quentin is your man.
on November 29th, 2012 at 7:52 am
on November 29th, 2012 at 9:19 am
For me, Penelope and Angela sound “nerdy,” and Eugene has to be the ultimate bookish boy name. (I could also add Dexter for either gender.)
on November 29th, 2012 at 10:54 am
I agree with Margaret being on the list, but then of course, I am somewhat biased!
on November 29th, 2012 at 11:27 am
Dexter is one that I immediately thought of. And I am biased, but I chose my sons’ names because they sounded intelligent: Felix and Victor. We tested every name by saying ‘Doctor’ in front of it.
I think most classic names could arguably be on this list, and a lot of fusty/clunky names too.
on November 29th, 2012 at 11:32 am
I always expect a Calvin to be bright.
on November 29th, 2012 at 11:53 am
I always think of these as smart, maybe Bookish is a better description, names:
Elizabeth – nn Libby too
Catherine (not with a “K” though)
just my opinion… and I am sure that there are many more out there. I think the names on this list have more of a classic (and some, Ancient) feel. Literary, not always intelligent.
I’d use a few of these, but not too many.
on November 29th, 2012 at 11:57 am
So basically, all the Nameberry favourites?
A bit biased, are we?
on November 29th, 2012 at 1:04 pm
No to Portia, Honor and Hope.
Add Rosalind, Lillith, Jean.
For Boys I will add Wilson and Albert.
on November 29th, 2012 at 1:21 pm
I want to throw in Esther, Matilda and Deacon.
on November 29th, 2012 at 2:06 pm
I like some of these names. Some don’t seem like the “smart” type names, like Conrad. Of course I met a very dumb Conrad a few years ago and that is why.
on November 29th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
I say “not smart” when I see Portia, Hope, and Winifred. Hope, I believe, is too popular to put a definite label on it. I agree – the names being added to the smart list are Nameberry favorites. But most of the names on the original list definitely say “smart” to me! (Although some scream geezer).
Names I personally see on smart people, mostly because of people I’ve known or met:
Nora, Peyton, Amanda, Misha, Cara, Sarah, Moira, and Rachel; Steven, Liam, Jack, Danny, Anderson, Andrew, and Sam.
on November 29th, 2012 at 4:18 pm
Annas don’t seem very smart to me, maybe just because the only Anna I knew growing up was not the most book-smart… or street-smart. Honor doesn’t seem smart either, even though the word “honor” does. Honor is usually the kid of artsy creative parents (hence creative unique name) and i would expect her to be like that.
on November 29th, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Clark, Seymour, Pervical, Cecil, Francine, Agnes, Gertrude, Lucille
on November 29th, 2012 at 4:32 pm
I would add Graham, Henry, Jasper, Jillian, Jane and Nora.
on November 29th, 2012 at 5:25 pm
Well, We named our daughters Cordelia and Rosamund. What are the odds? Of course, their nicknames (Dilly and Rosy)may not sound so bookish.
on November 29th, 2012 at 7:38 pm
on November 29th, 2012 at 8:09 pm
Is it weird that I right away thought of Scott Pilgrim when I read Gideon and Gordon right beside each other? XD
Also, I think Atticus really should be on here
on November 29th, 2012 at 9:00 pm
For some reason I keep thinking Abbey…but maybe that’s because I watch NCIS. Anna, Alice, Portia, and Hope don’t strike me as “smart” sort of names.
on November 29th, 2012 at 9:49 pm
I definitely agree with most of those names. I love Miriam!
It is funny how popular Beatrice is on here because in my family, it is a swear word. For several years as kids, before my parents caught on, my sisters and I substituted “Beatrice” for the B-word. So, whenever I hear it it is more of a joke to me than anything.
on November 29th, 2012 at 10:16 pm
This reminds me of how much I love Ruth! I am glad to see my oldest son, Paul’s, name on the list.
on November 29th, 2012 at 10:22 pm
I love the boys’ list!
on December 1st, 2012 at 2:22 pm
Add Helen, Claire, Brooke, Leora, Celeste, Stephanie, Sarah, Ingrid, Henry, Charles, Maxwell, Vincent, Isaac and Isaiah to the lists. From the list I’d say Martha, Harriet, Frances, Eleanor and Beatrice sound smartest. I knew an alice that was very far from being an intellectual. She was more practical and popular. I also like suggestions of Howard, Louis and Abraham. I’ve only known smart ones!
on December 5th, 2012 at 9:04 pm
Love this list and post. I care a GREAT DEAL about how intelligent my girls’ names sound. I am a teacher and I usually classify my girls into the “decorative” and “studious” categories based on their names. (I know–feel free to hate on me, but the grades usually back me up.) I was tickled to find two of my three daughter’s names on your list: Miriam and Harriet. I also have a daughter named Emeline and it gives me the same intelligent vibe albeit a little softer at the same time.
As for the boys–for some reason I haven’t found boys much affected by their names, scholastically speaking. Except for Nick. All the Nicks I’ve taught have been utterly charming and “F” students.
I do realize this has much to do with SES and education level of parents.
But . . . I do think there are names that sound smarter than others. I don’t, however, think Cornelius is one of them. I think it sounds like a mischief maker to me. 🙂
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