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.

girls

Alice

Anna

Beatrice

Claudia

Constance

Cordelia

Edith

Eleanor

Frances

Harriet

Honor

Hope

Imogen

Josephine

Judith

Louise

Lydia

Margaret

Martha

Miriam

Portia

Rosamund

Ruth

Theodora

Winifred

boys

Abraham

Arthur

Augustus

Charles

Conrad

Cornelius

Edmund

Gideon

Gordon

Howard

Hugh

Leopold

Louis

Martin

Paul

Phillip

Solomon

Theodore

Truman

Walter

Winston

What names sound smartest to you?

Photo by Alex Ho.

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29 Responses to “Names That Sound Smart”

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coolcat33 Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 12:47 am

My additions:
Elizabeth
Victoria
Veronica
Caroline
Laura
***
Spencer
Alexander
Emerson
John
Ethan

Your list to me gives off more of a fussy/proper vibe than an intelligent vibe. Of your list I would keep:
Alice
Margaret
Miriam
Ruth
***
Abraham
Arthur
Paul
Walter

namelover77 Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 12:47 am

I love…

Constance
Miriam
Ruth
Theodora

Charles
Hugh
Louis

NellieDellie Says:

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.

Noetje Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 1:39 am

Spencer. But I love Criminal Minds so…

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

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.

rollo Says:

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.

OhioM Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 7:52 am

Felix!

dresdendoll Says:

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.)

maggiemary Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 10:54 am

I agree with Margaret being on the list, but then of course, I am somewhat biased!

little_cupcake Says:

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.

Missmolly Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 11:32 am

I always expect a Calvin to be bright.

GrecianErn Says:

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
Julia
Anna
Hermione
Catherine (not with a “K” though)
Jane

Henry
Thomas
Edward
Spencer
Sheldon
Isaiah

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.

OliviaSarah Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 11:57 am

So basically, all the Nameberry favourites?

A bit biased, are we?

AshleyLouisa Says:

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.

NameNerdia Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I want to throw in Esther, Matilda and Deacon.

Mara_lyn86 Says:

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.

little.lottie710 Says:

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.

Lea Says:

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.

dresdendoll Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Clark, Seymour, Pervical, Cecil, Francine, Agnes, Gertrude, Lucille

jpruitt76 Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I would add Graham, Henry, Jasper, Jillian, Jane and Nora.

Analea Says:

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.

Madi13 Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Timothy. 🙂

ImpossibleDream91 Says:

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

Gwen5 Says:

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.

dayjoysky2815 Says:

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.

Lo Says:

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.

encore Says:

November 29th, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I love the boys’ list!

mayday_fridaybabe Says:

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!

nativoyoung Says:

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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