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QWERTY Effect: Your Keyboard Picks Your Favorite Baby Names

July 2, 2020 Sophie Kihm
qwerty effect baby names

The QWERTY effect, which shows that words containing more letters from the right side of the keyboard are rated more positively than those with more from the left, extends to baby names as well, according to a University of Chicago study.  So hello, Emily, Poppy, and Milo; bye bye, Warren and Cass.

So says a study by the University of Chicago psychologist Daniel Casasanto. Cassanto and colleagues used Social Security Administration data on names that had been given to 100 children or more from 1960-2012.

The researchers found that baby names with a larger proportion of letters on the right side of the keyboard increased in use in the post-QWERTY era, defined as 1990 on. Additionally, invented names that were created after 1990 use more letters from the right side of the keyboard than names that were already in use prior to 1990.

A report on the study in Motherly suggests that lefties preferred names with a larger ratio of letters on the left side of the keyboard. However, the study showed that in this computer-focused era, both right- and left-handed people prefer baby names that come from letters on the right side of the keyboard.

The researchers hypothesized that the QWERTY effect in left-handed people exists due to the lefty experience of adapting to a right-handed world. Lefties live in a social environment that strongly values right over left. In English, to be “right” is to be correct or good. Society at large favors the right, and left-handed people may have carried over the right-side advantage that exists with language to their keyboards, and now, their baby names.

A University of Chicago graph of the percentage of babies given names that start with each letter shows that names beginning with left-side letters D, F, R, and W have been trending sharply downward over the past several decades. On the other hand, names beginning with right-keyboard letters H, J, K, L, N and even P are on the rise or holding steady.

However, the overall popularity of names beginning with vowels somewhat upsets the theory. The steepest rise in popularity goes to names beginning with the letter A, which occupies the far left side of the keyboard, followed by E, also a left-side name.

But the most newly-popular of those vowel-starting names may contain more letters in the middle from the right side of the keyboard, as in Amelia, say, or Emily.

The following baby names have a strong right-side advantage:

QWERTY Effect Baby Names for Girls 

Annika

Blythe

Emily

Fiona

Ginny

Jill

Holly

Hope

Imani

Imogen

Josephine

Juniper

Khloe

Kimora

Kinsley

Kylie

Lennon

Lilah

Lily

Lucy

Luna

Mila

Minnie

Molly

Naomi

Noelle

Nola

Nora

Nova

Olivia

Opal

Ophelia

Penelope

Philomena

Piper

Plum

Polly

Poppy

Quinn

Shiloh

Simone

Sophie

Tilly

Tinley

Unity

QWERTY Effect Baby Names for Boys

Apollo

Billy

Bishop

Callum

Dillon

Dominik

Elijah

Emilio

Jakai

Jimeno

Joel

John

Jonah

Julian

Julio

Khalil

Killian

King

Lincoln

Louis

Luke

Malik

Manuelo

Maximo

Milan

Miller

Milo

Nikolai

Noah

Nolan

Paul

Phillip

Phoenix

Solomon

Sully

William

Wilson

About the author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.

View all of Sophie Kihm's articles

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