Scientists reveal most beautiful baby names - and why they're deemed attractive

  • The most beautiful baby names have been revealed, with Sophia topping the girls list and Zayn the boys

  • A linguistics professor from the University of Birmingham analysed hundreds of monikers in the UK and US to discover the most beautiful sounding names

  • The findings can be used to offer some insight into which baby names inspire the most positive reactions in people

  • Read on to look at the top 20 boys and girls names and what makes one name sound better than another

Stock picture of mum and baby after science reveals most beautiful sounding baby names. (Getty Images)
Sound also has a role to play in the choices mums and dads-to-be make when choosing baby names. (Getty Images)

From favourite TV shows to much-loved relatives and the monikers making the most popular lists, there are many things that influence parents when it comes to choosing baby names.

But turns out how the name sounds also has a role to play in the choices mums and dads-to-be make when making their picks.

While it is somewhat subjective which names we like the sound of, turns out there's some actual science behind which names are deemed "beautiful" when spoken out loud.

Linguistics researchers studying iconicity, or sound symbolism have discovered that some words, and therefore some names, sound better to our ears than others.

While these findings aren't universal, they can be used to offer some insight into which baby names inspire the most positive reactions in people.

For the research baby gifting website My 1st Years teamed up with Dr Bodo Winter, Associate Professor of Cognitive Linguistics at the University of Birmingham to analyse hundreds of baby names in the UK and US to discover the most beautiful sounding names.

This research is based on the theory that some words evoke a more positive reaction than others due to the close connection between the sound and meaning of a word along with other sensory aspects such as touch and smell.

Read more: Mum chooses to name baby after coronavirus lockdown: 'For us it was a good time'

Stock picture of a cute baby, after most beautiful baby names list revealed. (Getty Images)
Science has revealed the most beautiful sounding baby names. (Getty Images)

In the UK Zayn topped the list as the most beautiful sounding boys’ name, having shot up the most popular lists over a decade ago thanks to One Direction member Zayn Malik.

Jesse and Charlie followed closely behind, while many of the boys names in the Royal Family were considered beautiful sounding, with Louie, William and George all ranking in the top ten.

Harry narrowly misses the top 10, ranking in 17th spot of the most beautiful sounding boys’ names in the UK.

When it comes to girls’ names science considers beautiful Sophia, Zoe and Rosie headed up the list. Other names ending in the sound ‘ee’, including Sophie, Ivy and Phoebe ranked highly in positions four to six, followed by Violet, Willow, Hannah, and Ellie.

Read more: Most popular baby names of 2021 revealed - and there's a change at the top

So how can principles of linguistics affect the names we choose for our children?

Dr Bodo Winter explains: “There are a lot of things that affect name choice, and several of these have been explored in research. For example, research by Stephanie Shih shows that parents try to avoid choosing first names that would clash with their family names.”

“If your family name starts with ‘S’, such as Scott, Smith, Saunders, or Sullivan, it may be advisable not to have a first name that ends in ‘s’, such as Marcus, Charles, or Nicolas – because the two ‘s’ sounds will blend into each other.

"Shih’s research has used data from Facebook account names to show that there is indeed a small tendency for parents to prefer names without ‘s’ when their last name starts with ‘s’.”

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Dr Winter also referred to a recent paper by Berger and colleagues (2012) that discovered a "surprising result" when looking at 100 years of baby name data.

"They found that when there are major hurricanes in the US, the next generation of babies will be more likely to feature sounds that occur in the name of the hurricane, such as Katie after Hurricane Katrina."

Stock picture of a cute baby. (Getty Images)
Parents are unwittingly picking baby names they think sound beautiful. (Getty Images)

Read more: Distinctive baby name options

While this may seem surprising that people would want their child to be named after a natural disaster, he points out that the names are often mentioned repeatedly in the media.

"This means that we are exposed more to the same sounds, and it is known from psychological research that things that are more familiar to us are generally liked more, a phenomenon known as the “mere exposure effect.”

As a result, the speech sounds contained in hurricane names are actually more likely to crop up in names of the next generation, though importantly not the full name of the hurricanes.

"It should be said, however, that amidst all of these factors, it is easy to overthink naming one’s child and ultimately parents have to choose the name that feels right for them.”

Researchers also noted that there are many other factors at play when it comes to beautiful-sounding baby names such as country, culture, accent, family history, and gender, which all contribute to how nice a name sounds.

Top 10 most beautiful baby girl names

1. Sophia

2. Zoe

3. Rosie

4. Sophie

5. Ivy

6. Phoebe

7. Violet

8. Willow

9. Hannah

10. Ellie

Read more: The most popular baby names of 2022 (so far)

Stock picture of a cute baby. (Getty Images)
What's in a beautiful baby name? (Getty Images)

Top 10 most beautiful baby boy names

1. Zayn

2. Jesse

3. Charlie

4. Louie

5. William

6. Freddie

7. George

8. Ali

9. Daniel

10. Riley