Sunday, May 2

Posted by Laurel Garver on Sunday, May 02, 2010 11 comments
Results time, friends! Thanks to everyone who posted their name requests on Friday.

Below are descriptions from The Baby Name Personality Survey by Bruce Lansky and Barry Sinrod (New York: Meadowbrook Press, 1990). The authors surveyed 150,000 people from across the nation and asked their impressions and expectations of image, personality and appearance for 1,400 names.

These are heavily influenced by popular culture, so keep in mind the book is 20 years old.

For Nicole:
Julie (Latin) "youthful"; a form of Julius
The name Julie calls to mind a tall, quiet woman who is pleasant and average.

For Miss V:
Faith (Middle English) "fidelity"
People picture Faith as a petite, blonde, highly religious woman who is trustworthy, gentle, shy and quiet.

For Janet:
Bob a short from of Robert [(Old English) "Bright fame"]
Most people consider Bob an All-American good guy -- tall, easygoing, friendly, confident and successful. To some, Bob is studious, quiet and boring. Others describe him as lazy, selfish and whiny.

For Bish:
Marvin (Old English) "Lover of the sea"
Most people picture Marvin as a pleasant, middle-aged, skinny, bespectacled musician.

For Kristi:
Moira (Irish Gaelic) "great"
The name Moira evokes an image of a plain woman with thick glasses who is religious, quiet and reserved.

For Lola:
Lola a from of Dolores [(Spanish) "sorrows"]
Lola is described as a sexy Latin woman who is pleasant but loose.
(they used a meaner word :-( Sorry!!!)

For Talli:
Matilda (Old German) "powerful in battle"
Matilda is thought to be a big, heavy, old spinster who is bossy. Some also think it would be a great name for a witch.

For Rosslyn:
Rosalyn (Spanish) "beautiful rose"
There are two images for this name: happy, energetic and classy like Rosalind Russell or quiet, Southern, businesslike and strong-willed like Rosalynn Carter.

Brooke (Old English) "from the brook"
Brooke is described as a rich, sexy sophisticate who is superficial and stuck up.

On Monday, I'll post the next batch of results. Stay tuned!

Do you agree or disagree with any of these popular conceptions of name images? Do you think in the 20 years since the book was published any of the images have changed significantly? How so? Discuss!


  1. That's really interesting. I found myself agreeing on a couple points, either physical characteristics or personality traits but rarely with the whole spiel.

    Looking forward to Round 2. Thanks for doing this!

  2. This was fun. The images the book created for the names was pretty funny.

    Especially Talli, and Lola. These two women are nothing like that book says! I know perceptions change in 20 years but isn't it funny to look back.

  3. This is such a neat idea! I look forward to reading the next round.

  4. I agree that this was really interesting. I do like a story that uses a name placing an image in the readers mind that is actually completely opposite of the charcter. However, many 'old' names assoiciated with 'nerd' are now very popular with 'cool' like Harry and Edward. I look foward to part 2!

  5. This was fun indeed! :)

    Thanks for the fun post.

    Enjoy your Sunday.
    Loose Lola ;)

  6. So interesting! I love that 'Bob' hits all ends of the spectrum. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

  7. Thanks! Very interesting. I think many of the conceptions remain the same. (I'd like a copy of that book.)

  8. Yikes! I have very different pictures of some of these (I'm looking at you Lola!) in my mind. I think most of mine tend to match kids I've taught :)

  9. This was fun. Some were as I was thinking, others not as much. I associate many names with people I know or characters I've read about.

  10. Miss V: I know what you mean. I know several gals named Faith, and none of them are blonde! But these were survey results the authors had to compile into dominant answers.

    Anne: It is funny to look back. I have a Theo in my book, and this guide describes the name based on the Cosby Show character. Do teens today have any knowledge of that show?

    Shelly: it has been fun. I can't tell you how many expectant moms have borrowed the book over the years I've had it.

    Lynn: trends change as far as what sounds musical from one generation to the next. The old-fashioned names have had a huge upsurge. I think Matilda has definitely become trendy among the educated urban set. I hear it on playgrounds in Philly in the posh neighborhoods.

  11. Lola: I cringed as I typed and decided to censor a little. Thanks for taking that in stride! All of us blog buddies agree about pleasant and of course sexy!! LOL.

    Janet: There are a handful of names for which the survey got two or three equally dominant images. Bob was such a ubiquitous name back in 1990, everyone knew several Bobs in real life that formed their mental pictures.

    Bish: I have no idea if it's still in print or if it's been updated. I think of Marvin as a guy who was picked on a lot as a kid but hits his stride in his 50s--loves jazz, good food and nice cars. The "fun uncle" kind of guy.

    Jemi: Many of the survey results definitely reflect popular film starts, TV characters, public figures as shaping a name's image.

    Karen: our own experiences shape expectation as much as pop culture does.