A new study has revealed the most beautiful-sounding baby names according to linguistics, and one Irish name was voted in the top five.
Deriving from the Irish name Raghallach or surname O’Reilly, the given name Riley has been ranked one of the most beautiful sounding names according to a linguistics study.
My 1st Years, a British baby brand, has partnered with Dr Bodo Winter, an Associate Professor of Cognitive Linguistics from the University of Birmingham, to find the most beautiful sounding names in the US and the UK.
The research is all based on the theories of linguistics and which names literally sound the most pleasant compared to others.
The research – how the results were conducted
According to Dr Winter, “The science is based on sound symbolism, which is the idea that some words sound better than others based on the resemblance between the sound of a word and its meaning”.
Hundreds of baby names were analysed from both the UK and the United States to discover which were the most pleasing. The study found that names with a hard ‘e’ sound fared the best.
They said, “Using an exciting piece of sound symbolism research from Adelman et al. (2018) as a starting point, we scored a number of the world’s most popular baby names in order to rank them.
“The names that ranked the most highly, provoked the most positive emotions when spoken out loud and therefore are likely to sound most beautiful to the human ear”.
The Irish name Riley – where it comes from
The name Riley came from the Irish surname O’Raghallach, or Raghallach, which was formed by two Irish words, ‘ragh’, meaning ‘race’ and ‘ceallach’, meaning sociable. The surname seems to mean ‘valiant’.
Another meaning of the name comes from the Old English words ‘rye’ and ‘leah’, meaning wood, clearing, or meadow.
The anglicised version of the name is O’Reilly, which is a very popular surname in Ireland and around the world, as well as its variants.
Thus, the forename Riley was born. Every year in the US, Riley tends to be in the top 30 names for girls, while it’s less popular for boys.
It peaked in popularity in 2016 following the 2015 Disney/Pixar movie Inside Out, as the main female character was named Riley.
Names ranked the most scientifically beautiful – they varied across the UK and US
The most ‘scientifically’ beautiful names varied across the UK and the United States. For example, the top five girls’ names in the UK are Sophia, Zoe, Rosie, Sophie, and Ivy.
For boys, the top five names in the UK are Zayn, Jesse, Charlie, Louie, and William. However, while some of the names remained the same in the US statistics, not all did.
For boys in the States, the top five names are Matthew, Julian, William, Isaiah, and Leo. For girls, it’s Sophia, Zoe, Everly, Sophie, and Riley.
You can read the full study on the most ‘scientifically’ beautiful names across the UK and the US here.