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Random name generator based on US Census data



Namey is a ruby gem for auto-generating names. It uses the US Census Bureau database of first and last names to generate random names. Since the database itself specifies the frequency of each name, you can get specify whether you want a common name, rare name, etc.

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Using namey is pretty straightforward.

require 'namey'
@generator =
 => "Maria Fisher" 

Or, to get a particular frequency level, try one of these:
 => "Michael Thomas"
 => "Deangelo Jotblad"
 => "Emanuel Boddorf" 

You can also specify male or female to stick to one gender:

 => "David Gonzales" 
 => "Sharon Richardson" 

=> "Son Plude" 

=> "Blossom VanWie" 

NOTE: All these methods default to returning common names unless you specify a different level.

Finally, you can specify true/false as the second parameter to any call to specify if you want a surname:

@generator.male(:common, false)
 => "Michael" 
@generator.male(:common, false)
 => "William" 

Finally, you can access the generate method directly and specify min_freq and max_freq to get a range of names:

# a somewhat rare name
@generator.generate(:type => :male, :with_surname => true, :min_freq => 80, :max_freq => 100)
 => "Salvatore Billard" 

# a more rare name
@generator.generate(:type => :male, :with_surname => true, :min_freq => 90, :max_freq => 100)
=> "Broderick Burhanuddin" 

# a common name
@generator.generate(:type => :male, :with_surname => true, :min_freq => 0, :max_freq => 5)
=> "James Davis" 

# another common name
@generator.generate(:type => :female, :with_surname => true, :min_freq => 0, :max_freq => 5)
=> "Linda Williams"


Namey comes with a pre-loaded SQLite database. However, you can specify a different datasource when initializing the gem:

@generator ="mysql://username:passwrd@host/database")

Namey uses Sequel to access data, and is tested with both MySQL and SQLite. It might need some tweaking to work with other engines.

If you want to fiddle around with the data, you can check out Namey::Importer, or the namey-load-data script included with the gem, which will generate the database from the original source files.


The data from the Census Bureau is in all caps, it looks a lot like this:

SMITH          1.006  1.006      1
JOHNSON        0.810  1.816      2
WILLIAMS       0.699  2.515      3
JONES          0.621  3.136      4
BROWN          0.621  3.757      5

That's fine with basic names, but names with more than one capital in them are challenging. The data is also stripped of apostrophes, so O'Brien is actually OBRIEN. The namey parser attempts to correct some of this, but it probably misses some. If you find any glaring examples, just let me know.

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