Want people to think your child is dumb? Name her Vanna, him Elmer.

Maybe you'd rather people think of your child as funny. Try Lucy or Dudley.Authors Bruce Lansky and Barry Sinrod explain the connection. Because we are exposed to many of the same movies, TV shows and books, we share the same stereotypes about names.

We associate the names Vanna and Elmer with airheads Vanna White and Elmer Fudd, the authors say. And we think of comedy when we think about Lucy (Ball) and Dudley (Moore).

The duo surveyed 75,000 people for their impressions of those and less famous names. The result is "The Baby Name Personality Survey" (Meadowbrook Press, $6.95).

Lansky and Sinrod urge prospective parents to use a name to give their children a head start - "a name that is positively perceived."

People who grew up with weird family names can relate. Any kid named Elton, Laverne, Gomer, Rocky or Madonna is destined to a lifetime of teasing.

Instead, the authors suggest asking yourself what traits you admire - be they quiet, regal, stubborn, prudish - and then give the child a name associated with that trait based on public preceptions of other well-known persons bearing the name.

The book makes the chore easy. Listed beneath each trait in the first section of the book is a list of names associated with it.

Fawn and Yoko are quiet names, for example. Antoinette is regal, Evelyn is stubborn, and Harriet is prudish.

Then flip to the alphabetical listings to study the names and the impressions associated with them. Fawn, for example, is a sensitive, quiet, pretty and shy brunette. Yoko comes straight from John Lennon's widow, a dark-haired Asian woman who is strong willed, strange and quiet.

List the pros and cons of each name you're interested in, Lansky and Sinrod suggest, then pick the names that sound good, look good, feel good and make sense as a lifetime label.