NOUN Database


Many experimental research designs require images of novel objects.  Here we introduce the Novel Object and Unusual Name (NOUN) Database. This database contains 64 primary novel object images and additional novel exemplars for ten basic- and nine global-level object categories. The objects’ novelty was confirmed by both self-report and a lack of consensus on questions that required participants to name and identify the objects. We also found that object novelty correlated with qualifying naming responses regarding the objects’ colors. Results from a similarity sorting task (and subsequent multidimensional scaling analysis on the similarity ratings) demonstrated that the objects are complex and distinct entities that vary along several featural dimensions beyond simply shape and color. A final experiment confirmed that additional item exemplars comprise both sub- and superordinate categories. These images may be useful in a variety of settings, particularly for developmental psychology and other research in language, categorization, perception, visual memory and related domains. The database is free to anyone who wishes to use it!

The Novel Object and Unusual Name (NOUN) Database is maintained by Dr. Jessica Horst and myself. This database is a tool for researchers to facilitate experimental research: when you need images of novel objects or unusual names. At Jessica’s WORD Lab ( and my Vision Sciences and Memory lab, we believe it is important to have good experimental control, which can be difficult when studying word learning and categorization because children have so much out-of-lab experience with words and objects.


A PDF copy of the NOUN Database First edition can be downloaded here:

The second edition of the Database can be downloaded from my site: NOUN-Database-2ndEd-USLetter (US Letter Format) or NOUN-Database-2ndEd-A4 (A4 Format).  Also, you can download the supplementary sorting tables here: NOUN_Sorting_Tables.

How to cite the NOUN Database:

Horst, J. S., & Hout, M. C.  (2015).  The Novel Object and Unusual Name (NOUN) Database: A collection of novel images for use in experimental research.  Behavior Research Methods, 48, 1393-1409. doi: 10.3758/s13428-015-0647-3.

Novel objects:

This part of the database includes photographs of objects that are not easily named by children (or adults).  These photographs have been taken by Dr. Jessica Horst and the other members of the WORD Lab team.

You can download the images here: NOUN Database Stimuli.  If you use the database, please let us know so we can keep you apprised of any updates.  I can be reached at [email protected], and Jessica can be reached at [email protected].

Unusual names:

This part of the database is a collection of unusual names (AKA pseudowords and novel nouns) used in psychological research.  This portion of the database is just a handy tool when an experimenter needs to choose words for a new study.