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Category: baby names 2011

Baby Names Hot in the UK, Not in the US

British baby names

There are many baby names that are popular on both sides of the Atlantic: Olivia and Oliver, Charlotte and William both rank high in the US and the UK.

And then there are those baby names that are evidence of how wide the gulf is between the British and the American cultures.

We found 29 baby names — 20 for girls and nine for boys — that rank in the current British Top 200 (or so) that do not appear at all in the American Top 1000.  (Note: We did skip spelling variations such as Hollie and Isobel.)

And another five Top 200 baby names for girls and nine for boys that are down at the bottom of our Top 1000; in other words, vastly less popular in the US than in the UK.

One kind of name that much more popular in Britain than America: the nickname name, with choices like Evie and Maisie, Alfie and Archie in their Top 25 but not ranking as proper names in the US.

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brittopnames

The figures for the most popular names in the UK in 2011 have just been released by the Office for National Statistics, containing plenty of surprises and interesting tidbits.  For one thing, it seems that despite a lot of cross-pollination, there is still a considerable divide in name popularity across the Atlantic.  Just looking at the two top names–which replaced last year’s Olivia and Oliver—there is Amelia, which is #30 in the US, and Harry, which is way down at Number 709 here—although with all those captivating shots of the ebullient prince as a spectator at the Olympics, this could change.

As usual, there is a generous infusion of celebrity influence, from the royal realm, show biz and sports.  Amelia for example, was quite probably given a bounce by the 2011 X-Factor finalist Amelia Lily.  Led by Alfie in the top five, the nickname name trend continues for both girls and boys—Evie, Ellie, Millie, Rosie, Archie, Tommy, Ollie, and Bobby being among the hottest.

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Why is Alexandra up but Alexis down?

popular baby names

Linda and I have spent a lot of time over the years tracking the ups and downs of baby names and making sense of the movements.  Often, it’s possible to divine trends in the popularity lists: Girls’ names that end in a are marching up the ladder in seeming unison, for instance, while New Testament names for boys are moving down.

But sometimes, the patterns are not so easy to discern.  Sometimes, in fact, the shifts seem downright contradictory, undercutting any attempt to identify a trend.

Sure, sometimes you can credit a celebrity for a name’s rise or blame a slide on the fact that a name has been around so long that people have gotten tired of it and are turning to a new flavor.  We do get, for instance, that Britain‘s newest royal is responsible for the predominance of Kate over Katherine, and that Oliver is simply a fresher name than the long-popular Christopher.

Still, even with those examples, the rise of one name at the same time another, very similar name drops can be amusing.  Some notable pairings from this year’s list:

girls

Alexandra is up, but Alexis is down

Aria is up, but Cadence is down

Bella is up, but Isabelle is down

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The Weirdest Baby Names

vintagemushrooms

With over 33,000 baby names on the new national roster – a full 50 percent more than were in common use a quarter century ago – you figure there have to be some weird choices among them.  Our friend Brooke Dowd Sacco at KidCrave gathered the 102 weirdest names on the 2011 baby name list, and we cherry-picked the strangest of the strange.

Here, our nominations for the weirdest baby names of 2011:

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states

There was a time when we thought—rightly or wrongly– of regional names in terms of stereotypes—prim and proper appellations in New England, sweetly feminissima Southern belles, Tex-Mex cowboys out west. Now, though, it sometimes seems that baby names have become more and more homogeneous across the United States, but if we really peruse the popularity figures for states’ local baby names we do find some regional differences and state eccentricities.

First, a look at which names were in first place and where they ruled:

girls

AvaLouisiana, South Dakota

EmmaAlabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Wyoming

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