Category: British name trends
What names are quintessentially ‘British’?
I see this question a lot but it’s a hard one to pin down. Do we mean solely British in origin, or only British in use? When Prince George was born our media heralded it as a “quintessentially British” name — and why not? We’ve had numerous kings bear the name, and it’s even the name of the patron saint of England. But George was originally a Greek name, brought late into our Royalty by German Hanovarians. Ask many Americans and the first George they think of is Washington or Bush.
For me, the quintessentially British names are those which are very familiar to us as a nation, that have been or are currently popular, but are little used in America, Canada, Australia and other English-speaking countries. Names such as Nicola – our darling of the 70s – Darcy, Imogen, Poppy, Freya, Alfie, Jenson, Gareth, Alistair and Finlay.
2013 has been an interesting year for British appellations. As it comes to a close, let’s take a look back at some of the most prevalent trends and influences on baby names in Britain this year.
One syllable ‘B’ names have been particularly noticeable this year. Beau/Bo and Bay have proven to be popular unisex choices while vintage Bea is also seeing a revival as both a nickname for rising Beatrice and Beatrix and a stand-alone choice. All three have been particularly popular this year as short and sweet middle names
Similarly, Bear not only made headlines as the name of Kate Winslet’s newborn son recently, it has also seen action as a middle name in the UK this year, much akin to Jamie Oliver’s Buddy Bear Morris. Some intrepid British parents are using Bear as a creative nickname for Arthur; others are braving it as a first name.
For most people outside of the UK, “British Names” are typified by the old Victorian legacy of Empire and afternoon tea, or the ethereal mystery of ancient Celtic folklore. The stereotype often favours rarefied aristocratic favourites such as Percival and Araminta, or tongue-twisting indigenous Gaelic choices like Aonghus or Caoimhe.
If you look at the most popular names that are actually used in Britain today you will see a much more varied picture. Like other Western countries there is a large influence from film and television, a popular cult of celebrity, and a growing awareness of global fashions (yes, we have many Neveahs and Jaydens, too). And yet, even in our modernised naming practices, British trends still manage to make a subtle nod to history in a style that feels quite unique.
The following is a guest post by Luke Eales from BabyNames.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading baby names websites. Established in 2007, the BabyNames.co.uk helps parents on the path to finding the perfect baby name.
Having read Nameberry’s recent article on popular baby names 2010, I was inspired to run some analysis of my own – this time with a UK slant.
So in a similar way to what Nameberry did, I delved into our site usage data. I brought up a list of the names receiving the most searches this year so far, and compared the numbers against the same period last year. I then sorted the names to see which had the greatest proportional increase in searches. The result is two lists – the UK’s fastest rising boys and girls names of 2010 so far.
Since I happen to be married to someone who was born and raised on the island of Guernsey–yes, the Guernsey of cows and Potato Peel Pie Society fame–I’ve spent quite a bit of family time there and, out of curiosity, also check the Guernsey Press site online fairly regularly–particularly the names in the birth announcements, of course.
Even though Guernsey is closer to the French shore of the English channel than the English, and many of the familes have surnames like Le Maitre and Vaudin (my mother-in-law’s maiden name), and my husband Chris grew up with boys named Marcel and Henri, very few modern parents there are using Gallic first names for their babies, so that these birth announcements aren’t all that different from those in the English papers.
Here are some of the most recent: