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Category: British names

Unique Baby Names: Do you dare?

alice and cat

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Reading the latest birth announcement from England‘s Telegraph newspaper, I can’t help thinking that a lot of the names, while wonderful, might give many sensible parents pause.

Wilfred may be cool, after all, but it’s also undeniably nerdy – by choosing this name, am I condemning my child to playground marginalization?  Is Zephyr too wacky, Ophelia too tragic?

The question isn’t really, Do you dare to give these names to your children, but should you dare?

As many Britberries have pointed out, the names usually found in the Telegraph represent not widespread British naming trends but eccentric aristocratic tastes, so perhaps most of us aren’t debating the merits of Digby and Venetia in any case.

Before we focus on our question, a few trendlets to note: Several girls named Jessica.  Middle names Tom, Sue, and Adventure.  And in a reversal of American style, boys’ names generally more daring than girls’.

Back to the issue at hand: What do you think of these adventurous, intriguing, but perhaps too-challenging names taken from recent Telegraph birth announcements?  Would they work in the U.S….or anywhere else, for that matter?

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Babies with Three Names

3 sleeping babies

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Maybe if I’d ever gotten into watching one of those shows about the Housewives from any place other than my home state of New Jersey, I’d have something better to do on a weeknight.

But no.  After a long day of working on Nameberry, what do I do for relaxation but turn to the hallowed pages of The London Telegraph, where I peruse the birth announcements in search of….more baby names.

This time, what caught my eye were all the three-named babies.  Maybe the oh-so-British three-name arrangement struck me because of the young prince George Alexander Louis, whose own three names are a departure from the usual royal four.  Was that Will and Kate‘s way of signaling that they were just like us…or at least like other young upper class British parents?

A few things we noticed about the three names of the babies noted here:

– More surnames such as Kynaston and Constable in the middle which are not mothers’ maiden names but may well be family names

– Some staid middle names such as Mary and Charles that are probably honorifics

– A few unconventional middles such as Bear and Coco

In case you’re interested in finding three great names for your own baby, you might find some inspiration in these wonderful recent British choices.

girls

Agnes Lily Jean

Arabella Elizabeth Mary

Ava Flora Kynaston

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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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British Baby Names: Two middle names

two middle names

If there’s one British baby names trend that Berries all over the world have embraced full-heartedly, it’s the old upper class practice of giving children two (or even more, ala Uma Thurman) middle names.

Rooted in royalty as a way to honor a raft of vaulted relatives, the multiple-middle-name practice was pegged by one visitor to our pages as being “very posh and a bit snobby.”

But it’s also a way for name lovers to indulge their enthusiasm by using more of their favorites on fewer children.  Americans who give their babies two middle names are often simply packing more name power into one extended appellation.  They may also (as my husband and I were, when we named our daughter Rory Elizabeth Margaret) be adding extra middle names to honor both sides of the family at the same time.

Judging from the birth announcements in the London Telegraph, the three-barreled British baby name is distinct in a couple of important ways:

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TV Names: Upstairs, Downstairs & Downton

upstairsdo

At last, at last, the third season of Downton Abbey has finally launched, a further opportunity for those of us who love vintage British names to spend time with the Crawley clan et al.  We’re now lucky enough to have had two recent TV period imports with great examples of character names, both for the aristos upstairs and the servants below.  The time frame of both Downton Abbey and the recently updated Upstairs, Downstairs is the early decades of the twentieth century: Downton now picks up in 1920; the second series of Upstairs in 1936, six years after the initial one ended.

And if there seems to be a preponderance of girls’ names, it’s because so many of the male characters, both upstairs and down, have such common names as Thomas, Robert, Matthew, William, Joseph and John.

Here are some of the most interesting names in both series; and it’s worthy of note that the British TV names that are being revived today come equally from both social strata, as in, for example, Isobel and Ivy, Edith and Elsie.

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