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.
As a new month of the year arrives, it can be easy to forget where the name of October comes from. Though we count it as the tenth month, its name actually derives from the Latin octo meaning “eight,” as it was once the eighth month of the Roman calendar. From the same route as October we also get several other names:
Libra “the scales” is the astrological sign that runs roughly from September 24th to October 23rd. According to Greek mythology the scales belonged to Astraea (Virgo), the goddess of justice. Libra was used occasionally as a given name in Scotland in the 17th century, and in England in the 19th century.
For thousands of years, and in many different cultures, October was a time of the grape harvest.
The medieval wine trade was big business, but it was very much seasonal. The wine vintage usually took place in early October, and within a few weeks new wines were being widely exported, with annual wine fairs taking place in all of the major wine producing regions throughout October. An Old English name for October was Win-mónaþ “wine month,” also reflected in the Germanic Weinmond.
Wine-inspired names are hard to come by but the importance of the vine is immortalised in a few names:
Oenone – a Greek nymph; her name comes from the Greek oinos ”wine.”
Vinicio – from the Latin vinum ”wine.”
Heilyn – a Welsh boys’ name meaning “wine bearer.”
Famous wine producing towns have also been known to be used as names. Here a few that either have, or potentially could, be used as given names:
As for the grape itself, the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese know it as Uva, while the Danes and Norwegian call it Drue.
Eleanor Nickerson, better known to nameberry message board visitors as Elea, is a primary school teacher living in Coventry, England and author of the excellent, highly recommended blog British Baby Names.
Our top UK correspondent, Eleanor Nickerson, has the following lead story on today’s release of the new popularity data from the UK Office for National Statistics on her blog British Baby Names. Check there for a lot more fascinating statistics on top names by region and month and those most popular in England and in Wales, plus how the Top 100 have changed in rank since 2011. Here are the new Top 10:
The Tudor Age was an interesting time for names. Tudor itself is actually a given name – a Welsh one, roughly (and rather appropriately) meaning “ruler of the people”. Henry VII, once known as Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, came to power after victory at Bosworth Field, effectively ending the Wars of the Roses, and from him came some of the most famous – and infamous – monarchs in British history.
Most of the names the Tudors favoured are still well loved today. The most popular boys’ names included John, Thomas, William, Robert, Richard, Henry, Nicholas, Edward, George and James, while the girls favoured Elizabeth, Joan, Agnes, Alice, Mary, Anne, Margaret, Jane, Catherine and Margery.
There are those, however, that have become severely neglected over time; and some have dropped out of use completely. Let us take a few moments to examine and marvel at these faded Tudor relics.
Traditionally, members of British royalty have not only been given a whole string of middle names, most have also been given an affectionate nickname. Queen Victoria’s children, for example, answered to Vicky (Victoria), Bertie (Albert), Alee (Alice), Affie (Alfred), Lenchen (Helena), Loosy (Louise), Leo (Leopold) and Baby (Beatrice).
Previously, these names were kept within the family. But more recently, Charles and Diana broke the mold by formally announcing after their sons’ births that they were going to call William “Wills” and that Henry was to be called “Harry”.
This then opens up a variety of options for William and Catherine. Let’s say they choose the name “Elizabeth Diana Catherine Charlotte” for a daughter. They could use a nickname for the first name – Bess, Betsy, Lily, Eliza? – or announce that they will call her by one of her middle names, or even a nickname from the middle name – Lottie, say, or Kitty.