Category: Eleanor Nickerson
Brits love diminutives. We use them, often automatically, to shorten names in a familiar way, and they have been essential for centuries as a way of distinguishing individuals with the same name. We love them so much, many of them have now been elevated into full-name status, and happily litter the Top 100.
The most common are two-syllable, ie/y-endings we know and love well; Isabelles are Izzy, Olivers are Ollie, Katherines are Katies and Fredericks are Freddies. But more and more, parents are looking to a more brisk and quirky style of diminutive. Edwards are often Ned, rather than Eddy; several Henrys are Hal, and Christophers are the striking Kit rather than Chris.
With this niche trend in mind, here is a rundown of some one-syllable diminutives that have become overlooked since they were developed in the Middle Ages. Several of them, perhaps surprisingly, were unisex.
In the 16th century Bess was a popular nickname for Elizabeth. You could almost say that it was the diminutive for the name, as the most famous bearer, Elizabeth I, was known fondly as “Good Queen Bess“. It began to lose favour in the 18th century, but was revived as Bessie in the 19th. In some instances, Bess was also used as a diminutive for Beatrice.
Overall, the Top 10 a pretty conservative, barely moving, especially for the boys.
New to the Top 100 are Ellis, Joey, Jackson, Thea, Darcie, Lottie, Harper, Nancy and Robyn.
These replaced Evan, Aiden, Cameron, Niamh, Paige, Skye, Tilly, Isobel, Maddison and Madison which fell out of the top 100.
As both a Brit and a name lover, the release of the US statistics is always fascinating for me.
On your top 10 are names of interest which are having a direct influence on British names. There are names which have had their day in the UK and are now swiftly declining, and, of course, there are names which are very similar in both countries.
Now that 2014 is coming to an end, here is a look at the main trends and influences that have proven popular in Britain in this eventful year.
ALL ABOUT THE AR
The hottest sound this year is the undoubtedly ‘Ar’. Archie, Arthur, Martha and Arran in Scotland have already obtained top 100 status, but 2014 has also seen a rise in the likes of Arlo and Archer for boys and Arabella, Aria/Arya and Ariana for girls.
Clara and Margot are two vintage ‘ar’ sound choices that have been gaining more attention this year, while the similar ‘Or’ sound has also bolstered Aurora, Aurelia and Scottish choices Orla and Rory.
By Eleanor Nickerson, British Baby Names Are Amelia and Alfie the most popular British A names? You would be forgiven for thinking so, but the answer depends on where you live. Scots would say it’s Ava and Alexander, while Northern Ireland would quote Aoife and Adam. Though we are all held together by common trends, each part of the UK has its own regional favourites. Sophie, for example, holds sway as the most popular S girls’ name in most of Britain except Wales, where Seren is favourite. Northern Ireland likes Finn better than Finley, and Scotland prefers Brodie to Benjamin.