Category: Eleanor Nickerson
Even though they didn’t make the top 20 list of names which had moved up the most in 2013, one thing I particularly noticed about the recent England and Wales data release was the number of “Dol” names that had shot onto the scene.
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.
It’s official! The number 1 names in 2013 for England and Wales were Amelia, for the third year running, and Oliver, last at #1 in 2010. Steep climbers Ava and Isla both made it to the Top 5 and Oscar and Poppy were in the Top 10 for the first time.
According to a study on baby name trends by the Office of National Statistics , the Prince George Effect on names has been so far overrated — though the names of royals Harry, William, and George all now rank in the Top 10 for boys.
Here is a list of the Top 30 names:
The major headline for British baby names in the last decade has undoubtedly been the rise of diminutives as given names. Alfie, Archie, Charlie, Tommy, Evie, Millie, Maisie and many others are boundless in our playgrounds as parents opt for cheerful and breezy short forms. But this phenomenon is certainly not confined to the English language — Wales has also been getting in on the act of reviving vintage pet forms and putting them ‘up front’ on birth certificates.
When I was at University, I was lucky enough to study Ancient History as an undergraduate degree. l found the whole subject absolutely fascinating, but I must admit that I could often get sidetracked from my studies whenever a research paper or book contained a map or list of ancient cities. You see, the name-nerd in me couldn’t help revelling in the names of ancient places — I’d frequently roll the lyrical syllables around my tongue and scribbled them down on the corner of my research notes.
A whole heap of ancient place names are not only mellifluous but also aesthetically pleasing. Sadly, many are lost to us today or have long-since been renamed. Wouldn’t it be nice to reclaim a few of them back into nomenclature?