Category: Eleanor Nickerson
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?
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.