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Category: floral names

posted by: Elea View all posts by this author
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by Eleanor Nickerson of British Baby Names

Flower baby names are hot favourites for modern British parents. So much so that, when all the spellings are added together, Lily has ranked as the most popular girls name in England and Wales for the last two years. Other Top 100 choices include Daisy, Poppy, Holly, Jasmine and Rose, with Violet, Iris and Ivy not far behind.

And this is nothing new; the British love of floral names is long established. The Edwardians took their love of flowers and elevated them to the heights of fashion in girls’ names.

But, before they took off as names, flowers were used as an intricate form of communication known, quite grandly, as floriography.  If a Victorian lady received flowers, she would automatically consult her floriography handbooks and dictionaries (which helpfully attributed meanings and phrases to a variety of flowers) to see what messages were being conveyed. A white rose meant “I am worthy of you;” a Carolina rose meant “Dangerous love,” while a full rose placed over two buds meant “Secrecy.”

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British name maven Eleanor Nickerson, aka Elea, has her finger on the pulse of naming trends in the UK.

For most people outside of the UK, “British Names” are typified by the old Victorian legacy of Empire and afternoon tea, or the ethereal mystery of ancient Celtic folklore. The stereotype often favours rarefied aristocratic favourites such as Percival and Araminta, or tongue-twisting indigenous Gaelic choices like Aonghus or Caoimhe.

If you look at the most popular names that are actually used in Britain today you will see a much more varied picture. Like other Western countries there is a large influence from film and television, a popular cult of celebrity, and a growing awareness of global fashions (yes, we have many Neveahs and Jaydens, too).  And yet, even in our modernised naming practices, British trends still manage to make a subtle nod to history in a style that feels quite unique.

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