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Category: popular British names

Baby Names Hot in the UK, Not in the US

British baby names

There are many baby names that are popular on both sides of the Atlantic: Olivia and Oliver, Charlotte and William both rank high in the US and the UK.

And then there are those baby names that are evidence of how wide the gulf is between the British and the American cultures.

We found 29 baby names — 20 for girls and nine for boys — that rank in the current British Top 200 (or so) that do not appear at all in the American Top 1000.  (Note: We did skip spelling variations such as Hollie and Isobel.)

And another five Top 200 baby names for girls and nine for boys that are down at the bottom of our Top 1000; in other words, vastly less popular in the US than in the UK.

One kind of name that much more popular in Britain than America: the nickname name, with choices like Evie and Maisie, Alfie and Archie in their Top 25 but not ranking as proper names in the US.

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Yesterday, to launch British Baby Names week on Nameberry, Eleanor Nickerson identified the five strongest current naming trends in the UK.  Today we zero in on the popularity of individual names on both sides of the Atlantic, seeing which names have shared success and which haven’t.

We Yanks sometimes tend to have a bit of an inferiority complex, feeling that the Brits are a step or two ahead of us in both trends and specific names, although it is something of a two-way street, when you consider that a strictly American name like Jayden has found its way onto the UK Top 30, and Madison is in the Top 70.

So just how close are the two cultures when it comes to name popularity?

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I love the day once a quarter or so that I allow myself to wallow in the London Telegraph birth announcements. Britberries regularly admonish me not to take the names in the Telegraph to mean anything about typical British baby-naming behavior: Those are names chosen by mostly upper class families, they say, and are examples of a rarefied taste.

Point taken, but I still can’t help but be struck by how different many of the names are from what you’d hear in similar stratospheres of American society: on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, say, or in Beverly Hills.

There are dozens of names that are mentioned over and over in the British birth announcements that are nowhere near as fashionable here. But they’re attractive names, traditional yet quirky, excellent choices for any American parent — or British, Australian, or Canadian one, for that matter — who wants to emulate the English upper classes.

Prime examples from the recent crop of British names:

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British Baby Names: Hot New Trends

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This was one of those delicious mornings when I allowed myself to dip into the recent British baby names in the London Telegraph birth announcements. As usual, they didn’t disappoint (can you tell that my speech has suddenly acquired a British cadence?) and I managed to pick up on some actual trends.

The first is that, now that Americans have started following the British lead and using two middle names, the Brits are upping the ante by using three. Four first names total, ala Charlie Gaspar Geoffrey Langton: that’s one major new trend.

But in another way, British parents have started imitating Americans by using surnames and word names as middle names: besides Langton, there’s a Macmillan, a Melrose, a Tiger and a Capability here.

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At long last, the official list of the most popular names for baby girls and boys born  in England and Wales in 2009 has been released.  And, to cut to the chase, here are the Top 10 for each gender–all of which were there last year, with several remaining in the same spot:

GIRLS

  1. Olivia
  2. Ruby
  3. Chloe (up 3 places)
  4. Emily (down 1)
  5. Sophie (up 2)
  6. Jessica (down 1)
  7. Grace (down 3)
  8. Lily
  9. Amelia
  10. Evie

BOYS

  1. Oliver (up 1)
  2. Jack (down 1)
  3. Harry (up 1)
  4. Alfie (up 2)
  5. Joshua
  6. Thomas (down 3)
  7. Charlie
  8. William (up 2)
  9. James
  10. Daniel (down 2)

So Jack hit the road, after reigning as #1 for 14 years–though he was still on top in Wales and some areas of England.  But it’s interesting to note that if the 12 different spellings of Mohammed that were listed separately had counted as one name, it would have topped Oliver.

The biggest climbers in the Top 100 were Maisie for the girls and Austin for the boys.  There were also regional differences (Isabella in London‘s Top Ten, Seren #3 in Wales) and seasonal (Holly was the favorite name for the month of December).

The Royalist spirit was reflected in the naming of 16 Kings, 68 Princes, eight Dukes, 11 Earls, four Barons and four Lords, as well as 12 Queenies, seven Queens, 109 Princesses and five Ladys.

There were only six new boys’ names in the Top 100:

  1. Aiden
  2. Arthur
  3. Frederick
  4. Jude
  5. Stanley
  6. Austin

…replacing Blake, Jay, Billy, Corey, Zak and Sean.  Showing the greatest rise within the Top 100: Lucas, Sebastian, Aidan, and Noah.

New entries in the girls’ Top 100 were Heidi, Sara and Mya, replacing Maryam, Alicia, Courtney and AbbieMaisie was the highest climber within the Top 100, followed by Lexi, Layla and Aimee.

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