Baby Names Hot in the UK, Not in the US
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.
Then there are baby names with ethnic origins more usually found in the UK than the US, expected derivations such as the Irish Niamh and the Welsh Cerys but also more surprising ones such as the Eastern European Zuzanna, which also shows up on the Irish popularity list.
Some more classic British names have achieved popularity there by filtering down from the upper classes, while in the US we tend to name our babies after reality stars more often than viscounts. Examples of posh names that have been adopted by the hoi polloi include Freya and Harriet.
The baby names that are hot in the UK, with their British popularity standing in parenthesis, and not in the US, where they don’t appear in the Top 1000, are:
Britberries, please enlighten us on any inside reasons for these names’ success!
And Ameriberries, which of these names do you think can successfully cross the pond?
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on February 12th, 2013 at 2:19 am
Evie is extremely popular in Australia too, so much so that though it was our top pick for DD2 we ended up naming our daughter the much less popular Edie. Archie is also really popular in the under 5 set here. honey surprises me at no. 200 but I absolutely adore it as a middle name and I’m sure Jamie Oliver’s Poppy Honey has a lot to do with it’s popularity
on February 12th, 2013 at 2:45 am
Yes, I see most of these names regularly on Australian kids, and even the rare ones, like Cerys, wouldn’t seem weird or very surprising here.
I do like Zuzanna, and Honey must be on many people’s “guilty pleasures” list. I do recall a character on a British TV show called Honey, ages ago; it seems kind of 1960s and retro-hip to me for some reason, although the Jessica Alba film is presumably more of an influence.
on February 12th, 2013 at 5:13 am
There has been a trend for shortened older names in the uk over the last few years, Harry, Alfie, Archie, Freddy are all popular, I see Henry being up there soon as I know of several baby Henrys.
Older girls names are now starting to trend, joining the already popular Evie and Ruby I see Pearl and Elsie becoming popular.
It is interesting to see the different taste from the US to the UK, it works the other way too, my son is called Carter and while quite popular in the US in the UK is still quite uncommon.
I always look at the US names for inspiration as I think you guys are a little more daring in your choices than us Brits!!
on February 12th, 2013 at 7:04 am
Can’t say exactly why a lot of these are popular over here, only that some names do get a boost from the famous (X Factor, TV, Royal events etc).
I do love our growing trend for using old-fashioned -ie or -y names. Old names in general are becoming very popular, though I wouldn’t say Harriet (and definitely not Freya) were posh! When you see Algernon and Phyllida hitting the top 200, that’s when you know we’re using posh names!
One of the main differences between us and the US is that of surname names, I find. Jackson, Mason, Archer etc don’t have the same popularity, though I know a few are growing.
As for Zuzanna, I don’t find that surprising. We have a lot of Eastern European emmigrants- Polish is now the 2nd language in England. Looking through our popularity lists, you’ll also find hundreds of Asian-origin names too. I suppose it’s similar to seeing Spanish names in the US lists.
Anyhow, I love the differences. It’s be boring if we were all using the same names 🙂
on February 12th, 2013 at 7:10 am
Know that was a long post, but I’d also like to add that some names have different connotations in the UK. Audrey, for instance, seems well liked with US berries, but will remind most Brits of the old woman in Coronation Street! 😀
on February 12th, 2013 at 7:30 am
Charlieandperry, thanks for those insights — they are definitely not evident associations fro the US! Wish I understood better the mysteries of why Harriet and Freya are not posh and Algernon and Phyllida are…
on February 12th, 2013 at 7:42 am
Why oh why can’t there be more Imogen’s, Florence’s and Harriet’s? Working at a daycare in the Midwest, I would love to see some of these names.
I think Evie and Lottie could both easily make the cross. After all, names like Evelyn and Charlotte are so popular- why not their sweet nicknames?
Boys names are a little harder. I think parents tend to be more cautious with their sons. So even though in some parts of the US you might meet a little Oakley or Rio, it’s harder for them to cross over.
on February 12th, 2013 at 8:02 am
I think the name Harriet actually means “land owner” so is, by definition at least, a posh name! I guess it’s filtered down to the plebs over the years lol.
PS On a not-very-related more, Australian berries, do you think the name Audrey is popular here or not really?
on February 12th, 2013 at 8:03 am
I meant “note”
on February 12th, 2013 at 8:13 am
Perhaps that’s just me, but I see Harriet as a classic name but one that’s been used across class borders. If you look at old censuses, she may be the daughter of a wealthy Victorian bank clerk, but she may also be the daughter of a poor farm labourer. As for Freya, I believe it’s only become popular in the last 10-15 years. I’ve never seen or heard it on anyone older.
I think of names like Algernon and Phyllida as posh as the British aristocracy had a tendency to use odd, foreign, mythological and sometimes eccentric names (at the time), e.g: Hyacinth, Marmaduke, Evelyn (b), Adolphus, Peregrine, Alan (in 1820s?!), Almeric, Athelstan, Clementina, Cornelia, Randolph, Hermione…
on February 12th, 2013 at 8:30 am
I wish we were more accepting of a nicknamey name in the U.S. It seems weird that we aren’t, given how relaxed we are with other things. I love Evie and Lottie.
I could see Jenson working over here easily.
on February 12th, 2013 at 9:39 am
My fell in love with Freddie when my DH went to England last year and told me about a friend who had a son with the name. It just sounds so much more sophisticated when said with a British accent!
on February 12th, 2013 at 9:39 am
LOVE Ffion, Reuben, & Imogen!! Fraser is pretty great, too, but I think the American sitcom Frasier made Fraser less useable over here.
on February 12th, 2013 at 9:40 am
A lot of these names are on my list! 🙂 I know nick name names aren’t as popular here in the US, but I love them 🙂 I have Evie, Harriet, India, Lottie / Charlotte, Alfie, and Archie on my list 😀 If I had a baby right now it would be named Evie or Archer / Archie 🙂
I imagine nick name names will be popular here soon enough. And even if Evie isn’t necessarily popular here, Evelyn is really high up there and I imagine at least half those Evelyn’s will end up being called Evie 🙁
on February 12th, 2013 at 10:17 am
charlieandperry – I’m curious, because I’ve been rewatching the first season of Downton. How do you pronounce Evelyn for a girl in the UK? There’s a man named Evelyn in that season, but it’s pronounced eev-lihn. I sort of love it for a guy, but I suspect it wouldn’t sound nearly as charming without the English accent… like so many other names.
on February 12th, 2013 at 10:34 am
I think most of us would say Eve-lin for a boy or girl. It wasn’t too common when I was growing up though and I loved all the Mummy films, so I was pronouncing it Ever-lin for years 😛
on February 12th, 2013 at 10:41 am
Maybe we Brits just have a better style 😉
No I believe it’s because of influences through TV, celebrities and fashions that make nicknamy names popular in the UK. Names like Harry, Alfie and Archie have been around for ages and are associated with the working to middle classes. The reason why nicknamy names are more common in the UK is simply because it’s fashionable to give a child a sweet name like Edie or Archie. Rather than Edith and Archibald.
Concerning choices Irish choices like Niamh and Orla, it’s simply because parents want to choose something more unusual yet heard off. Due to the fact that we have a lot of people within the UK who are of Irish descent these names are heard off yet would be considered unusual next to Jack or Amelia.
As for Zuzanna my thoughts are the same as charlieandperry1 it isn’t suprising at all that Zuzanna is popular within the UK. We have a large of amount of Eastern European people within the UK and in England and Wale’s Polish is our second language. Furthermore if you delve further into the naming charts you’ll see a lot of Asian names as in the UK we have a lot of Asian communities such as Bradford. It’s just like having a lot of Spanish names on the US naming popularity charts.
As for names like Harriet it’s a classic that has always been around in the UK like for instance Elizabeth, Sophie and Lucy. I wouldn’t associate Harriet with an upper class girl just like I wouldn’t associate Elizabeth is someone whose upper class.
Concerning names like Freya & Poppy their the new ‘it’ names! They’ve been around for 10 to 15 years like American’s surname trend.
Loving the differences though, and wow I have gone on. 🙂
on February 12th, 2013 at 11:23 am
You’re missing Bailey and Finlay for boys
on February 12th, 2013 at 2:10 pm
I know a Jensen, but she’s a 9 yo girl. It’s interesting to see it on the boys name list, because I tend to think of it as a masculine name but my only association is with a girl.
on February 12th, 2013 at 2:21 pm
Hi all, I agree witth several of you above, Freya is not a posh name and as to why all these names are so popular – well they’re just great names aren’t they? There definetly is a trend towards the old fashioned style name now but I like it. What about names that are popular in the US but not in the UK?
on February 12th, 2013 at 3:48 pm
Rio is probably popular, because of an English soccer player called Rio Ferdinand, who plays for a popular soccer team.
on February 12th, 2013 at 4:31 pm
I’d pronounce Evelyn, Ev-ee-lynn. I’m not sure how other Brits would pronounce it though. Wow it’s odd to see names that are so popular here so low down on the US tops lists especially ones like Poppy, it’s such a cute name I would think it would be very popular across the pond too and also Freddie, but maybe that’s just Scooby-Doo on the mind!
on February 12th, 2013 at 5:53 pm
But Evie is in the top 1000…?
on February 12th, 2013 at 6:20 pm
Half my family lives in England so I’ve definitely noticed a difference between their naming style as babies are born and my North American relatives’ style. I have cousins who have used nickname names on the birth certificate like Tommy and Alfie, and cousins in the US who have used “Madison nicknamed Maddie” and “Emily nicknamed Emmie” (which I always thought seemed unnecessary, but I guess it’s intuitive for them!) I tend to appreciate the option of a longer name to fall back on but I can understand the desire to use Archie over Archibald, because really who would choose the latter as their given even later in life? 😛 I think because of these influences I have developed a mutt-style. I like classic names with history and cute nickname option. I’m not a Madison nickname Maddie fan, but I could get behind Henrietta nicknamed Hettie or Etta or something 🙂
on February 12th, 2013 at 9:17 pm
As an Australian, I see this influence a lot here as we’ll. I know a couple of Harriets, a few Archies and another Audrey was born last week! I actually also don’t see these names as ‘posh’ more like timeless and classic names. Though the only Darcy I know is actually a boy not a girl as on your list! I think Audrey is definitely growing in popularity here. But since I also know an Aubrey it does get a little confusing! The most recent addition to our friends babies is Mila which I immediately associate as an ‘American’ name but maybe not to others 🙂
on February 12th, 2013 at 10:56 pm
I wouldn’t discount the influence of pop culture and especially reality shows and pro sports on naming trends in the UK. As someone above suggested, it’s not that the influences are so different in terms of type but rather that the specific shows (and sports) are different.
I don’t think there is any inherent quality that makes a name posh; it’s its history of use that determines that. If a name is almost never used by anyone except upper-class families, then it will be perceived as posh, whereas a name that occurs or has historically occurred with some frequency in many social classes will not be perceived the same way. However, a name that is common in the UK but rare in the US might sound ‘posh’ (or upper-class) to an American simply because it is unfamiliar and sounds eminently British.
You see a similar dynamic between Quebec and France, with some trends overlapping and some very different. I’d love to see a blog post on that! I know many English speakers are interested in French names, especially for girls.
on February 13th, 2013 at 9:33 am
Jenson is most likely after Formula 1’s Mr Button, and like MaggieMary said, Rio is likely to be down to the England footballer Mr Ferdinand. Niamh, Seren, Cerys and Ffion are all Gaelic names that have crossed into mainstream British naming, and as has been previously mentioned Zuzanna is likely due to the high levels of Eastern European immigrants, akin to Spanish names on the US list. If you look at the full British list there’s many ethnic names ranking pretty high – not just Eastern European, but quite a few Islamic names as well.
on February 13th, 2013 at 4:38 pm
Those are deff popular names in the UK!
Off the lists, I love, Florence, Naimh, India and I don’t like the boy names!
on February 15th, 2013 at 11:58 am
Just discovered a sweet little preschooler at the daycare I work at names Evee. There’s hope for us yet!
on February 15th, 2013 at 11:59 am
on April 8th, 2013 at 1:08 am
I swoon ove ffion :)))
2012 Baby Names: Boy Top 1000 Newcomers | Upswing Baby Names Said
on May 17th, 2013 at 6:30 am
[…] Annie Oakley. Oakley is also a place-name and a manufacturer of sunglasses. Perhaps Americans were inspired by the British. In the U.K. Oakley was close to the top 200 at #222 in […]
on December 30th, 2013 at 5:59 pm
I think it would be cool if somehow they could see the nicknames use too. For example, how many American Evelyns are called Evelyn and how many are called Ev, Eve, or Evie? How many Charlottes are called Char, Charlie, or Lottie? Maybe American’s like the nickname-y names as just that, nicknames and use them just as much as those in the UK, but use them as nicknames rather than full, official names.
on November 26th, 2014 at 2:08 pm
In Britain lots of “normal” names are very popular! I was born and raised in Britain so I know a fair bit about British baby naming. It’s not really a case of why are they so popular over here it’s more a case of why do the British seem to like these names so much. Even though I was born and raised in the UK I actually don’t like any of the names that are popular over here! I love the names that seem to be popular in other countries.
on March 26th, 2015 at 7:11 pm
I know someone who named their daughter Oakley. Yes very rare in the US but when thinking of that name here I can’t help but think Annie Oakley. I thought it was different but cool at the time. I still like this name and would love to meet more little girls with this name here. Massive is one climbing in popularity here as well. At least it looks that way from the name boards.
on March 26th, 2015 at 7:13 pm
I meant Maisie
on April 23rd, 2015 at 11:49 pm
@Sarahmezz Audrey IS popular in Australia. It was the 50th most popular girls name of 2014.
on September 12th, 2015 at 12:48 pm
One trend I See that is not popular in the UK but is popular in the US are surname names . Names like Ryder and Hunter are seen as tacky and so are other surname names .
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