Breaking News: Amelia and Harry the new top UK baby names

The figures for the most popular names in the UK in 2011 have just been released by the Office for National Statistics, containing plenty of surprises and interesting tidbits.  For one thing, it seems that despite a lot of cross-pollination, there is still a considerable divide in name popularity across the Atlantic.  Just looking at the two top names–which replaced last year’s Olivia and Oliver—there is Amelia, which is #30 in the US, and Harry, which is way down at Number 709 here—although with all those captivating shots of the ebullient prince as a spectator at the Olympics, this could change.

As usual, there is a generous infusion of celebrity influence, from the royal realm, show biz and sports.  Amelia for example, was quite probably given a bounce by the 2011 X-Factor finalist Amelia Lily.  Led by Alfie in the top five, the nickname name trend continues for both girls and boys—Evie, Ellie, Millie, Rosie, Archie, Tommy, Ollie, and Bobby being among the hottest.

Here are the new Top 20 names in England and Wales:

  1.  Amelia                      Harry
  2. Olivia                         Oliver
  3. Lily                             Jack
  4. Jessica                       Alfie
  5. Emily                         Charlie
  6. Sophie                       Thomas
  7. Ruby                          Jacob
  8. Grace                         James
  9. Ava                             Joshua
  10. Isabella                     William
  11. Evie                           Ethan
  12. Chloe                         George
  13. Mia                            Riley
  14. Poppy                        Daniel
  15. Isla                             Noah
  16. Ella                             Oscar
  17. Isabelle                      Joseph
  18. Sophia                       Mohammed
  19. Freya                          Max
  20. Daisy                          Dylan

Of these, seven names are not even in the US Top 200, while three of them—Alfie, Poppy and Freya–are not to be found on our top thousand roster AT ALL!  Further down in the Brit Top 50 are four more names that haven’t gotten their US green cards—Archie, Maisie, Imogen and Florence.

In the UK, there were several names new to the Top 100: Bella, Willow, Elsie and Kayla for girls and Tommy, Frankie (those nickname names keep coming!), Blake, Elijah and Jackson for boys.

Names that have risen most sharply are Eliza, Evelyn, Sofia and Harriet; and Jenson (directly influenced by British race car driver Jenson Button), Dexter (Dexter is also a hit show in the UK), Arthur and Riley.

Separate listings are also given for the top names in Wales, headed by Lily, Amelia, Ava, Ruby and Olivia, and Oliver, Jack, Jacob, Riley and Ethan.  Some native names are found on Wales list as well—Seren, Ffion, Cerys, Carys and Lowri, and Iestyn, Ioan, and Iwan.

The most popular names in Scotland are Jack—for the seventh year running—and Sophie, exactly the same top pair ruling in Northern Ireland.

One trivia tidbit from the British Office for National Statistics: there are seasonal factors as well: Holly was the second most popular name for girls born in December and the name Summer reached the height of its popularity in August.

 So—are you surprised?


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26 Responses to “Breaking News: Amelia and Harry the new top UK baby names”

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saraallison Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I’m always surprised when I remember Jessica is in the top 5 over there, as it carries a dated feel here in the US, to me. Still it’s a pretty name. I adore Maisie! I actually thought it was more used here in the US, so I was surprised to see its not at all! I don’t actually know any Maisies, but we considered it and so did a friend of mine. I do know several Macy’s, and I don’t like that one at all, which I know is weird bc they are so similar. I love both Amelia and Harry, would def use Amelia. I have a friend whose little boy is Harry. I couldn’t do it with our last name (it’s a word name, so you see the problem!). I love seeing names from across the pond. So interesting! Thanks.

Starcatcher668 Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Saraallison is right! It IS interesting to see international name stats…
Anyway, back to the point. I love both Amelia and Harry, but will definitely NEVER use Amelia because of it’s popularity in the U.S.
However, I AM surprised to see Daisy on the top ten, I still think of that as a 70’s name….same with Jessica….
That’s about it…otherwise the stats are relatively similiar to the U.S. ones—surprisingly.

OliviaSarah Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Funny, I was just looking at these. You can find the whole list here ––england-and-wales/2011/index.html

I’m surprised about the top two, really. Amelia and Harry are two I’ve actually noticed a decline in. I know lots of them, but mainly over 5 – no babies at all! I’m a bit sad about Amelia though… it’s a family name and I’ve always wanted to use it (It was actually almost my name, 15 years ago).

I was expecting Evie, Ella, Mohammed and William to be a bit higher really, although they’re pretty high respectively! And I know that Mohammad with it’s combined spellings would at least be in the top 5! There are SO many little boys with this name in the UK.

Not many of my favourites are in the top 100, aside from Frankie which is new.

southern.maple Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

The biggest differences between the US top 100 and England’s top 100:

1. The almost complete lack of unisex names on the girls’ side: With the exception of Madison, all of the unisex names so popular for girls in the US belong to the boys in England.

2. The almost complete lack of “creative” spellings

3. The abundance of nicknames names

Overall, the UK’s top names are infinitely better than the US’s. The UK just seems to be classier with their naming style.

NoahsARK Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Jessica could be a knock on from the extensive media coverage of the British poster girl for the Olympics: Jessica Ennis, who has been a household name since 2009

erin13 Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I might be bias, but I do prefer the British list overall compared to the US one. Whilst the US seem to be more creative and daring with their names, over here the names, at least the ones on the top 100, seem to be more old-fashioned and, dare I say it, classier.

stripedsocks Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I don’t see anything classier about nickname names than modern constructions. Alfie and Charlie can go sit in the corner with Jayden and Addison as far as I am concerned. Tommy and Ollie are revolting.

Of course, I dislike both Amelia and Harry intensely. But the names I like best on the British list are the Jacob/Noah and Lily/Emily type names that are well-represented on the American list as well.

I do like Imogen though. I have to hand it to the UK for that one.

Malaria Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Another possible boost for Amelia is Doctor Who. I know some people who would consider the name for just that reason alone lol.

imperioustigerlily Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Im SO glad to see Bailey in their top 100 on the BOYS side 🙂 its one of my very favorite boy names, but people keep telling me that it sounds like a dog name. Maybe I should move to the UK, haha.

Mara_lyn86 Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 1:45 am

I don’t get the nickname as names trend over in the UK, but we have our own quirks on our popularity charts. I don’t think that the US charts are necessarily classless compared to the UK because we do have some of the same names that are popular over there, maybe except Poppy and Freya for the girls. I just think that in the US, people want to be more unique and think of something out of the box compared to the UK, which looks back at history and uses the classic names. There is nothing wrong with both.
I have to agree with a previous poster saying that Jessica is outdated in the US. I remember going to school with so many Jessica’s, it was ridiculous.
I really like Amelia, and I am sure it will hit big in the US in the next few years. Harry always makes me think of Harry Potter, and I don’t like how Americans pronounce it.

Poppy528 Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 2:07 am

Wow just ship me across the pond! I love Harry and Jack! I would love twins right now named just that. Just checked and half of these are names of family members (counting dog Ella), I’m clearly a fan.

Thank you OliviaSarah for the entire list. I keep the Swedish stats as a bookmark in my iPhone so adding this too. Do they not track to 1000 like US? Now I just need France’s list.

Fascinating read. Cheers, Poppy

Alana20 Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 2:56 am

I like the name Harry, but i prefer Amely to Amelia. My fav on that list are Lily, Ruby, Grace, Ava, Isabella, Isla, Evie, Poppy and Sophia.

rollo Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 3:10 am

I am so happy to see that Harry has reached No 1!! It is well deserved and much friendlier than the stuffy Henry.

And wonderful to see that the beautiful Amelia has reached No 1 too.

I love the girl’s list, not so keen on the boy’s list.

rollo Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 3:16 am

mara I just wanted to say that Harry being used as a full name is not a new idea or trend there have been multitudes of Harry’s in the anglosphere for a long time, and Harry is not considered a nickname here in Australia. I am just so pleased that the new generation of baby namers are showing such good naming sense.

maggiemary Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 3:44 am

I like Harry but I really do not like Amelia, there’s just something about the sound of it that doesn’t sit right with me. On the whole though, the list is better than the US one, I’m afraid to say. Having said that, I notice that Nevaeh is at #118, so scarily close to hitting the top 100. I thought that natives of my dad’s country of birth were better than that!!

milliejones Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 5:50 am

Being a Brit, I’m not at all that surprised by the list although I’m a little disappointed that Amelia is now number 1 when it was so low down and unusual when I was born! I’ve got to say though, I recently meet a class of 4 year olds and found that barely any of the girls had names in the top 100 and if they did they were pretty low down – Orla, Tabitha, and Mirren – but they had Oliver’s, Charlie’s, and Harry’s running around everywhere! I thought that was interesting. And Poppy528, yes they only publish the top 100.

isabel_r Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 7:46 am

I LOVE both Amelia & Harry! Harry has been a favorite of mine for a while now, but it always seems very awkward paired with mns, and i have to admit there’s the very possible teasing. I wish it was more popular in the US so i wouldn’t have to worry (but not number 1!) The only girls names I even slightly dislike are Jessica, Ava, & Emily. For boys I only wouldn’t use Mohammed. SO exciting to Riley so high for boys and absent on the girl’s list. I love the name, but all the feminization spellings (Rylee, Rylie, Rilee) have put me off of using it here.

thetxbelle Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 9:30 am

OT: is anyone else having trouble accessing the forums? I’m getting a message saying my IP address is banned 🙁

OnceUponaName Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 9:37 am

thetxtbelle yes! I just tried to go on the forums and it said my IP address was banned. Does anyone know why? Oh, and about the names: I really dislike Harry. I don’t know why, I just don’t like it. The only other 2 boys names I like are Jack and Oliver. I love Poppy, but the other names I’m sorta lukewarm about. I don’t get the trend of naming your kid a nn. If I wanted an Evie, I’d name her Evangeline or some longer name that she could resort to if she hated Evie.

author in writing Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 10:06 am

Seems obvious to me. Harry Potter and Prince Harry as namesakes for British boys and now Amelia “Amy” Jessica Pond Williams of Doctor Who? Lily, Jessica, Jack and Alfie as also all HP/DW inspired. I always thought Olivia and Oliver would be flash-in-the-pan anyways. I do love that Freya and Daisy make the top 20!

Lou Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

@milliejones & poppy528 Actually, they publish and rank every name given to 3 or more babies. When you open the excel spreadsheet following the link someone else has given in the comments, you need to go to the last tab et voila. Also, Mirren is in the Scottish Top 100.

Oh, and it’s highly unlikely Amelia Lily inspired the upsurge of Amelia. She hit TV screens in, what, August? and was kicked off the first live show (although she was brought back when another contestant quit in Nov, but it wasn’t a popular decision).

Also ONS release tables showing what name is the most popular for each month, and Amelia was #1 in June, so Amelia was already getting popular prior to anyone even knowing who Amelia Lily was.

Those citing Amelia Pond as a possible inspiration instead have a point, BUT she almost exclusively goes by Amy on the show and the name Amy fell 13 places, whilst Aimee fell out of the Top 100 altogether. So again, possibly not the real reason behind Amelia being #1, because surely both she and Amy would rise thanks to the DW character, not one rises whilst the other sharply falls?

Personally, I love the name Harry and I don’t think there is anything wrong with the nickname trend per se. Lucy isn’t a nickname by origin, but Molly is, and I think they’re pretty similar in style. Why say that it’s acceptable to use Lucy, and then turn around and insist it’s Mary nn Molly?

Gosh, I sound like a moaning old codger, don’t I ? 😉

skizzo Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Loving that all the unisex names are rightly so on the boys list: Bailey, McKenzie/Kenzie, Riley, Jamie, Finley/Finlay, Reese/Rhys, Rory, Ashley, Morgan, Taylor, Kai, Harley, Casey, Robin, so refreshing compared to the US where all these names are considered “so kuwt for a baby girl”…

Maerad Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I like the list.

That being said I’m suprised by the lack of really old names, especially as I know a lot of babies who have been given them.
I know little boys with the mn Harry, but most boys I’ve seen recently are called Freddie (which is somewhere in the 40’s I think).
The babies I’ve met recently have been;

Freddie (x3)

I like the nickname-name trend, but then I am a Brit, my nephew is Alfie, I see it as a stand alone name now… I also know an Evie my age who’s always been pleased to only be an Evie.

The differences are very interesting though.

Saracita00 Says:

August 15th, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Always enjoy stats more than speculation. Thanks for a great blog entry! I was particularly struck by the “pairs” of similar names with the same rank — Olivia & Oliver, Evie & Ethan, Daisy & Dylan. It seems notable that there are three such sets in the Top 20 and I think that says a lot for what’s popular at the moment.

driftergreen Says:

August 18th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Poppy528: If you click the link that OliviaSarah posted, you can download Excel documents for each gender and one of the pages on each contains a chart of every name given to more than three babies in 2011 🙂

jjmonkey Says:

August 19th, 2012 at 3:58 am

Amelia is popular because of Doctor Who, Amy’s Birthname
Harry is because of Harry Potter

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