By Eleanor Nickerson
It’s time once again to look back at the most prevalent trends that have influenced baby names in Britain in 2017.
HOT SOUNDS OF 2017: OR and WIL
For girls, the hottest vowel sound has been O this year in the UK, especially if it made up the “or” sound. Notable this year are Aurora, Orla, Cora, Flora and Victoria and I’ve also got my eye on Nora and Nola to rise.
For boys, the Wil names have proven a hit this year. The evergreen William is always in style, but this year, vintage Wilfred has also been making a big comeback to the limelight since it fell out of favour in the 1930s.
Not insignificantly, cuddly Wilbur has also been popping up in several birth announcements this year.
GUYS AND DOLLS
Now we are beginning to see the next wave of diminutive-style names which take their inspiration from the Depression era: dapper tough guys, blending vintage heritage with cheeky chap style, and sassy and feisty girls with vintage frills. Already, Ronnie, Reggie and Frankie for boys and Elsie, Nancy and Lola for girls rank in the Top 70 in England and Wales.
This is definitely the British trend to keep an eye on.
NEW GO-TO MIDDLE NAME
Rae (but also Rai, Ray, Raye and Star Wars-inspired Rey) has been a big hit as a middle name this year, and, although we won’t have official data to show the popularity of middle names, birth announcements this year have been rife with this pocket-powerhouse.
Many American readers might be baffled by this – after all, Rae has been a staple for you guys for years – but it’s relatively new to our shores and is now taking off in a big way.
Even minor celebrities have been getting in on the act. Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson named his daughter Phoebe Rae (who has a twin brother Chase) in May this year, and let’s not pass up the chance to mention Rae’s similarity to new-celeb favourite Reign/Rain/Reine/Raine etc.
TV AND FILM INFLUENCE
As it’s an age-old source of naming, television has once again had an impact on the fortunes of a selection of names in 2017.
ITV’s historical drama series Victoria (based on the life of a newly-married Queen Victoria) returned for a second series this year and drew in a huge viewing audience. Little wonder then that both Bounty and Babycentre have seen a boost in their polls for both the names Victoria and Albert.
Scotland’s provisional data for 2017 has seen Harley shoot up into the Top 100 for girls by 46 places up to #66 and Babycentre is reporting a rise in both Harley and Quinn for girls, so it is hard not to think that Suicide Squad supervillain Harley Quinn (portrayed by Margot Robbie) has been an influence.
ON-TREND CELEB BABIES
Here are some celebrities who were right on the money with current British trends:
Wren Ivy – Call The Midwife co-stars Helen George and Jack Ashton welcomed their first child in October and opted for two on-trend nature names. Ivy is already in the Top 40 and set to be an even bigger hit next year, while Wren is an up-and-coming star with its sleek one syllable.
Kit Harry Francis – Harry Judd of McFly fame and wife Izzy welcomed a son in August to join big sister Lola Rose Emma. With Kit Harrington’s star in its ascendancy and other celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Wayne Rooney choosing the name for their sons in 2015 and 2016, it is little wonder that Kit has been appearing in many British birth announcements this year.
Missy Mabel and Betsy Maggie – Emmerdale actress Lucy Pargeter gave birth to twin daughters in April after an 11-year IVF struggle and gave both girls diminutive names (always popular here in Britain) with a sassy “Guys and Dolls” edge.
Clementine Saskia – Apprentice runner-up and Celebrity Big Brother 13 contestant Luisa Zissman announced at the end of November that she had welcomed her third daughter whom she has named Clementine Saskia Collins to join big sister Indigo Esme and half-sister Dixie.
Dougie Bear – Take That’s Howard Donald welcomed his second child with wife Katie in February, joining big brother Bowie Taylan and older half-sisters Grace and Lola. Dougie fits perfectly alongside the likes of Top 100 English favourites Alfie, Ronnie, Reggie and Frankie, and – of course – Bear is almost a staple celebrity choice at the moment.
Valentina Raine – Back in March, Rochelle and Marvin Humes announced that they had named their second child Valentina Raine, a sister for Alaia–Mai. Not only did they choose the celebrity-hot pick of Raine (in one of it myriad spellings) as a middle name, but Valentina also hit the bullseye with its stylish V and elaborate syllables.
Polly – The Only Way Is Essex star Amy Childs welcomed her first child in April and chose to give her the vintage diminutive Polly. With Poppy in the top 20 in England and Wales, and Polly’s Guys and Dolls style (featured as a character name in the hugely popular 1920s gangster drama Peaky Blinders which returned for its fourth season this year), Polly feels like a perfectly on-trend choice.
Wolf Nine – In November, The Only Way Is Essex star Billi Mucklow announced that she and footballer fiancé Andy Carroll welcomed their second son to join big brother Arlo. Wolf Nine is certainly a bold choice, but the nature-inspired Wolf is perfectly on- trend (much like hot celebrity favourite Bear) while (just as Harper Seven Beckham got her middle name from her dad’s player number) Nine is Andy’s football number.