British Baby Names: Anglo-American Relations

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?

Looking first at the comparative Top 10s (bearing in mind that the latest British baby names figures are for 2010 and the US for 2011), we see that there are only three girls’ names in common—Olivia, Emily and Chloe, and only one on both boys’ lists—the classic, royal William:


The UK versus the US, the Brits on the left, Americans on the right:

  1. Olivia (#4 in US)— Sophia (#27 in UK)
  2. Sophie (51)—           Isabella (12)
  3. Emily (6)—                Emma (48)
  4. Lily (15)—                  Olivia (1)
  5. Amelia (30)—            Ava (11)
  6. Jessica (120)—        Emily (3)
  7. Ruby (109)—             Abigail (34)
  8. Chloe (10)—              Madison (67)
  9. Grace (16)—              Mia (13)
  10. Evie (644)—               Chloe (8)


The UK vs the US–British Top 10 on the left, US on the right:

  1. Oliver (78)——–Jacob (12)
  2. Jack (45)———-Mason (46)
  3. Harry (709)——-William (7)
  4. Alfie (0)———— Jayden (26)
  5. Charlie (236)——Noah (18)
  6. Thomas (63)——Michael (53)
  7. William (3)——–Ethan (13)
  8. Joshua (14)——–Alexander (21)
  9. George (165)—— Aiden (66)
  10. James (17)———Daniel (11)

Looking at the latest EnglandWales stats for the Top 100 boys’names, 47 of them are also in the US Top 100; for the girls, only 39 are in both Top 100s.  When it comes to how many Top 100 UK names were in the US Top 1000, the list swells to 95 for boys, 88 for girls.

So what were these five boy names that were so popular in Britain but didn’t rank at all on the other side of the pond?  Four of the five are nickname names, and most have national cultural references unfamiliar in the US. They are:

Alfie  (#4 in the UK, where Alfie Moon is along-running popular character on the soap EastEnders)

Archie (#24, also an EastEnders character)

Ollie (63)—could be tied to Olly Murs, a hit on The XFactor in 2009.

Louie (74)—possibly from Louie Spence, a dancer/TV personality

Jenson (96)– Jenson Button  is a high profile English Formula 1 championship racing driver

Now, turning to the girls’ side, what were those 12 high-ranking British names that never got on the US list at all?

They are:

Maisie (14 in the UK)

Poppy (16)

Freya (19)

Imogen (26)

Florence (54)

Rosie (59)

Hollie (69)

Isobel (75)

Niamh (78)

Harriet (86)

Tilly (88)

Maisy (100)

But, supporting the Brits-are-ahead-of-us theory, a number of those names above are in line to make the US list before long.

And, finally, here are some more names that show a marked disparity between the two cultures.


Holly–#25 in the UK, 426 in the US

Matilda–#53 in the UK, 769 in the US

Amelie–#55 in the UK, 695 in the US

Esme–#74 in the UK, 981 in the US

Zara–#76 in the UK, 643 in the US

Tia–#79 in the UK, 917 in the US

Aimee–#80 in the UK, 680 in the US

Martha–#85 in the UK, 772 in the US

Libby–#98 in the UK, 922 in the US

Maryam–#99 in the UK, 767 in the US

BOYS (apart from the various spellings of Mohammed)

Harry–#3 in the UK, 709 in the US

Lewis–#27 in the UK, 633 in the US

Callum–#40 in the UK, 837 in the US

Freddie–#45 in the UK, 977 in the US

Harvey–#47 in the UK, 862 in the US

Theo–#50 in the UK, 867 in the US

Toby–#54 in the UK, 771 in the US

Harley–#57 in the UK, 647 in the US

Reuben–#71 in the UK, 942 in the US

Kian–#72 in the UK, 602 iun the US

Bobby–#83 in the UK, 688 in the US

Stanley–#88 in the UK, 674 in the US

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10 Responses to “British Baby Names: Anglo-American Relations”

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skizzo Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 6:01 am

I think you missed out names like Finlay and Bailey which dont even rank in the US boys top1000 anymore

skizzo Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 6:04 am

Also, Rory, Jamie, Finley, Reece, Rhys, Harvey, all rank really low in the US when they’re top100 for boys.

stairwaytoastar Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 6:43 am

I grew up in the UK but now live in US, check out my list on names frequently heard in UK but not in US:

evergreen Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 7:38 am

Very interesting reading. Being from New Zealand, and living in Australia I can say that a lot of the names that rank highly in the UK and not in the USA are also very common in this part of the world. Names such as Callum(SO popular), Harry,Oliver, Louis(and it’s various spellings), Matilda and Poppy are all very commonplace. I would also add Hamish, I believe it is not used often in America, but is very common here 🙂

Caitlynnnn Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 9:33 am

I love Ruby and Isobel but it seems it’s little scary to name my baby as those names in US

BritishAmerican Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 10:04 am

Loving this British week, being a British expat in the US! Shame I don’t have any more babies to name!

I started comparing the UK and US lists in 2005 when we were expecting our first baby. That’s where I found the name Maisie, which I liked a lot, but my American husband didn’t. I’ve since met a preschooler Maisie locally. Though I did notice that the librarian often calls her Macy instead of Maisie.

British friends I went to secondary school (high school) with, have named their babies names mentioned here: Jenson (my friend is a F1 fan), Freddie, Imogen and Louie.

We have a George – I like that it’s top 10 in England now, but much less popular here in the US. Though it was my American husband who picked the name! Luckily it fit into our (my?) British expat theme.

In 2007 when I browsed the UK lists for a name for our son, I liked Oliver a lot. I didn’t know any Olivers growing up in the UK. (Same with the name Maisie.) So that was a good selling point. I wasn’t as keen on the nickname Ollie – neither was my husband. In the end, when our son was born, my husband picked between my two favourites: Oliver and Henry. He picked Henry. Which is also increasingly popular in the US, but does make me think of all the King Henrys in English history. Plus there is the British nickname option of Harry – if my son likes that one day.

Stanley was one we looked at in 2011. My husband kind of liked it. I prefer it over the more nicknamey Alfie and Freddie etc. I’d definitely go with Alfred or Frederick personally.

Zeffy Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 10:44 am

It’s so interesting to compare the naming trends of both coutries. It really seems that the English and Welsh keep it traditional (or at least they tend to) but the Americans are more adventurous in their picks. But, I have to say, the cultural references did make me a laugh a little. I don’t think many English people would think of Louis Spencer when they’re considering Louie as a name for their son, and Olly Murs is a somewhat new celebrity so I don’t how much impact he’s had on the popularity of Ollie.

dancingwithdad Says:

June 27th, 2012 at 7:10 pm

In regards to Hamish…I didn’t even realize it was a name until I came to Nameberry. I teach at an international school (mostly Korean students, where they choose an English name). One of the boys chose Hamish and I didn’t recognize it at all (and I consider myself to be somewhat of a name nerd, at least compared to those around me).

evergreen Says:

June 29th, 2012 at 12:31 am

That is so interesting about Hamish. It is the name of one of Australia’s most popular tv personalities – Hamish Blake. And as I said it is a very well known name in this part of the world.

lisar Says:

July 12th, 2012 at 9:04 pm

My husband was born in England, and we currently live in Canada. When naming all of our children, he was definitely influenced by British name lists. We have Sebastian, Oliver and Harriet. We hear some Sebastian and Oliver, but Harriet is really rare (or at least we haven’t heard it Canada). I love that it’s on the Top 100 in England:)

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