British Name Trends 2014
Now that 2014 is coming to an end, here is a look at the main trends and influences that have proven popular in Britain in this eventful year.
ALL ABOUT THE AR
The hottest sound this year is the undoubtedly ‘Ar’. Archie, Arthur, Martha and Arran in Scotland have already obtained top 100 status, but 2014 has also seen a rise in the likes of Arlo and Archer for boys and Arabella, Aria/Arya and Ariana for girls.
Clara and Margot are two vintage ‘ar’ sound choices that have been gaining more attention this year, while the similar ‘Or’ sound has also bolstered Aurora, Aurelia and Scottish choices Orla and Rory.
LAST NAME FIRST
Here is a trend that shows direct and ongoing influence from America. The –son names have long since been imported to the UK and we can now boast Mason, Harrison, Jackson, Carson and Madison in our top 100 lists.
This year has also marked the centenary of the beginning of the First World War; an event that has been at the forefront of national remembrance. It is little wonder then that some of the names gaining ground this year bring to mind that by-gone age of heroism and stiff upper-lips. These are vintage choices, in line with the Hundred Year Rule, but with a decidedly tailored and refined quality.
For boys this is focused on quirky-traditional choices such as Rupert, Hugo, Wilfred, Rufus, Jasper and Felix. For girls, vintage choices with prevalent vowel sounds have proven popular, including Beatrice/Beatrix, Iris, Edith/Edie, Lena, Elodie, Ottilie and Iona (especially in Scotland).
TV AND FILM INFLUENCE
ON-TREND CELEB BABIES
Chester William – TV presenter Holly Willoughby made a striking but perfectly quirky-vintage choice when she chose Chester for her third child, a brother for Harry and Belle. In a similar vein, Robbie Williams recently chose Charlton Valentine for his son.
Nelly Elizabeth and Minnie – TOWIE star Billie Faiers and singer Rachel Stevens both chose dainty diminutives for their babies this year. Both Nelly and Minnie are off the beaten track, but fit in well in a country of little Millies, Bobbys and Gracies.
Buzz Michelangelo – Plumping for a suitably eccentric celebrity name, McFly front man Tom Fletcher chose a short and bouncy B name (one of the rising trends of 2013) with an elaborate middle, honouring mum Giovanna’s Italian heritage.
Anaíya Bell – Girls Aloud member Nadine Coyle wowed this year with her choice of lyrical Arabic choice Anaiya, complimented with popular celebrity choice Bell (Katie Piper welcomed Belle Elizabeth earlier this year, too).Anaiya was used previously in 2013 by former Blazin’ Squad member Kenzie for his daughter Wynter-Anaiya. Last month he welcomed her little sister Wyllow-Alliyah.
Evander Maxwell – Hot off the press, and possibly my favourite celebrity baby name of 2014, is the recent arrival of British singer-songwriter Example (aka Elliot Gleave) and Autralian model Erin McNaught. Evander is a cool mythological twist on popular Evan and Alexander that has been popping up in quite a few birth announcements this year.
THE 2014 BRITISH NAME CONTROVERSY
Every year there is a big hullaballoo about a particular name in the British press. In 2013 it was the Great George Explosion Hysteria; in 2014 it’s the frenzied response to the news that BabyCentre’s Top 100 for 2014 ranked Muhammad as the number 1 name in Britain.
My reaction? What a fuss over nothing. There’s nothing new here.
A bit of background: Every year, babycentre.co.uk release the top names submitted by parents who registered on their site in that year. Typically, that represents around 50,000 names compared to the more than 600,000 registered births in England and Wales each year, creating a sample of less than 10%.
Meanwhile, for the last five years at least, Muhammad in some spelling has ranked within the Top 20 in the England and Wales official data and when all the transliterated spellings are added together, it usually gets pushed to number 1, as in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
There is a simple reason why Muhammad ranks so highly, and it has nothing to do with media’s paranoia of an Arabic-invasion. Muslim births represent, at most, 10% of all births in Britain. But unlike British Christian and atheist parents who are choosing from an ever increasing and diverging pool of names, Muslim parents are sticking to the tradition of honouring their most revered prophet. It is often given to boys as a first name, even if they are known by their second name.
So what was different this year? Basically, this year was the first time BabyCentre combined different spellings, while the official data lists them separately. Quite a storm in a teacup.
Eleanor Nickerson, better known to nameberry message board visitors as Elea, is a primary school teacher living in Coventry, England and author of the excellent, highly recommended blog British Baby Names.