Category: British baby names
As this year draws to a close, it’s time once again to look back at the most prevalent trends that have influenced baby names in Britain in 2016.
It looks like Oliver and Olivia will be the big hits of 2016. Oliver has been #1 in England and Wales since 2013 and is set to keep his crown. Olivia has taken second place to Amelia since 2011. But the births for Amelia have been steadily going down, and Olivia creeping up. Olivia has also taken the #1 spot in Scotland this year according to provisional data for 2016.
Both Olivia and Oliver are names with a lot of history, but were both quite rare in use up until the 18th and 19th century respectively. This gives them the same elegant, grounded feel as many “classic” perennial favourites, without feeling too tired or commonplace.
For many people (especially the non-name obsessed), names tend to fall into categories typically defined by their era.
There are the “classic” perennial choices like Elizabeth, William, Anna, James, which never seem to go out of style; the biblical choices which have been used, in various forms, for millennia (even if their popularity has fluctuated); the “old-fashioned” choices, which encompass anything popular 50+ years ago which have since fallen out of favour; and, of course, “modern” names.
Modern names feel like fresh, new creations. They may be inspired by words (Miley, Nevaeh, Serenity), a newly discovered import (Isla, Mila, Leonardo) or a surname adopted for use as a given name. All feel like they break the mold, treading a new path from the popular given names that have come before and perhaps raising eyebrows among the older generations.
But our perception of “modern” can sometimes be misleading. Here are some names – which appear to be modern coinages – that were used as given names centuries ago, back in the Middle Ages.
Over 50% of names in both the US and England and Wales Top 100 are identical, perfectly showing that were are far more united in our taste in names than we are divided. We share many of the same media and celebrity influences — hello, Mila and Aria — as well being better connected by the global world wide web.
Indeed, many of the highest risers in E&W this year have taken cues from the US: Noah, Jaxon, Carter, Elijah, Harper, Penelope, Evelyn are all recent and rising additions in the UK which are longstanding to American parents. Similarly, the likes of Scarlett, Eleanor, Charlotte, Lydia, Oliver, Henry and Liam — perennial staples in Britain since the 90s — have gained favour in the last decade in the US.
We continue to transport our favourite names back and forth across the pond (after all, one country’s popular favourite is another’s undiscovered gem), looking to each other for fresh-yet-usable inspiration year on year.
However, the differences are equally fascinating as the similarities, demonstrating our unique cultural heritages and differing national viewpoints:
Hot off the press! The breaking news of the Top 100 British baby names!
By Eleanor Nickerson
By Eleanor Nickerson
I was lucky enough recently to visit Bath for a weekend break to celebrate a good friend’s birthday.
Among many other treasures there I noticed a carved block bearing the name “Cornelianus.” The impact and permanence of the stone struck me for a moment; how one name, carved centuries ago indelibly into rock, has survived and is still seen today. Cornelianus may no longer be used as a given name, but for this particular Cornelianus, his name endures.
Sol – Back when the Roman baths were at their apex, the great temple courtyard featured two buildings facing each other across the altar dedicated to the moon goddess Luna and the sun god Sol. Lovely Luna is at #146 in England and Wales, 110 in the US and on the rise. Sol, in contrast, languishes down at #988 over here and is not even in the Top 1000 in America. In many ways this is surprising. It’s a short and punchy name – a style which is fashionable at the moment but isn’t so entirely unheard of as to make it weird.