Category: British name trends
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.
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.
What names are quintessentially ‘British’?
I see this question a lot but it’s a hard one to pin down. Do we mean solely British in origin, or only British in use? When Prince George was born our media heralded it as a “quintessentially British” name — and why not? We’ve had numerous kings bear the name, and it’s even the name of the patron saint of England. But George was originally a Greek name, brought late into our Royalty by German Hanovarians. Ask many Americans and the first George they think of is Washington or Bush.
For me, the quintessentially British names are those which are very familiar to us as a nation, that have been or are currently popular, but are little used in America, Canada, Australia and other English-speaking countries. Names such as Nicola – our darling of the 70s – Darcy, Imogen, Poppy, Freya, Alfie, Jenson, Gareth, Alistair and Finlay.
2013 has been an interesting year for British appellations. As it comes to a close, let’s take a look back at some of the most prevalent trends and influences on baby names in Britain this year.
One syllable ‘B’ names have been particularly noticeable this year. Beau/Bo and Bay have proven to be popular unisex choices while vintage Bea is also seeing a revival as both a nickname for rising Beatrice and Beatrix and a stand-alone choice. All three have been particularly popular this year as short and sweet middle names
Similarly, Bear not only made headlines as the name of Kate Winslet’s newborn son recently, it has also seen action as a middle name in the UK this year, much akin to Jamie Oliver’s Buddy Bear Morris. Some intrepid British parents are using Bear as a creative nickname for Arthur; others are braving it as a first name.
For most people outside of the UK, “British Names” are typified by the old Victorian legacy of Empire and afternoon tea, or the ethereal mystery of ancient Celtic folklore. The stereotype often favours rarefied aristocratic favourites such as Percival and Araminta, or tongue-twisting indigenous Gaelic choices like Aonghus or Caoimhe.
If you look at the most popular names that are actually used in Britain today you will see a much more varied picture. Like other Western countries there is a large influence from film and television, a popular cult of celebrity, and a growing awareness of global fashions (yes, we have many Neveahs and Jaydens, too). And yet, even in our modernised naming practices, British trends still manage to make a subtle nod to history in a style that feels quite unique.