Category: popular British names

posted by: Elea View all posts by this author

By Eleanor Nickerson, British Baby Names

My previous post on Posh Name in Britain looked at the names most typically associated with the upper class. Uncommon they may be, but if you are to find them anywhere, it’s among England‘s elite. In this second part, I have been busily crunching data to find the names which as most popular among the upper class.

To try to ascertain which are the most popular names among the British upper classes (in England particularly), I have looked to birth announcements in The Times and The Telegraph – two newspapers which are favoured by the elite to announce family births.

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Baby Names Hot in the UK, Not in the US

British baby names

There are many baby names that are popular on both sides of the Atlantic: Olivia and Oliver, Charlotte and William both rank high in the US and the UK.

And then there are those baby names that are evidence of how wide the gulf is between the British and the American cultures.

We found 29 baby names — 20 for girls and nine for boys — that rank in the current British Top 200 (or so) that do not appear at all in the American Top 1000.  (Note: We did skip spelling variations such as Hollie and Isobel.)

And another five Top 200 baby names for girls and nine for boys that are down at the bottom of our Top 1000; in other words, vastly less popular in the US than in the UK.

One kind of name that much more popular in Britain than America: the nickname name, with choices like Evie and Maisie, Alfie and Archie in their Top 25 but not ranking as proper names in the US.

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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?

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I love the day once a quarter or so that I allow myself to wallow in the London Telegraph birth announcements. Britberries regularly admonish me not to take the names in the Telegraph to mean anything about typical British baby-naming behavior: Those are names chosen by mostly upper class families, they say, and are examples of a rarefied taste.

Point taken, but I still can’t help but be struck by how different many of the names are from what you’d hear in similar stratospheres of American society: on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, say, or in Beverly Hills.

There are dozens of names that are mentioned over and over in the British birth announcements that are nowhere near as fashionable here. But they’re attractive names, traditional yet quirky, excellent choices for any American parent — or British, Australian, or Canadian one, for that matter — who wants to emulate the English upper classes.

Prime examples from the recent crop of British names:

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British Baby Names: Hot New Trends

This was one of those delicious mornings when I allowed myself to dip into the recent British baby names in the London Telegraph birth announcements. As usual, they didn’t disappoint (can you tell that my speech has suddenly acquired a British cadence?) and I managed to pick up on some actual trends.

The first is that, now that Americans have started following the British lead and using two middle names, the Brits are upping the ante by using three. Four first names total, ala Charlie Gaspar Geoffrey Langton: that’s one major new trend.

But in another way, British parents have started imitating Americans by using surnames and word names as middle names: besides Langton, there’s a Macmillan, a Melrose, a Tiger and a Capability here.

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