UK vs US Popular Baby Names

UK vs US Popular Baby Names

Britain and America: two countries sharing, yet divided by, a common language.

As both a Brit and a name lover, the release of the US statistics is always fascinating for me. On your top 10 are names of interest which are having a direct influence on British names. There are names which have had their day in the UK and are now swiftly declining, and, of course, there are names which are very similar in both countries.

Disclaimer: There are no “UK” name ranks as a whole. Each country releases their data separately. The ranks quoted below are taken from the popular names in England and Wales 2013 statistics and the popular names in Scotland 2014 data.

Similar Rank

William – A perennial favorite in both countries, ranking #5 in the US and #8 in England and Wales.

Jacob – Jacob ranks at #4 in both England and Wales and the US. However, though Jacob has been solidly in the top 10 since 1993 in the US, it has only been so over here since 2011.

Ethan – #6 in the US and #14 in England and Wales. The name has risen up the Top 100 in both countries over the last two decades thanks to Ethan Hawke and the character Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible. Its highest UK rank was #4 in Scotland in 2011.

James – James ranks at #9 in both the US and England and Wales and #2 in Scotland. The only difference is that while James has just re-entered the US top 10, it hasn’t been out of the top 10 in the UK in the last forty years.

Daniel – America’s #10 ranks #22 in England and Wales and #6 in Scotland.

Olivia – A clean sweep! Olivia is #2 in both the US and the UK.

Isabella – #4 in the US and #8 in England and Wales. Isabelle is also a high ranker in the UK, and for both ‘Izzy’ is the preferred British nickname.

Ava – Proving that we are all susceptible to the same global celebrity influences, Ava has risen swiftly up the US and UK ranks in the last fifteen years, thanks to the celebrity boost of Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman.

Mia – Short, two syllable –a ending girls’ names are hot both sides of the pond. #8 in the US and #10 in England and Wales, petite Mia looks set to rise further in both countries.

Emily – Previously a #1 name in both countries, Emily may be falling a little, but she is still strong in the Top 10 of both countries.

America Leads the Way

Noah – Top American favourite Noah is also rising in Britain on a steady curve. We are lagging behind however, with a rank of #13 in England and Wales and #7 in Scotland.

Mason – We Brits have really taken to the American-led surname trend in recent years. Mason is a prime example having risen to #27 in England and Wales and #11 in Scotland.

Sophia – America’s third most popular girls’ name has been rising steadily in the last ten years in the UK, now ranking at #15 in England and Wales and looking set to overtake our favourite variant: Sophie.

Madison – Like Mason, Madison is a surname-turned-first name which Brits have directly imported from America. Like in the US, Madison was at a peak in England and Wales in 2005 when it ranked #39. It has since fallen to #92.

Opposite Directions

Liam – While Liam has hit #2 in the US and may even bag the #1 spot soon, it is on a steep decline in the UK. Rising to the Top 100 in the 80s, and Top 20 in the 90s, Liam was #3 in Scotland and #10 in England and Wales back in 1996. Declining ever since, it now ranks #36 and #67 respectively.

Michael – Michael is to America what James is to Britain: a solid classic rarely out of the Top 10 in a century. However, Michael fell out of the Top 10 in Britain in the 90s and has been falling across the board ever since. It currently ranks #53 in both England and Wales and Scotland.

Alexander – While Alexander has risen fourteen places (from 22 to 8) in America in the last twenty years, it has fallen eleven places in England and Wales in the same period, from 13 to 24.

Emma – Emma is to the UK, what Jessica is to the US. We each find it strange to see our 70s/80s darling ranking so highly in the other country. Emma was #4 in both 1974 and 1984 in England and Wales so most Emmas in Britain are in the 25-40 age bracket. Since its heyday, it has been steadily declining and now ranks #55.

Charlotte – New to the US Top 10, sweet Charlotte has been rapidly rising up the US top 100 since 2007 – and set to rise further. However, from its peak rank of #4 in England and Wales in 1994, Charlotte’s been going the opposite way over here where it now ranks #21.

Abigail – Pretty Abigail has never quite taken off over here in Britain like it has in the US (where it now ranks #8). Abigail peaked at #19 in 2004 but has been steadily declining since.

The Most “American” Names (to Brits at least)

Within the US Top 100, there are some interesting choices which stand out to Brits.

There are several names in the US Top 100 which are having a strong impact on trends in the UK. Such names are new to the British naming landscape – they have never previously been of a high rank — and, though they are still below the Top 100 of England and Wales, all are on a steep upward curve. The American names getting more popular in Britain:

Jackson (#106) Carter (#129) Wyatt (#366) Hunter (#211) Landon (#976) Jaxon (#147) Isaiah (#273) Eli (#134) Jeremiah (#273) Grayson (#231) Josiah (#272) Colton (#931) Jace (#420) Parker (#354) Ayden (#288) Chase (#205) Hudson (#268) Nolan (#771) Jaxson (#369) Cooper (#198) Lincoln (#204) Xavier (#172) Bentley (#263) Carson (#464) Brody (#170) Ryder (#581) Camden (#821)

Harper (#160) Avery (#1148) Aubrey (#959) Zoey (#584) Addison (#784) Lillian (#339) Aria (#214) Audrey (#437) Ariana (#186) Savannah (#133) Arianna (#322) Penelope (#130) Skylar (#276) Nora (#479) Peyton (#300) Aubree (#750) Nevaeh (#107) Autumn (#197) Khloe (#381) London (#1484) Hadley (#1639)

There are also polarized names; those that have long since had their heyday in Britain but remain well used in the US. Many have moved distinctly into “parent-name” territory over here:

Andrew – Peaked at #3 in 1964 and left top 100 in 2007. It now ranks #154.

John – John was #1 from 1914 to 1944 but has been steadily declining ever since. It now ranks #107.

Christopher – Christopher was the most popular boys’ name of 1984. It now ranks #132.

Christian – Peaking at #49 in 1974, Christian has seen a steady fall, and now ranks #218.

Jordan – Jordan was #10 in 1994 but has been declining ever since to #215.

Gavin – Riding high in the top 100 from 1964 to 1984, Gavin is now firmly a “dad name” in Britain. It currently ranks #882.

Dominic – In the Top 100 from 1964 to 2007, Dominic now ranks #102.

Jason – Jason also joined the Top 100 in 1964 and fell out after 2002. It now ranks #155.

Ian – A Top 100 favourite from the 1920s to the 1980s, Ian peaked at #8 in 1964. Currently ranking at #596 having been on a steady decline, it is now breaching into ‘granddad name’ territory.

Justin – Justin reached #47 in 1974, but unlike the US, it never went any higher. It has been falling ever since and now ranks #307.

Natalie – A darling of the 80s, Natalie reached #16 in 1984. It has been steadily declining since, leaving the top 100 after 2002 (the same time Natalie moved up into the Top 20 in the US). It now ranks #244.

Samantha – Back in 1974, when Samantha was only #128 in the US, it had reached #9 in England and Wales. It stayed popular at #8 in 1984 but has been declining ever since. It now ranks #324, meaning most British Samanthas are aged 25-40.

Claire – Joining the Top 100 in the 1960s, Claire was the #2 name in 1974 and still #6 in 1984. Claire fell out of the top 100 here in 1997: the year before it moved up into the Top 100 in the US. It currently ranks #865.

Caroline – Caroline was in the Top 100 from 1944 to 1984, peaking at #15 in 1964. It has been on a steady decline ever since and now ranks #733.

Melanie – In the Top 100 from 1964 to 1984, Melanie fell out of favour by the 90s and now ranks #593.

Naomi – While Naomi is on an upward march up the US Top 100, it’s going the opposite way in Britain. It joined the Top 100 in the 80s and hit #60 in 1994. It has now steadily slipped down to #140.

Katherine – Katherine (in some spelling or other) was in the Top 100 in every decade throughout the 20th century in Britain. And, from 1964 to 1997, three spellings (Catherine, Katherine and Kathryn) were all in the Top 100 at the same time. The highest point reached was by Catherine at #19 in 1964 and #22 in 1974.Despite it being the name of our favourite Duchess, Catherine just can’t shake its 70s/ 80s vibe. Both Catherine and Katherine now rank jointly at #230.

Finally, there are a few names that just don’t brew our British teas. They have been below our Top 100 for a long time and are at a plateau, just bobbing along quietly, rising and falling little, making very few waves:

Julian (#291) Adrian (#203) Brayden (#420) Angel (#1339) Kevin (#177) Jose (#954) Easton (#4658) Asher (#394) Juan (#1617) Luis (#388)

Brooklyn (#492) Allison (#2313) Camila (#3526) Riley (#1075) Hailey (#1400) Kaylee (#854) Paisley (#784) Kennedy (#1148) Madelyn (#865) Serenity (#802) Stella (#345) Genesis (#2176) Mackenzie (#1360) Kylie (#1128) Piper (#492) Taylor (#200) Brianna (#608) Ashley (#519) Madeline (#373) Gianna (#1587) Vivian (#1360)

Brooklyn, Riley, Mackenzie, Taylor and Ashley are all more popular for boys in Britain.

If you’re curious, take a look at the popular names in England and Wales and the popular names in Scotland.

About the Author

Eleanor Nickerson

Eleanor Nickerson

Eleanor Nickerson, better known to Nameberry message board visitors as Elea, is a primary school teacher living in Coventry, England and author of the blog British Baby Names.