UK vs US Popular Baby Names
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 England and Wales 2013 statistics and Scotland’s 2014 data.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, showing direct American influence:
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 polarised 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:
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)
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on May 22nd, 2015 at 10:43 pm
I take umbrage at Katherine/Catherine being called a “name of the (19)seventies”. Except you’re right… The name Katherine/Catherine or any variation thereof, has been a name of the seventies during every century since practically the beginning of time so it can hardly be “dated”. Catherine the Great, Catherine of Aragon, etc., etc. St. Catherine (there’s more than one)… The list goes on. The nicknames Kat, Katie and Kate are all popular in the United States. I don’t know about GB.
on May 22nd, 2015 at 11:10 pm
I think it’s funny that Americans name their children London more than actual Brits do.
on May 24th, 2015 at 4:19 am
Wonderful post, Elea. All so true.
I like names.darkgreener.com. It’s England and Wales’s version of name voyager. I think quite a large difference in UK vs US names is in the UK, Old Testament names are much less popular. Probably because of religious differences.
Another thing is how in the US, people put ‘ee’ on the end of a girls’ name. I personally think it looks odd, and I am not alone: In the England and Wales top 500, there are 2 such names: Aimee and Esmee, which are both French. In the US girls top 500, there are 12 names ending with ee.
@4perfectnames- I agree, and C/Katherine does seem less dated than Kathryn (my name). The nicknames Katie, Kate and Kat definitely were popular, in the 80s and 90s. They seem much more dated than the original, anyway.
@SimoneKadele- I suppose it would seem funny to Americans, but to English people, London is a place. So’s Camden. It doesn’t sound like a name. And in Scotland, there is a fair bit of anti-London sentiment going around. There seems to be a cultural difference about naming after cities we live near. Same with President surnames: You don’t catch anyone naming children after Prime Ministers.
on May 24th, 2015 at 2:59 pm
“Brooklyn, Riley, Mackenzie, Taylor and Ashley are all more popular for boys in Britain.”
Thank God. I’ve also noticed that Britain doesn’t have nearly as many ridiculous spelling variations in their charts as America. I was looking through the top 1000 the other night, and it seems like half the list consists of key smashes.
on August 8th, 2015 at 11:40 am
Wonderful, informative blog! I chuckled about Julian; to me it has always been the ultimate British name. My personal name preferences seem closer to U.K. than U.S.
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