Top English Girls’ Names: Who Are The Most Popular?

The top English girls’ names for the current year are listed on Nameberry here. You can also see popularity statistics for English names on the individual name pages.

English name standings have not been published consistently every year. At the beginning of 2009, the UK ‘s Office for National Statistics let it be known that they wouldn’t be issuing their annual lists of most popular names due to recessional budget cuts, and a collective moan was heard across the name-o-sphere.  (Can you imagine what would happen if our Social Security list didn’t appear one Mother’s Day?)

Well, I don’t know what happened–maybe the uproar was too deafening–but suddenly,  nine months later, their lists of top 100 boys and 100 girls names  in England and Wales have now materialized.  Definitely a case of better late than never.

Once upon a time I used to think that, since we share the same language, the Yanks and the Brits would have similar taste in names.  That was before I married a Brit myself and it came to naming our daughter, when I saw just how different our perceptions of most names were.  And though things have evened out to some degree with the rise of the Internet and the international sharing of opinions, looking at the top English girls’ names today (we’ll take up the boys’ next week), we can see that there is still quite a divide. 

The top ten names , with one exception, aren’t that different:

OLIVIA*
RUBY
EMILY
GRACE
JESSICA
CHLOE
SOPHIE
LILY
AMELIA
EVIE

*Note: If all the different versions of Isabel /Isabella were added together, it would be #1.

The exception, of course, is  Evie , which is only #853 in America, and is indicative of further discrepancies moving down  the rest of the   What’s especially interesting are the number of names in the UK top 100 that don’t even appear in the US top 1000 at all!  These include:

MILLIE
FREYA
POPPY
IMOGEN
MAISIE
ROSIE
NIAMH
HARRIET
HOLLIE
TILLY
FLORENCE
ESME

One thing that jumps out is the stronger representation of nickname names–5 out of 10.  And also the popularity of names that are still seen as cutting edge on this side of the Atlantic: Poppy, Imogen, Esme, as well as  a couple that are still considered too old fashioned by most American parents (nameberryites being the exception)–Harriet and Florence.

Here are some other top English girls’ names that rank much higher up –these are not even in the Top 500 in the US–but do have a good chance of  rising soon:

ISLA
MATILDA
ISABEL
AMELIE
LIBBY
EVE
EMILIA

THOSE NEW TO THE TOP 100 AFTER TAKING  THE MOST STARTLING LEAPS:

LEXI — up 4917 places
LEXIE — up 4911
AMELIE –up 2641
SIENNA — up 1060
GRACIE — up 529
AVA — up 508

And to complete the picture,  here are the top names on neighboring lists:

SCOTLAND:

SOPHIE
EMILY
OLIVIA
CHLOE
EMMA

NORTHERN IRELAND 

KATIE
SOPHIE
GRACE
JESSICA
EMMA

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33 Responses to “Top English Girls’ Names: Who Are The Most Popular?”

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Erin Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 1:23 am

Jessica is the biggest surprise to me. Seems really 80s (or is it 70s)? Right? Was it not popular in England then?

teabee Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 2:06 am

That’s what I thought, too, Erin! I don’t think Jessica’s as dated as some other 80’s names because it maintained its popularity for so long but I definitely thought other trends had taken over by now and that it would be in decline. Top ten?!

oddrey Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 2:18 am

I thought the same thing about Jessica! I liked all the other names but Jessica seems so dated in the U.S. I’m 24 and I grew up with tons of Jessicas!

Christina Fonseca Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 3:06 am

Oh, thank you so much for this post. Give us the link please so we can bookmark it. This is great info!

Jaclyn Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 4:57 am

I realize that it’s wildly popular and has a lovely meaning, but I have always hated the name Sophie. It just sounds more like something you would call your spaniel rather than your little girl.

Elizabby Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 5:02 am

Argh! And I here I thought I was so original and different with my daughter’s name being Evie! I did *not* choose Olivia because I didn’t want something too popular!

Nephele Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 7:32 am

Here you go, Christina:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=15282

Great blog, as always!

JNE Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 8:35 am

Love this post – so much fun! I’m a fan of Isobel, Imogen (of course!) and know a young Millie (2 yrs), as well as a Honey (!) and a Phoebe – all in SW England. We were definitely influenced by UK naming trends with our daughter (my OH is also a Brit and we lived over there for some years before moving to the US). All 3 of our current candidate boy names for the baby on the way are more popular in England than in the US, but they are all in the top 200 here. Thanks for the post and I’d love to see the ‘boy names’ version!

Dana Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 9:30 am

I was also surprised by Jessica — what causes that to be such a popular name over there now? I’m also surprised by the number of nicknames as given names — I know I would be more inclined to give the full name and have the child go by the nickname – for instance, Millicent nn Millie. If most Americans also do this, our lists may not reflect how many kids really have these cute nickname names.

Hil Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 10:02 am

I’m a North American living in England and I can confirm that almost all Jessicas here are under the age of 10. Young women who were born in the 70s/80s tend to be called things like Louise, Victoria, Emma, Helen, Claire, Gemma etc. Very different to what we could consider “80s names”!

JNE Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 10:29 am

Hil – yes!- and I knew several Joanne/Joanna and Caroline 70s-born gals in England, too.

Ghoti Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 5:14 pm

I’m very amused at the suprise at Jessica, as it’s exactly what I’ve been feeling at the mothers in the US considering Clare. Sure, it’s a nice enough name, but I was at school with 7 Clares.

redriding Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I get a bit miffed (is that an American expression too?) when Wales is lumped in with England, yet we definitely have our own naming trends. As you know, I work in a toyshop and write down all the customers’ names in a notebook behind the counter. I have not had any Jessicas, and the only ones I know are aged about fifteen.

You must bear in mind that these names are for the whole of the country, so the name choices will be quite different from the birth announcements in the upper-middle-class Telegraph or Times newspapers, which would be more to Nameberryites’ taste, I would imagine.

And Seren is number five in Wales! No mention of that, though.

Ailsa

linda Says:

September 16th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Ailsa–Certainly wouldn’t want to miff you–it’s the bureaucracy that lumps them together, not us! For the record, Ruby and Jack are #1 in Wales.
Can you tell us anything about Seren?

redriding Says:

September 17th, 2009 at 4:36 am

Oh no, I did not mean that I was annoyed with you, it is definitely the bureacracy!! Even though we now have a Welsh Assembly, England and Wales are lumped together for so many things, while Scotland and Northern Ireland manage to remain separate. It goes back centuries. (Welsh princes and kings being defeated by old Anglo-Saxons and being driven back to the hills etc.)

I just wanted to point out that we do have different naming trends, and that while some names with Welsh heritage have emigrated successfully over the border (Megan, Rhys, Rhiannon), others – possibly the ones that are more difficult to pronounce – are being used with greater frequency in Wales than anywhere else. Seren (meaning star) is a case in point. When I was a child, it was just a “naming word” and I had never heard or read about anyone with this name. Then about ten years ago, I heard of a baby named Seren, and it just seemed to take off from there, and now you can hardly move for Serens! It is pretty, but over-exposed already.

Pam did ask me a while back if I would like to do a guest blog on Welsh names and I am still plucking up courage.

linda Says:

September 17th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Ailsa–I do wish you’d give the guest blog a go–it would be great to have an insider’s view. I did one on Welsh names back in March, but more from a historic point of view.
And that’s really interesting about Seren–almost unheard of here.

Tinker Says:

September 17th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Have just found this wonderful site! I write historical romances and was doing research for my next series — need names from the 1910-1919 decade. Imagine my delight to discover that what’s old is “new” once again (I always suspected that naming trends were cyclical!) This lates list of Top English Girl’s Names reads like a page from my family tree, listing the names of my great aunts. Am delighted to learn that “Marjorie” is making a comeback — was my grandmother’s name. And please, yes, more about Welsh names, Ailsa. I live in Canada and confess I’ve yet to hear the name “Seren”. Such a pretty name. Wonder how long before the name makes its way across the pond. 🙂

linda Says:

September 17th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Thanks, and welcome to nameberry, Tinker. You should check out our message boards too, for lots of interesting name discussion.

Ellen Says:

September 18th, 2009 at 10:26 am

I want to point out that there is an error in the statement above: “THOSE NEW TO THE TOP 100 AFTER TAKING THE MOST STARTLING LEAPS:

LEXI — up 4917 places
LEXIE — up 4911
AMELIE –up 2641
SIENNA — up 1060
GRACIE — up 529
AVA — up 508

Those number show “change in ranks since 1998”. Lexi is the only one of those names that was new to the top 100 in 2008. All of the other were on the top 100 list for 2007. Ava, the highest ranking of the six in 2008, gained 18 places in 2008 (not 508 places).

linda Says:

September 18th, 2009 at 11:21 am

Ellen–You’re absolutely right–I am looking at the figures now and see how I misread them. Apologies! The only new entries to the lists since 2007 were: Blake, Ewan and Zak for the boys; Lexi, Florence, Emilia, Maryam and Esme for the girls.

Ellen Says:

September 18th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Linda, no apology needed, I just wanted to set the record straight. 🙂
From Patricia (middle name Ellen) –1st runner-up in your USA top 10 contest– and thank you very much for the book!

Ellen Says:

September 18th, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I was very disappointed when the UK stats weren’t released at the end of last year as expected and delighted to read months later — in a response to the Nameberry blog “British Baby Names–Quirky and Charming” — that the data would be released after all. I’ve been on the lookout for it since then and accessed it the minute it came out.

Comparing the top 100 girls’ names on that list with the US top 100 for 2008, I found that only 31 names (31%) are on both lists, while more than 2/3 of the Top 100 names in the US are not Top 100 names in England & Wales (and vice versa of course). Two of the Top 100 US girls’ names are Top 100 boys’ names in the UK: Taylor (#84) and Riley (#33). Other Top 100 US girls’ names missing in the UK top 100 may also be perceived as more masculine there. Another group of names missing from the British top 100 are the variations on Kayla, Kaylee, Makayla, Kylie, Kaitlyn, Katelyn, as are religious inspired names, including Nevaeh, Trinity and Genesis.

The 23 UK Top 100 girls’ names that rank between 312 and 880 on the US list might be good choices for parents looking for an appealing name that’s not so popular in the US. My favorites: Phoebe, Alice, Emilia, Matilda. Among the 14 UK Top 100 names not in the US Top 1000, my favorite is Maisie (but maybe as a nickname for Margaret or even Mabel, as is the case for one of VP Biden’s granddaughters).

Ellen Says:

September 18th, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Oops, another slight correction: it is IsObel, the Scottish form of the name, that is #58 on the UK list but not in the US Top 1000, while the much better known in the US IsAbel is in the Top 100 for both countries: #50 UK, #96 US.

linda Says:

September 18th, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Ellen–Thanks for all this.
I know someone who named her new baby Esme and is using the nickname Maisie.

Ellen Says:

September 18th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Interesting about Esme (must be pronounced as Esmé) called Maisie — and very cute!

According to a British poster on another baby name blog, the name Esme is being pronounced as ES-mee in the UK. That surprised me!

Elea Says:

September 20th, 2009 at 4:05 am

It’s great to finally have these released! I was so annoyed when the government put them on a backburner.

Jessica is one of those names that has consistently stayed popular in this country. It’s not that it wasn’t popular in the 80s — it was (I remember naming my doll Jessica). I would say that it is the UK equivalent to the US Ashley — big in the 80s and has been stcking around since then.

Elea Says:

September 20th, 2009 at 4:09 am

Oh, and just for Ailsa — I thought you might be interested to know that I know someone who just called their new baby Seren here in England (I love that name!). Welsh names are becoming very ‘hot’ in England as well 😉

I personally adore them, not only because they are fabulous, but because I’m 1/4 Welsh and extremely proud of it 😀

Emz does London Says:

September 20th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I’m a British child of the 80s and I didn’t know any Jessicas growing up, at all. I know of a few wee ones now.

My name’s Emma, and I’ve always said that if you’ve got a 20-something girl and you’re unsure of her name, chances are it’s Emma, Laura or Claire.

Patricia Says:

October 31st, 2009 at 10:29 am

In the UK Chloe is often written as Chloë, the original spelling of the name. Nameberry’s listing for Chloe gives Chlöe as a variation for the name. That’s incorrect: a diaeresis (the “dots”) is always placed on the second of two consecutive vowels to indicate that it is to be pronounced on its own, not left silent or merged into a diphthong.

Brenda Says:

November 17th, 2009 at 5:45 pm

My daughter Dana is expecting her first child in April 2009 and they have chosen the name Loralai if it is a girl and Jaxon if it is a boy. We live in the U.S. Are either of these names popular in the U.K. or Wales?

Brenda Says:

November 17th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

I meant to say Dana’s baby is due in April 2010, not 2009.

Katharina Says:

November 19th, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Hi Brenda,
I’m in South-West England. Lorelai and Jaxon are definitely not puplar here. Jaxon would be seen as a very “American” (modern/ trendy) name. Lorelai is familiar due to Gilmore Girls and Marilyn Monroe’s role as a golddigger in Gentlemen prefer Blondes, but it is not used as a first name here (yet?).

leslie Says:

March 21st, 2010 at 6:38 pm

My sister, who just found out that her first born is to be a girl, will be naming her daughter Seren, thanks to these posts. We live in the U.S., but my father moved here from Wales. We still have family there, and my sister was looking for a way to honor ourWelsh heritage without resorting to the obvious choices (Rhiannon, Bronwen, Gwyneth, etc.). She had never heard of Seren before, and instantly fell in love. So, although it has already become too common and overused in Wales, it will be fresh and unusual here. Pretty, without being over the top. Soon our family will welcome either a Seren Eleanora Ines (after both grandmothers), or a Seren Evangeline.

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