Popular baby names

Oscar? Freya? Isla? Muhammad? It wouldn’t be unlikely if this is the name of your baby since those are included in the Office for National statistics’ annual list of top 10 most popular names for boys and girls in 2021. For the full top 10 take a look at the table below. 

Rank Boys name Count Girls name Count 
1 Noah 4,525 Olivia 3,649 
2 Oliver 4,167 Amelia 3,164 
3 George 4,141 Isla 2,683 
4 Arthur 3,766 Ava 2,576 
5 Muhammad 3,722 Ivy 2,245 
6 Leo 3,465 Freya 2,187 
7 Harry 3,089 Lily 2,182 
8 Oscar 3,071 Florence 2,180 
9 Archie 2,928 Mia 2,168 
10 Henry 2,912 Willow 2,067 

Source: Office for National Statistics – Baby names in England and Wales 

In 2021, Noah got the top spot as the most popular name for boys, nipping Oliver to the prize, which had been number one the year before. For girls, Olivia has been the most popular name for six years in a row now, and this was also the top name in Wales and in every region in England, except for the Midlands where Amelia was the winner. For boys’ names, Muhammad was the most popular name in four of the 9 regions in England, but Noah still came in first place overall as every region had a relatively large number of Noah’s born.  

On top of reporting about overall and region-wise popularity of names, the Office for National Statistics also has some quite interesting facts about baby names.  

For example, did you know that the popularity ranking of the names differs depending on the age of the mother? Older mothers (over age 35) tend to choose more traditional names for their babies such as Thomas, William or Sophie, while more modern names such as Willow, Harper and Elijah are more popular amongst younger mothers. 

The popularity of certain names is also strongly related to what happens in the outside world. Cultural influences can make the popularity of names peak unexpectedly. Movies, for example, can cause a huge rise in the popularity of certain names. When the Pixar movie Luca came out in 2020, the number of Luca’s born increased from 1,323 before the movie was released 1,807 later than year (a 37% increase!). But maybe even more impressive is the example of the name Raya which more than doubled from 110 to 251 babies in a year after the release of the Disney movie ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’. And it’s not just movies that can boost the popularity of names; the same goes for names of musicians such as Ezra, Bowie and Ziggy, or names with a royal connection.  

There are so many things that influence which name we choose for babies. After all, your baby’s name is something you are going to say over and over again, hundreds of thousands of times! So a lot of thought goes into it!  

You’ll probably be aware that it’s quite common to name babies after the months or the seasons – April or May for example. Well, some research suggests that we’re more inclined to do that in countries or states where the weather tends to be nice at that time of year. Research from the USA found that, at least until the 1960s, the name April was most common in Southern states, and June was most common in Northern states, where the frost thaws much later. Interestingly, the name Autumn is quite popular in the United States, but mostly in states in the Northeast where the autumn leaves are famously beautiful.  

Perhaps this article made you curious to find out more about your baby’s name. Through this search machine you can find out everything about baby name trends from 1996 to 2021: https://names.darkgreener.com/

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