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What's in a name? More than you might think!

12:00am | & News

Most things in life are subject to the vagaries of fashion, including the names we give our children. And there's a lot of truth in the saying that if you wait long enough, it will come back into fashion!

Each year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) releases details of the most popular baby names for the previous year, the information gathered using birth registration data. While some names remain popular over the years, others come and go, often influenced by the names of celebrities, changes in the UK's ethnic makeup, characters in well-known films and TV programmes, or other aspects of popular culture.

The lists for 2015 have just been released, showing the 100 most popular baby names for boys and girls in England and Wales, together with lots of other name-related statistics.

For baby boys, Oliver remains the most popular name, having held the top spot since 2013. The second and third place names, Jack and Harry, also remain unchanged from the previous year, while the rest of the top 10, in descending order, is: George, Jacob, Charlie, Noah, William, Thomas and Oscar.

Of those names, George continues to gain popularity, no doubt influenced by a certain Royal toddler, while Noah has entered the top 10 for the first time. Arguably the best known Noah is the son of BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter Chris Evans, who is regularly mentioned on his show.

Other big risers in the boys' top 100 are Teddy (up 24 places on the 2014 list to number 42), Jaxon (up 35 to 80), Roman (up 22 to 88) and Carter (up 24 to 94). A nostalgic interest in 1960s gangsters has been credited, at least in part, with the growing popularity of Ronnie (83) and Reggie (91) – the infamous Kray twins – while Carter (94) could be inspired by the main character in iconic Michael Caine film "Get Carter". Meanwhile, Jaxon (a new entry at number 80) is a varied spelling of the more traditional Jackson, currently in the spotlight as the name of pop star Justin Bieber's half-brother.

For baby girls, Amelia remained the most popular name ahead of second place Olivia, reflecting the popularity of Oliver for the boys. In third was Emily while the rest of the top 10, in descending order, was Isla, Ava, Ella, Jessica, Isabella, Mia and Poppy. The eagle eyed among you will already have spotted that eight of the top 10 girls' names end in 'a', such as Amelia, Ella and Olivia, perhaps reflecting a trend in the more general style of how a name sounds.

Highest riser in the girls top 10 was Ella, up 10 places on the previous year to number six. Other high risers in the top 100 included Thea (up 21 places from 2014 to number 58), Harper (up 26 to 63), Penelope (up 32 to 69), Mila (up 27 to 79), Clara (up 30 to 91), Arabella (up 31 to 95) and Aria (up 70 to 100).

That last one, Aria, could be influenced by Arya Stark, a character in popular TV show "Game of Thrones". The spelling differs but there were also 280 girls named Arya and 56 named either Ariah, Aaria or Aariah in 2015, while five girls got Kaleesi, the title given to another character in the same TV show.

Throughout the girls' top 100, several names previously thought of as 'old-fashioned' are making a comeback, including 

Daisy, Elsie, Ivy, Lily/Lilly, Evelyn, Esme and Beatrice. The boys' list too shows some traditional favourites in the top 100, including Henry, Ethan, Theo/Theodore, Arthur, Elijah, Frederick, Reuben, Jude and Caleb.

Outside the top 100 are some more distinctive names, though new parents seldom succeed in being unique in their choice – someone else is always thinking along similar lines! Among the boys there were 35 Rockys and 21 Apollos – the fictional adversaries in the Rocky Balboa boxing films – together with 18 boys named Maverick, more than 30 called Blue or Blu, 14 called Ocean and 77 named Prince.

Not to be outdone, there were 72 Princesses among the girls, 134 named Pixie, four called Fizza and another four simply called Ha. Pop stars also seem a strong influence, particularly for girls' names, with the 2015 data showing 72 named Adele, 39 called Paloma and 44 called Rihanna or Rhianna. And proving that Elvis lives, 35 baby boys took the King's name in 2015.

Finally, 17 boys and 15 girls were named simply... Baby. Will it be a decision their parents live to regret when Baby is a strapping six-foot prop forward for his college rugby team? Very possibly, as a recent online poll showed almost a fifth of parents later regret the name they chose for their child, mainly because it turns out to be much more widely used than they thought it would be.


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