These names are more popular across the pond

Published 5:15 pm Thursday, May 2, 2024

These names are more popular across the pond

What’s in a name? No matter which side of the Atlantic you’re on, these few letters meant to sum up a whole person’s being take on a lot of significance.

Pop culture holds sway over the names people choose for their newborns, even across borders. In parts of the U.K., certain baby names have spiked in popularity from American cultural staples like “Star Wars,” “Stranger Things,” and even “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

Both countries also look to politics for inspiration, but it manifests in opposite ways, depending on which side of the pond one is on. U.K. baby names are, perhaps predictably, positively influenced by the monarchy, with new royal family members usually inspiring an uptick in identically named commonfolk. In the U.S., however, it’s a bit more complicated: Americans were more likely to name their children after current political figures in decades past. Today, they are more likely to choose a name inspired by a historical political hero than a living politician.

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Wondering what comes into play when naming a child in Great Britain? Spokeo mapped the names that are more popular across the pond using data from the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, which only includes data for England and Wales, and the Social Security Administration in the U.S.

Names were ranked according to the greatest percentage difference between the countries in 2021. Please note that the Office for National Statistics and Social Security Administration collect data on baby names with a binary understanding of sex and gender. In reality, names aren’t inherently gendered.

Read on to see what familiar names are on the list and which monikers have surprising origins behind their popularity.

A chart showing the male names with the largest popularity spike in England and Wales, including: George, Muhammad, Arthur, Harry, Freddie, Archie, Oscar, Charlie, Alfie, and Leo.


Male baby names in England and Wales are heavily influenced by the royals

Overall, three of the most popular boys’ names are the same in the U.K. and the U.S.: Noah, Henry, and Oliver.

Many boys’ names that are uniquely popular in the U.K. have ties to the monarchy, including its most uniquely popular: George. The name increased in use following the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s son, George, in 2013. Similarly, Archie grew in popularity after the 2019 birth of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son.

Charles—the full version of “Charlie”—is the name of Queen Elizabeth II’s son, and Harry is the name of King Charles’ second son (not to mention a certain wizard—Britain’s most famous, albeit fictional, figure). Besides also being a royal name, Arthur has seen a spike in popularity due to pop culture, more than doubling in use after the premiere of “Peaky Blinders” in 2013, which features a main character with that name.

Besides the monarchy, the U.K.’s unique cultural makeup may also influence its most popular names, especially Muhammad, which may be more common due to Muslim-identifying citizens accounting for 6.5% of the population in 2021 (as opposed to around 1.1% of the U.S. population in 2020.)

A chart showing the female names with the largest popularity spike in the England and Wales, including: Florence, Rosie, Freya, Isla, Poppy, Elsie, Sienna, Daisy, Ivy, and Evie.


There’s more diversity among female names in England and Wales

Of the most popular girls’ names in the U.K. and the U.S., four are in the top 10: Olivia, Amelia, Ava, and Mia.

Female names in England and Wales are also influenced by the monarchy, though less starkly than males, accounting for some names being much more popular than in the U.S. This includes Isla, the name of Peter Phillips’ daughter. Phillips is Queen Elizabeth’s oldest grandchild.

Others have more elusive backstories behind their popularity. It may be that Freya’s popularity reflects the U.K.’s greater proximity than the U.S. to Scandinavia since the name originates from the Norse goddess of love.

British history may be the reason why the name Florence took the top spot. The name became more widely used around the time Florence Nightingale famously worked through the Crimean War. That was also the same period when publication of Charles Dickens published “Dombey and Son,” which featured a character with that name.

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn.

This story originally appeared on Spokeo and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.