Looking back at trends in baby names throughout history gives us a fascinating insight into each era. Peter, Paul, Karen and Sharon were all popular options for the (pre-Baby-Boomer) Silent Generation, often influenced by family and religious traditions. While in the 1980s, the Baby Boomers began drawing on baby name books for inspiration and trends.
McCrindle Research’s annual baby names report 2021 has shown that parents these days are opting for more creative and unique names and are choosing from a wider selection than ever before, with blogs, websites and even baby naming apps expanding the inspiration base.
The report found some interesting trends in which names placed in the top 100 this year, with botanical names and colours for girls, nicknames for first names and biblical names all proving popular. The study also found that boys’ names featured fewer syllables than previous years, and saw royal and celebrity influences. Interestingly, the study also saw a ‘100-year return’, with popular names from the turn of the previous century making a comeback for both boys and girls.
For the eighth year in a row, Charlotte has taken out the number one name for girls. Charlotte overtook Olivia in 2015 (the same year Princess Charlotte was born) and has held the number one slot since. While Charlotte maintains her reign, Amelia has now toppled the name Olivia for the second-most-popular girls’ name, with Olivia moving to number three.
The top 10 girls’ names have remained mostly unchanged since last year, except for Matilda which has replaced the name Harper. Coming in at fourth was Isla, with Mia, Ava, Grace, Chloe and Willow rounding out the top 10.
The ‘100-year-return’ can be seen with a number of the names in the top 10, including Grace, which was a moderately popular girls’ name at the turn of the 20th century, coming to a near decline from the 1910s to 1970s, but climbing back in popularity since the 1980s. Charlotte is another name that saw a huge resurgence in popularity, appearing in the top 100 for the first time in the modern era in 1989, and now holding strong at number one.
Other older names that have seen a huge boost in popularity include Hazel, which climbed 63 positions (25th), Florence climbed 58 positions (39th), Ivy climbed 53 positions (14th), Elsie climbed 53 positions (38th) and Audrey climbed 46 positions (31st).
Another name that has remained consistently popular over the past decade, is the boy’s name Oliver, which has come in at number one for the eighth year in a row.
Last year, Noah became the second-most-popular name and it retained that spot, having overtaken William, which took third position. Fourth place was taken by Jack, fifth place by Leo, while Henry, Charlie, Thomas, Lucas and Elijah rounded out the top 10.
Similarly, the most popular boys’ names have also seen a resurgence of some tradition in the past few years. The name Jack (which has had more years at number one this century than any other boys name) was entirely absent from the top 100 in 1985 but was one of the fifth-most-popular names in the 1920s. William (a name which has held the number two slot for five years), held a similar ranking exactly 100 years ago, before falling out of favour throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
Other boys names that have seen an increase on the list include Theodore, which rose 83 positions (13th), Archer, which rose 68 positions (23rd), and Hugo, which rose 63 positions (34th).
Names that have fallen out of favour include Sarah, Maddison, Lara, Summer and Claire for girls, and Dylan, Matthew, Luke, Riley and Daniel for boys.