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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Alexandra Topping

Noah and Olivia are most popular baby names in England and Wales

Newborn baby
ONS analysts said while Noah and Olivia basked in their popularity, other names were in danger of extinction. Photograph: Tetra Images/Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Noah has ended Oliver’s eight-year reign as the most popular boy’s name in England and Wales, but Olivia continues to be the most common name for girls.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows Noah took the boys’ No 1 slot, while Olivia is top for girls for a sixth successive year.

Henry replaced Jack in the boys’ top 10 – pushing Jack out of the top 10 for the first time since records began in 1996 – while Freya, Florence and Willow replaced Isabella, Rosie and Sophia for girls.

Muhammad was the most popular boys’ name in four out of nine English regions, while Olivia was the top girls’ name for every English region and Wales, except for the East Midlands where Amelia was the most popular girl’s name.

Lara, Beatrice and Sara are among the entries to the girls’ top 100 this year, alongside Blake, Brody, Kai, Rupert, Tobias and Nathan for boys – the first time Rupert and Brody have been in the top 100.

But ONS analysts said while Noah and Olivia basked in their popularity, other names were in danger of extinction.

Fewer than seven boys have been called Leslie since 2018, while only 10 or fewer boys have been called Clifford, Nigel and Norman in the same period. Previously common girls names such as Kerry and Glenda have also fallen out of fashion, with fewer than five girls given the names each year since 2018.

Star Wars, Pixar movies, the TV show Sex Education and the musicians George Ezra are among the cultural influences credited with boosting the popularity of less common names.

The ONS said the number of newborn boys named Kylo rose more than fivefold to 54 in 2016 after The Force Awakens hit cinema screens, introducing audiences to the villain Kylo Ren. Following last year’s Pixar film Luca, the number of boys named Luca jumped from 1,323 in 2020 to 1,807 in 2021, making it the 28th-most popular name for boys that year.

“Popular culture continues to influence parents’ baby name choices from hit TV shows to musical icons,” said James Tucker, the head of health and life events analysis at the ONS.

David Bowie continues his momental impact on British culture beyond the grave. While 12 boys were given the musician’s name in 2015, after his death in 2016 the numbers shot up to 35 and have grown every year since, with 78 boys in England and Wales given the name in 2021, while 136 were called Ziggy. The names grew in popularity for girls too, with 28 girls called Bowie and 14 called Ziggy last year.

Data shows age affects name choice, with mothers over 35 more likely to choose traditional names such as Thomas, while younger mothers plump for Tommy. Among girls’ names, Delilah is the ninth most popular name for mothers under 25, but only the 50th most popular girls name overall.

Top 10 baby names

Change in position from 2020 in brackets

1 Olivia 3,649 (–)
2 Amelia 3,164 (–)
3 Isla 2,683 (–)
4 Ava 2,576 (–)
5 Ivy 2,245 (+1)
6 Freya 2,187 (+6)
7 Lily 2,182 (–)
8 Florence 2,180 (+6)
9 Mia 2,168 (-4)
10 Willow 2,067 (+2)

1 Noah 4,525 (+3)
2 Oliver 4,167 (-1)
3 George 4,141 (-1)
4 Arthur 3,766 (-1)
5 Muhammad 3,722 (–)
6 Leo 3,465 (–)
7 Harry 3,089 (+1)
8 Oscar 3,071 (-1)
9 Archie 2,928 (–)
10 Henry 2,912 (+1)

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