What's in a Name? It Depends on Where.

September 4, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

What to name the baby? Good old American Republican names like Track, Trig, Willow, Piper. Certainly not elitist British names like Nigel or Phillipa.

In fact, nowadays there’s a good deal of similarity in the popular names here and in the UK. Among girls, six names are in the top twenty for both countries (Emily, Isabella, Grace, Chloe, Hannah, Olivia).

There are also differences. Lucy and Charlotte, #8 and #12 respectively in the UK don’t even make the top 100 here. Some names popular here, like Ashley and Alyssa (#13 and #14) are all but unknown across the pond.

On the other hand, the Madison explosion is making its way east. She went from 203rd to 3rd in a mere ten years here (1990-2000), and is now 39th in the UK. Many people think that the movie Splash” put the name out there, and it caught on.

Thanks to Sarah Palin, something similar may happen with Willow, Piper, and Bristol. Here, but not there, at least not for Bristol. I have no idea how the Palins came up with Bristol, but I’d bet a lot of money that they’re not familiar with Cockney rhyming slang.


Popular Girls Names (UK, 2006. US 2007)

UK . . . . . . . . . . . .. .US
1. Olivia . . . . . . . . . Emily
2. Grace . . . . . . . . . Isabella
3. Jessica . . . . . . . . Emma
4. Ruby . . . . . . . . . Ava
5. Emily . . . . . . . . . Madison
6. Sophie . . . . . . . . Sophia
7. Chloe . . . . . . . . . Olivia
8. Lucy . . . . . . . . . . Abigail
9. Lily . . . . . . . . . . .Hannah
10. Ellie . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth
11. Ella . . . . . . . . . . Addison
12. Charlotte . . . . . . Samantha
13. Katie . . . . . . . . Ashley
14. Mia . . . . . . . . . .Alyssa
15. Hannah . . . . . . . Mia
16. Amelia . . . . . . . .Chloe
17. Megan . . . . . . . .Natalie
18. Amy. . . . . . . . .Sarah
19. Isabella . . . . . . .Alexis
20. Millie . . . . . . . .Grace

2 comments:

Faye said...

Props for the Anglo-American comparison! For the record, most Brits I know think Madison is one of the most American sounding names along with Tyler. Generally us Brits avoid using last-names as first names (Carter, Smith, Addison, Blake) and stick to a rather boringly small amount of common first names. Growing up I knew dozens of Sarahs, Katies, Claires and Elizabeths and it always got quite confusing!

As for the rhyming slang (my mother tongue), for anyone who is interested, here is a useful link: http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/

Anonymous said...

Regarding the name, Bristol, It's a place name, similar to "Chelsea" - in this case, a reference to Bristol Bay, in southwest Alaska:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_Bay