The Alfibert: An A to Z List of British Baby Names

Aug 31st 2012

On the heels of the recent announcement of the top baby names in England and Wales, I've taken a fresh look at the differences between U.K. and U.S. name styles. The general analysis I offered last year still holds true, so this year I thought I'd let the names themselves do the talking.

The names below are all decidedly more common in England than the United States. Drink in the quirky-cute British style of what I call "The Alfibert." 

BOYS GIRLS
Alfie Alice
Bertie Beatrix
Chester Clementine
Dexter Dulcie
Euan Effie
Finlay Felicity
George Georgie
Harvey Harriet
Igor Imogen
Jamie Jemima
Kieran Kitty
Leon Lottie
Monty Maisie
Ned Nancy
Ollie Ophelia
Patryk Poppy
Rufus Rosie
Stanley Saffron
Teddy Tallulah
Vinny Verity
Woody  
  Xanthe
Zac Zara

 

 

Comments

1
August 31, 2012 3:10 PM

Since one on that list that may surprise people is Nancy, I thought I'd share a blog post on how I think that may mean an earlier-than-expected revival in a generation or so on this side of the pond (think what Emma was like when many of today's parents were growing up; that's a similar path that I'm predicting that Nancy will follow):

http://millennialkelly.blogspot.com/2012/08/is-nancy-new-emma.html

2
August 31, 2012 4:33 PM

Love it, Laura. That's the kind of list I make in my head when I can't sleep!

Just moved to a rather nice little village outside London and one of our new neighbours has four small children: @rthur, Sofi@, Rufu$ and Be@trix- bang on trend, don't you think? There's also a little Monty near by.

Re: Nancy- I also think we may see a resurgence of Martha. It's never been as popular here as in the States, where I know a lot of Marthas around 50-70 years old.

3
August 31, 2012 6:06 PM

This list reminds me of Lucy Cousin's Maisy books.

Maisy the mouse and her friends Charley, Eddie, Cyril, Tallulah, and Dotty have all sorts of adventures.

The funny thing is that to my 2 year old they are all perfectly standard names, thanks to rereading many of the books again and again; whereas I think a lot of American adults would be surprised to meet kids with those names.

4
August 31, 2012 6:26 PM

Great names, but the list seems a bit...tilted?

The boys' list there seems pretty representative of British style(s): Rufus and Bertie (Telegraph-y), Alfie and Stanley (bog-standard from the council estates to the Etonians of the future), Patryk and Igor (recent immigrant)...but the girls are pretty uniformly Telegraph-y.

Freya (2619 births in the UK versus just 204 in the US) and Florence (1406 vs 73!) or Faye (393/150) or even Francesca (602/583) are better, more currently 'British' Fs than Felicity (289/422)!

It's true that Felicity, Alice, Nancy, Clementine, Beatrix et al do skew Brit since US births out number UK at roughly 5 to 1, but...there are lots of names that are much, much more 'Brit' than these ones.

I'd add:

- Betsy (286/129) rather than Beatrix (161/135)

- Darcy (520/140) is a huge hit in the UK, especially when you combine Darcy, Darcey, and Darcie (1371 vs 165)- bit more representative than Dulcie (60 vs 5).

- Orla (340/28) for Ophelia (108/107)

- Almost as good as Lottie (411/ 38) is Lois (481/68), which seems more surprising as a comeback.

- Niamh (733/57) and Neve (380/60) are entertainingly more English than Nancy (414/535) (I'm looking at Enlgand and Wales data, doesn't include NI as far as I understand).

- Connie (324/78) and Constance (170/136) are more British at the moment than is Clementine (94/146)

- Amelie (1128/399) for Alice (1554/2181)

Others that are decidedly more common in Britain than the US at the moment include India, Eve, Honey, Eliza, Phoebe, and Ruby, but also Jessica,  Summer, Sienna, Lacey, and Amber.

Sorry,  I got *quite* a bit more involved in that than I intended to. It just seemed odd to have such a contrast between the balanced boys' list and the fairly homogenous girls' one :)

5
August 31, 2012 7:38 PM

Wow, good observations, Blythe.  A big yes to Florence and Freya - I know tons of them!

It could be that some of the girls called Lois are Welsh-pronunciation (with one syllable), but surely not all 481.  Here are some random on-the-spot speculations on why it might be making a comeback.

"Lo" sounds fresh and young because of Chloe and Flo (for Florence)?

"Is" ditto because of Alice, Carys, Beatrice?  (But against this argument, Janice and Mavis.)

Whole name possibly a streamlined alternative to the popular Eloise or Louisa?

6
September 1, 2012 6:33 AM

Great list!! I do feel like this list is a bit closer to some of the names I"m seeing pop up in my local area.

@Blythe, great analysis!

@Anne with an E, we also read the Maisy books and I've never found the names all that odd, but again not being in the US gives a different perspective!

7
September 1, 2012 11:29 AM

How is Lois pronounced with only one syllable? I'm intrigued!

8
September 1, 2012 11:51 AM

I have heard it pronounced with the oi diphthong as in 'boil'.

10
September 3, 2012 3:04 PM

This has inspired me to make lists of the most popular baby names in each country starting with each letter. I'm not very far yet, but I just discovered that the most common J girl's name in the US from 2011 was number 57, Julia. Coming from the era of Jessica, Jennifer, and Julie, this is a slightly mind-boggling realization.

11
September 4, 2012 9:15 PM

I need an American translation of Blythe's comments please!  LOL!

Specifically, what does "Telegraph-y" mean?  I realize that's a newspaper, but I don't know what kind of people read that newspaper.  Google is not helping.

Also, what does "bog-standard from the council estates to the Etonians of the future" mean?  I know that Eton is an elite prep school.  I have no idea what "bog-standard" or "council estates" means.

Thanks!

12
September 4, 2012 10:59 PM

Tirzah, bog-standard means dirt common.  Council estates=public housing

The Telegraph birth announcements are from the upscale, roughly equivalent to the birth announcements in the NYTimes.

13
September 5, 2012 1:23 PM

As an American living in Britain, I notice these differences alot. I know a Lois, a Florence, a Nancy, a Jemima, and an Imogen all at my son's school. Going along with the Rufus popularity - I know two boys named Rupert, two babies named Rueben, and another named Robson.  None of my American friends and relatives understand the popularity of the name 'Rupert'.  Its very English. 

14
By hyz
September 5, 2012 1:45 PM

To Anne with an E, the funny thing is, my kids have friends with all of those names (Maisy, Charley, Eddie, Cyril, and Tallulah) except for Dotty, and I wouldn't be surprised to meet one of those if it was short for Dorothea or something.  It was actually a little unnerving reading your list, since I haven't read the Maisy books, so it sounded to me like you were reading from our daycare/preschool/camp rosters.   

I love this list from Laura, and Blythe's additions!   

15
September 5, 2012 5:24 PM

Absolutely love this list, and you are spot on with most of them, but Igor and Patryk aren't British -  they just show that we've got a lot of Eastern Europeans in the UK at the moment.  A more British 'I' boy's name would be Inigo and maybe Pip for 'P'.

My next door neighbours here in north London have Rosie, Ted and Beatrix! Very on trend.

I agree with Blythe that Freya is more popular than Felicity, although I do know one of each. And Kai rather than Kieran, maybe.

16
September 5, 2012 5:25 PM

Oh and a British X boy's name would be Xander, short for Alexander.

17
September 6, 2012 2:59 AM

Thanks Miriam!  Now I understand.

18
September 6, 2012 11:05 AM

I'm surprised to see so many nicknames as given names, especially for the boys. For the girls I love the name Tallula. Nicknames could be: TallyTallie//Tali, Tula, Lu. Lu-Lu. Lula. Tilly. Talia. Tallah. Tullah. Tuli.

19
September 7, 2012 2:29 PM

@valerie, I make lists when I can't sleep, too!

I have a special fondness for Bertie from this list. Developed a liking for it while reading p.g.Wodehouse's "Jeeves" novels. Main character is "Bertrand" which also has a nice sort of intellectual flavor from the philosopher Bertrand Russel. 

20
October 11, 2012 8:43 PM

My daughter has just announced that she will be naming her baby girl (due in a few months) "Jillian."  We are American, and the only Jillian I can ever remember was a blond actress in the 70s/80s with a big bustline.

What I am wondering is if the name Jillian (which is a relatively new name which apparently Americanizes the British name Gillian) would be considered a more-or-less working class name in England.  I have known a number of British people, mostly middle class, and none of them was named Gillian/Jillian, and none of them ever mentioned having friends, children, relatives, etc. with that name.

I really don't like the "made up name" aspect of Jillian, and when the name is shortened (inevitably) to "Jill" the name is NOT going to sound very good with my daughter and son-in-law's surname, which is one syllable, and Germanic.

Any comments at all???

21
October 15, 2012 9:03 PM

@Grandmama2013 I love the name Gillian!  My mother-in-law's name is Gillian and she was born in England.  I live in Canada and I currently teach a Gillian and a Jillian.  They are both called Gillian - neither one of them shortens their name. 

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