The Hottest Baby Names in England and Wales, 2011: Guess What Crossed the Pond?
This week the UK released its annual baby name statistics. The new top names for boys and girls:
MOST POPULAR BOYS
MOST POPULAR GIRLS
For more, check out our full chart of the 1,000 most popular baby names in England and Wales. But as usual, the most intriguing stories aren't about the top of the charts. They're about the movers and shakers, the names that rose and fell the fastest. And in that regard, all of the sweet stories about timlessly English names like Harry, Amelia, Arthur and Harriet are missing the boat.
Yes, cute nicknames continue to be an overall dominant theme in British baby names. But 2011 reveals a second, different trend as well. Take a look at he fastest-rising names in England and Wales in 2011:
In the boys' list you can't miss the three versions of Tommy, which was clearly the name of the year. Fellow cute nickname Bertie got a boost from the film The King's Speech. But after those two: goodbye, England. Call it "The Year the Colonies Struck Back."
Jaxon? Oakley? Bentley? Those are names of the American heartland today, and names American parents jumped on earlier than their UK counterparts. Flynn is an Australian favorite popularized by the Disney movie Tangled. And Zayn owes to British-Pakistani singer Zayn Malik of "One Direction."
On the girl's side, the top riser was Mila, as in Ukrainian-born American movie star Mila Kunis. Further down the list you find a collection of classic English nicknames, American-style andro-cute names Maci and Skylar, and American celebrity name Willow. You'll also find Tulisa, a name that's totally unknown in the U.S. Credit that one to reality tv -- Singer Tulisa (Tula Contostavlos) didn't become a name-maker until she joined the judging panel on "The X Factor."
And speaking of reality tv...here's the top story that leaps out at me from the UK names. #2 hottest girl's name: Maci. #2 hottest boy's name: Bentley. Sound familiar? Those are the names of the unwed teenage mother of MTV's "Teen Mom" and her young son. They were also the fastest rising names in America in 2010.
When I announced that U.S. result last year, I heard a lot of angst about how it reflected on our society. The idea that a pregnant teenager could be the nation's biggest stylemaker was taken by some as a symbol of a uniquely American cultural decay. It seems, though, that the only uniquely American part of this name phenomenon was the tv air date. "Teen Mom" started broadcasting later in the U.K., but turned out to pack the same style punch.
Personally, I'm not on the "cultural decay" bandwagon. In fact, I don't believe that many babies are named after the "Teen Mom" stars at all. As I've written before, naming children after people you admire is a disappearing tradition. More than ever before, names today are about freshness and fashion, and we'll take that anywhere we can find it.