It's still "olive" season in England. The UK Office for National Statistics has announced the most popular baby names in England and Wales, and once again, Oliver and Olivia top the charts. They continue a decade-long run of dominance, with at least one of the "olive" names ranking #1 in 8 of the past 10 years.
Yet even with that stability at the top, there movers and shakers, and stories to tell. Let's meet the full top 20 in England and Wales in 2017.
Some name stories to watch:
• Jessica lost 21% of its popularity in a single year, falling all the way from #8 to #15. Based on the name's trajectory in the United States, this could be just the beginning of a steep drop.
• The name Muhammad fell by 6% and two spots in the rankings, marking the first significant drop for a name that has soared over the past two decades.
• The hottest rising sound was a final -o in short boys' names. Leo was the fastest riser in the top 20, jumping from #13 to #7. Theo, Hugo and Arlo also rose sharply, with Theo just missing our chart at #21.
• A big trend that you can't see in the rankings: England still plays it safer with boys' names than girls'. That means a greater concentration at the top, and a bigger role for the timeless standards. Of the 25 overall most popular names, 20 were boys' names. What's more, the boys' list above is studded with all-time English classics: George, William, Henry, Thomas, James, Arthur. On the girls' side, only Alice qualifies.
For more on English name style, read about the fastest rising names, and the top brand-new names of the year.
One of the hottest trends in girls' names is hiding in plain sight. It's the letter v—not V, just v. The letter quietly powers fashionable names of every style, from a lowercase position in the middle of names.
The initial V hit its popularity peak in the early 20th century era of Vera and Velma, and has been relatively uncommon since. This NameVoyager graph tells the story:
Now take a look at the trend for names that don't start with V, but contain the letter within. The past decade has seen an unprecedented rise:
That recent wave includes the top-10 hits Olivia, Ava and Evelyn, and dozens of other popular choices as contemporary as Haven and Neveah, and as traditional as Eva and Genevieve.
Notice that in each of the names I just mentioned, the v is nestled between vowels. That's no coincidence. Parents like the spark of contrast a single, elegant v lends to otherwise liquid-smooth names. The subtlety of the style is also a selling point. Names like Everly and Olive don't sound like part of the same fashion trend. They just sound current and fresh.
Even the variety of v names above just scratches the surface. If the sound appeals to you, you have a wealth of uncommon options to choose from. None of the 90 selections below was given to more than 1,000 U.S. girls last year. I've listed them in descending order of popularity, from Evie, ranked #349 among all girls' names, to deep rarities like Xavia and Bravery.
Undiscovered Girls' Names with an Embedded v
Every mom knows that finding the perfect baby name can feel like an impossible task. We all wish the right name would simply come to us at the right time. That’s why we love hearing about when a name has done just that.
Thousands of parents have shared their experiences in our Namipedia. We've collected ten stories of unexpected inspiration (edited for clarity only). Perhaps they'll have you looking in some unusual places for your baby’s name!
"We named our little sweet pea after the little yellow airplane--Piper Cub. Her entire family is full of pilots and everyone loves the name."
"My son's name is Elvis Priestley. We named him Elvis because my last name is Priestley and would often get confused with Presley. To this day, I get asked if I'm Elvis' granddaughter. My co-worker said that it would be awesome If we named him after the king, so we did. Some people love it and some people hate it, hopefully he sees the humor in his name when he grows up."
"I named my daughter Malia, after struggling with what to name her. One day her daddy & I came across the name in one of our favorite restaurants (Panera). Our receipt had the name as our server and we just fell in love! It's a beautiful name. We love it and we love our girl!"
"My ex-husband chose the name Canyon for our Baby Boy 18 years ago. He had to have that name for a son, upon admiring a young professional beach volleyball athlete named Canyon back in the early 90's. My attachment to the name came from something far more Grand--the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I have so many fun memories from that breathtaking 'wonder of the world'."
"We chose the name simply by perusing a road atlas while on a road trip before his birth. We figure if Dallas, Austin, Madison, Cheyenne, London, etc were used then Seattle was a cool name."
"My husband and I were at Disney World with our 6-year old son and I saw a beautiful little girl with this name on her '1st time at Disney' name tag. I absolutely fell in love with the name, and unbeknownst to us I was 6 weeks pregnant at the time with our little girl."
"We named our son Camden after Camden yards where the Orioles play. He's bright, funny and charming."
"I named my son Morgan, after Wyatt Earp. My eldest son is named Whyatt (a variant) and Morgan was Wyatt Earp's youngest brother, hence Whyatt and Morgan. :-)"
"My son's name is Draven. The Crow has been my favorite movie of all time. I love dark, mysterious things so the name is perfect."
Want to share your own baby naming story on Namipedia? Look up your child's name and add to the "Personal experiences with the name" section. (Free registration is required.) We can't wait to hear your story!