The Hottest New Baby Names in England in 2013

Aug 20th 2014

The new #1 names in England and Wales are Amelia for girls, and Oliver for boys. The biggest stories, though, aren't found at the top of the charts. The fastest-rising names of the year show us where the action is. They capture the hottest trends, the freshest sounds, and above all the the mindset of our times — for better and worse. That time-capsule aspect of names is on view this year, as England's hottest rising name of 2013 is:

Reeva.

Previously obscure in England, the name Reeva leapt onto the top 1,000 list after Reeva Steenkamp, a South African model, was shot and killed by her Olympic sprinter boyfriend Oscar Pistorius. (Mr. Pistorius claims that he believed he was shooting at a home intruder, and that Ms. Steenkamp's death was a tragic accident. His trial recently concluded, and he awaits a verdict.)

This is not an isolated name trend. When the death of an attractive young woman or girl becomes a media phenomenon, her name reliably soars in popularity. We've seen this after the death or disappearance of of Americans such as Laci Peterson, Nicole Brown Simpson, Caylee Anthony, and Natalee Holloway. The rise of Reeva in the U.K. shows the phenomenon is not unique to our shores.

The victim name phenomenon is different from typical celebrity-inspired naming. No matter how much exposure celebrities get, their names only catch on if they have the fresh sound and style parents are looking for. My usual refrain: "It's not about the fame, it's about the name." Not with victim names. They're relatively immune to fashion, and can even reverse a fading name's downward trend.

We seem to name after women like Reeva Steenkamp the way we'd name after a personal friend: as an act of affection and remembrance. That says something about the intense media focus on these unfortunate women, and something about the way we consume it. It's particularly striking in an age when we've stopped naming babies after leaders and heroes.

This particular victim name trend, Reeva, comes with a unique twist. The name of the killer also soared. The boy's name Oscar leapt all the way from #62 in England the previous year to #7 today.

The complete fastest-rising names in England:

GIRLS
1. Reeva
2. Thea
3. Maliyah
4. Esmay
5. Sienna-Rose
6. Esmae
7. Harper
8. Penelope
9. Neriah
10. Sienna
11. Khaleesi (the amazing Game of Thrones name)
12. Dolly
13. Arya
14. Shanaya
15. Aine

BOYS
1. Joey
2. Greyson
3. Oscar
4. Jax
5. Teddy
6. Grayson
7. Kayson
8. Harvey-Lee
9. Camden
10. Zander
11. Jesse
12. Salahuddin
13. Arlo
14. Albie
15. Lincoln

Comments

1
August 21, 2014 7:54 AM

Seriously, Harvey-Lee?

2
August 21, 2014 10:53 AM

LOL, @feldgendler, I thought the same thing. That's one that clearly won't be crossing the pond--even if it were a style-match, I think the Lee Harvey Oswald association would nix it for most parents.

Actually, I was curious about both the compound names on the list--why those two names? with Sienna-Rose at least the first name is also on the list, and Rose is a pretty common "filler" middle or hyphen name. But Harvey-Lee? I wonder whether the Lee Harvey Oswald thing is actually *contributing* in that case--British parents presumably don't have the same visceral associations that Americans do, but it probably is a name they've heard (and not paid that much attention to) somewhere along the line, so maybe it helps them think that the names go together, without really realizing why? Or maybe there was some minor Harvey-Lee celebrity connection in Britain that I've just never heard of?

Also interesting is the Greyson/Grayson/Kayson trio--I wonder if this sound pattern is poised to take off like Aiden did a decade or so ago? Mason's already a name I hear more and more (in the U.S.) and of course once upon a time Jason ruled...

3
August 22, 2014 3:08 AM

Greyson, Grayson and Kayson also sound like the US's fast-rising Jayceon (and other associated spellings). 

4
August 22, 2014 9:15 AM

Oh wow, I typed “harvey lee” in Google, and got “jones” offered as one of the completions. I looked it up, and Harvey Lee Jones turned out to be a murderer, too:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/crime-law/death-penalty-may-be-sought-in-double-homicides/nXJ6X/

5
August 22, 2014 2:13 PM

Wow. Harvey-Lee is quite the loaded name!

6
August 26, 2014 8:09 AM

I expected at least a Mycroft.

7
August 26, 2014 1:28 PM

harvey is one of the fastest growing names in the us, too.  i'm pretty annoyed about it, since that's the name i chose for my 19 month old.  ...i'm not sure about the "lee" part, though. that seems like a bizarre (and yes-- loaded!) combo!

8
August 26, 2014 1:30 PM

I always find it interesting to see which Top 100 names in England/Wales rank much lower (500 or lower) or not at all in the USA. So far I've only looked at the E/W Top 20, with these results compared to the USA (SSA) rankings:

Girls:

#7 Poppy -- NF (not found in USA Top 1000)

14 Evie -- 559 USA

20 Freya -- 908 USA

Boys:

3 Harvey -- 707 USA

11 Alfie -- NF

16 Archie -- NF

 

If I were naming a baby today I might choose a name of this sort: popular in E/W but more rare in the USA. A family member is considering Matilda - #36 E/W; 645 USA - called Tilly - #86 E/W; NF USA. I think that would be a good choice popularity-wise.

 

 

 

9
August 27, 2014 6:28 AM

I live in the UK and my kids' school is full Poppys, Evies, and Freyas, as well as Archies. The baby next to me on the plane when I went for the job interview that brought me here was an Alfie. Harvey's the only one I haven't seen yet. They're all on mugs, placemats, etc. Here in Scotland the Norse names are really strong in particular. Laura, are there separate statistics for Scotland?

10
August 27, 2014 1:45 PM

As the mother of a 4-year-old Esmé, I'm not at all thrilled to see the "Esmay" and "Esmae" spellings suddenly become so popular across the pond.

Granted, they're more obviously phonetic than Esmé, but ugh ... very sincerely hoping these kre8tive versions don't catch on in the U.S.!

11
August 29, 2014 3:34 PM

Yes, there are separate statistics for Scotland, where Jack and Sophie were the #1's for 2013:

http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/births/popular-names/babies-first-names-2013/detailed-tables.html

 

I don't think Reeva would have been the very fastest growing name if it were JUST a "victim name." It really does fit into present fashions in the UK, and can be perceived as a "different but not too different" alternative to names like Evie, Eva, and Ava.

12
September 3, 2014 10:07 AM

I like that a nostalgic, old-fashioned name such as Amelia is so popular now, but I'll never understand why my sister's name, Amélie, has never even been in the top 1000. It's so beautiful. Pronounced Ah-mel-lee, exactly the same as the hugely popular Emily, except for the first letter. It's French, and the Brits have a well documented love-hate relationship with "French stuff" going back centuries. It was the title of a hit movie. I could almost hope some idiot pop star would choose it so that prospective mothers would FINALLY be able to appreciate it even on a degraded Muggle level. Just to get it on the pop culture radar. Come on, Natalie Portman, take one for the team.

13
September 3, 2014 12:50 PM

I would love it if Mycroft took off in England! It does shorten to Mike :)

14
September 4, 2014 7:25 PM

@MissyHolland - Actually Amelie has been in the Top 1,000 since 2003 (the SSA ignores accent marks).