The Hottest New Baby Names in England in 2013
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:
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:
11. Khaleesi (the amazing Game of Thrones name)