15 British Baby Names That Just Don't Exist in America

Aug 20th 2015

The U.K. and the U.S.A. share a language, and so they share baby names. Mostly. There are limits to the linguistic likeness. Just as you'll never find an American driving a lorry or changing a nappy, you'll never meet an American baby named Huw.

That name is literally unknown here -- in fact, right now a lot of American readers are wondering if the three-letter string was a typo. Yet the latest baby name stats from England and Wales show that Huw remains a top-1,000 boy's name, as always.

It isn't alone. The top 1,000 names lists from England and Wales include scores of names that don't register in American stats at all. Let me emphasize that: these names aren't just rare, they're statistically nonexistent. Given that the most recent U.S. stats tally more than 30,000 names from Aaban to Zyyon, that's saying something. Below is a sampling of the names that show how two similar baby name cultures can still be worlds apart.

Maryna Kulchytska

1. Barney (Male, England & Wales popularity rank #427): Back in 1992, this name sounded so genially out-of-date in the U.S. that it made a perfect choice for a singing purple dinosaur. The dino character wiped Barney completely off America's baby name map.

2. Dolcie (F, #582) and 3. Dulcie (F, #638): Dulcie is classic English sweetness, a 19th-century name created from the Latin word for "sweet." The more recent variant Dolcie follows the Italian spelling dolce, as in La Dolce Vita and fashion house Dolce & Gabbana.

4. Ffion (F, #255): This name shows off the Wales side of the England & Wales name charts. Ffion is Welsh for "foxgloves," and pronounced fee-ahn.

5. Dougie (M, #386), 6. Ralphie (M, #584), 7. Herbie (M, #716): Even the full names Douglas, Ralph and Herbert are out of favor in America. Using their cute diminutives as given names is hard for American parents to imagine.

8. Huw (M, #747): Huw is simply the Welsh version of Hugh, pronounced much the same as the English. If the spelling throws you, well, Hugh is no picnic on that front either.

9. Fearne (F, #347): In the U.S., no form of the name Fern has cracked the top 1,000 in fifty years. In England, though, three different versions make the cut. This non-traditional spelling is the most popular, after tv presenter Fearne Cotton.

10. Osian (M, #319): Oisín was the great warrior poet of Irish legend. Osian (OH-shen) is the Welsh version of the name with a bit more American-friendly spelling.

11. Poppie (F, #388), 12. Bluebell (F, #934): : Cuteness is thoroughly in fashion in the U.K., and thoroughly out in the U.S. These floral names epitomize the divide.

13. Kenzie (M, #410): Throughout "the colonies," the surname Mackenzie and its nickname Kenzie are popular girls' names. In the UK, they're hits for boys instead.

14. Fleur (F, 345): Fleur is French for "flower," but there are almost as many little Fleurs in England as France. The Harry Potter character Fleur Delacour is one reason.

15. Anything-Mae (F, 25 different names in the top 1,000 that don't exist in the U.S.): In England hyphenation is hot, and Mae (in every spelling) is the epicenter of the trend. Millie-Mae, Lexi-Mae, Daisy-May and Poppy-Mae are just the beginning. For boys try -Lee, as in Tommy-Lee, Jayden-Lee and Alfie-Lee.


More on British baby name trends:

The Newest and Hottest Names in England and Wales

The Top 100 Boys' Names in England and Wales

The Top 100 Girls' Names in England and Wales



August 26, 2015 12:56 AM

Florence is #26, but dropped off the US top 1000 in 1981. It's my mother and grandmother's name, but it won't be our little girl's-- her grandma hates it!

Poppy as a legal name? Or Willow? Reporters Willow Bay and Poppy Harlow are actually Kristine Carlin and Katharine Julia, respectively. They jusy carry on the old society girl tradition of keeping nursery nicknames for life. 

By thegang3452 (not verified)
August 31, 2015 6:18 PM

Fleur sure is a cute name.... and I think that Poppy is ok, too. Kenzie is adorable, and I like Kingsley a lot!

September 2, 2015 12:15 AM

As for the "anything-Mae", we don't really know. I'm thinking they are just rare rather than nonexistent. Double names are still common in the South but often the hyphen is dropped. I'm pretty sure that hyphenated names aren't being counted in the US - if they were, that would mean that not even 5 kids in the us were given a certain hyphenated combo in any given year, which is highly doubtful because some of those used to be all the rage in the past. I'm guessing Americans are just more inclined to write Anne in the first name spot and Marie in the middle name spot but call her Anne Marie rather than making that Anne-Marie. 

September 2, 2015 9:33 AM

#McHobbit - If I understand correctly the SSA doesn't recognize hyphens and just "smoosh" the two parts of the name together, so that's probably why no hyphenated names appear on the U.S. lists.

September 2, 2015 10:34 AM

McHobbit: as KellyXY points out, the SSA strips hyphens, but I'm sure Laura W. knows this very well. There are names ending in -mae on the list, and many of them undoubtedly started off with hyphens:

Ellamae 28
Annamae 25
Elliemae 20
Avamae 12
Lillymae 12
Lilymae 12
Emmamae 8
Graciemae 7
Stellamae 7
Alliemae 6
Bellamae 6
Chloemae 6
Sarahmae 6
Alliemae 5

(These are from the 2013 list, which is the latest I've so far gotten around to downloading.) I skipped the various respellings of Renesmee, because those are unlikely to have ever had a hyphen.

However, there is no sign of Milliemae, Leximae, Daisymae, or Poppymae, which is what the British names would turn into on the SSA's list.

September 4, 2015 9:21 AM

Scotland is different again.    

When our kids were at school (not so long ago) no class was without its sprinkling of Alistairs, Alastairs or Alasdairs, and Ians or Iains.    And they're common in older generations too.

I keyed Alistair into the Wizard in an idle moment and was amazed to find it virtually unknown in the US.

We still get girls named Morag too, ...possibly stranger given its aural ugliness 

September 22, 2015 1:34 PM

My beloved cat who died recently at the age of 19 was a Poppie.

March 16, 2016 7:58 PM

(These are from the 2013 list, which is the latest I've so far gotten around to downloading.) I skipped the various respellings of Renesmee, because those are unlikely to have ever had a hyphen.

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July 5, 2016 2:19 AM

These are very nice and unique names . I am also looking for british and England names list of babies names with meanings . I searche on this website and i have given my son Adelane name. It means pure .

If you want good baby british name swith some meanings see here .


July 5, 2016 2:20 AM

Lillymae and Alliemae sounds good with your two babies.

August 3, 2017 8:43 PM

My boyfriends middle name is hyphenated and it is written that way on his SSN card. Amir-Hollan