Meet England's Most Popular Baby Names

Sep 20th 2017

The top baby names in England and Wales have just been announced, and they're...olive.

The #1 boy's name: Oliver

The #1 girl's name: Olivia

If that repetition isn't enough to give you a sense of déjà vu, we actually have seen this before. The Olives last reigned as England's baby name king and queen in 2010, and at least one of them has held a #1 slot for 7 of the past 9 years. There's no question, this is England's Olive Age.

Both names have been shaped by literature. Oliver arrived with the Norman Conquest in the French form Olivier, which in turn came from an older Germanic name like Alfarr. It was common until Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell knocked it out of style for two centuries. When Charles Dickens named his orphan boy Oliver Twist, he was choosing an unusual, old-fashioned name. Then Oliver Twist itself brought the name back into fashion.

Olivia was introduced by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. He might have just been creating a female Oliver, but the Bard often drew on Latin sources to build names like Miranda ("admirable"). Many believe that Olivia is a romantic elaboration of the name or word oliva, which is Latin for Olive. Olivia's lyrical style and literary heritage make it feel timeless, though it has only been popular in the past generation.

In the U.S. the two names have very different styles. Olivia is a popular powerhouse, pretty and mainstream. Oliver, while increasingly fashionable, remains a "quirky classic" with a slightly offbeat style. In England, though, they're both baby name royalty.

The rest of the England and Wales top 20:

1 Olivia Oliver
2 Amelia Harry
3 Emily George
4 Isla Jack
5 Ava Jacob
6 Isabella Noah
7 Lily Charlie
8 Jessica Muhammad
9 Ella Thomas
10 Mia Oscar
11 Sophia William
12 Charlotte                James
13 Poppy Leo
14 Sophie Alfie
15 Grace Henry
16 Evie Joshua
17 Alice Freddie
18 Scarlett Archie
19 Freya Ethan
20 Florence Isaac


Also be sure to check out the trends and fast risers: England's Hottest and Newest Baby Names




September 21, 2017 9:09 AM

I'm surprised by Jessica! To me that sounds like such an 80's name. Was it never as popular in the UK in the 80's as it was here? It seems too early for a comeback.

September 23, 2017 12:24 PM

Your surmise is correct, ivymae- we've never had a big surge of Jessicas.


It's funny how some names don't travel. For example, Nicola was incredibly popular in the UK when I was growing up, but it never made it to the US, as far as I know. They prefer Nicole.