From Apple and Peaches, to Bambi and Venezuela, celebrities have been naming their children weird and wacky names for years.
But while outlandish and unusual baby names were previously associated with A-listers and their offspring, they’re becoming more and more popular with everyday parents.
So while the likes of Amelia, Lily, Oliver and Oscar have dominated the top charts for years, change is on the horizon.
Parents are swapping traditional and popular names for rarer and atypical alternatives – so in five years’ time, playgrounds will be filled with more Apollos and Cosminas than you might expect.
You only have to look at the 603% increase in Barbie as a baby name as a testament to how people are craving fresh and fun alternatives, compared to tired mainstream options.
Sophie Kihm, from Nameberry, tells Metro: ‘Parents in the UK and other English-speaking countries are choosing more unique names for their children than ever before. Years ago, parents may have chosen a name because they liked the sound or it had a family connection, but today more than ever, baby names are seen as an opportunity to showcase style, culture, and hopes and dreams parents have for their child.
‘This coincides with mounting pressure to be unique and original. Parents want their child to feel special and develop their individuality, which may be more difficult if you’re one of many children named Amelia or Oliver in your school.
‘Indeed, many of today’s parents had that experience growing up. Perhaps they were in class with three other girls named Emily or multiple boys named Jack. Parents want their children to be one-of-a-kind.’
And there’s even recent data to back it up.
According to Namebery, in 1996 (the first year on record with the ONS) a total of 4,956 different baby girl names were recorded, along with 3,713 different baby boy names. But the stats today show a marked increase in the total number of names: 7,329 different baby girl names in 2021, the most recent year on record, and 6,201 baby boy names.
Kate Guest was one of those parents who wanted a unique name for her child. She named her daughter Calypso after wanting a change from the ‘popular baby name’ lists.
She tells Metro: ‘Her father and I both have the most basic, boring, monosyllabic names (Kate and James) and they were always at or near the top of “most popular” lists around the times we were born.
‘We have never wanted a regular name for her. I wanted something joyous, musical and happy, that would make us smile to say it. It does that – the only problem is it’s kind of difficult to scream “Calypso” across a playground – I just don’t sound cross enough saying it. I sound like I’m trying to start a party. It’s memorable too, I guess.
‘We love her name – it was also the only one we agreed on – and she does too for now. If she wants to shorten it later (strangely, no one calls her Cal, which I’d been expecting, at least from her Australian family who are all down-to-earth, straight-shooting farmer types), or even change it, of course she can. It’s her name.’
Likewise, Samantha Bevington, from Manchester, was keen to get away from the common names she used to hear as a teacher. She said this also meant certain names were ‘off limits’ when it came to choosing one for her own child.
‘Names such as Ryan and Charlie were never going to make it onto my “maybe” list. Daniel was blacklisted from the start,’ she tells Metro.o.uk.
Instead, she opted for the name Nara.
Samantha adds: ‘Nara is the ancient capital city of Japan and a beautiful, popular tourist destination, full of cherry blossom trees, ancient temples and roaming wild deer.
‘We hadn’t found out the sex of the baby so, after she arrived, we were tasked over the first few days to figure out a name for her. Every name on the list we’d made didn’t seem to reflect how beautiful she was to us and how precious she felt.
‘We wanted something a bit different but not pretentious. We read about how the cherry blossom had appeared early that year in Japan due to the warm weather and we were instantly transported back to our spring-time adventure through Nara (the city!) a few years before.
‘The name felt just right – not too unusual that it was odd, but not too mainstream that there would be five Naras in her class at school.’
Playing into this, there’s also the recent resurgence of previously ‘unfashionable’ names, like Gareth and Keith, as confirmation that change is in the air.
Sophie adds: ‘British parents are also rescuing old-fashioned and out-dated names for their babies.
‘Vintage nicknames are a strong trend, including Joni, Dulcie, Florrie, Goldie, Gigi, and Marcie for girls, along with Alvie/Alvey, Lockie, Lennie, Artie, Gus, Herbie, Paddy, and Ozzy for boys.
‘Other previously uncool names that are rising quickly include vintage names like Luella, Millicent, Roland, and Saul, as well as dated names that may be considered “mum” or “dad” names, grandma or grandpa names, like Deborah, Patricia, Lisa, Cory, Shane, Byron, and Colin.’
So, it’s clear baby names won’t be ‘boring’ for much longer.
Unusual names we might see more of, according to Nameberry:
Sophie from Nameberry says that previously unusual names are suddenly skyrocketing in popularity.
She adds: ‘Looking at the fastest-rising baby names in the UK, a few trends emerge.
‘Parents from international cultures are embracing their cultural identities and giving their children names that represent their heritage. Many Muslim names in particular are rising quickly, such as Ayzal, Inara, and Umaiza for girls, Zohan, Luan, and Hamzah for boys.
‘We’re also seeing the rise of Hindu names such as Prisha and Avani for girls, Avyaan and Arjan for boys, as well as Scandinavian names like girl names Leena, Anika, and Freyja, and boy names Ivar and Bjorn.
‘UK parents are being influenced by the US and using names that are trending or popular among American parents, such as girl names Oakley, Serenity, Ember, Camila, and Monroe, and boy names Jett, Adonis, Nolan, Ryker, Bryson, and Thiago.
‘New word names are on the rise across the English-speaking world. In England and Wales, names like Raine, Dusty, Storm, and Navy are trending for girls, while Sunny, Zephyr, and Forest are rising for boys. Ocean is hot for both sexes.
‘Pop culture is also introducing new names into the pool. Cataleya, Raya, Enola, and Zendaya are up for girls, and Kylian, Neo, and Bowie are on the rise for boys.
‘Alternative spellings are one way to make a name feel more unique. Choices rising for girls include Elyza, Rylee, Lylah, Effy, Nansi, Blanka, Merryn, and Margaux. For boys, Alvey, Niko, Lennie, Zackary, Rueben, and Alastair each rose more than 100 spots between 2020 and 2021.’
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