Hello, Hunter and Poppy; goodbye, Sarah and Thomas. The most popular baby names of 2017 have been announced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and while Olivia, Oliver and Muhammad – in its varied spellings – remain the most likely names to be heard shouted across the nation’s playgrounds in years to come, the inventiveness of parents shows no sign of slowing down.
Aurora, Lyla, Orla, Edith and Hallie enter the top 100 girls’ names, while for boys, popular names include Leo, which enters the top 10, and Ralph, moving into the top 100.
Sarah, the most popular name for girls throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s, has dropped out of the top 100 for the first time since records began in 1904.
Parents in England and Wales gave 28,222 different names to the 348,071 boys born last year, and 35,475 to the 331,035girls. More parents seem to be aiming for something celestial, with Luna and Aria among the fastest-rising girls’ names in the past decade.
The biggest climber was Harper, the name David and Victoria Beckham gave to their youngest child in 2011. Music and sport often provide inspiration, with 35 parents plumping for Kendrick for boys – perhaps with the rapper Kendrick Lamar in mind – and 50 calling their boys Kobe, possibly after the basketball player Kobe Bryant.
However, the British political class does not inspire people so much. There is no Boris, Jeremy or Theresa in either of the top 100s, although Jacob was the sixth-most popular name in 2017, a year in which the arch-Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg has grown in popularity in some quarters. There were only 11 Nigels born last year, compared with 50 Winstons.
The names given to the newborns of England and Wales present a different and more diverse picture than those registered when Britain joined the EU in 1973. Back then, Michael and Jennifer were the most popular names.
There is also considerable regional variation. In Gwynedd, north Wales, Hari is the most popular name given to boys. In Blackburn, it is Zainab for girls. Amelia and Muhammad are most popular in Birmingham, Jack and Olivia in Bristol, and Arthur, Oscar, Florence and Lily in Tunbridge Wells.
Muhammad was the 10th most popular name for boys, but if the alternative spellings of Mohammed or Mohammad were included, it would be about as popular as Oliver and its variants, such as Olly, across England and Wales, the ONS said.
Muslims make up about 5% of the UK population, but Muslim families are more likely to call their sons Mohammed than any other name with an Islamic tradition, the data suggested. Mohammed first appeared in the top 100 for boys in 1926 and has been a consistent presence since.
Two names that do not appear in the top 100s are Walt and Boo, the twins born this week to Chris Evans and Natasha Shishmanian, who had earlier nicknamed the boy and girl Ping and Pong, which do not appear either.
Top boys’ names
Oliver, Harry, George, Noah, Jack
Top girls’ names
Olivia, Amelia, Isla, Ava, Emily