Boys, Girls

Sarah drops out of top 100 baby names for first time in over a century

It’s been one of the UK’s most popular baby names for more than a century.

But Sarah has dropped out of the top 100 girls’ names for first time since records began, ONS figures show.

The name, which peaked in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, fell to the 103rd most popular names in the data for 2017.

It was the top girls’ name in 1974 and 1984, and its popularity has been falling ever since.

An alternative spelling, Sara, overtook it in 2015, and last year was the 82nd most popular girl’s baby name in the UK.

The change leaves Elizabeth as the only girls’ name which has been in the top 100 continually since records began in 1904.

Nick Stripe, of the ONS’ Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, said: “Although Oliver and Olivia remained the most popular baby names in 2017, some fascinating changes took place beneath them.

“Leo entered the boys’ top 10 for the first time, whilst Hunter rocketed into the top 100, also for the first time, reaching number 78.

“Sarah, the most popular name for baby girls throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s, dropped out of the top 100 for the first time since our records began in 1904.”

New entries into the top 100 for girls include Aurora, Hallie, Lyla and Bonnie.

Sarah has met the same fate as many names which peaked in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, including Claire, the second-most popular name in 1974, which had dropped to 90th place by 1996 and is now the 915th most popular baby girl name, with 41 newborns named Claire in 2017.

Lisa, which peaked at 5th in 1974, is now in 764th place, with 52 girls given the name last year, and Louise, which was 13th in 1974 is now at 499th place, with 87 girls given the name, though it also features in almost 50 compound forms including Lilly-Louise, Phoebe-Louise, Bonnie-Louise and Faith-Louise.

A similar pattern can be seen for boys’ names, with names such as Paul, which peaked in the top spot in 1974, now in 357th place behind Troy, Nikodem, Zayd and Teddie.

Andrew, which was near the top in the 1960s and 1970s, is now in 210th position, with 250 boys given the name, and Mark, which was 2nd in 1974, is now 247th.

The trend suggests new parents are avoiding giving their children the names they were familiar with among their peers or their parents’ generation.

By contrast, names which were popular earlier in the century, particularly in the 1930s and 1940s, are entering the top 100 again.

Edith has returned to the top 100 for the first time since 1934, and Ralph is now at number 98, the highest position since 1944, beating out derivatives including Ralphie, Ralphy and Ralphi.

Beatrice re-entered the top 100 five years ago having been absent since the 1920s, and Elsie reappeared in 2011 after dropping off in the 1930s.

The data also reveals that while Olivia was the top girls’ name throughout England and Wales, Oliver was beaten by Muhammad in London, the West Midlands, and Yorkshire and The Humber, and by Harry in the north east of England.

Analysis by the ONS suggested that some names had very localised popularity for religious reasons.

David, which ranks 44th nationally, was the top boys’ name in five local authorities, three of which had a higher than average population of Jewish people.

Similarly, Maryam, which ranks 78th nationally for girls’ names, is the top name in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Redbridge, Luton and Leicester, all areas with a large population of Muslims.


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