Baby names: Oliver knocked off top spot by Noah

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New entries into the top 100 baby names include Brody and Olive

By Andre Rhoden-Paul & Sam Hancock

BBC News

Noah has become the most popular name for baby boys, replacing Oliver which held the top spot for eight years.

Official birth data for 2021 in England and Wales showed Olivia remained the most popular name for girls for the sixth year in a row.

New top 10 entries include Willow and Henry – kicking Jack out of the top 10 for the first time since 1996.

Big movers into the top 100 were Brody and Olive, rising 36 and 25 places respectively from 2020.

In all, 4,525 baby boys were named Noah last year – moving it to the top spot for the first time, up from fourth place in 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows.

Meanwhile, the name Olivia was given to 3,649 baby girls. It has been the most popular girl’s name since 2016, according to the ONS.

The name Noah has been steadily rising in popularity since it was ranked 225th in 1996, the first year the data on names was published.

In the US, Noah topped baby name charts in 2013, ending Jacob’s 14-year run in the No 1 spot.

SJ Strum, who founded the parenting podcast Baby Name Envy, told BBC News the name may appeal to “so many new parents for its blend of traditional and pop culture associations”.

“It’s traditionally a symbol of new beginnings,” Ms Strum said, “which after [the coronavirus] pandemic feels so meaningful.”

She also said she asked some of her listeners why they liked the name – and all pointed to the 2004 romantic comedy film The Notebook, in which the male lead is named Noah.

Other famous men with the same name as the biblical figure include actor Noah Wyle, who starred in hit US television series ER.

Freya, Florence and Willow replaced Isabella, Rosie and Sophia in the top 10 names for girls. It is the first time since 1996 that Florence and Willow have appeared in the top 10.

Lara, Beatrice and Sara were new entries in the top 100 for girls.

In the boys’ list, Brody and Rupert made it into the top 100 names for the first time, along with Kai, Tobias, Nathan and Blake.

Regionally, Muhammad was found to be the most popular boy’s name in four regions. Olivia was the most popular name in Wales and every English region except the East Midlands, where Amelia came top.

On the endangered names list are Glenda and Kerry, says the ONS. Fewer than five girls were given these names every year since 2018.

Clifford, Nigel and Norman have also fallen out of favour with 10 or fewer boys taking the name. Leslie is among the least popular with fewer than seven babies given that name each year since 2018.

The ONS also found older mums continue to give their babies more traditional names and younger mums go for more modern names or shorter versions of traditional names, part of a long-running trend.

Explaining why it uses mothers’ data to glean the most popular baby names, an ONS spokeswoman previously said: “To get a complete statistical picture for our baby names analysis, we rely on a mother’s data, because information relating to mothers should appear on every birth registration.”

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Disney film Luca may have helped the name rise to 28th most popular in 2021

While it is not clear exactly what is behind parents’ baby-naming decisions, popular culture seems to play a part, with Hollywood a major influence.

Disney Pixar’s 2021 film Luca may have helped the name jump to 28th most popular. It was given to 1,807 babies last year, compared to 1,323 in 2020.

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon movie, also released last year, saw registrations of the name more than double in one year to 251 births.

Popstars also seem to be influencing a rise in less common names. There were 14 times the number of baby boys named Ezra – the second name of singer George Ezra – in 2021 compared to a decade ago.

And 885 baby girls were called Mabel – with the Finders Keepers singer possibly providing the inspiration.

Continuing to rise for both boys and girls were Bowie and Ziggy, which have been growing in popularity since the death of late pop legend David Bowie. His alter-ego was Ziggy Stardust.

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Kim Kardashian named her boys Saint, pictured on the right, and Psalm

The Duke of Sussex’s second child Lilibet born last year appears to be behind eight Lilibets being registered, compared to fewer than three in each of the previous seven years.

And reality TV stars the Kardashians could have inspired an increase in the name Saint, the child of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. There were 59 babies given that name in 2021, compared with five in 2015 when he was born.

There were three baby girls registered North, six boys registered Psalm, and four girls named Chicago, the names of Kardashian’s three other children.

James Tucker, from the ONS, said: “Popular culture continues to influence parents’ baby name choices.”