Baby names in England and Wales: 2018

Most popular first names for baby boys and girls in 2018 using birth registration data.

This is the latest release. View previous releases

This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Kathryn Littleboy

Release date:
29 August 2019

Next release:
August to September 2020

1. Main points

  • Oliver remained the most popular name for boys in England and Wales for the sixth year in a row, while Olivia remained the most popular name for girls for the third year in a row.

  • Arthur was the only new entry into the top 10 names for boys in 2018, replacing Jacob, while Sophia and Grace replaced Poppy and Lily in the top 10 names for girls.

  • Grayson, Jasper, Rowan, Tobias, Sonny and Dominic entered the top 100 names for boys in 2018; Grayson, Rowan and Tobias have previously never featured in the top 100.

  • Ada, Delilah, Ayla, Zoe, Margot and Felicity entered the top 100 names for girls in 2018; Ada returned to the top 100 for the first time since 1924 while Delilah, Ayla and Margot made their first ever appearances.

  • Less than half (45%) of babies had a name within the top 100 lists in 2018, down from two thirds (67%) in 1996.

  • Mothers aged 35 years and over tended to prefer more “traditional” names, compared with mothers aged under 25 years who were more likely to choose more “non-traditional”, shortened or hyphenated names.

  • Regionally, Olivia was the most popular name for girls throughout England and Wales, while Oliver was outranked by Muhammad in four of the nine English regions, and by Harry in the North East.

  • Oliver was the most popular name for boys in 25% of local authorities, while Olivia was the most popular name for girls in nearly twice as many (46%) local authorities.

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2. Statistician’s comment

“Oliver and Olivia remained the most popular baby names in 2018, although there are the first signs that Oliver’s six-year reign as the number one name for boys is under threat. Arthur surged into the top 10 boys’ names for the first time since the 1920s, and Ada jumped into the girls’ top 100 for the first time in a century too, both perhaps inspired by characters in the BBC TV drama Peaky Blinders.

On the flipside, the growth in the use of technology assistants in our homes may help to explain why the number of baby girls named Alexa has more than halved compared with 2017. Communicating with young children can be hard enough at the best of times.”

Nick Stripe, Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, Office for National Statistics.

Follow Vital Statistics Outputs Branch on Twitter @NickStripe_ONS

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3. Things you need to know about this release

Important information for interpreting these baby name statistics:

  • baby name statistics are compiled from first names recorded when live births are registered in England and Wales as part of civil registration, a legal requirement

  • the statistics are based only on live births that occurred in the calendar year, as there is no public register of stillbirths

  • babies born in England and Wales to women whose usual residence is outside England and Wales are included in the statistics for England and Wales as a whole, but excluded from any subdivision of England and Wales

  • the statistics are based on the exact spelling of the name given on the birth certificate; grouping names with similar pronunciation would change the rankings and exact names are given so users can group if they wish

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5. The proportion of babies with a name ranking in the top 100 continued decreasing in 2018

In 2018, there were 657,076 live births in England and Wales. Of these live births, there were 62,729 different names registered in 2018.

Since 1996, the percentage of babies given a name in the top 10, top 25, top 50 and top 100 has decreased (Figure 2) and the list of names has become more diverse. In 1996, two-thirds (66.7%) of babies had a name within the top 100, while in 2018 this was true for less than half of babies (45.2%).

This long-term increase in the diversification of names given to babies may be because of a number of changes in our culture and society. Factors likely to be influencing these changes include: the decline in Christianity and church attendance; the growing influence of popular and celebrity culture; a desire for originality and individuality as much as conformity; and a growth in the number of babies born in England and Wales to non-UK born parents.

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7. Choices of baby names vary by age of mother

There are apparent age differences in name selection between older and younger mothers. More “traditional” names such as Alexander, Joshua, William, Thomas, Charlotte, Jessica and Sophie tend to be more popular among older mothers, especially those aged over 35 years. Whereas some of the more popular names chosen by mothers aged under 25 years are “non-traditional” names such as Hunter, Logan, Harper and Nevaeh (Figure 3 and 4).

Figure 3: More traditional names were more popular among mothers aged 35 years and over

Top 10 baby names for girls, by age of mother in years, England and Wales, 2018

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Shortened names for boys such as Archie, Alfie and Freddie were all in the top 10 for mothers aged under 25 years but were less popular among mothers aged over 35 years. Whereas the full spellings, such as Alfred and Frederick were more popular with older mothers.

Figure 4: Shortened names were more popular among mothers aged under 25 years

Top 10 baby names for boys, by age of mother in years, England and Wales, 2018

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Hyphenated names also appeared to be a more popular choice among younger mothers. Mothers aged under 25 years were the only age group where hyphenated names for girls featured in the top 100. Amelia-Rose was ranked 83rd among mothers aged under 25 years and Ava-Rose was ranked 88th, but both names were outside of the top 200 in all other age groups.

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9. Baby names vary by mother’s usual area of residence

There were some regional differences in the top names for boys by mother’s usual area of residence in 2018. Oliver was the most popular name for boys in England and Wales as a whole but was not in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, West Midlands and London (where Muhammad was the most popular name for boys), or in the North East (where Harry was the most popular name for boys).

In 2018, Oliver was the most popular name for boys in 24.8% of local authorities in England and Wales. There were 28 other names for boys ranked first in different local authorities, and 21.2% of local authorities had a highest ranked name that did not feature in the England and Wales top 10 names for boys.

The highest proportion of boys given the same name in any given area was in Pendle where 10.3% of boys born were named Muhammad in 2018 (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Explore the top 100 names for boys by local authority

England and Wales, 2018

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Source: Office for National Statistics - Baby names in England and Wales

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For girls, Olivia was the most popular name in England and Wales in 2018 and this pattern was replicated across all the English regions and in Wales.

Olivia was also the most popular name for girls in 44.5% of local authorities. However, there were 39 other names for girls ranked first in different local authorities and not all the highest ranked names in each local authority featured in the top 10 names for girls in England and Wales (24.5% of local authorities).

The concentration of girls given the same name in any given area was lower compared with boys in 2018. Craven had the highest proportion of girls given the same name where 3.8% of girls born in the local authority were named Olivia (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Explore the top 100 names for girls by local authority

England and Wales, 2018

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Source: Office for National Statistics - Baby names in England and Wales

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11. Quality and methodology

This is the first time that annual statistics on baby names in England and Wales for 2018 have been published. Baby name statistics are derived from final annual birth registration data and represent all live births occurring in England and Wales in the specific calendar year but include a very small number of late registrations.

Minimal automated editing is conducted on the names. For 2018 data onwards, a slightly different cleaning method was introduced, where all spaces are removed from hyphenated names, to ensure they are treated as one name. For example, Amelia - Lily would now be processed as Amelia-Lily instead of Amelia. More details on the edits applied, and the impact of this change is available in our Baby names quality and methodology information.

Baby name statistics for England and its regions and for Wales are based on the area of usual residence of the mother, rather than where the baby was born.

Births where the name of the baby was not stated were excluded from all the rankings. Births where the usual residence of the mother was not in England and Wales or not stated were excluded from the regional rankings and from the separate England and Wales rankings.

The primary users of the data are parents and soon-to-be parents, register offices who display the data and the media. Baby name websites and those who manufacture and sell named items such as souvenir mugs also make use of the data.

The Baby names Quality and Methodology Information and the Births Quality and Methodology Information contain important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

  • uses and users

  • how the output was created

  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

Our User guide to birth statistics provides further information on data quality, legislation and procedures relating to births and includes a glossary of terms.

The Revisions policy for population statistics (including baby name statistics) is available.

Baby names with a count of two or fewer in England and Wales are not included within published datasets to protect the confidentiality of individuals.

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