For parents, selecting the perfect baby name for the newborn is one of the most important things they'll ever do. After all, a name is something they will carry with them for their entire life and many feel a name can have a huge impact on a child's success in the future. While many parents love to choose classic names that have been around for centuries, others like to choose something with a bit more originality. However, no matter how original you may think you are when choosing your baby's name, it seems that you'll never be quite as original or unique as you think you are.
A study conducted at the University of Edinburgh and published in PLoS One was conducted to look at trends in baby names. Researchers looked at the names given to more than 22 million babies born in the UK between 1838 and 2016 to track these trends.
The study shows that naming fads happen and change over time. Celebrities and people in the public eye have a huge impact on naming conventions resulting in fads. Let's face it, before Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple most parents would have scoffed at the idea of naming their child after a piece of fruit. Studies also show that the names George and Charlotte saw huge increases in their popularity thanks to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
"Whatever the reasoning behind the choice of a name, it is always made within the context of a time and place–and as the perception of a name changes over time, so does its popularity," the study states. "This can influence parental choice and result in naming fads, sudden and short-lived increases in popularity, and vogues, a longer term gain or loss of popularity."
The study writes that biblical names were hugely popular until the mid-20th century, but since then there has been a lack of solid naming patterns since. It seems that many parents are searching for that perfect "unique" name, either by giving their child a truly unique moniker or by adopting a unique spelling. Most parents however want their child's name to be easily pronounced and not so 'out there' that it won't be recognized, which the study says shows that current naming patterns show “a balance struck between recognizability and rarity.”
Thanks so social media and the internet however, a unique name doesn't stay unique for long. Once it's registered others see it and they decide to use it as well. Stephen J Bush, Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute who led the study, commented on the ever changing naming patterns his study found.
“Collectively, shifting patterns of name choice provide a fascinating insight into changes in societal values, personal tastes and ethnic and cultural diversity from the Victorian era to the present day. The speed with which modern name choices fall in and out of favor reflects their increased exposure and people’s ongoing desire for distinctiveness.”
If you want to see how popular your name is, or maybe a name your thinking of for your child, the authors of the study created this database that can show you just how popular, or unique, your name choice is.