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The baby names dying out in the UK

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Craigs and Shannons disappearing as more unusual names and spellings take over

One-Minute Read Monica Sager
Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 10:45am

Once-common baby names including Lee, Shaun, Gemma and Lauren may be facing extinction in the UK as parents reject former favourites in favour of trendier choices such as Archie, Silas and Isla.

Craigs, in particular, are becoming an endangered species: only 25 boys were given the name in 2017, compared with 705 in 1996 - a fall of 97%. And “things look even worse for Kirsty, whose 2017 cohort of 11 would only just fill a football team”, says The Guardian.

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The newly published figures are the result of an analysis by the newspaper of baby names recorded in England and Wales between 1996 and 2017, the latest year for which official data is available.

At the other end of the scale, names perceived as unusual are gaining purchase, as parents opt for “virtue in rarity”, reports The Guardian. Jaxon is now as popular as Mark was in 1996, while the number of girls named Ariam is equal to those called Hayley back then.

Alternative spellings of existing names are also on the up, with Abbiegayle, Abagael, Abygayle, Abaigael, and Abbygael all recorded as variations on Abigail between 1998 and 2013.

According to the latest index compiled by the Nameberry site, the most popular girls’ name of 2019 so far is Isla, with Olivia in second. For boys, the current favourites are Archie and Milo.

But their reign may be short-lived. 

“Towards the present-day, we can speculate that the comparatively greater range of media, freedom of movement, and ability to maintain globally distributed social networks increases the number of possible names, but also ensures they may more quickly be perceived as commonplace,” Dr Stephen Bush, one of a team of Oxford University academics studying baby name trends from 1838 to 2016, told the BBC.

As such, contemporary naming fads may prove short-lived.

The good news for the proud Shauns and Gemmas of the world is that there may still be hope of a comeback, according to Bush. “Someone is going to reappraise it in the future,” he told The Guardian. “It’s rare that names disappear completely.”

Here are the names that have seen the steepest drop in popularity in recent years:

Top ten “dying” boys’ names

1. Craig 

2. Jordan

3. Macauley

4. Kieran 

5. Scott 

6. Lee

7. Ross

8. Ashley

9. Mitchell 

10. Shane 

Top ten “dying” girls’ names

1. Shannon

2. Kirsty

3. Jodie

4. Gemma 

5. Danielle 

6. Lauren

7. Kayleigh

8. Jade 

9. Rachel

10. Rhiannon

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