Baby names: Hunter and Aurora join top 100

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Image caption,
Aaron and Jasper are declining in popularity but Nigel is making a comeback of sorts

Hunter and Aurora have joined the top 100 names for baby boys and girls in England and Wales, according to official statistics.

Oliver and Olivia remain the most popular names, positions they have held since 2013 and 2016 respectively.

New entries into the top 100 boys' names in 2017 also included Ralph, while Aaron and Jasper fell out of the top 100.

New entries for girls included Orla, Edith, Bonnie, Lyla and Hallie.

These replaced Lexi, Zoe, Maddison, Sarah, Felicity and Lydia.

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Nigel is making a comeback of sorts, with 11 baby boys given that name in 2017.

The name was thought to be almost extinct after fewer than three babies were named Nigel the year before.

It is the first time Hunter has been in the top 100 boys' names since records began in 1904.

There were 841 babies given the name, making it the 78th most popular in England and Wales.

Ralph was last in the top 100 in 1944. In 2017 it was the 98th most popular and chosen for 669 boys.

Aurora joined the girls' top 100 at number 80.

Results were based on names given from an analysis of 679,106 babies born in 2017, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

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Top 10 baby names for boys and girls in England and Wales

Number of children given a particular spelling of a name in 2017:


  1. Oliver - 6,259
  2. Harry - 5,031
  3. George - 4,929
  4. Noah - 4,273
  5. Jack - 4,190
  6. Jacob - 3,968
  7. Leo - 3,781
  8. Oscar - 3,739
  9. Charlie - 3,724
  10. Muhammad - 3,691


  1. Olivia - 5,204
  2. Amelia - 4,358
  3. Isla - 3,373
  4. Ava - 3,289
  5. Emily - 3,121
  6. Isabella - 2,627
  7. Mia - 2,590
  8. Poppy - 2,527
  9. Ella - 2,452
  10. Lily - 2,405
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Image caption,
The popularity of names varies across England with Muhammad more popular that Oliver in three regions

The ONS only provides figures when there were at least three babies given the same spelling of a name. It does not reveal names taken by only one or two babies to protect their privacy.

It means the name Siri has sometimes dropped off the list completely but appeared again in 2017 as three people gave their daughters the same name as Apple's "intelligent assistant".

There were also 301 girls named Alexa, the name that triggers Amazon's Echo smart speaker.

Regionally, Olivia was the most popular girls' name throughout England and Wales, but Muhammad was more popular than Oliver in London, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.

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Image caption,
The Duchess of Sussex's name Meghan is seeing a rise in popularity, while Harry remains a firm favourite

Harry was the most popular boys' name in north-east England and second most popular overall.

Megan has fallen 17 places on 2016, but the so-called "Markle Sparkle" might be behind the rise of the alternative spelling of Meghan. There were 49 baby girls given the name in 2017. Whether the 2018 royal wedding gives Meghan a further boost will be revealed next year.

Image source, EPA
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There were dozens of children named Bowie but did David inspire their parents?

David Bowie may have inspired parents to name their children in tribute.

The number of children named Bowie has risen since 2016, the year he died of cancer.

There were 38 boys and six girls with the name in 2017 and 35 boys and seven girls in 2016.

That compares with 12 boys and fewer than three girls the year before.

How are the rankings worked out?

The rankings are based on names with the exact same spellings.

That means the 76 baby girls called Khaleesi, after the word for a queen invented for the character Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, are recorded separately to the four girls called Kaleesi.

Muhammad (3,691 boys) and Mohammed (1,982) combined would still not be more popular than the traditional spelling of Oliver. However there are other variations on the name, such as Mohammad (837), Mohamed (269) and Muhammed (450) that would make it more popular if they were all counted as the same name.

Nick Stripe from the ONS 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.

"Brand new entries into the top 100 for girls include the names Aurora and Hallie."

Sarah-Jane ‎Ljungstrom from parenting website, said the rise of Aurora and Hallie was down to people looking for "heavenly" names.

"The Instagram effect is starting to shine through with dreamy space names for girls the stand-out new trend," she said.

"Also still growing for girls is the botanicals theme. Poppy is up five places into the top ten, while Daisy, Ivy, Willow and Iris are all big climbers too.

"For boys, millennial parents are leading the way with the 'soft macho' phenomenon. Instead of traditional short, sharp masculine names like Jake and Tyler which have plunged in popularity, the 'soft macho' trend is seeing manly but gentle names including Hunter, Leo and Ralph all picked hundreds of times last year."

Olivia and Jack remain the most popular baby names in Scotland, according to data published in March, while Emily and James were revealed in August to be the most popular names in Northern Ireland.

Data journalism by Will Dahlgreen. Design by Sandra Rodriguez Chillida and Prina Shah. Development by Chris Ashton, Evisa Terziu and Alexander Ivanov.