From Kayleigh to Khaleesi: What are we named after?

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BabiesImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
They might not look so cheery when they find out what they're named after

New analysis from the National Records of Scotland has charted how popular culture has inspired baby names, showing the ways television, film and music can affect the names dished out by new parents.

From Kayleigh to Khaleesi, the names given to children in Scotland have been growing steadily more diverse in recent years.

While Jack has been the most popular name for boys for the last 10 years running and Olivia and Emily are perennial favourites for girls, a huge variety of other names have developed.

In 1900, 68% of all boys were given a forename which was one of the top 10 most popular names. By 2017, that figure was down to 12.5%.

For girls, meanwhile, the number of different names has doubled over the last 40 years - 2,050 distinct names were given to girls in 1977, compared to 4,221 in 2017.

The National Records of Scotland has developed an app which provides data on how popular names have been since records began in 1974 - and it shows how popular culture has fuelled the rise and fall of different names.


Image source, NAtional Records of Scotland
Image caption,
Arya has come out of nowhere to become a popular name for girls since the Game of Thrones series first aired

Fantasy series Game of Thrones has inspired a slew of new names, with Arya - rarely used previously - jumping into the top 100 names for girls after Arya Stark first hit the screens in 2011.

Calling your baby "Daenerys Targaryen" might be a step too far, but there have been 17 girls named Khaleesi, after Ms Targaryen's title as queen of the Dothraki tribe. There have also been four boys named Khal, after her warlord husband.

The years since the hit show came out have also seen the first recorded use of the names Sansa, Theon, Eddard and Jorah for Scottish babies.

But unsurprisingly no new parents have been inspired to dub their child Joffrey, in honour of the series' villainous boy-king, or indeed Cersei, after his scheming mother.

Equally, the last time a baby was named Homer in Scotland was 1989 - the year a certain blundering character first appeared in the Simpsons.

And after the world began Keeping Up with the Kardashians in 2007, there was an immediate jump in baby girls named Khloe and Kourtney. But somewhat oddly this was not replicated for Kim (or even the more formal Kimberly), possibly the best known of the sisters.

Image source, HBO
Image caption,
Arya Stark and Daenerys Targaryen feature in Game of Thrones


Image source, NAtional Records of Scotland
Image source, NAtional Records of Scotland

The big screen is just as influential as the small one.

The name Merida (relatively) leapt in popularity following the release of Pixar's Scottish-themed adventure Brave in 2012.

Luna, meanwhile, has climbed into the top 100 names for girls, growing enormously in popularity since Luna Lovegood's turn in the Harry Potter films.

In 2017 there were 63 girls named Harley, popularised by comic and now big-screen character Harley Quinn, while there were also boys named Thor, Loki, Odin and Logan.

Star Wars probably provided inspiration for at least some of the 127 Lukes of 2017, and certainly played a part in naming the two Kylos, 19 Leias, 4 Reys and 199 Finns.

Image source, Warner Bros
Image caption,
Luna Lovegood and Harley Quinn share two of the increasingly popular names of 2017


Image source, NAtional Records of Scotland

Music has also played a big role in popularising names. Kayleigh was almost unheard of as a name for girls in Scotland before Marillion released their single of the same name in 1985. But in the early 1990s, there were 200 babies being given the name every year.

There was a similar (albeit smaller) trend after The Police released Roxanne in 1978. No girls were given that name the previous year, but there was a steady growth thereafter up to a peak of 32 in 1989.

Equally there were no girls named Billie in 1981. The following year, Michael Jackson had a hit with Billie Jean - and the name rose up the charts, with 22 Billies being born in 1992.

However, in disappointing news for Johnny Cash fans, there is no record in Scotland of a boy ever being named Sue.

Looking at the names of artists themselves, there have been increases in popularity recently for Ariana (Grande), Miley (Cyrus) and Bruno (Mars). However, Taylor (as a girl's name, as in Swift) peaked in 1999, and only 18 girls were given that name last year.

Three baby boys were named Drake in 2017, while one was dubbed Sheeran in 2016. The only time a girl was formally named Beyonce in Scotland came in 2004, the year after the similarly named singer's debut solo album, and there were 11 Shakiras in 2002, the year after her English-language breakthrough.

Image source, Marillion / Reuters
Image caption,
Marillion sparked a surge in Kayleighs, while hundreds of Scottish girls have been named Ariana since Ariana Grande rose to fame


Image source, NAtional Records of Scotland
Image source, NAtional Records of SCotland

Pop culture isn't the only source of baby names, of course. As the little girl named Aberdeen in 2017 can attest, places often provide inspiration too. Scottish islands are particular favourites.

Isla was the third most popular girls' name in Scotland in 2017, although only 14 opted for the more traditional spelling of the island of Islay.

Scottish islands have provided a wealth of names for baby girls over the years, with Skye and Iona both growing in popularity in the mid-1990s before peaking in 2007.

For boys, tastes in naming babies after the Outer Hebrides have apparently shifted south, with the name Lewis peaking in 2003 - at the beginning of a rise in popularity of the name Harris, which has almost now matched it.

If these seem a bit traditional, there have also been babies named after the islands of Jura, Gigha, Eriskay, Orkney, Kerrera, Coll, Tiree and Uist.

Image source, NAtional Records of Scotland

News and sport

Image source, Getty / PA
Image caption,
Donald Trump has failed to spark a resurgence in his forename in Scotland, but there has been a spike in boys named Corbyn

Politics can occasionally be an inspiration, with seven Scottish boys being named Corbyn in 2017 - up from zero the year before.

However, there was no corresponding bounce for the name Theresa, which fell to zero (sorry Mrs May), and Nicola continued a long-term slide to its lowest recorded level, at four (sorry Ms Sturgeon).

There has yet to be a child named Brexit, although the name Indy has increased in popularity since the Scottish referendum campaign began - and there was one girl named Bella-Caledonia in 2017.

The name Donald is also at the low end of a lengthy decline in Scotland, although Mr Trump would likely claim credit for the slight uptick from 7 to 10 in 2017. There were also three girls named Melania in 2017, up from zero the year before - again potentially in reference to an inhabitant of the White House.

It's possible the parents who named their little boy Elon last year had Space-X founder Mr Musk in mind, while the number of girls being named Meghan almost doubled, to 13 - a trend which may well continue in 2018 following the Royal wedding.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Golfer Tiger Woods and footballer Graeme Souness are among the sports stars who seem to have inspired baby names

Sport can also be an influence. There were no Tigers before 1998, the year Tiger Woods became the world's leading golfer, but there have been one or two most years since.

Getting slightly more unusual, three boys have been named LeBron in recent years, after basketball star LeBron James, while two were named Ronaldo at the peak of footballer Cristiano's spell at Manchester United.

There have also been seven boys named Lionel in Scotland since the Barcelona forward made his senior debut in 2004, compared to none in the 20 years before that.

And in 1990, someone, presumably in Glasgow, with one eye on Rangers manager Graeme, named their baby boy Souness.