If you’ve spent any time near small girls lately – perhaps sitting in a crowded café on a Saturday morning, walking past a playground, or hanging out with friends with daughters – you’ll have been hard-pressed not to notice the rise of the ‘-a’ names. At the last count, the most popular first names for baby girls in the UK included a staggering amount of pretty-pretty names ending in the first letter of the alphabet: think Amelia, Olivia, Isla, Ava and Isabella.
But new parents tend to steer clear of these romantic, vowel-heavy names when it comes to choosing their daughter’s middle name – opting instead for more classic, solid sounds.
That’s according to a new list of popular girls’ middle names, compiled by Ancestry UK. Their survey shows that the most popular second names for girls in the UK are Louise, Rose, Grace, Jane, and Elizabeth.
Sensible, old-fashioned names also rule the roost when it comes to the most popular boys’ middle names: think James, John, William, Thomas and David, rather than Oscar, Alfie and Archie (all of which made the top 20 first names for boys).
Ancestry UK’s research also discovered that middle names have become much more popular over the course of the last century. In an audit of the 1911 census, just one in three people (37%) had a second name. Today, in contrast, more than three-quarters (80%) of children are given two or more names, with one in 10 new babies having two or more middle names.
The rise of middle names – and the fact that the most popular choices tend to be old-fashioned – could be attributed to families paying tribute to deceased relatives, particularly in the aftermath of WW1 and WW2.
“It seems that middle names are a relatively new phenomenon, having only become the norm over the last hundred years – driven by the desire to commemorate well-loved ancestors,” says Miriam Silverman, UK content manager for Ancestry.
“This will have become particularly prominent in society following the two World Wars,” she continues. “These wars affected the entire country and resulted in millions of Britons commemorating their lost loved ones as new babies were born in the years following the conflicts.”
As a result, she says, middle names are “less likely to follow popular culture and more likely [to] reflect age-old traditions or names that were popular in our parents’ or grandparents’ generation – hence the very traditional make-up of today’s top 10 middle names.”
You can see the full top 10 middle names for boys and girls below.
Top 10 girls’ middle names in the UK
Top 10 boys’ middle names in the UK
Images: iStock, Rex Features