National Records of Scotland

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Most popular names in Scotland

Most popular names in Scotland

Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019
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Olivia and Jack remain the most popular baby names in Scotland, and Smith, Brown and Wilson the three top surnames, according to figures published today by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The full lists of first forenames given to babies whose births were registered in 2018 replace the top 100 lists published in December, and include the first forename of every baby, including those whose births were registered in December.

The three top surnames in the Birth, Marriage and Death registers for 2018 - Smith, Brown and Wilson - have been the most common surnames recorded in the registers for over 40 years, based on five-yearly analysis going back to 1975.

The NRS website includes annual lists of babies’ first forenames back to 1974. Jack has been the top boys’ name for 11 years running.  Three boys’ names have been top in at least five of the years from 1974 to 2018: David (19 years: 1974 to 1992), Ryan (five years: 1994 to 1998) and Jack (16 years: 1999 to 2002, 2006 and 2008 onwards).  Olivia has been the most popular girls’ name for three years running.  Four girls’ names have been top in at least five of the years from 1974 to 2018: Laura (11 years: 1979 to 1989), Emma (eight years: 1990 to 1993, 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2004), Chloe (five years: 1998 to 2002) and Sophie (nine years: 2005 to 2013).  

Many once popular names have gone out of fashion.  A table of the Top 10 names for each sex for 1975 and for every fifth year thereafter, shows that (for example):

  • no girls’ names that were in the Top 10 in 1975 appeared in the Top 10 in 2000 or 2015, and none of the Top 10 in 2000 survived into the Top 10 in 2015;
  • Nicola, which was the top name in 1975, had dropped out of the Top 10 by 1995 (when Nicole was in the Top 10).  Karen, second in 1975, had gone from the Top 10 by 1985; Susan, third in 1975, had gone by 1980;
  • David, John and Paul, which were the Top Three boys’ names in 1975, did not rank in the Top 10 in 2000 or 2015.  Paul had dropped out by 1990, John by 1995 and David by 2000;
  • James, fourth in 1975, is the only name which has been in the Top 10 in every one of the selected years.

This year, NRS has added a section on names given to babies of both sexes.  As one might expect, most names were very strongly associated with only one sex.  However, the numbers for some names were split between the sexes roughly two-thirds to one-third (e.g. Alex, Rowan) or even around 50:50 (e.g. Ellis, Taylor).  For a few names, there has been a change in the balance.  For example, the name Jan used to be given mainly to girls but latterly has been given only to boys, and Morgan is a name that was once given only to boys but nowadays is given mainly to girls.   

The publications Babies First Names - 2018 and Most Common Surnames in Birth, Marriage and Death registers are available on this website. An Infographic and Interactive data visualisation for Babies First Names - 2018 can be found on the Infographics and Visualisations page of this website.