The top baby names in England and Wales have just been announced, and they’re…olive.
The #1 boy’s name: Oliver
The #1 girl’s name: Olivia
If that repetition isn’t enough to give you a sense of déjà vu, we actually have seen this before. The Olives last reigned as England’s baby name king and queen in 2010, and at least one of them has held a #1 slot for 7 of the past 9 years. There’s no question, this is England’s Olive Age.
Both names have been shaped by literature. Oliver arrived with the Norman Conquest in the French form Olivier, which in turn came from an older Germanic name like Alfarr. It was common until Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell knocked it out of style for two centuries. When Charles Dickens named his orphan boy Oliver Twist, he was choosing an unusual, old-fashioned name. Then Oliver Twist itself brought the name back into fashion.
Olivia was introduced by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. He might have just been creating a female Oliver, but the Bard often drew on Latin sources to build names like Miranda (“admirable”). Many believe that Olivia is a romantic elaboration of the name or word oliva, which is Latin for Olive. Olivia’s lyrical style and literary heritage make it feel timeless, though it has only been popular in the past generation.
In the U.S. the two names have very different styles. Olivia is a popular powerhouse, pretty and mainstream. Oliver, while increasingly fashionable, remains a “quirky classic” with a slightly offbeat style. In England, though, they’re both baby name royalty.
The rest of the England and Wales top 20:
Stay tuned for the top risers and trends, and the separate top-100 lists for England and for Wales.