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An Ocean Between Us: The A to Zs of Popular British and American Names

Headshot of article author Jessica Cook

This post originally appeared on the Microsoft In Business blog. Thanks to them for letting us share it!

Naming traditions carry a great deal of weight. As any parent, pet owner, or guitar player will readily admit, finding the perfect moniker takes research, nuance, and a touch of personality. Choose poorly, and you’ve doomed that poor dear to a lifetime of ridicule and mispronunciation, but with the right name—you may well be predicting the future.  Grace Kelly is the perfect name for a 20th century starlet; Honus Wagner was destined to win eight batting titles just like Beyoncé was certain to be destiny’s favorite child. Of course Elon Musk is a genius—it’s all right there.

As part of our Power BI Best Report contest from earlier this year, SQL Developer and BI professional Leonard Murphy unpacked the naming histories of the United Kingdom vs. the United States in his excellent What’s in a Name? Power BI dashboard. Here are 26 quick highlights:

A. Americans really like Adele. Since 2002, the name has spiked upwards of 626% state-side while dropping to less than 100 annual registrations in England and Wales.

B. While Benedict Cumberbatch might sound like the most British name of all time, Murphy’s research suggests that honor goes to Bertie, scoring a perfect 100%.

C. In 1996, Charlotte scored 86.14% on the British baby name scale, but in the past 20 years has almost completely inverted to 84.7% American.

D. Dakota has gone from being an almost exclusively male name to 56.3% female.

E. In 2014, Elsa increased 443.6% across both countries.

F. The early 90s saw a handful of Freddies running around American preschools. Today, Freddie is almost exclusively British.

G. Gemma has seen the most drastic swing in international preference, nearly inverting from 5.19% American usage to a massive 96.94% majority over 20 years.

H. Harriet has been far more popular in the UK than in the Americas, at 93.5% British, but shortened to Hattie, that percentage plummets to 24.6%.

I. Despite a recent American surge, Imogen still ranks eighth on the “Most British Names” list at 95.3%.

J. Be careful with Jamie—in the U.S. the name is almost exclusively female. The opposite is true in the UK.

K. Since 1990, Kyle has seen a significant fall from grace, dropping nearly 90% in the U.S. from 22,696 registrations to 2,370.

L. Liam has had quite the opposite experience. Starting at just 274 U.S. registrations in 1990, its become one of America’s most fashionable names, spiking at 18,342 registrations in 2014.

M. Move aside Jordan, Casey—turns out that Marion is the perfect gender neutral baby name, registering a 97.1% unisex score.

N. Nick is an almost exclusively American name, registering 93.1% American.

O. Since 1996, Oliver has slowly become more American (+44.29% in the U.S.) while Ollie has become increasingly British (+66.61% in the U.K.).

P. Since 1900, Pauline has been registered 217,438 times; 98.26% of those occurred before 1980.

Q. Almost exclusively male in the past, Quinn registered as a majority female name for the first time in 2013 (and has stayed that way since).

R. Robin occurs equally among males in both countries (roughly 2550 each), but occurs in the feminine only 360 times in the UK versus 5,730 in America.

S. Scarlett increased 1690.1% between both countries since 2000 (and 14008.47% since 1940).

T. Between 2010 and 2012, Tommy increased 250% in the UK while slightly decreasing in the US.

U. Forget apple pie, you can’t get much more American than Ulysses, which scored 99.7% on the American names scale.

V. From 1915 to 1925, Velma was one of the more fashionable female names. In 2012, there were 5 Velmas registered in the US.

W. Wyatt never quite caught on in the UK, scoring 1% British.

X. Between both countries, .32% of all Xaviers are female.

Y. There are 12,865 registered males whose names start with ‘Y;’ 86.29% of them are named Yusuf.

Z. Zoey hasn’t quite caught on in the UK. In 2012, the name registered 7,451 times in the US, in Britain—34.

For a deeper analysis of Leonard’s dashboard, take a look for yourself here and if you haven’t yet explore the other contest winners for a full demonstration of how Power BI brings your data to life.