Names in the News

How Storms Are Named


Naming storms here in the UK is a relatively new phenomena – the Met Office and Met Eireann only started doing it in 2015. Since then we’ve had the likes of Storm Doris and Storm Barney; this post was inspired by the recent Storm Brian.

The main reason that they’ve adopted using names is to raise awareness, you see.

Names are quite good at that. In my absence, you may have heard about the attempt to get Britain excited about a new research vessel by opening the name suggestions to the public – which gave rise to the incredible Boaty McBoatface.

The names the Met Office and Met Eireann use are also crowd-sourced, but they select names from the most popular suggestions rather than it being an open vote.

Part of me is particularly heartened by the possibility that Doris may have been a popular name suggestion. I had a *slight* crush on the name Doris a few months back which just happened to coincide with her being published on a list of extinct names that made the rounds in the media.

I feel like I might be digressing slightly.

Before 2015, we simply did just call storms ‘The Great Storm of 1985’ and so forth.


However, at the same time, the US is also naming storms and since we’re a helpful bunch over here, we don’t rename any US-named tropical storms or hurricanes that head our way – we refer to them by the name our American cousins bestowed the storm. A recent example of this is when Hurricane Ophelia came our way and rather than renaming, e simply called it ex-Hurricane Ophelia.

As for home-grown storms, they only get a name if they’re thought to have the potential to cause significant impact in the UK and/or Ireland, i.e. when an amber or red weather warning is issued.

As for the names used, I’ve alluded to the process of picking the names, and below is the list of current names in use for this season.

Aileen, Brian, Caroline, Dylan, Eleanor, Fionn, Georgina, Hector, Iona, James, Karen, Larry, Maeve, Niall, Paul, Rebecca, Simon, Tali, Victor and Winifred

There are no names beginning with Q, U, X, Y and Z (for obvious reasons!), and names already associated with a prior catastrophic weather event – like Hurricanes Katrina and Irma – are also avoided.

The Met Office have done some research to check whether their theory that naming the storms raises awareness – and 89% of the people they asked were aware of the impact of Storm Doris bringing severe weather.

So it seems that it really does work!

Categories: Names in the News, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Katie Hopkins

Front cover for Ms. Hopkins' new book, via

Front cover for Ms. Hopkins’ new book, via

A few weeks ago now there was somewhat of an uproar amongst the population of the UK when a lady by the name of Katie Hopkins graced our screens one morning and declared that she judges children based on their names.

She later says on Twitter:

Compare the Telegraph births column with a list of names coming up before magistrates each week. Tell me I don’t have a point.

I’ve tried to stay away from this whole saga since Ms. Hopkins seems to feed off of the notoriety it has provided to here, but I feel like another perspective needs to be given, since this story ultimately boils down to the class system that still operates today in the UK.

Rather shamefully.

To be fair, people are certainly more open minded and social mobility is certainly more common today than it was a century ago; my own mother was born working class in what was at the time the largest council estate in Europe but today she’s middle class.

But that doesn’t stop the few from narrowing their social interactions to those of a similar class standing, hence the snobbery which certainly does exist.

There is a certain truth to the fact that a Tyler is more likely to be born into a working class family than one , and Ms. Hopkins is right to point to the London Telegraph Announcements. Yes, they a packed full of names that name enthusiasts the whole over coo over, but they certainly don’t represent a true picture of the most popular names for babies born in this fair country.

The above I’ve always known, and accepted as a simple fact of life: some names are more popular in certain parts of society than the other.

This is why Spencer was really never even considered a viable choice as the first name for the royal baby.

However, I stand by my reckoning that this does not mean that the name Araminta is any better than Tyler. Not that Ms. Hopkins sees it that way:

‘For the glorious Christopher, charming Barnaby, delightful Cosmo, beautiful Florence, we say thank you. Smart parents, smart children…to Henry, George, Bertie, Isabella, Rose and Clarissa, I say thank you. Intelligent parents typically give intelligent names to their kids.’

Predictably, she’s now written a book (The Class Book of Names) which is essentially a compilation of her opinions on various names already posted on twitter.

Some notable ones include:

Caitlin: Derivative of Greek Goddess for Witchcraft. Tells you all you need to know.

Charmaine: Any school lost property box. Always filled with uniforms labelled for Charmaine and Chardonnay. But misspelled.

Harrison: The Head would like to know why Harrison has come to World Book Day dressed as a Nintendo 3DS.

Hunter. Seriously? ‘Hi Hunter, meet Gatherer’. Just one step back on the evolutionary ladder.

Mia: The name Mia highlights perfectly the precise problem with naming babies. Mothers see babies so much as pat of themselves they cannot bear to let go. Hence we get Me-a. Big news, it’s not about you anymore. You need to concentrate on getting out of those jim jams and getting off the baby weight.

Nigella: A glorious name that belies the fact the parents were hoping for a boy to inherit the considerable family fortune. A quick addition of ‘la’ and voila, problem solved. However Grandad remains inconsolable.

Rodney: I have a lot of respect for a parent that names its baby Rodney. Firstly Rodney is not that attractive a name so you are being honest with yourself if you look at a baby and think – Rodney. Secondly a mother that calls her baby Rodney recognises life is tough and you have to be tough to make life work as a result. Plus the fact Rodders is a great name to yell across any airport. I have tried it with great aplomb and enjoyed every moment.

Riley: I can hear the collective sigh as another baby is born with only the state to call ‘daddy’. Many of us choose to add the pre-fix ‘Blimey Old” to the news of this joyous birth.

Stanley : Stanley? No, sorry. I can’t help but think knife crime.

Stella: The moral of the story is that celebrating the baby’s birth with a few cans is never the wisest idea. Mother is still off her face on gas and air, and father is worse for wear at the point they search for the inspiration to name the 18th addition to the fold. Running out of ideas, father grabs another and voila – unto us a Stella is born. She may grow up to think she is a star. The courts will rule otherwise.

Admittedly, I have certain opinions about certain names but I normally make a point to not openly dismiss names because I don’t like them since I know my opinion will not be universally shared.

At the end of the day though, the above opinions are just plain rude and I hope this all dies down soon.

Categories: Names in the News | 6 Comments

Under 30s British Stars Rich List

Mika, from

This little list has been in the news today, courtesy of Heat Magazine, so it seems a good time to talk about some of the names of the 30 honoured rich British stars who are under-30s. All of them are in the world of showbiz, and given their placing on the list are likely recognisable by name to most Brits. To keep it interesting, I’ve decided to focus on the names outside our current Top 100.

That immediately excludes #1, Daniel Radcliffe – known to the world as Harry Potter. It also excludes Keira Knightley (#2), Robert Pattinson (#3), Emma Watson (#4), Katie Melua (#8), Charlotte Church (#10), Emily Blunt (#11), Alex Turner (#13), Sienna Miller (#17), James Morrison (#20), Lily Allen (#21), Sarah Harding (#26), Florence Welch (#29) and Jamie Bell (#30).

Technically speaking, we should also exclude the man at #14, Michael Holbrook Penniman, but it seems fair to mention the name he mostly goes by – Mika. Some take the name as feminine, some go the opposite way. It depends on how you approach it, because Mika is very much feminine in Japan, where it means beautiful perfume. Anyone into F1 will also be aware of two-time world champion Finnish driver Mika Häkkinen who . In Finland, Mika is a short form of Mikael – their version of Michael, but Häkkinen is quite simply just Mika Pauli. Alternatively you have Micah, a short form of the Biblical Micaiah, or Mica, which is also the name of a silverly mineral.

Shooting back up to the top end of the list, we have the final key Harry Potter actor, Rupert Grint, at #5. Rupert is a German version of the once popular name Robert. Historically, Robert peaked in England&Wales at #5 in 1944. By contrast, in the States, Robert was #1 from 1924 to 1939. Currently, Robert sits at #90 in England&Wales, falling 49 places since 2000. Rupert, on the other hand, sits at #360 in 2010, up 208 places from #568 in 2000.

Leona Lewis (#6) is the most successful X Factor UK winner to date, and Chlokie covered her name superbly over the weekend, whilst Elea covered the slightly similar Leonie at the same time. As you might guess, the name relates to the Greek word for lion, leon and the Latin leo, meaning the same thing. An interesting tidbit is the Leona’s middle name is Louise, completely her trio of L-names. In 2010, the name Leona was at #380, but the key figures to consider are these:

  • 2004: #480
  • 2005: #509
  • 2006: #311
  • 2007: #200

Leona Lewis came to prominence in the second half of 2006, causing her name to boost up following a slight fall between 2004 and 2005. She has fallen since then, but we’ve yet to see whether this is just a slight dip all names tend to go through.

#7 is Cheryl Cole, who also found fame via a talent-come-reality show Popstar: The Rivals when she was placed into the girl group Girls Aloud – which in 2011 Guiness World Records named the most successful reality Tv group. The other four members also make the list, of which only Sarah Harding was excluded for having a Top 100 name. It is, in a sense, a false measure however as Cheryl was #68 in 1984. This pattern continues with the two of the three other members of Girls Aloud. The first of these is third member Kimberley Walsh’s (#24) name was #43 in 1984 and she was born in 1981 (only data for 1954, 1964 etc is available until 1996). The fourth member to mention is Nicola Roberts (#27), whose name was even higher up at #12 in 1984. So, in theory that only leaves  final member Nadine Coyle (#25) with non-Top 100 name. However, I’m in a good mood, so we’ll talk about all four.

If you’re wondering why Cheryl ranks so much higher than her four bandmates, you need only look above to Leona; Cheryl Cole spent 2008-2010 as a judge on The X Factor and was generally well-received by the public. This increased exposure for her led to a reasonably successful solo career. The name Cheryl is likely to have been inspired by the name Cherie combined with Beryl.

Kimberley is a place name, and we’re not just talking about the town in Nottinghamshire. There is a diamond mining town in South Africa called Kimberley as well, which was named after Lord Kimberley – the peerage Earl of Kimberley exists to this day in the UK, currently bestowed upon John Armine Wodehouse, who is the 5th Earl of Kimberley; he took the title in 2002.

Nicola is the Italian form of Nicholas, but also a feminine form in the English-speaking world, and whilst she’s the sole Irish member of the group, Nadine Coyle’s name isn’t. Nadine is the French version of the Russian name Nadya, a name that derives from Nadezhda which means hope.

As for the rankings of the four names, it’s clear some have fared better than others since the 1980s, it’s worth noting that Cheryl is the least popular name, despite Cheryl outranking her bandmates on the rich list:

  • Cheryl: #965
  • Kimberley: #383
  • Nicola: #263
  • Nadine: #801

Towards the end of the top 10 is Craig David at #9, whose middle name is Ashley. The name Craig has roots in Scottish Gaelic, specifically with creag, which means either rocks or crag. I’ve had the pleasure of watching a French person try to say this name before, and she didn’t get a gold star for her attempt. Literally, it’s KRAYG, and the name is #89 in Scotland but, crucially, only at #503 in England&Wales in 2010.

Moving further down the list we get to yet another singer, this time Joss Stone at #12. Speaking of the French, the singer’s full name is Jocelyn Eve and Jocelyn is an exclusively male name in France, with the female spelling being Jocelyne. There’s a place called Josselin in Brittany, but the name could have come from a Germanic tribe, the Gauts. Another famed Joss is Mr. Whedon, for whom Joss is a short form of Joseph. Jocelyn is at #840 in England&Wales for 2010.

At #15 is Coleen Rooney: wife of Wayne; mother of Kai. Her name comes from Irish caílin and means girl, but it’s also worth noting that the French word for hill is colline. Coleen doesn’t rank, but Colleen was given to 7 girls in 2010, which gives it a ranking of #3156.

Miss.16 is the now world-reknowned singer Adele, whose full name is Adele Laurie Blue Adkins. Like Adelaide, the name Adele comes from the Germanic element adal, meaning noble. I wouldn’t hesitate to attribute any rise in Adele to this lady, given her popularity. Adele released Hometown Glory, her breakthrough song, in October 2007, so let’s quickly look at some data from the years around that:

  • 2006: #594
  • 2007: #623
  • 2008: #467

I’m willing to bet she had some doing with the jump between 2007 and 2008. The crunch-point? By 2010, the name Adele had again fallen outside the Top 500 to #683.

At #18 is Natasha Bedingfield and at #19 is Duffy. Natasha was recently mentioned in the post on Natalie over at the newly named The Name Station. Duffy was born Aimée Ann, and we’ve previously mentioned the name Duffy. Quickly sidelining to the French again, there’s a delightful French singer, Coeur de Pirate, who reminds me a lot of Duffy and she herself is called Béatrice. Natasha is at #171, with 310 births, whilst Duffy does not rank.

The 22nd spot is taken up by Paolo Nutini, a Scot. His father is from Tuscany by descent, but the family have lived in Scotland for a handful of generations. Paolo’s music career took off in 2006, when he released his début album These Streets, which was certified 4x Platinum, and was in the charts for a record-breaking 196 weeks. The name Paolo is the Italian version of Paul, which means humble. 23 boys were given the name Paolo in 2010, putting the name at #1144.

Whilst Emma Watson was excluded, Gemma Arterton does make the list with her slightly different name. Arterton played Strawberry Fields in the most recent Bond film, Quantum of Solace. The name Gemma related to the Italian word for gem. In 2010, Gemma ranked at #354, with 128 born.

The final entrant to mention is Taio Cruz. Cruz is the name of the third Beckham boy, which is the Spanish word for cross. As for Taio, I’m at a slight loss. My best guess is that it is related to Tao, which is Chinese and means peach or long life. What’s more likely is that Mr.Cruz is the reason Taio is inside the Top 1000 in England&Wales at #832, with 35 of them born; Cruz ranks higher at #433 with 87 born.

Categories: Boy Names, Girl Names, Names in the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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