Posts Tagged With: Bella



We’re approaching the end of Week B, and today we’re looking across the Irish Sea to Nana Lou’s home country of Ireland. In a way, we’re looking at the Emerald Isle as a whole, since today’s name is sometimes used as a poetic name for Ireland.

It makes sense, as according to Irish mythology, Banbha is the patron goddess of Ireland. Some traditions also hold that Banbha was the first person to set foot in Ireland before the flood.

Try to think of some names similar to Banbha who are currently popular, and you might struggle. After mulling over it, I came to the conclusion that she shares a certain similarity to Bella, who is currently (i.e. 2013) #56 in England&Wales. Consider it, and both are two-syllable B names ending with the ‘ah’ sound, of course, what you might call Bella’s ‘middle-section’ is softer sounding, which may be part of why she’s so loved.

Of course, most by now accept that the popularity of Bella can also in part be attributed to the Twilight furore. Especially if you consider my favourite fact that on the girls list, Beau outranks Bella’s sister, Belle, ranking at #178, compared to #321 – a gap that actually grew between 2012 and 2013 as Belle fell 66 places. Belle and Beau both mean beautiful in French, with Beau the masculine form of the word and Belle, the feminine; Bella, on the other hand, is Italian for beautiful. 

Despite the similarities, Banbha fails to rank at all for any year since 1996.

Which is a shame, as whilst the likes of Siobhan (#1484) and Caoimhe (#639) rank, despite their pronunciation issues, Banbha is legitimately Irish and without the difficulty, but next to no usage. Although, as a side note, I have a friend named Siobhan and a mutual friend of ours still struggles with her name, despite me considering it to be a more ‘mainstream’ Irish name, i.e. one people ought be fine with the pronunciation of, like Sean. I went to Catholic school, though, so there were many Siobhans, Roisins, Sineads et al, that means not only did my school provide me with a traditional education, but also a fairly robust grounding in how to pronounced popular Irish names.

When it comes to the meaning of the name, the likeliest source of the name is the Scottish Gaelic word banbh, which means land unplowed for a year. However, there is an Old Irish word – banb – which could also figure in: the word means piglet.

To surmise, the name Banbha seems to be crying out for usage, and she could find fans in those looking for an Irish heritage pick off-the-beaten track, and this one has the added plus of links to Irish mythology.

Categories: The Offbeat Alphabet Series | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

England&Wales 2011 Data: The Big Facts

Oliver and Olivia have officially been overtaken! The new #1s for England&Wales are Harry & Amelia!

Here are the key facts for you all:

  • Harry is up 1 place to  #1, whilst Oliver is now #2
  • Amelia is up 4 places to #1, whilst Olivia is now #2
  • George is out of the Top 10 and replaced by Jacob
  • Evie and Chloe are out of the Top 100 and replaced by Ava and Isabella
  • Lily replaced Ruby as the most popular name in Wales, whilst Oliver remains #1
  • The biggest riser was Jenson, up 27 places to #65
  • Other big climbers were Arthur, Dexter and Riley (boy).
  • Biggest fallers were Ben, Kyle, Cameron, Reece, Lewis & Owen
  • The biggest riser for girls was Eliza, up 31 places to #62
  • Other big climbers were Evelyn, Harriet and Sofia
  • Big fallers for girls were Caitlin, Katie, Keira, Tia and Lauren.


Elsie at #87; Bella at #69; Blake at #79; Elijah at #91; Francesca at #99;Frankie at #84 (boys); Jackson at #99; Kayla at #98; Lydia at #100; Tommy at #65; Willow at #75.


Aidan, now at #101; Aimee, now at #104; Alexandra, now at #107; Bradley, now at #105; Brandon, now at #118; Kieran, now at #129; Laila, now at #124; Libby, now at #106; Maisy, now at #102; Sam, now at #112;Tilly, now at #103.

Not wanting to brag or anything, but I predicted the fall of Aimee, Alexandra and Libby here, and predicted Elsie gatecrashing the Top 100 here. 🙂


  • Harry was the most popular name for boys for 9 months in 2011
  • Oliver was the most popular name for boys in January, April & June
  • Olivia was the most popular name for girls in January, April, July & August
  • Lily was the most popular name for girls in February, March and May
  • 13 boys names were in the top 10 for at least one month during 2011, compared with 15 for girls
  • Holly was the second most popular name for girls during December, and fell to #54 in July
  • Summer peaked at #14 in August, and was as low as #71 in December


  • There are seven common names in the Top 10 for boys when you split the England&Wales data to English data and Welsh data, compared with 6 common names for girls.
  • Oliver is #1 in Wales, not Harry.
  • Riley, Ethan and Dylan are all in the Welsh Top 10
  • Seren, Ella, Mia and Megan are all in the English Top 10
  • Daniel and Isabella were #1 in London, where Harry was #6
  • Poppy was in the Top 10 in the South West at #9
  • Lucy was in the Top 10 in the North East at #10
  • Isla was in the Top 10 in the South East at #10
  • Both Mohammed and Muhammad were in the Top 10 in Yorkshire&the Humber, West Midlands & London
  • Riley was in the Top 10 at #10 in both Yorkshire&the Humber & East Midlands

Finally, a comment by ONS on the data:

There are a number of possible reasons why the popularity of baby names can change over time.
The popularity of names can be influenced by names of famous figures or current celebrities and
what they name their own babies. However, it is an individual choice which can be influenced by a
number of other factors such as the religious, cultural and/or ethnic identities of the parents or the
names of family, friends or fictional characters. As such, there is a great diversity of baby names. In
2011, there were 723,913 live births in England and Wales (ONS, 2012), with over 28,000 different
boys’ names and just over 35,000 different girls’ names registered. The top ten names only account
for 14 per cent of all names in 2011.

Oh, here is the new Top 100, including the change in rank since 2010:

1 HARRY 7,523 +2 AMELIA 5,054 +4
2 OLIVER 7,007 -1 OLIVIA 4,938 -1
3 JACK 6,844 -1 LILY 4,761 +1
4 ALFIE 5,524 JESSICA 3,984 +2
5 CHARLIE 5,516 EMILY 3,974 -2
6 THOMAS 5,353 SOPHIE 3,923 -4
7 JACOB 5,047 +5 RUBY 3,702
8 JAMES 4,945 +2 GRACE 3,691 +1
9 JOSHUA 4,786 -1 AVA 3,621 +2
10 WILLIAM 4,632 -3 ISABELLA 3,464 +2
11 ETHAN 4,581 +2 EVIE 3,385 -1
12 GEORGE 4,347 -3 CHLOE 3,347 -4
13 RILEY 4,226 +12 MIA 3,346
14 DANIEL 3,928 -3 POPPY 2,932 +2
15 SAMUEL 3,803 -1 ISLA 2,849 +7
16 NOAH 3,287 +2 ELLA 2,783 +2
17 OSCAR 3,251 +2 ISABELLE 2,719
18 JOSEPH 3,089 -3 SOPHIA 2,661 +9
19 MOHAMMED 3,054 -2 FREYA 2,619
20 MAX 3,043 +3 DAISY 2,458 -5
21 DYLAN 2,962 -5 CHARLOTTE 2,390 -1
22 MUHAMMAD 2,854 +9 MAISIE 2,230 -8
23 ALEXANDER 2,819 -2 LUCY 2,228 -2
24 ARCHIE 2,805 PHOEBE 2,008 +4
25 BENJAMIN 2,789 -3 SCARLETT 1,987 -1
26 LUCAS 2,716 -7 HOLLY 1,971 -1
27 LEO 2,664 +9 LILLY 1,950 +12
28 HENRY 2,625 +6 ELLIE 1,893 +1
29 JAKE 2,619 MEGAN 1,799 -6
30 LOGAN 2,549 -2 LAYLA 1,780 +14
31 TYLER 2,520 +1 LOLA 1,777 +2
32 JAYDEN 2,353 -6 IMOGEN 1,773 -6
33 ISAAC 2,352 +4 EVA 1,714 +4
34 FINLEY 2,245 +1 SUMMER 1,711 -4
35 MASON 2,171 +11 MILLIE 1,641 -3
36 RYAN 2,151 -6 SIENNA 1,585 +11
37 HARRISON 2,122 +5 ALICE 1,554 +6
38 ADAM 2,062 +1 ABIGAIL 1,493 -4
39 LEWIS 2,035 -12 ERIN 1,491 -4
40 EDWARD 1,935 +3 LACEY 1,475 -4
41 LUKE 1,830 -3 HANNAH 1,462 -10
42 FREDDIE 1,819 +3 JASMINE 1,429 -1
43 MATTHEW 1,743 -2 FLORENCE 1,406 +11
44 LIAM 1,690 -11 ELIZABETH 1,396 +5
45 ZACHARY 1,664 +6 LEXI 1,324 +1
46 CALLUM 1,580 -6 MOLLY 1,322 -4
47 SEBASTIAN 1,493 +11 SOFIA 1,249 +15
48 CONNOR 1,471 -4 MATILDA 1,225 +5
49 JAMIE 1,445 EMMA 1,221 -1
50 THEO 1,407 BROOKE 1,216 -5
51 TOBY 1,389 +3 AMY 1,213 -13
52 HARVEY 1,388 -5 AMBER 1,201
53 MICHAEL 1,364 GRACIE 1,162 -2
54 NATHAN 1,319 -6 AMELIE 1,128 +1
55 HARLEY 1,308 +2 ROSIE 1,124 +4
56 KAI 1,211 LEAH 1,120 -6
57 DAVID 1,163 +7 KATIE 1,105 -17
58 AARON 1,147 -3 MAYA 1,072 -1
59 ALEX 1,129 -7 ELEANOR 1,049 +2
60 CHARLES 1,090 +2 GEORGIA 1,022 -4
61 AIDEN 1,077 +5 EMILIA 1,007 +10
62 LEON 1,069 -2 ELIZA 955 +31
63 MOHAMMAD 1,037 +4 FAITH 914 +2
64 LUCA 982 +6 BETHANY 913 -5
65 TOMMY 980 +91* EVELYN 871 +22
66 FINLAY 967 +2 ISABEL 857 -8
67 JENSON 966 +29 ANNA 827 -4
68 ARTHUR 961 +14 HOLLIE 825 +1
68 LOUIS 961 +1 BELLA 823 +35*
70 RHYS 946 -5 PAIGE 811 -7
71 OWEN 943 -12 HARRIET 809 +15
72 REUBEN 941 -1 ESME 797 +2
73 OLLIE 933 -10 ZARA 790 +3
74 LOUIE 887 LEXIE 788 -6
75 GABRIEL 874 +3 WILLOW 772 +37*
76 BOBBY 869 +7 ROSE 764 +14
77 CAMERON 848 -16 MADISON 760 -10
78 DEXTER 833 +20 JULIA 759 -1
79 BLAKE 831 +26* ANNABELLE 758 +10
80 STANLEY 824 +8 ISOBEL 754 -5
81 KIAN 800 -9 NIAMH 733 -3
82 EVAN 770 -6 MADDISON 731 -1
83 JUDE 764 +3 MARTHA 723 +2
84 FRANKIE 756 +24* SKYE 717 -11
85 ELLIOT 755 LAUREN 710 -15
86 HAYDEN 747 -6 CAITLIN 708 -20
87 ASHTON 727 -10 ELSIE 699 +21*
88 JOEL 712 -7 KEIRA 693 -16
89 CALEB 709 -2 REBECCA 693 -6
90 BAILEY 704 -11 SARAH 663 -7
91 ELIJAH 701 +29* HEIDI 652 +2
92 TAYLOR 696 +5 ZOE 649 -8
93 ROBERT 694 -3 MARIA 628 -2
94 KAYDEN 686 +5 MARYAM 616 +5
95 KYLE 683 -21 AISHA 613 +1
96 FREDERICK 669 -1 TIA 613 -16
97 BEN 667 -24 NICOLE 605 -5
98 REECE 656 -14 KAYLA 604 +21*
99 JACKSON 647 +40* FRANCESCA 602 +3*
100 JOHN 645 -6 LYDIA 589 +7*
Categories: Popularity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


The Tweenies from

It’s been awhile since I’ve rummaged through the depths of children’s programming. I briefly watched Tweenies myself when it launched in 1998, but quickly grew out of the target audience – but with a sister still inside it I kept watching it throughout it’s run.

The show focuses on four main characters, all between 2-5 years old at the time of the series who attend nursery. Whilst it may not sound like a particularly exciting concept for a show, but it managed to keep my sister entertained for several years. In theory, that means that the characters would’ve been born circa the mid-1990s. It may therefore interest you first of all to know what the four main characters were called, with their 1998/2010 rank in England&Wales:

Bella (#925/#104)

Usually used as a short form of Isabella, and indeed it is the Italian word for beautiful. As you can see, this name has shot up since 1998 – which some attribute to the Twilight effect. The novel itself first hit the shelves in 2005, when Bella was at #438 which confirms my suspicions that the name was moving up prior to the books.

Fizz (no rank/no rank)

English word, in context, if a liquid fizzes, it produces a lot of bubbles. The posh word we chemists like to use instead is effervescence. As a child, I was certain that this was a nickname since even to a much younger, gullible and somewhat impressionable me. In terms of ranking, I’m not surprised to see this name has never ranked – although in 2010 both Fizza and Fizzah made an appearance. The fact that Fizz’s brother was called Gary somewhat supports my childhood theory that Fizz was a nickname for her but since we’ve never been provided with further detail it remains a theory.

Jake (#22/#29)

Either a medieval variant of Jack, or a short form of Jacob. In terms of rankings, the name hasn’t really shifted anywhere far since 1998.

Milo (#244/#164)

Old Germanic form of the name Miles. Often associated with the Latin word miles, meaning soldier. Quite by chance, the name Milo came up yesterday.

Aside from the four main characters, there were a few other interesting names in the mix from peripheral characters, and a special thanks to my sister whose knowledge of The Tweenies remains startling intact. Then again, I discovered this week during a debate with friends that I can still recall where the bus stopped on each weekday on the show Playdays.


The name of Jake’s older brother. There’s a Chinese gymnast by the name He Kexin, whose exact age was subject to some controversy during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The thing to remember, however, is that Kexin is female – but it is telling that Kexin surfaced on the Tweenies several years before the gymnast made her international début in 2008. I’m pinning my bets on my second cousin Keivan using the name Kexin, following the example of father Kelvin and grandfather Kevin. He is only 3, though, so that day is potentially a long way off. According to Nancy, there were 5 girls born in the US in 2009 named Kexin; I’m rather unsurprised that the name Kexin ranks for neither gender in 2010 in England&Wales.


The name of Bella’s older sister. As you may have seen above, Bella wasn’t exactly popular back in 1998, never mind Mella. You may like to link it to melle, the Latin word for honey – from which the French received their word for honey: miel. The we have the English word mellow, which isn’t really applicable to the origins of Mella, but is certainly a word I always link it to.


The name of Jake’s mother. Mitzi is the German form of Maria, although my sister has commented that to her the name is Maisie gone German. Whilst that isn’t exactly correct since neither name is related, it does have a social application, i.e. if you like Maisie, but not her popularity, why not consider Mitzi?

Categories: Names from the Box | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Climbing Females

We’re following on from yesterday’s post, but this time we’re talking about the five names I think have a chance of hitting the Top 100 by 2014.

1. Bella

Currently at #104, and easily one of the names with the best chances thanks to Twilight. She’s a nickname as many popular names are these days.

2. Elsie

Slightly cutesy like many Top 100 names such as Maisie and Lexie, so I can see why this name is catching on  -and more so than you may think. In 2010, the name Elsie ranked at #108. Consider this: Elsie was at #124 in 2009.

3. Darcy

It breaks my heart to write this, but Darcy is seriously popular for girls. Aside from the spelling of Darcy at #115, there’s also Darcey right behind her at #126. It’s rumoured that the ballerina Darcey Bussell is in line to join the judges on Strictly Come Dancing, which will heighten the profile of this name more – not that it really needs it!

4. Beatrice

She rose from #126 to #116 between 2009-2010 and is the darling of many.

5. Eloise

This name has risen into and fallen out of the Top 100 twice since 2000, so I’ve no idea where this name will go next from her 2010 ranking of #109.

And now onto the #1 spot. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit of late, and have thus picked out 3 names I think have a chance of taking over from Olivia:

1. Lily

It’s reported repeatedly that it alternative spellings counted, then Lily would have taken the top spot years ago. This is why despite ranking at #4, she’s my best bet.

2. Sophie

My sister’s name and also a previous #1 back in the late 90s. She surprised me by rising 5 places to #2 between 2009-2010, but she’s clearly a keeper as parents continue to use her in their droves. Something Sophie has over Lily is a greater lack of popular alternative spellings – although Sophia is currently at #20. In many places around the world, Sophie has already taken the #1 spot, and there are mumblings that Sophia could go top in the States.

3. Maisie

Probably the name I like the most out of the three, but she also currently ranks the lowest at #14. The reason she’s here is because she’s rising fast – up 20 places between 2009-2010.

Categories: Popularity | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Walking in the Air

Screenshot from The Snowman, from

Christmas is coming, and I’ve been tossing and turning about whether or not to do a themed post. I’ve buckled, but predictably, I’m approaching this rather differently to how most would.

Ever heard of the phenomenal TV film The Snowman? It airs every Christmas here in the UK since 1982 and is based on the book of the same name by Raymond Briggs. I love The Snowman, and am completely gutted I won’t be able to watch it this year since I’ll be in the States for Christmas (more on that on Thursday). Quite frankly, it rocks. It also spawned a classic Christmas song: Walking in the Air – which was quite brilliantly parodied by Irn Bru a few Christmas’ ago with them flying over Scotland rather than Brighton:

It’s such a pretty little song, much better than most of the dreary stuff churned out each year – I’ve heard that Geraldine McQueen song three times today and am close to the edge.

Christmas names are an interesting topic for me, since I was due on Christmas Eve – but turned up fashionably late and ruined a midwife’s party dress. I could’ve been one of the many December babies named Holly each year (In December 2010, the most popular girls name was Holly, 440 born compared to the 416 born to the name Olivia), but my parents opted against it. This doesn’t bother me one bit, but it’s fun to speculate on the what-ifs.

Since the song is titled Walking in the Air, I thought it apt to talk names relating to the air – especially since we’ve focused heavily on birds names of late. Let me make this clear: if you don’t want to name your child after a bird, there are still plenty of options out there.

We’ll start with the French. Many children dream of flying, and that’s exactly what the Snowman and the boy do in the film whilst the song is playing. You probably know by now that the French word for butterfly is Papillon, but have you ever considered Libellule? It’s the French word for dragonfly, and I’m quickly falling in love with the idea of using is as a name. The French say: LEE-buh-lool. If you don’t like that, a few fellow Continent-dwellers to the French have their take on the word (all meaning dragonfly):

  • German: Libelle
  • Italian: Libellula
  • Spanish: Libélula

If you ever wish to find an alternative to Liberty which could legitimately shorten to Libby, look no further than here m’dears. It’s also befitting of the Bella trend, which may or may not have been catalysed by Twilight. I’d rather not get into that debate right now, because it would take over this post very quickly.

Going off on a tangent I once more dip my toes into the mystical and unknown world to me of music. There’s a class of intruments called Woodwind, or Wind, instruments and there’s two notable names to mention to you.

The first is Reed. In woodwind instruments, specifically clarinets, oboes and duduks, the player blows in order to cause a reed in the intrument to vibrate, which in turn causes vibrations in the air. The second potential name to consider is Bell. The bell of a woodwind instrument is the round, flared opening opposite the mouthpiece.

Of course, the really easy place to find inspiration is in the many Gods et al associated with the wind. The obvious one I’m seeing batted around more and more is Zephyr – inspired by the name of the Greek God of the west wind. You may be wondering that if there was a God of the west wind, then logic follows there must too be Gods of the north, south and east wind? You’d be right.

The collective name for these Gods is the Anemoi, and the Roman equivalent is Venti (note: the French word for wind is le vent). The Greek God of the north wind is Boreas, and he’s also said to be the bringer of winter. He also had a close association with horses. Boreas had two sons and two daughters:

  • Calais
  • Zethes
  • Khione (Goddess of snow)
  • Cleopatra

His Roman equivalent was called Aquilo.

The God of the south wind is Notus, who was feared for being destroyer of crops. You may find Notus a little too much, but his Roman equivalent was named Auster – which seems like a name truly fit for the modern mama: Part Austin; part Alistair and just a wee bit like Oscar.

Finally, the God of the east wind was callewd Eurus, and this was considered the unlucky wind. He was thought to bring both warmth and rain. His Roman equivalent? Vulturnus. Now, Eurus may not be as unusable as you may think since their is a legit welsh name Euros to contend with. If I’m honest, I only really know this due to Doctor Who – which has had episodes directed by one Euros Lyn. There is the niggling issue of the so-called Eurozone crisis, with people increasing shrieking that the currency of Europe – the euros – could collapse. The Welsh name Euros is often associated with aur – meaning gold. Of course, the chemical symbol for gold is Au.

Categories: Boy Names, Girl Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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