Oliver knocked off the top spot as most popular baby name for boys by THIS traditional choice

Oliver had been the most popular baby boy's name in England and Wales for eight years in a row...

Oliver knocked off the top spot as most popular boy's name, seen here is a newborn baby boy sleeping peacefully with a cute soft toy
(Image credit: NataliaDeriabina via Getty)

Oliver has been knocked off the top spot as the most popular boy’s baby name in England and Wales by this beautifully traditional choice.

From unique baby names that no friends or family members have chosen to cool unisex baby names and nature-themed baby names, the decision over what moniker to give your child is often a tricky one for parents-to-be. Getting the perfect name for your little one is important and some might turn to the most popular baby names list for inspiration. Though as others reflect upon what last year can tell us too, it seems that Oliver, which has maintained its position as the most popular boy’s name in England and Wales for 8 years, is no longer at the top. 

As revealed by the National Office for Statistics, official birth data shows that Oliver has been replaced by Noah as the most popular baby name for boys. This sees Noah climb from fourth place in 2020 with 4,525 baby boys given this moniker in 2021, whilst Oliver fell down into second place. 

Mother playing face to face with her baby son on floor

(Image credit: JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty)

Many people might most strongly associate the name Noah with the traditional Biblical figure Noah and according to BabyCenter it’s a name it is of Hebrew origin and means “rest” and “comfort”. There are reportedly variations of Noah in over 30 different languages across the world.

Discussing the deposition of Oliver as the top boy’s name after so many years, James Tucker the Head of Health and Life Events Analysis at the ONS reflected on how Noah hadn’t been top in the “English regions” before. 

“Noah has replaced Oliver as the most popular name for boys in 2021, moving Oliver into second place and ending an eight-year reign at the top,” he explained before later adding, “Interestingly, Noah was not top in any of the English regions, but has risen up the ranks in most regions since last year to take first place overall.”

Whilst Oliver and Olivia were previously top names together for many years, Olivia has kept its place as the most popular girl’s name in England and Wales in 2021.

Top 5 boy’s names in England and Wales in 2021

  1. Noah
  2. Oliver
  3. George
  4. Arthur
  5. Muhammad

Top 5 girl’s names in England and Wales in 2021

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Ivy

The next edition, which will share the most popular baby names for 2022, is due for release by the ONS around August 2023 - so, watch this space. James also shares how the data has indicated several other baby names are becoming much rarer compared to their popularity in previous years.

“While Noah and Olivia are enjoying their places at the top, some names could be in danger of falling out of favour. Leslie has had relatively little popularity in recent years with fewer than seven boys named each year since 2018,” he said.

Portrait of laughing baby boy lying on blanket

(Image credit: Westend61 via Getty)

James continued, “Others such as Clifford, Nigel and Norman have not fared much better with ten or fewer boys being named. Girls' names such as Glenda and Kerry, that were more common before, are also becoming endangered and we have seen less than five girls being named each year since 2018.”

The research discovered that mothers over the age of 35 are apparently more likely to give their babies more traditional names such as Thomas, whilst younger mothers were found more likely to prefer shortenings such as Tommy.

Baby wearing a warm white and pink hat with cute bobbles

(Image credit: romrodinka via Getty)

Meanwhile, regionally, Muhammed was the most popular boy’s name in four regions whilst Olivia was the most popular name in Wales and all of the English regions except the East Midlands where Amelia was favourite.

Last year also marked the first time Jack hasn’t been in the top 10 names since 1996 and Isabella, Rosie and Sophia were replaced in the top 10 names for girls by Freya, Florence and Willow. 

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Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.