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What were the most popular baby names of 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011?

Choosing a baby name is a huge responsibility for any parent.

Giving a baby a name that will define them for their whole life is a huge responsibility, and can be the source of many disagreements for prospective parents.

It can be hard choosing a name both parents like, and one that doesn’t remind you of someone you didn’t like from school.

There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to choosing a name for a new-born. Photo by Online/Shutterstock

And you’ll find when it comes to naming a baby that everyone has an opinion they’re more than willing to share – whether you want them to or not.

A list of the predicted popular names for 2022 has been put together by BabyCentre, which looks at the most popular baby names searches across its site to identify which trends are going to take off.

At the top of the list for little girls is Emma, replacing Olivia as the former number one.

Noah is set to be the most popular choice for boys.

But if you’re struggling to think of a name and the latest top 10 doesn’t take your fancy, perhaps the top baby names of decades gone by, according to the National Records of Scotland, will inspire you instead.


The top 10 baby names of 1981 in Scotland

1981 was the year that Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, and Ronald Reagan became President of the United States.

In the UK, ‘Don’t You Want Me’ by the Human League was the best-selling single and Bond film ‘For Your Eyes Only’ was the top-grossing movie.

But did these cultural events prompt a new generation of children called Charles, Diana or James?

The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was the social event of the year in 1981. Photo by Shutterstock

Top boys’ names of 1981 and the number of babies given that name

  1. David (1,965)
  2. John (1,422)
  3. Andrew (1,289)
  4. Christopher (1,143)
  5. James (1,105)
  6. Paul (1,039)
  7. Steven (920)
  8. Craig (887)
  9. Michael (853)
  10. Scott (843)

Top girls’ names of 1981 and the number of babies given that name

  1. Laura (1,181)
  2. Claire (917)
  3. Lisa (844)
  4. Nicola (786)
  5. Emma (690)
  6. Louise (682)
  7. Jennifer (675)
  8. Michelle (666)
  9. Sarah (628)
  10. Fiona (591)

The top 10 baby names of 1991 in Scotland

It was the year that started with the Gulf War and Britain slid into recession.

In 1991, John Major was Prime Minister and on Saturday nights you might have found yourself watching Noel’s House Party.

Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby
Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby were stars of Saturday night TV in the 1990s. Photo by News Group/Shutterstock

The most popular number one single of 1991 was Bryan Adams’ ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ which remained at the top of the charts for a record-breaking 16 weeks.

It was the lead single for the soundtrack of the UK’s highest grossing film that year, ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’.

But what were parents 30 years ago naming their new bundles of joy?

Top boys’ names of 1991 and the number of babies given that name

  1. David (1,148)
  2. Christopher (1,105)
  3. Andrew (988)
  4. Craig (969)
  5. Scott (963)
  6. Michael (955)
  7. James (925)
  8. Daniel (872)
  9. Ryan (790)
  10. Steven (728)

Top girls’ names of 1991 and the number of babies given that name

  1. Emma (1,033)
  2. Laura (780)
  3. Stephanie (735)
  4. Sarah (678)
  5. Lauren (600)
  6. Rebecca (591)
  7. Kirsty (586)
  8. Rachel (542)
  9. Claire (525)
  10. Nicole (522)

The top 10 baby names of 2001 in Scotland

2001 is the year probably best remembered for the tragic 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

It was also the year that saw Pop Idol launch on Saturday night TV and Shaggy had the best-selling UK single that year with ‘It Wasn’t Me’.

Ant McPartlin, Gareth Gates, Will Young and Declan Donnelly at the Pop Idol final in 2001.
Ant McPartlin, Gareth Gates, Will Young and Declan Donnelly at the Pop Idol final in 2001. Photo by Fremantle Media/Shutterstock

Meanwhile the first in the Harry Potter franchise to hit cinemas – ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ – was the highest-grossing film of 2001.

But when it came to baby names, the new millennium brought a host of new monikers to the fore, with previous number one names David and Laura completely falling out of the top 10.

Top boys’ names of 2001 and the number of babies given that name

  1. Jack (833)
  2. Lewis (770)
  3. Cameron (609)
  4. Ryan (577)
  5. James (510)
  6. Callum (486)
  7. Andrew (474)
  8. Dylan (451)
  9. Ross (431)
  10. Jamie (418)

Top girls’ names of 2001 and the number of babies given that name

  1. Chloe (711)
  2. Amy (536)
  3. Lauren (536)
  4. Emma (503)
  5. Megan (496)
  6. Erin (490)
  7. Hannah (447)
  8. Rebecca (446)
  9. Sophie (429)
  10. Caitlin (396)

The top 10 baby names of 2011 in Scotland

In 2011, there were riots in London, and the Iraq War was formally declared over as US troops withdrew from the country.

Hit fantasy TV series Game of Thrones premiered on HBO, and Adele had the best-selling UK single of the year with ‘Someone Like You’.

Has Game of Thrones inspired a new generation of babies called Kit or Rose? Photo by Hbo/Kobal/Shutterstock

Harry the boy wizard was back on the big screen with ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ the highest-grossing film of 2011.

And perhaps it was JK Rowling’s popular series of books that brought Harry into the top 10 in 2011.

Top boys’ names of 2011 and the number of babies given that name

  1. Jack (650)
  2. Lewis (498)
  3. James (480)
  4. Daniel (391)
  5. Ethan (391)
  6. Logan (386)
  7. Alexander (346)
  8. Harry (345)
  9. Ryan (343)
  10. Oliver (341)

Top girls’ names of 2011 and the number of babies given that name

  1. Sophie (659)
  2. Lily (491)
  3. Ava (486)
  4. Olivia (475)
  5. Lucy (457)
  6. Emily (456)
  7. Isla (366)
  8. Jessica (349)
  9. Ellie (324)
  10. Chloe (323)

If you enjoyed this, you might like:

Oh baby: The changes in maternity services in Tayside and Fife through the decades

Harry Potter reunion: How the Highlands shaped iconic moments in the Potter movies

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