Choosing a baby name can be a tricky decision for parents. Should they pick something traditional for their child, or something distinctive and uncommon?
We’ve investigated nearly 50 years of baby naming data from babies registered in Scotland between 1974 and 2022.
Scottish parents haven’t completely abandoned traditional names, however our analysis has uncovered some interesting trends showing parents are increasingly leaning towards the more unusual…
The reason behind this change is that over time, more and more parents in Scotland have opted for unique or unusual names for their children.
Overall the number of babies registered in Scotland has been declining: just 46,953 babies were registered in 2022 compared to 70,001 back in 1974.
Despite this, the number of unique baby names has increased, demonstrating Scottish parents’ desire to help their little one stand out from the crowd; more than 1 in 10 kids in 2022 didn’t share names with any other babies that year.
Unique baby names
We’ve taken a look at some of the most unusual names in Scotland registered between 1974 and 2022.
These names are totally unique and have only been registered once ever, to either a boy or a girl.
Idalyn is an example of a name registered to a girl in 1980 that has never been used since. Kieywyn (1990), Jgordenna (2000), Winkie (2010), and Fuchsia (2022) are some of the other girls’ names that have only been used once.
One uniquely named baby girl born in 2020 was appropriately named ‘Younique’.
The name Indiyah – a variation on India – was registered for the first time in Scotland in 2022. This baby girl’s parents may have taken inspiration from Indiyah Polack, a finalist in last year’s Love Island series.
The name Buffy – a shortening of the name Elizabeth – was knocked out of unique status last year when it was registered to a girl for the second time ever. The first baby Buffy was registered in 1974, before Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit film and TV screens. But the latest Scottish Buffy could have parents who are fans of the vampire slayer.
You can see all unique Scottish girls’ names in the below table:
Boys are slightly less likely to have unique names than girls. However, there are still over 17,000 boys’ names that have only been registered once in Scotland.
Fridleifur (1980), Maximilwan (1990), Reu’ben (2000), Phindamandla (2010), Wilsheldro (2020) and Regulus (2022) are all examples of unique boys’ names in Scotland.
Use the table to search the full list of unique Scottish baby boys’ names.
Make it longer, spell it different, add a hyphen?
Some unique names come from unusual spellings or combinations of more traditional names. For example Dylaan (boy, 1974) of the more usual spelling ‘Dylan’ or Bobbieleigh (girl, 2022); a combination of two less unusual names, Bobbie and Leigh.
Also contributing to the rise in unique names is the increasing popularity of hyphens. Girls’ names are more likely to be hyphenated than boys’ names, but both have seen a rise, helping to make unique name combinations.
The below chart shows the longest names ever registered in Scotland from 1974 to 2022. All but one are hyphenated.
The longest name registered in Scotland during this time period is 27 characters; Thora-Toshihime-Kyoko-Freya, registered to a girl in 2011.
The longest boys’ name registered, at 24 characters, was Henri-Jay-Karl-Alexander in 2006.
These are two of only four names registered in Scotland which contain three hyphens.
Only two names have been registered that end with a hyphen. These were Martin-Anthony-, registered to a boy in 1994, and Najam-Un-, registered to a girl in 2006. Were these children doomed to a future of breaking every online form they encounter?
The below chart shows the rise in popularity of hyphenated names:
Unique baby name but no more
It isn’t guaranteed that a unique name will always remain so.
The name Noah, unique in 1974 and only registered a handful of times in the following twenty years, has taken off through the ranks. In 2022 it was the most popular boys’ name in Scotland.
For girls, some names that have risen from obscurity are Isla, Evie and Willow.
Some names just miss out on being unique, for example those that appeared for the first time in 2022 however were used more than once.
Ada-Mae and Mylla had never been registered in Scotland before 2022 but were both given to two girls each in that year.
Kolson was a new name for boys in 2022, with three baby boys given the name.
Azriel and Theo-Jaxon were among 17 boys’ names which were given for the first time in 2022 to two boys each.
The name Zendaya – likely inspired by the Spiderman and Euphoria actress’ name – was registered for the first time in Scotland in 2020, to two baby girls, and once in 2022.
What are the benefits of having an unusual name?
Is having a unique or unusual baby name a good thing? Scottish parents seem to think so, particularly when it comes to girls.
An increase in unique names could mean less confusion in the playground, and could help parents avoid names they have negative associations with.
It can also help to make a person more memorable to their peers.
On the downside, more unique names could dampen creativity in coming up with nicknames for those who share common names. Plus some of the unusual spellings we’ve seen could cause confusion.
And for those given names on the more renegade side of the spectrum, it could be uncomfortable being burdened with a name that attracts unwanted attention or mockery.
It might not seal a person’s fate, however. There are notable cases of children defying the odds, including American babies Loser and Marijuana leading successful adult lives without feeling a need to change their names.
We would love to hear your personal experiences.
Do you have a unique name? Or an interesting story behind why you picked the name for your baby? Get in touch with us if you’re interested in being featured in future articles in this series – firstname.lastname@example.org
All of the data behind this series can be found on the data team Github page.