Baby Names Australia 2017 Report

Monday, May 01, 2017

Around one in ten of Australia’s 300,000 babies born in the last year were given one of the Top 10 baby names. There were 2,145 boys named Oliver and 1,817 girls named Charlotte last year. You can read the full 2017 Baby Names Australia report here

Oliver and Charlotte take out the top baby names

Maintaining the top spot from 2014 is Oliver, having overtaken Jack and William which were first in 2011 and 2012-2013 respectively. Oliver was the top boys’ name in all states (except WA where Jack ranked number one). Jack also took out the top spot in the NT, while William was number one in the ACT.

Charlotte, with 1,817 occurrences is the top girl baby name in Australia for the second year in a row, exceeding Olivia – who held the top rank in 2014. Charlotte took out the top baby girl name in every state but NSW, where Olivia was more popular.

Four new boys’ and five new girls’ names enter the top 100

Last year four new boys’ names and five new girl’s names entered the top 100 list. For boys, Sonny (84th) makes a first ever entrance into the Top 100 along with Vincent (99th) and Parker (100th). Meanwhile John (94th) makes a comeback- having been the number one name nationally throughout much of the 1930’s and 1940’s. These names enter at the expense of Braxton, Jesse, Harley and Jett.

For girls, names making the Top 100 for the first time include Bonnie (82nd), Thea (85th), Quinn (90th), Florence (97th)and Brooklyn (99th). These names enter at the expense of Lillian, Leah, Gabriella, Maryam and Maggie.

Extinction and reinvention

Wayne, Darren, Brett and Craig all achieved popularity in the 1960s /70s, but by the 90s were also out of the Top 100. Jack, which has had more years at number one this century than any other boys name, was not even in the Top 100 in 1985. It is an example of the 100 year return, having been the fifth most popular name in the 1920s, before its decline until recent years. 

Throughout the 1960s, Sharon was a Top 10 name, even becoming the second most popular name for two years in the mid-1960s. However, by the late 1970s the name had dropped towards the end of the list and has not appeared in the Top 100 since 1983. Kylie, Donna and Tracey have encountered similar patterns of popularity in the 60s/70s, but have all dropped out of the Top 100 in the 80s/90s.

Grace was a moderately popular girls’ name at the turn of the 20th century, coming to a near decline from the 1910s to 1970s but climbing significantly in popularity since the 1980s. Over the last five years it has been consistently rising in popularity and for two years now has been in the Top 10. Charlotte is another example of a near extinct name that has significant resurgence. In 1989 it debuted back in the Top 100 for the first time in the modern era, at 86th, and by 2013 it achieved first position on the list, which it has retained for four of the last five years.

Top names in previous decades

Joshua was the most popular boys’ name in Australia for almost a decade from the mid 1990’s until 2003. Its reign at the top of the list is a feat unequalled even by Jack which replaced it as the top name in 2004 but only held an uninterrupted run for five years. Not since the dominance of David in the 1960’s or Michael in the 1970’s has a boys’ name had such a run. However the decline in popularity of Joshua has been consistent since then, falling 15 places to 29th just in the last five years. 20 years ago there were four times as many babies given the name Joshua each year compared to today.

Jessica was Australia’s most popular girls’ name for an unprecedented 16 years out of the 18 years from 1984 to 2001 inclusive. By the mid 1990’s, approximately one in every 30 girls born in Australia was named Jessica compared to just one in 85 today given the current top girls’ name Charlotte. In just over a decade, Jessica dropped from first to 29th. In the five years since 2013, Jessica has dropped another 47 places to 75th. Based on the current trends, Jessica will be out of the Top 100 by 2020, less than 20 years after it was in top spot.

Botanic themes

Girls’ names are strongly influenced by all things botanical with examples being Lily (13th), Ivy (20th) Willow (27th), Violet (38th), Jasmine (46th), Poppy (52nd), Rose (76th), Daisy (79th) and Olive (81st). In contrast, no Top 100 boys’ names have botanic influences.

A Royal Influence

The original category of celebrities – the royals – have not only captured the loyalty and affections of modern Australians but contribute to significantly influence their choice in baby names. The younger generation of the Royal family have resonated with their contemporary generation Y’s in Australia who are now also in their family forming life-stage. The births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte have contributed to the popularity of these names. Like George’s rank which increased from 71st in 2012 to 38th in 2016, in 2015 we saw the name Charlotte overtake Olivia as the nation’s most popular baby girl name. Charlotte is once again the top baby girl name for 2016.

In addition to George and Charlotte, other well-known royal names that feature in the Top 100 include William, Henry, Edward, Charles, Elizabeth, Alexandra and Victoria.

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