What’s in a name?

The annual NRS publication on the most popular baby names in Scotland is always popular. But did you know that the policy and process behind the registration of those names is quite complicated, and different to that used by other countries?

The graph shows the popularity of the name Kayleigh increased massively after the Marillion single was released.
The release of the Marillion single “Kayleigh” greatly increased the popularity of the name – image produced with our data visualisation tool.

In France, for instance, until 1993 parents had to choose from a list of officially sanctioned baby names (and only those names). Since then parents have had a greater degree of choice, but a name can still be banned if a French court decides it is not in the best interest of the child. Recent cases have seen the names ‘Strawberry’ and ‘Nutella’ disallowed for baby girls, as the court considered they might be bullied because of them!

In Scotland, parents have more freedom to choose and register the name of their new baby. We don’t have a formalised list of names, or enshrine acceptable names in law, but it isn’t quite a free-for-all. Names are discouraged which refer to a ‘title of dignity or status’ (such as sir or lord); which are objectionable, or otherwise offensive; which are fanciful; which are spelled in an unusual manner; or which contain initials not standing for any other name.

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