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Investigation 3 minute read

Goodbye Gary? The Scottish baby names on a shoogily peg

Did you know there were barely any babies in Scotland named Jennifer or Gary anymore? Names that were once a staple of society are dying out.
Lesley-Anne Kelly
A picture of a data chart with a baby and the name Gary.

Did you know there were barely any babies in Scotland named Jennifer or Gary anymore? Names that were once a staple of society are dying out.

The names many of us grew up surrounded by are just not on trend for new parents and every year more and more of them go extinct.

What to name your child can be such a tough decision – should you go with something unusual or more classical?

The trend in Scotland in recent years has leaned so far towards more unusual names that many traditional names are on the extinction list

Whilst birth rates in Scotland have been steadily declining, the pool of names that new parents registered each year has grown.

As a result many traditional names are at risk of extinction. With names that were once the most commonly used in Scotland, now dwindling down into double and single figures.

The dataset containing the list of names used in 2021 will be released on Thursday April 7, so in advance of that we took a look at baby name data going back to 1974, covering just shy of fifty years of Scottish naming data to determine the most endangered names.

Is your name on the endangered list?

Baby boy names that are dying out

Scottish actor Gerard Butler -whose name has gone extinct
Gerard Butler

Names most people would consider traditional are now on the way out. The chart below shows boys names that were once flying high at the top of the chart but have not managed to remain on trend and are dwindling down to low double figures in recent years.

Craig, Mark, Paul and Steven are rapidly declining in popularity but as they are still firmly in double figures they likely have a few years of steam left in them.

The names below, however are at risk of becoming extinct very soon. Declining into low single figures in the most recent data these names could be on the way out. – with only one baby boy receiving the name Greg in 2020.

Gone but not forgotten are the names that have been completely absent from the name list in recent years. Are these names primed for resurrection, or are they just no longer in fashion?

Names are not necessarily gone forever and many go on to have a resurgence – rising like a phoenix from the ashes. The names below were reduced to zero at one point and have gone on to see a small reintroduction. Will they continue to cling on or will they become extinct in future years?

Baby girl names going extinct

Call The Midwife TV star Laura Main whose name is going extinct
Call The Midwife star Laura Main

So what about the baby girls? There has always been more variety in girls names than boys, with the pool of distinct names that parents have registered each year only getting larger. So which Scottish girls names are still clinging on for dear life?

The chart below shows girls names that are at high risk in the next year or two. All previously popular names, they now only attract single figures in Scotland and in the case of the name Anne was down to one solitary baby girl in Scotland in 2020.

What about the girls names that have become extinct in recent years? The name Pamela first died in 2003, and had a small resurgence but was completely absent from records in 2019 and 2020. Whereas the name Gillian has been given to zero baby girls in Scotland for the last three years.

As with the boys, some girls names do get resurrected – the so-called “phoenix names”, rising from the ashes…

Would keeping a name alive impact your baby naming decision? Do you or your child have a unique name or an unusual story as to why you picked a name? Get in touch –

You can access all of the data used in our baby name series on our Github page.

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Baby names: Does the age of the parents impact the name they choose?

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