Super-heroes and TV series inspire the most popular baby names of 2021

·7 min read
Parents are naming their babies after super heroes. (Getty Images)
Parents are naming their babies after super heroes. (Getty Images)

Baby naming is a serious responsibility. Too popular and you run the risk of your child being one of five Olivias on the pre-school register; too unusual and you could set them up for a lifetime of mispronunciation.

To help parents-to-be find a balance between unique and on-trend names, BabyCentre has revealed the top baby names of 2021, the biggest trends providing inspiration to parents as well as the monikers so unpopular that they actually run the risk of extinction. 

While there was a change at the top of the girls’ chart, with Olivia reclaiming the crown at the top spot after falling back to second place last year, Muhammad held strong for another year in pole position as it proved to be the most popular boys name again with mums and dads.

For the most popular names, parents took inspiration from superheroes and sporting heroes, plus there has been a greater move towards gender neutrality as unisex names saw a spike in registrations.

After a year that started with lockdown, parents looked to names that symbolised new beginnings for their little ones. 

Both meaning new, Nova for the girls and Neo for the boys were popular choices outside the top lists. 

Read more: Unusual methods parents are using to choose baby names

On a similar theme rising from the difficult times at the start of the year, Phoenix hopped up for both boys and girls. 

Despite falling this year, Aurora and Eden still held strong inside the top 100, inspiring parents with their meanings of dawn and paradise. 

Eve and Blossom also rose in registrations for the girls, potentially reflecting parents’ desire for new beginnings.

In another year where the pandemic dominated headlines, it's hardly surprising mums and dads-to-be were influenced by the news. 

The coronavirus vaccine set the UK on a path to freedom and one of the women who made it possible was Sarah Gilbert, who helped to develop the Oxford vaccine. This made Sarah a popular choice this year, and saw the moniker scoot up five places to number 42.

Parents are looking to new beginnings when naming their babies. (Getty Images)
Parents are looking to new beginnings when naming their babies. (Getty Images)

Babycentre said parents were particularly influenced by binge-worthy content watched during lockdown, with superhero names sent flying up the registrations in 2021 as the Marvel and DC franchises dominated film and TV. 

Even Marvel itself made its mark as the number of baby boys named after the franchise quadrupled. Loki doubled in registrations outside the top 100 while Loki TV series character Sylvie climbed in the girls’ rankings.

Other popular lockdown shows had an influence too with Bridgerton sending Penelope flying up the list, while Netflix favourites You and Sex Education brought us baby names too with Love, Henry, Theo, Otis and Eric all climbing the charts.

Other trends saw travel-inspired wanderlust names becoming more popular, such as Devon and Skye, no doubt in part due to this year's limitations on travel. 

Rio, Jordan, Cairo, Israel, Milan, Orlando, Jericho, Everest and Jett all took flight for the boys. Afrika has had its first appearance this year. And for the girls, it was all about Florence, India, Ocean and Destiny, with holiday destinations proving popular for name-spo.

Gender-neutral monikers also were a hit with new mums and dads, with Willow going up four places to number 20 in the top 100 girls’ chart and climbing outside the top 100 for boys too.

Meanwhile Blake soared up 12 positions to number 82 in the boys’ chart and was up for girls outside the top 100. Noah was also a big favourite for boys and girls this year, holding on to the second position in the top 100 for boys and up outside the top 100 for girls too.

As well as highlighting the monikers parents have been loving this year, the baby naming experts also threw light on those that have fallen out of favour

The names that parents are shunning that didn’t receive any registrations this year include Piers, Elliott, Clive, Maurice, Roger, Clifford, Dwayne, Vernon and Daryl.

For girls, the zero registrations list included Maud, Tina, Pauline, Doreen, Doris, Edna, Glynis, Bertha, Kerry and Gertrude.

Read more: The Netflix inspired baby names that could soon be on the rise

The most popular baby names of 2021 have been revealed and gender neutral names proved popular. (Getty Images)
The most popular baby names of 2021 have been revealed and gender neutral names proved popular. (Getty Images)

"Parents don’t just reflect popular trends with their baby name picks, what they don’t choose can be just as revealing," says Sarah Redshaw, UK Managing Editor for BabyCentre.

"There are names on our extinct list that we might expect to be falling out of favour, but could make great unique names like Maud, Edna and Muriel, Vernon, Elliott and Maurice. Of course, Piers could be on the list for reasons other than fashion."

Redshaw continued: "We predict there will be a rise in superhero names as Marvel and DC films continue to dominate and inspire many more parents to call their baby Thor, Thanos or Sylvie.

"And after the latest Marvel movie Eternals hit cinemas in early November we could even see boys named Ikaris and baby girls called Thena and Sersi.

"But despite all this inspiration it can take a long time for parents to decide on a name. Our poll showed that 8% of parents were still undecided about what to call their baby more than a week after they were born. And however long it takes to decide, many parents – nearly 13% – end up regretting their name choice."

Watch: Most popular baby names Oo 2020 revealed

Top 100 baby boys’ names of 2021

1. Muhammad

2. Noah

3. Oliver

4. George

5. Leo

6. Theo

7. Freddie

8. Harry

9. Jack

10. Arthur

11. Charlie

12. Ryan

13. Ethan

14. Henry

15. Archie

16. Finley

17. Lucas

18. Oscar

19. Jacob

20. Thomas

21. Isaac

22. Adam

23. Alfie

24. Elijah

25. Jaxon

26. Aiden

27. Louie

28. Joshua

29. Luca

30. Tommy

31. James

32. Max

33. Daniel

34. Reuben

35. Liam

36. Teddy

37. Arlo

38. Alexander

39. Logan

40. Jayden

41. William

42. Michael

43. Theodore

44. Mason

45. Yusuf

46. Rory

47. Ezra

48. Albie

49. Dylan

50. Caleb

51. Nathan

52. Roman

53. Jude

54. Ollie

55. Benjamin

56. Myles

57. Ayaan

58. Finn

59. Zachary

60. Zayn

61. Joseph

62. Samuel

63. Hugo

64. Ali

65. Sebastian

66. Reggie

67. Hunter

68. Kai

69. Harrison

70. Rowan

71. David

72. Edward

73 Alex

74. Ronnie

75. Toby

76. Riley

77. Jesse

78. Luke

79. Omar

80. Ibrahim

81. Frankie

82. Blake

83. Gabriel

84. Jason

85. Grayson

86. Levi

87. Jasper

88. Eli

89. Milo

90. Abdul

91. Matthew

92. Asher

93. John

94. Hudson

95. Carter

96. Nathaniel

97. Jake

98. Leon

99. Bobby

100. Stanley

Read more: Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom couldn’t resist this baby name trend

The most poplar baby names of 2021 have been revealed. (Getty Images)
The most poplar baby names of 2021 have been revealed. (Getty Images)

Top 100 baby girls’ names of 2021

1. Olivia

2. Sophia

3. Lily

4. Amelia

5. Ava

6. Mia

7. Isla

8. Freya

9. Ella

10. Rosie

11. Aria

12. Ivy

13. Emily

14. Grace

15. Isabella

16. Poppy

17. Mila

18. Evie

19. Maya

20. Willow

21. Hannah

22. Sophie

23. Luna

24. Zara

25. Florence

26. Layla

27. Daisy

28. Elsie

29. Evelyn

30. Phoebe

31. Millie

32. Nur

33. Sienna

34. Charlotte

35. Emilia

36. Zoe

37. Ada

38. Alice

39. Fatima

40. Eva

41. Ruby

42. Sarah

43. Hallie

44. Chloe

45. Maisie

46. Isabelle

47. Ayla

48. Emma

49. Maryam

50. Scarlett

51. Matilda

52. Ellie

53. Lyla

54. Harper

55. Molly

56. Jessica

57. Eliza

58. Thea

59. Arabella

60. Eliana

61. Leah

62. Violet

63. Maria

64. Erin

65. Lucy

66. Lottie

67. Holly

68. Aurora

69. Robyn

70. Imogen

71. Penelope

72. Anna

73. Bonnie

74. Iris

75. Jasmine

76. Maeve

77. Eleanor

78. Kiara

79. Gracie

80. Esme

81. Abigail

82. Rose

83. Bella

84. Delilah

85. Nancy

86. Elizabeth

87. Amelie

88. Orla

89. Amber

90. Georgia

91. Gianna

92. Eden

93. Lola

94. Lara

95. Hazel

96. Clara

97. Summer

98. Mirha

99. Elodie

100. Olive

Watch: Leigh-Anne Pinnock won't reveal baby names just yet