England Says ‘Oliver’ Is Its Most Popular Boy Name, but Issa Lie

xopherlance/Creative Commons
xopherlance/Creative Commons

If you listened to the United Kingdom’s national statistics office, you’d be led to believe that “Oliver” was the most popular name given to baby boys in England and Wales last year. And, according to its data, that appears to be true.


Except, as Quartz points out, it’s not. The most common name given to English and Welsh boys last year was actually Muhammad.

From Quartz:

The issue is that Muhammad is not a name native to English, so it has several spellings, or transliterations, from the original Arabic. If you just look at the top 10 baby names in the data for England and Wales, it looks like Muhammad is in eighth place, with 3,908 boys born with that name last year. Looking at the top 100, though, reveals that “Mohammed” is 31st and “Mohammad” is 68th. Add these up, and the total is 7,084, a comfortable lead over the 6,623 Olivers. And there are many, many more spelling variations out there—these are just the ones that appear in the top 100.

In fact, if you look at just the top three spelling variants of “Muhammad,” it’s been the most popular name for infant boys since 2013. The outlet even laid it all out in a graph for all you nerds out there.

Quartz screenshot
Quartz screenshot

Now, before the contrarians and Oliver stans jump in the mentions talking about “Bryan” versus “Brian” or “Lia” versus “Leah,” it’s important to note a few things. First, nonnative English names are more likely to have several variants, and it’s not unreasonable to combine the two when assessing the popularity of names. Second, as Quartz points out, these alternate spellings of Muhammad are very common, so adding them all “dramatically changes the name’s popularity relative to other contenders.” Finally, there are deep cultural implications behind names: Knowing that the most popular name is Muhammad rather than Oliver, Jack or Henry paints a very different picture about England’s demographics and, arguably, could help shift your perception of who the “typical” English boy actually is.

Read more at Quartz.

Staff writer, The Root.


I would have thought an Indian name would have ranked higher. From my time in London, I got the impression Indian was the second highest population after caucasian.