Baby Names

The 10 most popular girls’ names for 2012 in New Zealand were Olivia, Sophie, Emily, Charlotte, Ruby, Ella, Amelia, Sophia, Ava, Chloe. In 2011, the most popular girls’ name was Ruby.

The 10 most popular boys’ names for 2012 were Jack, Oliver, William, Liam, Mason, Samuel, Jacob, Lucas, Ethan and Noah. In 2011, the most popular boys’ name was Liam.

You must register your baby’s name with the Department of Internal Affairs before your baby is 2 months old. There are some rules about names: it cannot be more than 100 characters long, it must not cause offence and it cannot be a title such as President, Emperor, King, Prince or Royal.

It is interesting that there are fashions in names. Margaret was popular for about 800 years but went out of fashion about 50 years ago. Not many babies are called Margaret today. However, some names come back into fashion many years later. Both Ruby and Jack were popular about 100 years ago, then lost popularity but are quite common today. The novelist who wrote ‘Wuthering Heights’ was Emily Bronte. She was born nearly 200 years ago. Emily is now number 3 on the girls’ list. William Shakespeare was born in 1564. William is number 3 on the boys’ list.


• popular (adj), popularity (n) – common and well liked
• characters – letters of the alphabet
• offence (n), offend (v) – make people angry or embarrassed e.g. a rude name
• go out of fashion / come back into fashion – useful idioms
• lose popularity, gain popularity – useful idioms
• novelist – writer of novels


1. What are popular names in your culture?
2. Are there fashions in names in your culture? Think about your grandparents’ generation, your parents’ generation and people of your age. Are the same names still popular?
3. Do you have some of these English names in your language?
4. How do people choose a baby’s name in your culture?

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