Magnus and Mathilde, Step Up: Top Baby Names Worldwide

In Sweden, Oscar and Emma?

Wouldn’t it be ironic to name your little guy “Magnus” hoping to set him apart, only to have him move to Denmark and be, along with his sister Mathilde, just one of the crowd?

I love naming babies, I love suggesting names for my friend’s babies, I love reading about what other people name babies and why–as Sierra just blogged, names mean a lot to us, and we rightly believe that they have lasting meaning. One of my favorite baby naming traditions is one we didn’t use at our house–giving a child a name that reflects your national heritage. Magnus, in Denmark, might become “Magnus K.” or “Big Magnus,” to set him apart, but in the U.S., Magnus would have a name and a story–and what’s better than a name with a story? If your roots reach back to Sweden, Finland, Ireland or Turkey–or even England–you could give your baby a name that links him or her to distant great-greats by choosing a name that’s popular in the old country.

Of course, you’ll have to find a name that satisfies both parents. I’m close to my Italian roots, and wanted to name our first son Antony (look at my last name, and you’ll see why–but my husband, of distant Russian heritage, wasn’t feeling it, and when Sam emerged blonde and pale-skinned, I conceded. (More fool me–forceps, hours in labor, tearing…I could have named Sam anything I wanted at that point.) I wanted him–and all of our kids–to have a name that came from both of us, and so we have no Francesca either. But I’m pretty sure the hockey-loving, Nintendo-playing 8-year-old that isn’t “Tony” at our house would have embraced something like Mario Alexander. But Sam he is.

From American Baby Magazine‘s list of the top names worldwide, here are the leading contenders in 8 countries that most strongly speak of their heritage. (England’s top boy’s name is Jack, which doesn’t say “English” to me at all. But Harry has that princely Brit ring.)

England

  1. William
  2. Harry
  3. Ellie
  4. Charlotte
  5. Lucy

Ireland

  1. Cian (boy)
  2. Conor
  3. Oisin (boy)
  4. Erin (girl)
  5. Aoife (girl)
  6. Ciara (girl)
  7. Roisin (girl)

Denmark

  1. Magnus
  2. Mathius
  3. Frederik
  4. Mikkel
  5. Mathilde
  6. Freja
  7. Ida

Finland

  1. Juhani (boy)
  2. Osakri (boy)
  3. Johannes
  4. Katarina
  5. Aino (girl)
  6. Johnanna (I do see a pattern there.)

Sweden

  1. Oscar
  2. Filip
  3. Isak
  4. Viktor
  5. Maja (girl)
  6. Linnea
  7. Alva (girl)

Sweden’s top boy’s names wouldn’t sound overly Swedish here (Oscar and Emma) but one thing stands out about baby naming in Sweden: you have to give your child a name approved by the Swedish Tax Authority: Allah, Metallica, Michael Jackson, Veranda, Token and Ikea are all out, although Google is fine (but it doesn’t seem to have cracked the top ten). The traditional American quest to give your child a name that speaks to his or her own unique (but not too unique) self would not fly well in Stockholm.

Brazil

  1. Lucas
  2. Pedro
  3. Fabio
  4. Rodrigo
  5. Tania
  6. Leila
  7. Carla

Chile

  1. Vincente
  2. Sebastian
  3. Diego (umm….)
  4. Cristobal (boy)
  5. Constanza
  6. Catalina
  7. Javiera
  8. Fernanda

Turkey

  1. Yusef
  2. Mehmet
  3. Emre (boy)
  4. Zeynep (girl)
  5. Merve (girl)
  6. Elif (girl)
  7. Irem (girl)
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