Quiz: What’s the #2 boy’s name in Britain?

Quick, before you read down to the next paragraphs, guess what was the #2 most popular name for baby boys in Britain last year? Was it perhaps Harry, Hugo, Jack, or Joshua? Actually, it was Mohammed, if all 14 spellings are taken into account. (The top spelling, Mohammed, comes in at #23.) It’s a sign of ...

601419_preeti_05.jpg
601419_preeti_05.jpg

Quick, before you read down to the next paragraphs, guess what was the #2 most popular name for baby boys in Britain last year?

Quick, before you read down to the next paragraphs, guess what was the #2 most popular name for baby boys in Britain last year?

Was it perhaps Harry, Hugo, Jack, or Joshua?

Actually, it was Mohammed, if all 14 spellings are taken into account. (The top spelling, Mohammed, comes in at #23.)

It’s a sign of our times, and predictably, commentators are already freaking out about Eurabia. Keep in mind, though, that the list of top baby boy names probably makes it look like there are more Muslims in Britain than there really are since Mohammed is so hugely popular of a name among the tiny 3 percent of the British population that is Muslim.

Nevertheless, the ethnic shift in the popularity of baby names isn’t new. A 2005 New York Times article reported that Mohammed (when all spellings were considered) was more popular than Richard and Charles in New York City. Additionally, over the years, Fatoumata had become more popular than Lisa; Aaliyah had sped ahead of Melissa; and Miguel had surpassed Jeffrey. Interestingly, in 1920, Francesco, Antonio, and Giuseppe were top 20 baby boy names in New York City, reflecting immigration from southern Italy.

These changes may make some people feel uncomfortable. But the reality is that change is simply part of the human condition. Hanging onto the past is futile. Shift happens.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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