‘Ben’ and ‘Emma’ most popular baby names in 2017

With the recent release of a list of the leading baby names in Germany this year, “Ben” and “Emma” have come out on top.

‘Ben’ and ‘Emma’ most popular baby names in 2017
Photo: DPA.

“For the seventh year in a row, Ben has been the frontrunner for boys’ names and Emma is the new number one,” said Knud Bielefeld, who tracks baby names as his hobby in Ahrensburg.

Though Emma had been leading the list until 2014, last year Mia was the most popular name for girls.

Hot on Emma’s heels in 2017 came Sophie, Marie, Maria and Sophia.

And while Ben continued its reign as first place in the list of boys’ names this year, a position it has held since 2011, trailing directly behind was Jonas, Leon, Paul and Finn.

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Jürgen Udolph, founder and director of the Centre for Name Research in Leipzig, explains that the popularity of names are like waves.

“First names can rise in popularity for 10 to 20 years and then go back down again,” Udolph told The Local.

Emma for instance fell out of favour in the 1970s and 1980s but then skyrocketed in the 1990s and continues to be trendy today.

Ben, on the other hand, is much newer compared to Emma. Prior to the late 1980s, the name Ben was virtually unheard of in Germany

“Parents want to give their child a special name. But when they start to realize that so many other kids have the same name, things start to change,” says Udolph, who thinks it’s probable fewer babies will be named Emma in a decade or two.

“Ben will decrease in popularity at some point too,” he adds.

Bielefeld, who analyzed 27 percent of all births in Germany to compile his list, agrees.

Ben and Emma will no longer be the leaders in baby names in ten years’ time, says Bielefeld, adding that Oskar and Theo as well as Leni and Emilia will likely lead the way.

Knud Bielefeld in Ahrensburg. Photo: DPA.

This year, names which were clear ascenders included Theo, Matteo and Henry and Leni, Ella and Juna.

Short forms of names – including Ben, Max, and Theo – as well as girls’ names ending in the letter ‘a’ are also currently fashionable.

One reason to account for why almost all of the girls names in the 2017 list end in the letter ‘a’, according to Udolph, is that German parents give their children names based on how the names sound.

On the contrary, parents in other countries such as China give their kids names based on the meaning of the name, says the name expert.

Another aspect to how German parents name their children has to do with “class and education,” Udolph told The Local.

“Some parents are really influenced by celebrities and inform themselves based on TV programmes. Others get ideas for baby names through research on the internet.”


REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.