Revealed: Germany’s most popular baby names

Revealed: Germany's most popular baby names
Photo: DPA
Every year, hobby researcher Knud Bielefeld rifles through hundreds of thousands of names to identify the most popular choices of German parents.

Emma and Ben remain the most popular baby names in Germany, new research has found.

Researcher Knud Bielefeld, based in Ahrensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, had expected the name Greta to have shot up in the list of parents' choices due to the influence of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

However, parents in Germany opted not to name their babies after Thunberg on the whole, Bielefeld found.

As was the case in previous years, the first name Greta is ranked 30th in the ranking.

“I was very excited about this and I described it as the 'first name of the year' and am now a little disappointed,” Bielefeld told DPA during an interview in Hamburg.

READ ALSO: These are Germany's most popular baby names

Photo: DPA

He believes that some parents were put off by the hype surrounding Greta – yet others chose the name specifically because of the famous role model. “Everything seems to have balanced itself out,” he said.

But Greta can still claim a small triumph: “As a middle name, Greta has actually made a leap – by about 10 places.” In 2018, the name was in 70th place.

At the top of the ranking for the most popular first names in 2019 are still Emma and Ben. This is the ninth time in a row that Ben has been ranked number one, and the fourth time since 2014 that Emma has snagged the top spot.

“Ben is far ahead of the other boys’ names,” said Bielefeld.  “With the girls it was a bit tighter, with Emilia and Hannah following close behind, so I can imagine there'll be a change next year.”

The most popular girls' first names nationwide in 2019 are:

Emma

Emilia

Hannah/Hanna

Mia

Sophia/Sofia

Lina

Mila

Marie

Ella

Lea

Greta was a popular middle name in Germany – but didn't become a hugely popular first name. Photo: DPA

This is the boys list:

Ben

Paul

Finn/Fynn

Leon

Jonas

Noah

Elias

Felix

Luis/Louis

Henri/Henry

Big regional differences in Germany

“Short names in particular have been very popular for years and are becoming more and more popular – and there Ben is a prime example,” said Bielefeld.

According to Bielefeld's representative sample of parents, popular middle names are Sophie/Sofie, Marie and Maria as well as Alexander, Elias and Maximilian. Bielefeld sees the greatest upward trend in the names Frieda and Ella, and for boys: Matteo and Emil.

The most striking regional differences are to be found in Bavaria. Parents there are always choosing names for their babies that are long out of fashion elsewhere, such as Andreas or Michael, said Bielefeld.

“They were popular 50 years ago and have become extinct almost everywhere,” he said. “But they're still used in Bavaria.”

Moreover, typical Bavarian names like Xaver, Korbinian and Veronika are almost exclusively found in Bavaria. 

Another discovery is that the name Kurt is surprisingly popular in Saxony. “This name doesn't appear anywhere else really,” said Bielefeld. “But in Saxony Kurt is one of the most common names.”

And the name Fiete appeared in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania a few years ago and has already established itself in the whole of Northern Germany. “This boy’s name will probably head south in the next few years.” In general, it is often the case that fashionable names first appear in northern Germany and then spread to southern Germany.

READ ALSO: The very strangest surnames in the German telephone book

How do social and cultural events influence parents?

Social events and famous people do tend to have an influence on the list of names. “That always plays a role,” said Bielefeld.

This year, however, neither Archie (son of the UK's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan), nor Rezo (German Youtuber), Eilish (famous American singer Billie Eillish) or Malaika (German long jump world champion Malaika Mihambo) became trendy names.

For the research, Bielefeld and his helpers evaluated data from maternity hospitals and registry offices across the country.

He relies on 592 different sources from 466 cities. For the year 2019, he recorded and evaluated 177,570 birth reports from all over Germany. This corresponds to about 23 percent of all children born in 2019. In 2018, a total of 787,500 children were born. The figures for 2019 are not yet available.

Bielefeld has been publishing the rankings of first names since 2006 and has a total of around 2.1 million names in his database. A similar list is published by the Association for the German Language, but it includes the middle names of children.

The latest research found Marie and Paul were the most popular names in 2018.


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