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One Baby Name Is Surging in Different Countries

'Liam' is quite the popular choice globally, though not so much in Ireland
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2020 11:05 AM CDT
Updated Oct 25, 2020 6:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you've been noticing a bunch of Liams running around, and you're not a current resident of Ireland, you're not the only one. Liam was the top name for baby boys in the US this year, and the Guardian reports that more than 20,000 babies here were given that name in 2019. Other countries are also latching onto the moniker, including Germany, which boasted 3,800 little Liams last year, Spain (962), Sweden (760), Belgium (575), and Switzerland (443). Where the Irish name isn't doing so hot: Ireland, which only logged 334 Liams in 2019. "It's rare for a name to rise from nowhere in different parts of the world at the same time, especially if it used to be confined to one country or language," a Leipzig University name expert says, though she warns that Liam could go the way of Kevin, which saw a spike in the '90s before falling out of favor as a "lower-class" name.

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So why Liam? Some say the choice comes from parents who want a short name that simply sounds nice. Others point to a possible delayed tribute to celebrities such as Oasis singer Liam Gallagher and actors Liam Neeson and Liam Hemsworth. Per CNN, that latter theory centered on the stars seems to make sense when you consider that other names such as Kobe and Gianna (after late NBA star Kobe Bryant and his young daughter) and Kamala (for Harris, the current Democratic VP contender) are all on the rise this year. One name that's seeing a fall from grace: Karen, which has become a slur of sorts for entitled white women. That name has seen a 13% decline in popularity, per a recent BabyCenter analysis. (Read more baby names stories.)

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