When it comes to Australian baby names for girls, one reigns on.


There’s just one girls’ name that has been loved by Australian parents for generations. It’s the only name that was in the top 100 in the 1950s and has remained there since. It was as popular as Cheryl and Robyn in the 1950s, as Danielle and Megan in the 1970s, as Maddison and Taylor in the 1990s, and it’s as popular as Piper and Luna now.

The name? Elizabeth. Bow down to the queen of names.

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To be accurate, Elizabeth has been popular for centuries. A Biblical name, it was used in England in the Middle Ages, and then really took off when the fabulous Elizabeth I started her reign in the 16th century. After that, Elizabeth, Mary and Ann were the big three names for girls for the next few hundred years. (Obviously, that was before naming trends were really a thing.)

Parents got bored with Mary and Ann decades ago. But not Elizabeth.

In 2018, Elizabeth was the 53rd most popular name for Australian girls, with one new little Lizzie joining the nation every day.

However, the name was significantly less popular in South Australia (95th spot), where Elizabeth is a northern suburb of Adelaide. (Calling an Adelaide baby Elizabeth would be roughly equivalent to calling a Sydney baby Rooty Hill.)


So why is Elizabeth still so popular in Australia? Is it something to do with our respect for the current Queen, Elizabeth II, who has managed to reign over us for 67 years without once being photographed sucking someone’s toes or turning up to a fancy dress party in Nazi uniform? Or is it something to do with all the other great Elizabeths out there, from netballer Liz Ellis to US presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, from Pride And Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet to Hilary Duff’s character Lizzie McGuire?

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In the US, Elizabeth is even more popular than in Australia. Names expert Cleveland Kent Evans tells Mamamia that Elizabeth has been among the US’s top 30 names since 1900. He thinks one of the reasons is that the name has so many pet forms.

“The official name stays Elizabeth on the birth certificate, while the most popular pet form changes,” he explains. “Back for women born in the 1920s and 1930s it was Betty. Baby Boomer Elizabeths in the US are usually Beth. Millennial Elizabeths are often Lizzie. I’m not sure what the Elizabeths being born in 2018 will mostly be called.

“But I think it’s the combination of all the different possible short forms along with its long history as a royal name that keeps it popular. In the USA, I think Elizabeth I is probably the English monarch who gets the ‘best press’ when we learn history, and Elizabeth II manages to be admired even when others in her family have seemed silly to Americans.”

Aussie mum Kirsty named her daughter Elizabeth 19 years ago. She says it was a family name, “so we knew it would be a crowd pleaser”.

But there was more to it than that.

“It felt timeless, a classic. It didn’t feel like a name you could pin to a decade like Margaret, Kylie or Susan.”


She also liked all the short forms.

“With a name like Kirsty, I’m pretty much ‘just’ Kirsty, but with Elizabeth, she has so many options: Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Bif, Beth, etc.”

It’s clear that parents love Elizabeth. But when Elizabeths themselves start talking about their name, it’s sometimes a different story. On the website Behind The Name, a lot of Elizabeths reveal they feel conflicted.

“When I was younger I didn’t like it, but as I grew up, I also grew into the name,” writes one Elizabeth. “The name Elizabeth, to me, is classy, confident and yes, regal.”

“To me, this name is too old-fashioned,” writes another. “When people call me Elizabeth to get on my nerves, it makes me feel like I’m nobody special because there have been too many famous people with this name.”

Could it be one of those names that parents like more than kids?

When I asked my Facebook friends if they knew any Elizabeths who loved their name, there was a deafening silence. In fact, the two Elizabeths I know best have renamed themselves something else entirely.

“It just seems a bit posh and fancy, I guess,” one of them confessed to me. “Doesn’t suit me at all.”

Yep, there’s no doubt that Elizabeth is the queen of names. But maybe its reign won’t be lasting all that much longer.

Would you name your child Elizabeth? Tell us in the comments section below.

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