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Why Australians are obsessed with the name 'Lachlan', but other countries think it's weird.

If you live in Australia, odds are you know a Lachlan or two. Maybe loads of Lachlans. Perhaps you even named your son Lachlan.

For two decades, it’s been one of the 10 most popular boys’ names in Australia. Aussies just love Lachlan.

Only… the rest of the world doesn’t.

In the US, Lachlan didn’t even make it into the top 1000 names until 2013. It’s currently sitting somewhere in the 700s, below classics such as Sincere, Briggs and Hezekiah.

A discussion about Lachlan on the website Behind The Name saw one person commenting, “I’ve never heard it in the US. How do you pronounce it?”

Added another: “My husband hates it and thinks it sounds like a name I am making up to sound cool.”

In the UK, people are more familiar with Lachlan, but it’s certainly not popular. It ranks just outside the top 300, on a par with Ernest, Buddy and Phoenix.

On the site Netmums, a mother-to-be from the UK said she wanted to call her son Lachlan.

“But I’m nervous as most people I say it to seem to just screw their nose up a bit,” she added. “Is it really that bad?”

One woman who answered said that it was “a rare name, and that in itself makes it stand out. Maybe that’s why people screw their noses up at it.”

But what about Scotland? Being a Scottish name, Lachlan must be huge there, right?

Not exactly. It just scrapes into the top 100, at 92.

Turns out the name Lachlan is about as popular overseas as this guy... (Image: Nine)
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In recent years, there has been no other name, boys or girls, that has been massive in Australia and rarely used in the US or the UK. All our other popular names are also popular elsewhere. That makes Lachlan, as Scottish as it sounds, the most Aussie name around right now. Strange, huh?

Mamamia asked Carole Hough, professor of onomastics at the University of Glasgow, why she thought Lachlan was more popular in Australia than Scotland. She had a couple of ideas.

“One is that parents living in Scotland may take their Scottish heritage for granted, and be less motivated to find a name that signals it,” she suggested.

No doubt that’s part of it. But Lachlan is so, so popular in Australia, and has been for such a long time. Why?

For starters, a lot of Australians were already familiar with the name through early NSW governor Lachlan Macquarie (the Lachlan River was named after him). Then Rupert Murdoch named his son Lachlan in 1971, which probably didn’t hurt.

After reaching the top 100 in Australia in the late 1970s, Lachlan took off in a big way in the 1990s. That was almost definitely due to the influence of a Daddo, a surfer and maybe a sports star or two.

Lochie Daddo – full name Christopher Lachlan Daddo – was on our screens in Getaway and Neighbours. Lockie Leonard – full name Lachlan Robert Louis Stevenson Leonard – was a popular book (and later TV) character. As the years went by, sporty Lachlans started popping up. In particular, lots of footballers.

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The name felt right for Australians, especially when it was shortened to Lachie/Lochie/Lockie. It’s a good, solid, laidback, knockabout name.

Just one slight problem. It seems Aussies have been pronouncing Lachlan wrong all this time. It’s not actually “Lock-lan”.

“In Scotland, Lachlan would be pronounced with the ‘ch’ as in the word ‘loch’,” Professor Hough tells Mamamia. “Technically, that sound is known as a velar fricative. It’s a sound that exists in Scottish English but not in English English, nor Australian English.”

Ah, the good old velar fricative.

Here’s to Lachlan, that proud and glorious Scottish Gaelic-Aussie name. (Oh yes. New Zealanders don’t mind it either.)

What are your thoughts on the name 'Lachlan'? Does it float your boat?

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