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Muhammad Isn't Actually The Most Popular Boy's Name In Britain

Always take it with a pinch of salt when a website runs a self-selecting survey using its own rules. But Mo could take the real top spot in the future.

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This story claiming Muhammad is now the most popular baby boy's name in the UK has been all over the internet.

Guardian

This Guardian article and many others like it are based on a press release to promote a website called BabyCentre, which is very happy to receive a lot of publicity by claiming the most popular boy's name is Muhammed.

However, it isn't based on official data. It's based on what users of this particular website say they called their child. And to get the desired result BabyCentre has combined all spellings of "Mohammed/Muhammad/Mohammad" into one figure.

This is the actual list of the top 10 baby names for boys in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.

ONS

Oliver, Jack, and other traditional British baby names are still top in the popularity stakes.

Muhammad is currently the 15th most popular name, with 3,499 babies taking the name in 2013.

These are official statistics, released every year, which can be seen here. (Scotland and Northern Ireland's baby names are counted separately. Neither has Muhammad anywhere near the top 20.)

Even if you combine all the different spellings of Muhammed on the official data then it still isn't the most popular name in England and Wales.

There were 3,499 Muhammads, 2,887 Mohammeds, and 1,059 Mohammads born in England and Wales during 2013, according to the ONS. Combine those and you have a total of 7,445 babies. This appears to back up the original BabyCentre claim and would put it at the top of the list.

But if you combine all versions of Mo, then you ought to do the same for the likes of Oliver/Ollie, Jake/Jacob, and many other names which appear under multiple variants.

Do that and you find there's 7,749 babies named Oliver/Ollie in England and Wales, which means it's still the most popular boys' name in the UK. (There's also 9,136 babies named Henry/Harry, but not everyone considers them interchangeable.)

Mohammed (and its many variants) has a good chance of becoming England and Wales' most popular baby boy's name at some point in the future.

This post has been updated to clarify that the ONS stats relate to England and Wales, not the entire UK. And there are now links to statistics from Northern Ireland and Scotland showing that there aren't that many babies called Muhammad in those parts of the UK.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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