Northern Ireland may be located on the island of Ireland, but it’s been part of the United Kingdom (along with Scotland, England, and Wales — all of which are located on the next-door island of Great Britain) since 1921.
Last year, Northern Ireland welcomed 20,929 babies — 10,242 girls and 10,687 boys.
What were the most popular names among these babies? Grace and James.
Here are the Northern Ireland’s top 50+ girl names and top 50 boy names of 2022:
Grace, 168 baby girls
Fiadh, 148 – pronounced FEE-a
Aoife, 113 – pronounced EE-fa
Evie, 94 (tie)
Freya, 94 (tie)
Ava, 84 (tie)
Sophia, 84 (tie)
Anna, 80 (tie)
Erin, 80 (tie)
Eabha, 74 – pronounced EY-va
Katie, 72 (tie)
Ruby, 72 (tie)
Maisie, 71 (tie)
Sophie, 71 (tie)
Niamh, 64 – pronounced neev or NEE-iv
Molly, 59 (tie)
Rosie, 59 (tie)
Clodagh, 57 (tie) – pronounced KLOH-da
Mia, 57 (tie)
Meabh, 55 (tie) – pronounced mayv
Willow, 55 (tie)
Cora, 52 (tie)
Phoebe, 52 (tie)
Bonnie, 49 (tie)
Isabella, 49 (tie)
Eva, 48 (4-way tie)
Georgia, 48 (4-way tie)
Ivy, 48 (4-way tie)
Sadie, 48 (4-way tie)
Cara, 47 (tie)
Harper, 47 (tie)
Emma, 46 (tie)
Zara, 46 (tie)
Chloe, 45 (tie)
Rose, 45 (tie)
Poppy, 44 (tie)
Saoirse, 44 (tie) – pronounced SEER-sha or SAYR-sha
James, 175 baby boys
Oisin, 119 – pronounced UH-sheen or OH-sheen
Cillian, 111 – pronounced KIL-ee-an
Luke, 74 (tie)
Ollie, 74 (tie)
Caleb, 72 (tie)
Ronan, 72 (tie)
Archie, 63 (tie)
Joshua, 63 (tie)
Adam, 62 (3-way tie)
Jonah, 62 (3-way tie)
Matthew, 62 (3-way tie)
Daithi, 61 – pronounced DAH-hee
Ezra, 60 (3-way tie)
Michael, 60 (3-way tie)
Odhran, 60 (3-way tie) – pronounced OH-rawn
Henry, 57 (4-way tie)
Isaac, 57 (4-way tie)
Logan, 57 (4-way tie)
Teddy, 57 (4-way tie)
Jake, 55 (tie)
Max, 55 (tie)
Conan, 52 (3-way tie)
Conor, 52 (3-way tie)
Joseph, 52 (3-way tie)
The fastest-rising names in the girls’ top 100 were Pippa, Nevaeh, Lucia, Croia, and Maeve.
The fastest-rising names in the boy’s top 100 were Hugo, Luca, Hudson, Rian, and Nathan.
Northern Ireland’s data technically only goes down to names given to 3 babies, but it also includes all the other names — they just aren’t labeled with a “2” or a “1.” In the data for 2020 and 2021, these rare names were separated into two alphabetized lists, so I could guess which list contained the single-use names. In the data for 2022, however, the double- and single-use names were mixed together. So, this time around, I can only offer you a selection of the country’s uncommon (as opposed to unique) baby names:
Looking for baby names that feature the letter-pair OO?
I’ve collected oodles of OO names for you in this post!
Before we get to the names, though, let’s get one big question out of the way…
What sound does OO make?
In today’s English, OO commonly makes the sound you hear in the words boot, food, and moon. But it can also make other sounds, such as the ones you hear in the words blood, or door, or good.
Why all this diversity?
A lot of it has to do with the Great Vowel Shift, which lasted from the late 14th century until about 1700. The GVS was a major factor in the transition from Middle English to Modern English.
In Middle English, OO tended to make a “long o” sound. (As one of my sources explained, “scribes often indicated a long vowel sound by doubling the vowel letter.”) So, in Middle English, the words boot, food, and moon sounded more like “boat,” “foad,” and “moan.”
During the Great Vowel Shift, the pronunciation of most long vowel sounds inexplicably shifted “upward” in the mouth, and the words boot, food, and moon acquired their present-day pronunciations.
But it’s not quite as simple as that. Because some words underwent multiple pronunciation changes during the GVS, while others didn’t undergo any change at all.
And this resulted in OO having a variety of pronunciations in Modern English.
Now, back to the names!
Top baby names with OO
Let’s begin with the most popular names with OO:
Top girl names with OO
Top boy names with OO
Brooklyn Brooke Brooklynn Noor Cooper Oona Rooney Brooks Hoorain Moon
Cooper Brooks Boone Kooper Booker Woodrow Haroon Woods Brooklyn Elwood
Now here are the same names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).
The English surname Booker, which is derived from the Middle English word bokere, originally referred to someone who worked with books (such as a scribe, or a book binder).
Booker is currently the 1,204th most popular boy name in the nation.
The Anglo-Norman surname Boone has several potential origins, one of which is the Old French word bon, meaning “good.”
Boone is currently the 573rd most popular boy name in the U.S.
Brooke + Brooks
The English surname Brooke is a variant of the surname Brook, which originally referred to someone who lived either near a brook or a stream, or in one of the various English villages called Brook/Brooke.
Brooks is currently the 77th most popular boy name in the nation, whereas Brooke ranks 259th for girls.
The name Brooks is also sometimes spelled Brookes or Broox.
Brooklyn + Brooklynn
The name Brooklyn comes from the name of the New York City borough, which was founded by Dutch settlers in the 17th century and named after the Dutch town of Breukelen. The town name (originally “Broecklede”) can be traced back to the Middle Dutch words broec, meaning “marshland,” and lede, which referred to a dug watercourse (as opposed to a natural one).
Brooklynn is a variant of Brooklyn (likely influenced by the name Lynn).
Brooklyn is currently the 63rd most popular girl name in the U.S., and Brooklynn ranks 314th. Brooklyn is also the 2,515th most popular name for boys.
Other spellings of the name include Brooklynne, Brookelyn/Brookelynn/Brookelynne, Brooklin/Brooklinn, and Brooklen/Brooklenn.
Cooper + Kooper
The English surname Cooper, which is derived from the Middle English word couper, originally referred to someone who made or repaired wooden vessels (such as casks, tubs, and buckets).
Cooper is currently the 68th most popular boy name in the nation, and Kooper ranks 1,090th. Cooper is also the 1,597th most popular name for girls.
The English surname Elwood is ultimately derived from the Anglo-Saxon personal name Ælfweald, which was comprised of the Old English words ælf, meaning “elf,” and weald, meaning “rule.”
Elwood is currently the 2,582nd most popular boy name in the U.S.
The name is also sometimes spelled Ellwood.
The name Haroon is the Urdu form of the Arabic name Harun, which is derived from the Biblical name Aaron (of unknown origin).
Haroon is currently the 2,033rd most popular boy name in the nation.
The name Hoorain seems to be an Urdu name based on the Quranic phrase hoorun’een, which refers to maidens with beautiful eyes.
Hoorain is currently the 3,396th most popular girl name in the U.S.
The name Moon refers, of course, to the moon — the round object that circles the Earth once a month and shines at night (because it reflects light from the sun). The English word moon can be traced back to the Old English word mona.
Moon is currently the 3,455th most popular girl name in the nation.
The name Noor is a transcription of the Arabic word meaning “light.”
Noor is currently the 857th most popular girl name in the U.S.
The name Oona is an Anglicized form of the Irish name Úna, which may be derived from the Old Irish word úan, meaning “lamb.”
Oona is currently the 2,288th most popular girl name nation.
The name is also sometimes spelled Oonagh.
The Irish surname Rooney is ultimately derived from the Irish word ruanaidh, meaning “champion, hero.”
Rooney is currently the 2,552nd most popular girl name in the U.S.
The English surname Woodrow originally referred to someone who lived either by a row of trees, by a row of houses in a wood, or in one of the various English villages called Woodrow/Wood Row.
Woodrow is currently the 1,752nd most popular boy name in the nation.
The English surname Woods, a variant of Wood, originally referred to someone who lived in or near a wood. It’s ultimately based on the Middle English word wode, meaning “wood.”
Woods is currently the 2,205th most popular boy name in the U.S.
More names with OO
So, what other names have OO in them?
Here are some less-common choices (that are still seeing usage in the U.S. these days):
Brooklee, Brookley, Brookleigh
So far we’ve seen two presidential names: Woodrow and Roosevelt. Did you know that a total of five U.S. presidents had OO names, and that all five served during the first half of the 20th century?
Finally, if you’d like something even more uncommon (in the U.S.) than the names above, you can look to any of the various languages around the world known to feature the letter-pair OO in personal names. Examples include:
Dutch (e.g., Noortje, Joost)
Finnish (e.g., Auroora, Roope)
Estonian (e.g., Loore, Toomas)
Arabic (e.g., Hooda, Maqsood)
Persian (e.g., Afsoon, Behrooz)
Hindi (e.g., Poornima, Saroo)
Korean (e.g., Kyung-Sook, Sung-Hoon)
(The Middle Eastern and Asian names — because they’re being transcribed from non-Latin scripts — can also be spelled other ways, such as “Behrouz” and “Purnima.”)
Which of the OO names above to do you like most? (Can you think of any that I missed?) Let me know in the comments!
Jökla, feminine version of Jökull, the #2 boy name
Myrkvi, “darkness (caused by fog or a storm)” or “eclipse“
Svanhvit, “swan” + “white”
There was also a single non-binary name, Blær (“light breeze”), registered in Iceland last year.
Interestingly, about a decade ago, a teenager named Blær forced Iceland to legally recognize her name — which, at that time, was considered solely masculine — by taking the government to court. Perhaps that court battle paved the way for Blær to become a dual-gender name in Iceland? Hm…
The last time I posted rankings for Iceland, in 2018, the top two names (Embla and Aron) were the same.