Choosing a name for your newborn can be a challenge! Thankfully, baby name books help make the decision much easier, whether you're looking for a classic girl's name, a name with spiritual significance for a baby boy, or something totally unique.
In this article, we'll share the 10 best baby name books in the UK with tips on how to choose - including this year's trending names and the meanings behind them!
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Table of Contents
Take a look at the number of baby names in each book and decide whether you'd prefer more or less choice. Indecisive people may benefit from a more limited range and might be best picking a baby name book with 500 names or fewer. For varied inspiration that doesn't overwhelm, baby name books with 1,000 to 6,000 names are a good place to aim at.
Baby name books with 8,000 names and up (some even contain as many as 100,000!) may be excessive for some people who want to save time and need a limited choice to make a firm decision. However, for others, it could be exciting and inspirational, so it's totally up to you.
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You might want to consider choosing a baby name book with a specific area of focus. For example;
Some baby name books are simply a long list of names and definitions in alphabetical order; great for whipping open at a random page or letter to see a mix of modern and classic choices.
Other books are divided into particular categories which may not be organised from A to Z, but rather are designed to inspire you with ideas related to a certain topic — such as famous pop stars or fictional characters. Both have benefits, but which one you choose to buy is completely down to your personal preferences.
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What exactly do you want to know about the baby names you're browsing through? Is pronunciation a priority? What about famous examples, connotations, or spiritual significance of the names?
Some baby name books give a neutral definition, others offer subtle (and not so subtle) opinions. In our top ten, we've included clarification in the spec table of what kind of definition each book provides, so you'll know how much information you can expect about each suggested name.
Some baby name books include a guide to choosing a name, with topics to consider such as; initials and spelling, nicknames, and connotations. If you're feeling unsure as to the best method of selecting a great name, pick a book with a special section to help you. That way you'll find a charming name, whether new or classic.
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Best Baby Names 2021
A Collection of Inspiring Lists With More Than 9,000 Names
The Penguin Book of Baby Names
Alphabetical List of Baby Names With Concise Definitions
Inspired Baby Names from Around the World
A Globally Inspired Book of Baby Names
100,000+ Baby Names (Revised)
Fascinating Facts, Naming Advice and Trends
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names: For Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Mages, Shamans & Independent Thinkers of All Sorts
An Impeccably Researched Guide to Names From Mythology, Literature and Astrology
The Penguin Dictionary of First Names
A Dictionary of the History and Mythology of Names
Baby Names 2021
The Annually Updated Guide to Royal, Celebrity and Trending Names
Badass Baby Names
Rebellious Names, Inspired by Fearless Figures From History
The Name Book: Over 10,000 Names, Their Meanings, Origins and Spiritual Significance
10,000 + Baby Names With Spiritual Importance
Hipster Baby Names
A Tongue-In-Cheek Guide to the Trendiest Names
This book really gives an idea of the different ways you can become inspired when naming a child, and that's why it's our top choice. The lists are divided into contemporary categories like social media stars, royals, Hollywood actors, and reality TV stars —making it as fun a read as it is helpful.
The lists aren't alphabetical, which is a refreshing change, as it gets you thinking about names you like within the areas of art, music, and culture you personally consume. 9,000 names and more are included here, so we've no doubt you'll discover just the right appellation for your new arrival.
If you want to cut straight to the chase and flick through an alphabet of great baby names, this is the book for you. From its charming cover illustration to its to-the-point definitions, this baby name book refuses to beat about the bush.
There's a great section pondering the age-old question; 'What's in a name?' and the answer is, of course, quite a lot. The second option on our list by David Pickering, this dictionary-style guide is user-friendly and popular with reviewers who loved the mix of classic with quirky suggestions.
If you want to look a little further afield for baby names than your great-grandmother's monogrammed pyjamas, try this illuminating guide packed with suggestions from across the globe.
This book goes into detail about the usage of each name in different languages as well as the meaning and imagery the moniker inspires. It has a thoughtful section on choosing the right name, and with 6,000 to mull over, you'll be spoiled for choice.
We think you'll enjoy this baby name book if you're keen to feast your eyes on as many names as possible before choosing. It contains advice on choosing a name, as well as cleverly devised lists, from newly popular names of celebrities and fictional characters to gender-neutral options.
This guide has 600 different lists, so it is really about giving you a full picture of the kind of names out there and getting you really inspired. This book doesn't just hand you nice names but gives you ideas and inspiration to perhaps come up with something entirely personal to you, using its lists as a starting point.
For a more unusual baby name, you can't get much better than this intriguing collection of names inspired by myths and magic. Including useful tidbits relating to the history of names and their place in magic, art, naturalism, or mythology, this book is great fun to read and explore.
Divided into sections named after the various elements (the sun, spirit, flowers, herbs, and trees, etc) this book also has a section on how to make your decision. Full of suggestions like Phoenix and Firefly, it's also noted by reviewers as also being a great resource for choosing character names if you're writing fiction.
Penguin can always be relied on to create smashing quality dictionaries and thesauruses, with this guide to first names adding to that strong reputation. David Pickering guides you through a properly comprehensive selection of names, their origins, and interesting variants.
Though this book is not divided into sections and themes, it is described by online reviewers as 'the only baby name book you need'. It certainly does burst with suggestions, without becoming overwhelming.
Pick this baby name book if you're looking for a guide to staying up-to-the-minute with your choices. There are more than 8,000 names inside, divided simply into options for boys and girls.
Containing lots of fun facts about names from all over the planet, it also includes interesting information on how names have cartwheeled into and out of popularity. Expect classics like Charlie and Olivia, alongside more unusual choices like Rye and Zuzu!
Choose this baby name book if you want a whimsical look at some admirable figures from the world of science, politics, and art, whose name you may feel inspired to bestow upon your new addition. It's as much an education for you as it is a way to select a baby name!
Picking the name of an ambitious change-maker or cultural leader is definitely a great way to give your bairn a strong start in the world. While it has fewer options than many books on our list, this one doesn't take itself too seriously and is actually packed with promising ideas.
This book guides you through names with a spiritual significance, many of which are biblical or from other key world religions. It's popular with reviewers across eCommerce sites and has an extremely clear structure so you can really get to grips with what each name means.
Spiritual names are obviously important to those who practise one faith or another, but these names may also hold an appeal for secular parents as they are fairly timeless and shouldn't come and go like other trendy choices.
This is really more of an ironic gift to your favourite expecting parents than a serious guide to choosing a great name. It's pretty mocking of the names included, so only give it to parents-to-be who are willing to laugh at themselves and may still choose a name, even if it's been made fun of a little here!
There are 322 names in this book, many of which are actually pretty unique if you ignore the author's cutting take-downs! There's no 'how to choose' section or anything similar and it's more of a fun and lighthearted tome, as opposed to serious support with this important decision.
Written and researched by: Annie Hopkins
No. 1: Siobhan Thomas｜Best Baby Names 2021
No. 2: David Pickering｜The Penguin Book of Baby Names
No. 3: Neala Shane｜Inspired Baby Names from Around the World
No. 4: Bruce Lansky｜100,000+ Baby Names (Revised)
No. 5: K.M. Sheard｜Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names: For Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Mages, Shamans & Independent Thinkers of All Sorts
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