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A hellish choice? –  Lucifer now more popular name than Nigel in Britain

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the name Lucifer was more popular than Nigel or Trevor in the UK last year. Its annual record of baby names showed that there was a grand total of 15 babies named Lucifer in England and Wales last year, a name which is commonly used for the title of Satan. Meanwhile, the once beloved name Nigel has falled out of favour, with no little Nigels registered last year (or, statistically, two at most).

Only 8 babies were named Trevor, while none were called Maureen or Bertha. However, older names have not fallen completely out of style, with some still dominant, including Ada (38th most popular), Edith (85th) and Olive (99th). Oliver remained the most popular name for boys for the eighth year in a row, while Olivia topped the list of girls’ names for the fifth consecutive year.

It’s thought the TV series Lucifer may have inspired the increase in the name. The show is based on a comic book series The Sandman, published by the DC Comics imprint Vertigo. The TV series depicts a Lucifer who has willingly abdicated his throne in Hell and taken ownership of a nightclub called Lux in Los Angeles. The series started streaming on Netflix in 2017. Episodes include ‘Everything’s Okay,’ ‘Orgy Pants to Work,’ ‘Who’s Da King of Hell,’ ‘Devil is as Devil does’ and ‘Save the Devil, Save the World’. In 2019, it was reported that the TV series was climbing the charts as one of Netflix’s most popular shows.

Although the name Lucifer is allowed in the UK, other countries have moved to outlaw it. In May 2013, it was reported that four sets of parents in New Zealand tried to name their new-borns Lucifer but were blocked by the Department of Internal Affairs. Lucifer, along with 76 other names, were rejected on the basis that they were either offensive or implied an official title or rank.

Last year, viewers of ITV daytime TV show ‘This Morning’ were left in disbelief when a father defended naming his new-born son Lucifer on the programme.

In the July 2020 interview, Dan Sheldon insisted that he and his wife Mandy are “not religious” despite naming their baby after the Prince of Darkness, with Dan admitting the name “definitely has connotations to hell”.

“We’re not religious ourselves and everyone’s entitled to their opinion and their views, so I don’t think it should be a problem.

“We thought that’s a nice, strong name, and it actually means light bringer, the bearer of light. So we just liked the name, it’s one we remember and it’s not very popular so we chose that.”

He added: “Lucifer was sent down from heaven – it definitely has connotations to hell.” According to Dan, when registering one-month-old Lucifer’s birth, the office registrar asked the couple, “Why don’t you just call the baby Hitler?”

Meanwhile, Nigel, which has fallen out of fashion completely in England and Wales, last made the ONS top 100 boys’ names list in 1974, ranked at number 55,  before dropping out completely in 2016, and then making a reappearance. The very English name is said to be derived from the Old Gaelic name Niall, meaning champion. Surely, the argument is to be had that Nigel cannot possibly be worse than Lucifer?

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