Character Name Question for UK Folks

Michael Colton

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There are many given names that, for whatever reason, seem to not have traveled over to the US (or did not last into contemporary times if they did) and sound a bit archaic or 'uppity'. The sort that get repeated by someone before they ask if it is a family name or if you got it from a romance novel.

My question is: are the following names still common in the UK or would they come across as a bit old fashioned over there as well:

Alistair/Alastair
Sebastian
Auster
Everett
Milton
Gabriel
Lionel


Much appreciated.
 

Foxbat

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Alistair is still very common and I know quite a few Alistairs locally.
Sebastian is still used now and then - Sebastian Coe being an example.
Everett I've only heard in an American name (Everett McGill)

The rest I couldn't really say but I think that names can be popular in certain areas of the UK (Ian/Iain Sean being a couple of Celtic examples). So, you might be able to link your name to a certain region/country within the UK (Hamish in Scotland for example) to make your name fit better.
 

Abernovo

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Another to agree with Foxbat. I know several people called Alistair/Alasdair. Not so many now I live down south. Gabriel makes an occasional appearance locally (twice recently with very young children), but not heard it much anywhere else. Seb/Sebastian very rare. Lionel relegated to much older generation and, even then, uncommon.

The rest, as Kerry says, seem more US names.
 

Ray McCarthy

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UK and Ireland:
* = Yes
X = No
!
= Very Rare

* Alistair/Alastair
* Sebastian

X Auster
X Everett
X Milton
! Gabriel
* Lionel


Only Allister / Alistair / Alastair common (more N.I. and Scotland, seems rare England & Wales). Common as "son of" Mc
Sebastian seems to be people settled more recently, not common. I do know one.
Any Lionel seem to be possibly Jewish origin. English anyway.
Gabriel in print in old stories, seems to be very rare.
Never even seen Auster in print.
Only ever heard of Everett and Milton as a surnames in UK
Everett & Milton as first names would seem to me totally American.

UK isn't homogeneous at all.
Probably you could divide UK
N.I.: East & West of River Bann, also Antrim Coast very West Scottish.
Scotland: Western, Highlands, East, Lowlands/Border. I think Western Isles are very different from Shetland & Orkney (More East Ulster connection vs more Scandinavian?)
England: North, South East/Home Counties, Midlands, Marches, West Country (Cornwall is technically a Dutchy and not part of England)
Wales: North, South and Border

Isle of Man (Irish Sea) isn't actually UK. There are local Manx names and English Incomers.
Channel Is.: Parts are quite French. Also technically not UK. But not in same group as IOM.

It used to be said that only people from Asia, N.I. Caribbean etc. would much refer to themselves as British. Though some from N.I. get a bit confused when in England, others in N.I. call themselves Irish. Three counties of Ulster are not in N.I., but confusingly British N.I. people refer to Ulster as if it's N.I. N.I.'s Commercial TV station was called Ulster Television, now renamed to UTV. A subsidiary is UTV Ireland. BBC's Local Radio is called Radio Ulster.

The UK is a strange "Nation" as England, Scotland and N.I. were/are 3 separate Kingdoms (there were Acts of Union), a Principality (Wales), a Duchy (Cornwall) plus associated odd bits (Isle of Man, Channel Is., Gibraltar, Falklands plus some left over bits of Empire).
 
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Mouse

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There are many given names that, for whatever reason, seem to not have traveled over to the US (or did not last into contemporary times if they did) and sound a bit archaic or 'uppity'. The sort that get repeated by someone before they ask if it is a family name or if you got it from a romance novel.

My question is: are the following names still common in the UK or would they come across as a bit old fashioned over there as well:

Alistair/Alastair
Sebastian
Auster
Everett
Milton
Gabriel
Lionel


Much appreciated.

Didn't know people in the US saw them as 'archaic' and 'uppity' though I guess it's the same as us here thinking Randy* and Hunter are ridiculous.

The MC in my current WiP is called Alistair. My main audience will be people from the US, so if anybody from the US wants to assure me you don't think it's a crappy name, that'd be much appreciated! I used to date a guy called Alistair and he had one of the strongest Devon** accents I've ever heard, so the whole idea that it's 'uppity' is hilarious.

A character in one of my other WiPs is called Sebastian, but goes by Seb.

I wouldn't say Gabriel was 'very rare.' I used to know someone called Gabe.

Auster... is that even a name?! Never heard that in my life. Milton's a horse. Everett sounds American. Or makes me think of baby hares. And Lionel Ritchie.

What sort of name are you after? Do you want an archaic name? Cos I'd go for something like Atticus.


* one of our customers where I work (my customers are from North America) is called Randy Hamburger. Which I think is my favourite name of anybody in the whole universe.
**which is in the south west. So it's not just confined to the north or Scotland either.
 
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AnyaKimlin

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Gabriel is not very rare. I have a Gabriel and the name is in the top 100. Sebastian and Alistair are also quite trendy among children at the moment. Archaic names are very popular at present so you'd get away with any of them. My children have friends called Winston, Albert, Violet, Pearl and Iris.

The only one you probably wouldn't get away with is Milton because it is a sterlising fluid. It's like me suggesting Allegra to my American husband.
 

Mouse

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The only one you probably wouldn't get away with is Milton because it is a sterlising fluid.

Yes, I was thinking of this, too! (I was too impressed with my old showjumping knowledge though so went with the horse thing. How that managed to stay in my brain after all these years, I don't know...)
 

LittleStar

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Randy hamburger? That's brilliant :LOL:

I have to agree with the others, Alastair is the only common name from them I would say. But the rest aren't unheard of (ok Auster, I have never heard of, Austen however. And Everett I only know from 'O Brother'). Uncommon, but there are exceptions, like Milton Jones, the comedian, I don't know if that is a given name or a stage name, but that's what he's called.
 

thaddeus6th

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Alistair/Alastair - Absolutely fine, for either a common fellow or a wealthy chap
Sebastian - was less common, perhaps a little more so now
Auster - Never heard this. I think one of the Chamberlains in the '30s might have had a similarish first name.
Everett - only heard as a surname (Let's bomb Russia!) Sounds very posh as a first name.
Milton - rare. Definitely on the posh end of the scale.
Gabriel - aware of it but not sure I've heard of one (other than Gabriel Byrne). It'd likely be a wealthier chap's name, but if his mother were devout it could be for any class [after the archangel]
Lionel - I think this is uncommon but could fit any class
 

AnyaKimlin

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Yes, I was thinking of this, too! (I was too impressed with my old showjumping knowledge though so went with the horse thing. How that managed to stay in my brain after all these years, I don't know...)

Cos Milton was the star of the show for so long. His first name changed a few times due to sponsors but he was always Milton. I think though the sterilising fluid is a major one because its so prominent in the baby aisle when you're picking up the bits and pieces whilst pregnant.
 

AnyaKimlin

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Gabriel - aware of it but not sure I've heard of one (other than Gabriel Byrne). It'd likely be a wealthier chap's name, but if his mother were devout it could be for any class [after the archangel]

My Gabriel has about Gabriels for friends. Give it another few years and they'll be everywhere. Like when I was a kid I was the only Charlotte I knew.
 

Hex

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As Anya said, Gabriel is one of those names that's relatively common among small(ish) children. We know a Gabe, although admittedly his mother is American so might have been influenced a bit by that. You wouldn't find many adults called Gabriel, I don't think, but it's not unheard of.

Alistair, absolutely (and I love that name), Sebastian is okay if posh. Lionel is for men in their 70s, and the others aren't common. Everett is a surname, I suppose.
 

Ursa major

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like Milton Jones, the comedian, I don't know if that is a given name or a stage name, but that's what he's called.
Wikipedia is your friend:
Milton Hywel Jones (born 16 May 1964) is an English comedian. His style of humour is based on one-liners involving puns delivered in a deadpan and slightly neurotic style.
There's a half-hour radio comedy show of his -- Another Case of Milton Jones -- on the radio at the moment. (The last episode, of six, is on Radio Four tomorrow at 11pm.)
 

Phyrebrat

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My question is: are the following names still common in the UK or would they come across as a bit old fashioned over there as well:

Alistair/Alastair
Sebastian
Auster
Everett
Milton
Gabriel
Lionel


Much appreciated.

I work in 12 inner city London schools and apart from Auster (which I took to be a typo for Austen/Austin) I know all these names.

However, they are all West African or Caribbean kids.
I know two Miltons; one girl, one boy - both Jamaican heritage
One Everett - St Lucian father, Jamaican mother
One Lionel (Côte d'Ivoire and spelt 'Leonel')
One Austen and one Austin (Caribbean heritage, not sure of the country)
Countless Gabriels. One African American/Hispanic parents, the rest are all from West Africa and three of them from Ghana - first generations)
I work in the Royal Academy of Dance HQs from time to time teaching very privileged kids. I have taught a Sebastian and Alastair there (mixed parentage - White British and European)

We're such a diverse country now with such a strange colonial history that you'll find many ex colonies using less-modern names. Barbados has some very odd ones, and there are a lot of Scottish surnames all over the Caribbean. I think the way you write your character should illustrate them as 'uppity'* rather than your name.

Interesting thread! Hope his helps.

pH
*bearing its origin in mind, I'd avoid using the term uppity; it was coined by white people who saw freedmen get 'ideas above their station' and is also used as an insult in the schools amongst the demographics I mentioned above to refer to a black person who was 'trying to be white'). Indeed, transnationalism is a complex issue, still! ;)
 

Nick B

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pH
*bearing its origin in mind, I'd avoid using the term uppity; it was coined by white people who saw freedmen get 'ideas above their station' and is also used as an insult in the schools amongst the demographics I mentioned above to refer to a black person who was 'trying to be white'). Indeed, transnationalism is a complex issue, still! ;)

I've always used the term uppity as just meaning grumpy or irritable :-( can't say anything these days without fear of upsetting someone.
 

The Judge

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bearing its origin in mind, I'd avoid using the term uppity; it was coined by white people who saw freedmen get 'ideas above their station' and is also used as an insult in the schools amongst the demographics I mentioned above to refer to a black person who was 'trying to be white').
Interestingly, the Online Dictionary of Etymology says it wasn't coined by whites, but was then, as apparently now, a term of derision used withn the black community:

uppity (adj) 1880, American English, from up + -ity; originally used by blacks of other blacks felt to be too self-assertive (first recorded use is in "Uncle Remus").
 

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