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Welcome to the second annual Matilda Awards, a quest to discover which names featured on the blog in 2014 gained the greatest approval from the public.

Waltzing With … Category

The most popular names featured in the Waltzing With … category were CONSTANCE for girls, which scored an approval rating of 85% and FORREST for boys, which was rated 78%.

Constance is an Old French name dating to medieval times, traditional amongst aristocracy and royalty, but also valued as a virtue name. It hasn’t charted since the 1990s, and hasn’t been popular since the 1920s. The name Constance was chosen to honour courageous World War I nurse, Sister Constance Keys.

Forrest is an English surname with strong Scottish associations, in use as a first name since at least the 16th century, and possibly even earlier. It has never charted, but is found fairly often in Australian historical records. The name Forrest was chosen for the wealthy Forrest family, prominent in conservative politics.

Once again, the key to winning this category, which has a very simple voting system, is for people to have a high level of tolerance for the name. Both Constance and Forrest were names which hardly anybody had animosity towards, and most people thought were perfectly fine.

Famous Name Category

The most popular names featured in the Famous Name Category were HOPE and OPAL for girls, which both scored an approval rating of 86% and SAMUEL for boys, which scored 88% and was the top-rated name overall for the year.

Hope is a virtue name which is an underused classic; almost constantly on the charts, it has never become popular. Hope was praised as a simple and elegant classic which was both pretty and wholesome, and had a very positive meaning. The name was chosen to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War I.

Opal is a gemstone name with a patriotic meaning – the opal is Australia’s national gem, and the black opal is the state gem for New South Wales. A name most used during the Victoria era, it has never charted, but is often found in Australian records, especially in opal mining regions. Opal gained approval as an unusual and refreshing choice which was both pretty and simple, and hip and quirky. The name was chosen for the roll-out of the Opal public transport card in Sydney.

It’s interesting that Hope and Opal tied for first place, as they are quite similar – both short, simple English names with a strong OPE sound to them.

Samuel is a Hebrew name from the Bible; in the Old Testament, Samuel was a prophet and judge of Israel who brought peace to the land. Samuel is a classic name which has never been out of the Top 200, and is very popular, with a stable position for twenty years. Samuel was seen as a handsome classic which was both strong and gentle; a “nice guy” name which aged well and suited a variety of people. The name was chosen for the actor Samuel Johnson, who broke the world unicycling record to raise funds for breast cancer research; coincidentally, Samuel did this feat for his sister, who is named Constance, another favourite name.

Name Themes and Lists Category

The most popular names which were featured in the Names Themes and Lists Category were VIOLET and THEODORE. Violet won very convincingly, and also managed to win its original poll, while Theodore had a comfortable win.

Violet is a retro flower name first used in Scotland. Popular in the 1900s, it left the charts from the 1960s to the 2000s, but is now back with a bang, and zooming up the Top 100. The name was chosen for a spring-time list of native Australian flowers.

Theodore is a Greek name common in ancient times, which gained popularity amongst early Christians. An underused classic, Theodore has been rising steeply for decades, and seems likely to join the Top 100 soon. Theodore was chosen from the Australian children’s book Antonio S and the Mystery of Theodore Guzman by Odo Hirsch, part of a list for Book Week.

Celebrity Baby Names

The most popular celebrity baby girl name was CLEMENTINE FRANCES LOGAN, which proved a clear favourite right from the start. Clementine is the daughter of Peter and Hannah Logan, and this is proof you do not need to be an A-lister to have a great baby name, because the Logans are local celebrities from the Mudgee area, who run a successful wine company. Tess Clementine was the favourite baby name in 2013, and it looks as if blog-readers are Clementine-crazy.

The most popular celebrity baby boy name was EVANDER MAXWELL GLEAVE, who managed to win by a single vote in an extremely tight contest, as many boys’ names were nominated this year. Evander is the son of Australian model and Miss Australia winner Erin McNaught, and British rapper Example (Elliot Gleave).

Clementine and Evander both have elegance and substance, with classical roots, and a European vibe, being fairly popular in France, while uncommon here. The middle names are solid classics which aren’t popular as first names. Celebrities, take note!

There was no favourite amongst the celebrity twins, as none of them received enough approval to be eligible. Yes, this is a tough audience.

Names from the Birth Announcements

The most popular names for multiples were boy/girl twins FLORENCE AND HENRY, who proved solid performers. This handsome twin set from March was nominated by Madelyn.

In the girls section, ARABELLA HERMIONE ROSE scraped through by one vote. Elegant and a little off-beat, this pretty girl’s name from April was nominated by Sophia.

Amongst the boys, HUGO FREDERICK had a very comfortable win. This stylish boy’s name from early November was nominated by Nana Patricia.

The sibsets were dominated by LILY, WINTER, BEAU AND VIOLET, who absolutely destroyed all opposition. Note that Violet had a second victory. These four siblings, whose names have a simple, natural feel, were nominated in late November by both Nicole and Names For Real (Sarah from For Real Baby Names).

Some themes were clear this year: Scottish names did very well, as Forrest, Violet, Clementine Logan and Arabella all have links with Scotland. It did not win independence, but the land of loch and legend clearly won our hearts. Nature names and virtue names were also clear favourites – a positive meaning seems to be a real help.

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