Spain's Most Popular Baby Names and Baby Naming Traditions

If you’re pregnant or thinking of starting a family then it’s likely that you’ve already considered a variety of different names for your offspring: some you’ll like, some you’ll hate, and some that you and your partner simply can’t agree on! If you’re due to have a baby in Spain, however, then you’ll have a whole new element to consider: will the name be easy for both Spanish and English-speaking friends and family members to pronounce? Choosing a name that works in more than one nationality can prove a greater challenge.

The name that you give to a child can have a significant impact on their life. Extensive research conducted by both psychologists and economists has found that your name can have an impact on both your earning potential and your happiness levels. And if you are an expat then you also want your child to have a name that their playmates can pronounce, and that doesn’t have an inappropriate meaning in their second language! To help you on this journey, and to assist you in finding the right name for you, here’s everything you need to know about naming traditions, as well as the most popular names, in Spain:

Traditional Naming Conventions in Spain

Just like in many other predominantly Christian countries, the most popular names in Spain are frequently taken from the bible, meaning that they are either Hebrew or Greek in origin. Children are generally given two names, and these names are hyphenated to create on, longer, first name.

Children born into one of the many Catholic families in Spain are often named after a saint or martyr: this is a practice that has been encouraged by the Catholic church for many generations. On various Saints days, you will see children been honoured and celebrated across Spain: it is considered traditional in the country to celebrate your saint’s day in much the same way that you might celebrate your birthday.

In recent years there has been a rise in the number of parents choosing names inspired by their favourite celebrities or athletes, meaning there has been an increase in the number of more international names being used in Spain, however many other parents in the country express concerns about those children with ‘famous names’ being stereotyped.

The Most Popular Boys Names in Spain

According to Spain’s National Institute for Statistics, the ten most popular boys' names in the country (looking at the names of all babies born since 2010) are:

  1. Daniel
  2. Hugo
  3. Alejandro
  4. Pablo
  5. Alvaro
  6. Adrian
  7. David
  8. Diego
  9. Mario
  10. Javier

In what is good news for expat parents, many of these names are pronounced the same way in English as they are in Spanish, making them all great choices for children that will be raised in Spain but with British heritage.

One convention that is common in Spain when naming boys, and which you might not find elsewhere, is to combine the names of two biblical figures to give such common double-barreled names as Jose Maria or Juan Miguel.  Whilst these are common names in Spain, and easy to pronounce in both Spanish and English, the idea of combining biblical men and women’s names is one that is fairly unique to Spain. If you think you might move back to the UK, or to another country, after your time in Spain, you might want to consider how this otherwise unusual convention would be received, particularly by other kids in the classroom.

The Most Popular Girls Names in Spain

According to Spain’s National Institute for Statistics, the ten most popular girls names in the country (looking at the names of all babies born since 2010) are:

  1. Lucia
  2. Maria
  3. Paula
  4. Daniela
  5. Martina
  6. Sara
  7. Sofia
  8. Carla
  9. Alba
  10. Julia

Much like the boys' names outlined above, many of these names would be recognised in the UK, with the pronunciations of many of them being very similar in both tongues, making them a great choice for a girl who will be raised with one foot in each culture.

You may note that many of the most popular girls' names in Spain draw inspiration from the Virgin Mary, and there are lots of versions of her name that are drawn from events in her life which might be unfamiliar to those more used to Anglicised names. Some of the names on this list also draw their inspiration from the Germanic and Moorish periods of Spain, with names like Alma and Matilda being inspired by these aspects of Spanish history.

Using an English Name in Spain

If you already have any English name in mind for your baby, then now is the perfect time to consider what the Spanish equivalent of that name is, as it’s likely most Spaniards will simply use this instead! A boy name George will spend his childhood in Spain being called Jorge (pronounced ‘hor-hey’) for example. Think about the Spanish version of your favourite name before you sign that birth certificate!

Another thing to consider is the Spanish pronunciation of the name you choose. This could be a particular issue if the name you choose starts with a J, as the J sound doesn’t exist in the Spanish language, meaning you could end up with a name very different from the one you thought you were giving your child!

Finally, you need to consider whether the name you select will pass the scrutiny of the Spanish bureaucracy, if you’re registering your baby, and their name, in Spain. Some officials will refuse shortened or ‘incomplete’ versions of traditional names (using Sam instead of Samuel, for example). It’s worth checking this before you begin the registration process, to avoid any disappointment.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Does the idea of raising your young family, or having a baby, in Spain sound appealing? If you’re looking for estate agents in Southern Spain then why not get in touch ? Our locally based property experts are a font of local knowledge, and are perfectly placed to help you find the home of your dreams.