Best names of all time

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This Is the Most Popular Baby Name of the Past 100 Years

Trends in baby names tend to come and go, but one has remained a favorite among parents year after year for the last century. According to a new study by the Social Security Administration (SSA), James is the most popular baby name of the past 100 years.

Compiling data from 173,916,919 boys and 169,671,039 girls for every year since 1918, the SSA ranked each name by total occurrences based on Social Security applications. The agency found that nearly 4.8 million baby boys have been named James. The most popular girls’ name, Mary, on the other hand, was given to about 3.4 million babies.

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There is one caveat: Researchers note that “the popular names listed are not necessarily consistently popular in every year,” adding that “James, ranked as the most popular male name over the last 100 years, has been ranked as low as number 19.”

Parenting website BabyCenter explains that the name James, which means “one who follows,” first became popular during the 17th century following the reign of King James VI, who was the first ruler of Britain.

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But even today, James remains a popular pick for parents, landing at number 17 on BabyCenter’s annual ranking of the top 100 names for 2018. The SSA also broke down the most popular names of last year based on state. James snagged the top spot in Alaska, D.C., and Montana, and came in the top five for many other states.

For the full list of baby-name rankings from 1918 to 2017, visit the SSA’s website.

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Most popular baby names of the last century

The following information is provided by Graphiq and MooseRoots.

While some names come and go, others stick around for decades. Some names featured on the list of the most popular names of the last century are a result of a decade-long fad, like Jennifer, while others, like James and Elizabeth, have been common names for the entire century.

MooseRoots, a genealogy records search engine, used data from the Social Security Administration to find the 30 most common baby names for boys and girls from the year 1915 to the present, and ranked them from least to most common based on the total number of babies bearing the name. Additionally, we found the highest rank ever held by the name, how long it held the rank and the years of its peak. In fact, MooseRoots recently launched an app to allow users to research baby names on the go.

You might be inspired by an old classic on the list — after all, it’s hard to argue with a baby name that has been popular for over 100 years. Ladies first!

#30. Sharon

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 720,189
Highest Rank: 8
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 2
Years at Highest Rank: 1943, 1945

Sharon is a beautiful name derived from the Biblical verse, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys,” in Song of Solomon 2:1. The name was the eighth most common name in 1943 and since then, it has been trending down, ranking No. 879 in 2014.

#29. Rebecca

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 726,232
Highest Rank: 10
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 2
Years at Highest Rank: 1973, 1974

Rebecca is a name with English, Hebrew and Jewish roots that means “snare.” It was the 184th most popular name for baby girls born in the U.S. in 2014, but at its peak in 1973 and 1974, it ranked No. 10.

#28. Stephanie

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 732,194
Highest Rank: 6
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 4
Years at Highest Rank: 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987

Meaning “crowned in victory,” Stephanie is the feminine form of Stephen. It hasn’t been in vogue since the ‘80s when it held seventh place; in 2014, it ranked No. 205.

#27. Laura

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 734,229
Highest Rank: 10
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1969

Laura is a Latin baby name that means “Laurel tree” or “sweet bay tree.” In 2014, it had a U.S. rank of 318, but at its peak in 1969, it was the most popular name among female newborns.

#26. Deborah

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 738,120
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1955

Deborah was a very trendy baby name in the 1950s, when it was the fourth most popular name among baby girls. The name means “bee” and is much less common today: In 2014, it ranked only No. 753 among female newborns in the U.S.

#25. Melissa

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 746,546
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 3
Years at Highest Rank: 1977, 1978, 1979

Melissa has English, Greek and Italian origins, and means “honeybee.” In 1979, Melissa was the second most popular baby girl name, but the name has become far less common, and in 2014 it ranked No. 224.

#24. Amanda

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 769,038
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1980

Amanda experienced a huge name fad in ‘80s, when it held third place. Since then, the name has fallen out of popularity in the U.S., with a rank of 314 in 2014.

#23. Emily

A pretty name with a strong meaning, Emily means “industrious” and “striving.” Emily was the seventh most popular baby girl name in 2014, and it was a popular choice from 1996 to 2007.

#22. Michelle

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 802,726
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 4
Years at Highest Rank: 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972

Michelle is the feminine form of Michael and means “gift from God.” It was a popular choice in the ‘70s and ‘80s, perhaps due to the Beatles hit song released in 1966.

#21. Carol

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 812,666
Highest Rank: 4
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1941

Landing the No. 4 ranking in 1941, Carol was a popular choice in the ‘40s, but after a precipitous fall, only 148 baby girls were named Carol in the U.S., giving the name a rank of 1,491 in 2014.

#20. Helen

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 815,829
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 5
Years at Highest Rank: 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919

This English name means “Greek, ray, sun.” It was the second most common name among baby girls in 1900, but has slowly declined in popularity throughout the century. In 2014, only 791 female newborns were named Helen, giving it a rank of 404.

#19. Kimberly

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 825,188
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 2
Years at Highest Rank: 1966, 1967

Kimberly was the ‘it’ name in the ‘70s, but it has since fallen from its top-tier status. The name meaning, “from the wood of the royal forest,” just missed the top 100 chart for female names in 2014, ranking No. 105.

#18. Donna

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 827,556
Highest Rank: 5
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 2
Years at Highest Rank: 1959, 1960

Donna means “lady” in Italian, and while Donna was a popular pick from 1959 to1960, the name has been trending significantly down in recent years: In 2014, the name ranked No. 1,407.

#17. Ashley

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 831,126
Highest Rank: 1
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 2
Years at Highest Rank: 1991, 1992

Originally a male’s name, Ashley is now a common female name choice. The name was the most popular baby name in the country in 1991. Since then, the name has been trending down and in 2014, it ranked No. 87.

#16. Sandra

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 871,895
Highest Rank: 5
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1947

Sandra originated from Alessandra and was a popular choice in the 1947, when it ranked No. 5. In 2014, however, it ranked only No. 800.

#15. Lisa

Meaning “devoted to God,” Lisa was the most common baby name in the ‘60s when it ranked No. 1 among baby girls. Since then, however, it has fallen from its top slot. In 2014, Lisa was the 750th most common baby girl name in the U.S., with only 371 newborns bearing the name.

#14. Betty

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 975,970
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 7
Years at Highest Rank: 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934

Short for Elizabeth, Betty became a popular stand alone name in the U.S. from 1928 to 1934. Betty has remained stagnant in recent years, ranking No. 1,254 in 2014.

#13. Nancy

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 979,084
Highest Rank: 6
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1950

The origin of the name Nancy is uncertain, but it was a popular choice in America in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. In 2014, the name is not as popular and is ranked No. 752.

#12. Karen

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 982,830
Highest Rank: 3
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1965

Meaning “pure,” Karen was a hit in 1965. Karen is quite new to the English-speaking world, and the name ranked No. 492 in 2014.

#11. Dorothy

Dorothy is of English and Greek origins and means “gift of God.” Dorothy has been a common name choice for centuries, but it experienced a popularity boom during the ’20s, giving the name an average rank of two. Since then, it has been trending down, earning it the rank of 731 in 2014.

#10. Sarah

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 992,496
Highest Rank: 3
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1993

Meaning “princess,” Sarah has Biblical roots. It reached its pinnacle in 1993, when it was the third most common baby name among baby girls. In 2014, the name was trending down in popularity, but is still the 50th most common baby girl name in the U.S.

#9. Jessica

While most baby names have deep Biblical or historical roots, the name Jessica has a more obscure background. Shakespeare is given credit for inventing the name when he tried to create a Hebrew name. The name hit its peak in the late ‘80s to mid-1990s, when it ranked No. 1. Meanwhile, it ranked No. 179 in 2014.

#8. Margaret

Margaret was a very popular name choice in the Middle Ages, and the name means “pearl.” In the U.S., it ranked No. 4 from 1915 to 1923, but it was the 169th most popular baby girl name for in 2014.

#7. Susan

Gender: Female
Total Babies With Name: 1,107,210
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 4
Years at Highest Rank: 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960

The vernacular form of Susanna, Susan has become increasingly uncommon in recent decades, ranking No. 851 in 2014. It was most common in 1957 when it held the rank of No. 2.

#6. Barbara

Barbara is a name with Latin origin that means “foreign woman.” It was quite popular in the 1940s when it was the second most popular name for baby girls born in the U.S., but it has been trending down over the last decade, ranking No. 863 in 2014.

#5. Linda

Linda, a precious name that means “soft and tender,” held the No. 1 spot from 1947 to 1952. In 2014, however, it ranked No. 615.

#4. Elizabeth

Elizabeth, a Biblical name meaning “the oath” or “fullness of God,” has seen a boom in popularity several times over the past century, ranking No. 8 in 1915 and No. 15 in 1975. In 2014, Elizabeth is still a common choice, ranking No. 14 among baby girls.

#3. Jennifer

Jennifer experienced a very big name fad for over a decade, ranking No. 1 from 1970 to 1984.

#2. Patricia

Patricia fell in the top five names among baby girls from 1935 to 1954. In 2014, however, only 376 girls were named Patricia, giving the name a low rank of 739.

#1. Mary

Despite being ranked No. 120 in 2014, Mary is the most common baby girl name from the past century, as it held the No. 1 spot for 41 years. It is two times more popular than the second most common name Patricia.

#30. Gary

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 897,477
Highest Rank: 9
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1954

Gary began as a surname, but is now used as a given name. The name was much more common in the ’50s. In 2014, the name was trending significantly down in popularity and held a ranking of 560.

#29. Jeffrey

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 968,767
Highest Rank: 9
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1966

Jeffrey is derived from one of three Old German names, meaning “district,” “traveler”, or “peaceful pledge.” Despite holding ninth place in 1966, Jeffrey ranked No. 266 in 2014.

#28. Jason

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,008,308
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 5
Years at Highest Rank: 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978

Jason, a Greek name with mythological roots, was the 75th most popular baby boy name in 2014, and has been trending slightly down in popularity. From 1974 to 1978, however, it ranked No. 2.

#27. Timothy

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,054,919
Highest Rank: 11
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 3
Years at Highest Rank: 1960, 1966, 1967

Meaning “God and honor,” Timothy was common in the 1960s, but has seen a decline in popularity in the U.S. over the last decade, ranking No. 135 in 2014. At its pinnacle of popularity in the 1960s, it ranked No. 11.

#26. Ronald

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,072,514
Highest Rank: 9
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 3
Years at Highest Rank: 1941, 1942, 1943

Even with its strong meaning of “mighty counselor” or “ruler,” Ronald has fallen to obscurity, ranking No. 397 in 2014, a far fall from its 9th place ranking in 1943.

#25. Kevin

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,147,182
Highest Rank: 11
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1963

As the 70th most common male name for 2014, Kevin has been trending down in popularity. At its peak in 1963, it ranked No. 11 among baby boys.

#24. Brian

Brian comes from an Old Celtic word meaning “high” or “noble,” and ranked No. 8 throughout the 1970s. In 2014, however, the name held the rank of 168.

#23. Joshua

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,162,508
Highest Rank: 3
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 5
Years at Highest Rank: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

Joshua, a strong Hebrew name meaning “God is salvation,” was the third most popular name among baby boys from 2002 to 2006 and ranked No. 25 in 2014.

#22. Edward

An English baby name meaning “wealthy guardian,” Edward ranked No. 8 from 1915 to 1923, but in 2014, it only scored the rank of 160.

#21. Andrew

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,217,499
Highest Rank: 5
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 4
Years at Highest Rank: 1988, 1991, 1992, 2003

Andrew has experienced a slow decline in popularity over the past decade, but it still ranked No. 22 in 2014.

#20. Kenneth

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,246,551
Highest Rank: 13
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1939

Meaning “handsome,” Kenneth is a handsome name for a handsome baby boy. The name hasn’t been quite as popular since the ’30s when it ranked No. 13, ranking No. 191 in 2014.

#19. George

Though George ranked only No. 134 in 2014 in the U.S., it was the sixth most common name for 11 years. In England, however, the name surpassed William in popularity, likely due to the birth of Prince George of Cambridge in 2013.

#18. Steven

Steven peaked in popularity in the mid- to late-1950s, when it was the 10th most common name among baby boys. The name has fallen several rankings since then and earned a ranking of 144 in 2014.

#17. Paul

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,331,063
Highest Rank: 12
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 3
Years at Highest Rank: 1916, 1930, 1931

Paul, a common male name meaning “small,” comes from many origins, including English, Estonian, French, German and Swedish. Paul was the 201st most popular name among baby boys in the U.S. in 2014.

#16. Mark

Mark, a name derived from the Celtic word meaning “march” or “horse,” recently experienced a drop in popularity, and ranked No. 189 among baby boys in 2014.

#15. Anthony

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,371,132
Highest Rank: 7
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 2
Years at Highest Rank: 2007, 2008

A Latin baby name meaning “praiseworthy,” Anthony has maintained its popularity and ranked No. 21 among baby boys in 2014.

#14. Donald

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,387,616
Highest Rank: 6
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1934

Surprised to see this name make the list? While Donald Trump and Donald Duck might be the most famous bearers of this name, Donald was a very popular name choice in the 1930s, when was the sixth most common name. Since then, however, it has fallen from the top, ranking only No. 418 in 2014.

#13. Matthew

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,534,891
Highest Rank: 2
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 2
Years at Highest Rank: 1995, 1996

Every mother thinks their child is a gift, and the name Matthew actually means “gift of God.” The name is not as popular now as it was in the ’90s, when it it was the second most common male name, but it still held a notable ranking as the 16th most popular U.S. baby boy name in 2014.

#12. Daniel

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 1,831,537
Highest Rank: 5
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 4
Years at Highest Rank: 1985, 1990, 2007, 2008

A Biblical name meaning “he judged” in Hebrew, the name Daniel traces its roots to the Biblical figure. In 1985, it ranked No. 5 among baby boys, but by 2014 it declined to No. 10.

#11. Christopher

Although Christopher means “carrier of Christ,” it has persisted in popularity among religious and non-religious families alike. Over 10,000 American baby boys received the name Christopher in 2014, giving the name a rank of 30.

#10. Thomas

Thomas, a New Testament name borne by one of the disciples, means “twin” and has experienced a slow decline in the last decade, ranking No. 54 in the U.S in 2014.

#9. Charles

The name Charles originates from an old Germanic word meaning “man,” and peaked in the 1880s when it had an average rank of 4. In 2014, the name ranked No. 51 in U.S. Parents today favor spin-offs of Charles, such as Charlotte and Charlie.

#8. Joseph

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 2,410,248
Highest Rank: 5
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 3
Years at Highest Rank: 1915, 1916, 1917

Held by Biblical figures as well as historic icons, Joseph peaked in the mid-1910s, when it ranked No. 5. A very common Hebrew baby name meaning “(God) shall add (another son),” Joseph has become increasingly uncommon and ranked No. 20 in 2014 in the U.S.

#7. Richard

The Normans introduced the name Richard to Britain and it has been a common name choice ever since. In 2014, 2,857 baby boys were named Richard in the U.S., giving the name a rank of 141.

#6. David

Gender: Male
Total Babies With Name: 3,528,494
Highest Rank: 1
Number of Years at Highest Rank: 1
Year at Highest Rank: 1960

David, a name inspired by one of the greatest kings of the Bible, remains ubiquitous among the religious and non-religious alike. Meaning “darling,” the name held steady in popularity in 2014 with a rank of 18.

#5. William

With a strong German name meaning “resolute protector,” William remains a popular choice among British royalty. In 2014, William held a strong rank as the fifth most popular baby boy name in the U.S., and the name ranked No. 1 in Norway and Sweden that year.

#4. Michael

Since the 1900s, Michael has been one of the most enduringly popular names among baby boys. Michael has ranked among the top five names for many decades. Meaning “who is like God,” the name did not make it into the top five for 2014, and instead fell to No. 7 in the U.S.

#3. Robert

An all-time favorite name for baby boys since the Middle Ages, Robert means “famed, bright and shining.” The name saw its highest ranking ever in 1937, when it was the most popular boys’ name in the U.S. In 2014, however, the name was ranked No. 61.

#2. John

Another name from the Bible, John means “Jehovah has been gracious” in Hebrew. Many saints and 23 popes bear the name. In 2014, John was the 26th most popular baby name in the U.S., and has become increasingly uncommon since its peak in the 1880s when it ranked No. 1 among baby boys.

#1. James

The most popular name among baby boys in the last century, James was popular in Biblical times, and persisted among English royalty in the 15th century and onward.

See More Baby Names on MooseRoots

Copyright by Graphiq.com.

John, David, William, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth have topped the list of the most popular baby names in New Zealand over the past 120 years.

Photo: 123RF

The Department of Internal Affairs has compiled a ‘Top Baby Names of All Time’ list, tracking the trend in baby names between 1900 to 2019.

The most popular name used between 1919 and 2019 is John, which saw its peak in 1947, with more than 1600 boys receiving this name.

While the number of boys and girls born is about the same, the variety of boys names has traditionally been narrower, so the top name for boys has many more than the top name for girls.

James, William, Thomas and Elizabeth have been the most consistently popular over the past 100 years, with most other names having a clear peak.

Most of the top 20 girls’ names peaked before the 21st century, with Emma, Sarah and Jessica the most recent to peak in popularity.

The current top names do not feature in this list of the most popular names ever.

Top 10 Boys Names:

John, David, William, James, Michael, Robert, Peter, Thomas, Andrew, Paul.

Top 10 Girls Names:

Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, Patricia, Susan, Helen, Jennifer, Christine, Karen.

Tauranga woman, Eleanor Burkin has been keeping records of baby names in New Zealand for more than 30 years.

She said she was surprised to see that the most popular names in the last century aren’t really popular anymore.

Burkin said she was particularly surprised by the girls’ names.

“It’s all because of fashion and of course those names, Elizabeth, Margaret and Mary, those were names the royal family used so they were very, very popular in the past.

“People probably think they’re a bit dated for a first name and they’re more used as second names now,” she said.

She said the boys’ names have stood the test of time, or circled back into fashion a bit more.

“William, David and John, well they are still very, very good classic names, but other names have taken over, people sort of want something different.”

Burkin said she has noticed a lot of boys with surnames as first names now, as well as a resurgence in biblical names.

100 of the most beautiful baby names of all time

What a decision!

Agreeing on a name for your precious child is only the first step. My husband and I could NEVER agree on names. In the end, I ended up convincing him that the names I had picked were the ones HE had picked. And they say women play mind games…

But naming your child is a huge responsibility. What if it doesn’t suit them? What if they get bullied? What if there is a strange nickname you have never considered?

Well fear not, here at MummyPages, we have one of the largest baby names database ever with over 50 THOUSAND names, so we’ve got you covered.

We spent (probably too much) time pulling together our absolute favourites because let’s be honest, ‘What a stunning name!’ is one of the best compliments new parents can get!

Check out these beauties!

BOYS:

1. Ander

2. Brett

3. Cian

4. Aaron

5. Cadan

6. Bailey

7. Adam

8. Farley

9. Lance

10. Eden

11. Edmund

12. Maddox

13. Elijah

14. Tristan

15. Holden

16. Greyson

17. Finn

18. Jagger

19. Idris

20. Kane

21. Hurley

22. Kai

23. Turner

24. Vaughn

25. Rhys

26. Rowan

27. Ryder

28. Wyatt

29. Xander

30. Liam

31. Phoenix

32. Orion

33. Oliver

34. Arlo

35. Jasper

36. Bobby

37. Jimmy

38. Drew

39. Daniel

40. Patrick

41. Max

42. Hugh

43. Lucas

44. Gerard

45. Albert

46. Arthur

47. Jacob

48. Jesse

49. Leo

50. Logan

GIRLS

1. Eva

2. Poppy

3. Valentina

4. Megan

5. Abigail

6. Bella

7. Ella

8. Bonnie

9. Heather

10. Grace

11. Lexi

12. Milla

13. Ciara

14. Penelope

15. Kim

16. Amber

17. Sandy

18. Raven

19. Chloe

20. Jane

21. Pearl

22. Nancy

23. Zola

24. Ruby

25. Willow

26. Aubrey

27. Lila

28. Sofia

29. Rose

30. Lucy

31. Lottie

32. Zara

33. Kol

34. Laurel

35. Julia

36. Juno

37. Roxy

38. Alice

39. Iris

40. Sally

41. Felicity

42. Phoebe

43. Kaya

44. Freya

45. Daisy

46. Hadley

47. Scarlett

48. Darcy

49. Emmy

50. Ezra

These Are the Top 20 Baby Names of All Time—Surprised?

We won’t know until next May when the Social Security Administration releases its annual ranking of the top baby names which monikers officially topped the charts this year, but we have a few ideas—it’s likely Olivia and Oliver will still be the most popular names in the country—or very close to the top. And it looks like Oscar and Isabella may finally be on their way out of the top baby names.

  • RELATED: 100 Most Popular Baby Names of 2019—So Far

But the most popular names of today doesn’t look very much like the top 20 of a century—or even a decade—ago. So what names make up the ultimate top 20 list according to the SSA? You might be surprised.

If you’re looking to choose (or avoid!) a forever-popular baby name, take a look through the top-ranking names for boys and girls over the last century.

  • RELATED: These Are the Top 20 Baby Names for 2020

Top 20 Girl Names of the Past Century

  1. Mary A timeless classic, Mary was more popular toward the start of the century. But the name, which means “bitter,” was picked for more than 3 million girls.
  2. Patricia This noble baby name was a top 20 pick from the 1920s through the 1960s, though it’s currently about to drop out of the top 1000.
  3. Jennifer The “it” name of the 70s explains why there are so many celebrity Jens and Jennifers now.
  4. Linda Linda means “pretty”—and it was especially popular in the 1940s and 1950s.
  5. Elizabeth This forever-favored baby name means “consecrated to God.”
  6. Barbara The Beach Boys’ tune “Barbara Ann” may help explain the popularity of the name in the 1960s.
  7. Susan This pretty floral name (it means “lily”) was popular from the 1930s through the 1960s.
  8. Jessica A name crafted by Shakespeare, Jessica ruled the 1980s.
  9. Sarah A Biblical name that means “princess,” Sarah’s been in the top 100 for the past century.
  10. Karen This Danish take on Katherine shares its meaning—”pure.”
  11. Nancy Sleuth Nancy Drew may be responsible for some of this baby name’s popularity—and could the equally inquisitive Nancy from Stranger Things be responsible for this name’s uptick in popularity over the past few years?
  12. Margaret Thanks for its versatility and slew of nicknames, Margaret has been a popular choice across the decades. It has a lovely meaning—”pearl.”
  13. Lisa Lisa was a top name in the 1960s to 1970s, before heading into a bit of a decline. It’s a nickname for Elizabeth, and shares its meaning—”consecrated to God.”
  14. Betty A top name in the 1920s and 1930s, Betty fell out of favor—and out of the top 1,000—in the 1990s (even with the popularity of Betty White!).
  15. Dorothy You can thank the Yellow Brick Road follower for this name’s popularity. After nearly falling out of the top 1,000 a few years back, it’s now on a major upswing in popularity.
  16. Sandra This variation on Alexander shares its meaning, “defending men.”
  17. Ashley The “it” name of the 1980s, Ashley started out as a boy’s name (think Ashley Wilkes from Gone With the Wind).
  18. Kimberly Kimberly has had staying power—it’s been a top 200 favorite for nearly 70 years, and was red hot in the 1960s and 1970s.
  19. Donna This charming name means “lady,” though its meteoric rise in the 1940s to the 1960s was followed by a precipitous drop in popularity.
  20. Emily Emily’s the only name in the top 20 that was red-hot recently—it topped the charts from the 1990s through the early 2000s. It may no longer be in the top 20 baby names, but it’s still a very popular choice.

Top 20 Boy Names of the Past Century

  1. James Nearly 5 million boys were gifted with this name in the past century—and thanks to actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, a few girls, too.
  2. John A Biblical name that’s been a favorite of royalty, popes, and saints, John means “God is gracious.” It’s never been outside the top 30 names.
  3. Robert A top five name from 1900 to 1970, it’s just inside the top 75 right now.
  4. Michael More than 4 million boys were given this angelic name—most of them from the 1960s on.
  5. William Currently No. 3 on the list, William has never gone out of style.
  6. David David’s meaning—”beloved”—is definitely apropos. The name has been in the top 20 since 1930.
  7. Richard The “Dick” nickname and Nixon reference may have made the name a little less fashionable, but it was in the top 10 from 1920 to 1970.
  8. Joseph Still in the top 25 now, Joseph means “God increases.”
  9. Thomas A classic name that means “twin,” Thomas reigned in the top 10 from 1880 through the 1960s.
  10. Charles This French name has been in the top 75 since the 1880s.
  11. Christopher A recent top 10 favorite, Christopher is currently just inside the top 50.
  12. Daniel Daniel has been a red hot, top 20 favorite since the 1950s.
  13. Matthew Matthew has a wonderful meaning—”gift of God.”
  14. Anthony A timeless name, Anthony means “priceless.”
  15. Donald This Scottish name, which means “proud chief,” was a top 20 favorite from the 1910s to the 1960s. It’s currently on a slow decline in popularity.
  16. Mark Mark peaked in the 1950s to 1960s—though it’s still a top 200 favorite now.
  17. Paul A favored name of saints, princes, and rock legends, Paul actually means “small.”
  18. Steven Combine both spellings, and Stephen/Steven may actually rank higher on this list.
  19. Andrew This name means “strong and manly,” and it was a top 10 favorite in the 1980s and 1990s.
  20. Kenneth A mid-20th century favorite, Kenneth has a charming meaning—”handsome.”

More Baby Name Inspiration

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  • 50 Bohemian Baby Names That Are More Popular Than Ever
  • Nicknames for Girls That Are Cute Yet Classic
  • Short (Yet Sweet) Baby Names for Boys and Girls
  • Hipster Baby Names for Girls and Boys
  • Best Vintage Baby Names for Girls
  • By Lisa Milbrand
  • Emma and Liam are currently the most popular baby names in the United States.
  • The Social Security Administration has also released a list of baby names that are rising fast in popularity.
  • TV shows, the Royal Family, and a tendency to choose shorter names are a few of the trends that are influencing the names that are climbing the charts.

Choosing a name for a baby is a big commitment. Do you want to go with an all-time classic name, or something trendy and of-the-moment? Do you want a popular name, or do you want to find something that’s truly unique (but not so unique that it’s illegal)? And, if it’s the latter, how do you know that your unique name isn’t one that’s going to top all of the baby lists in the next five years?

It’s time to do some research. Here are the current most popular names for girls and names for boys, along with some trends and predictions about the names that are sure to be the most popular baby names 2020 has to offer.

These are the names that are rising fastest in popularity.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been keeping track of the popularity of baby names, and its database goes back to the year 1879. According to the SSA, Liam and Emma are the current chart-topping baby names for boys and girls. But will they last another year? Based on the SSA data, the names that are getting more popular by the minute include Genesis, Saint (hello, Saint West), Baker, Kairo, and Watson for boys, along with Meaghan (as in the Duchess of Sussex), Dior, Adalee, Palmer, and Oaklynn for girls.

Four-letter names are becoming the norm.

Research says that are baby names are getting shorter — with the four-letter name becoming the ideal. This is especially true for girls, with names like Luna, Isla, Mila, and Cora getting traction, though boy names like Bode and Zaid are gaining ground, too.

Nameberry and BabyCenter catch more up-and-comers.

The websites Nameberry and BabyCenter track interest in baby names among its users, catching names on the rise before they hit the SSA list. According to Nameberry, the hottest names for 2020 are Austin, Alva, Acacius, Tate, and Diego for boys; Adah, Reese, Mika, Paisley, and Amina for girls; and Ellis, Phoenix, Remy, Marlowe, and Shea for unisex names.

And when BabyCenter recently released its list of the most popular names among its users, there were many that weren’t yet in the top 50 on the SSA list, including Aaliyah, Eliana, Camilla, Adalyn, and Scarlett for girls, and Caden, Muhammad, Josiah, Jayce, and Isaiah for boys.

Parents are borrowing names from other countries.

Nameberry notes the biggest trend for boys may be the rise in international names, like Luca, Kai, Axel, and Mateo. Scandinavian names, like Anders, Bjorn, Gunnar, Leif, Magnus, and Thor, are becoming particularly hot. Then again, the far-and-away biggest riser for boys among Nameberry users is homegrown: Maverick. (Any Top Gun fans out there?)

Everything royal continues to do well.

BabyCenter says anything to do with the English monarchy gives those names a royal bump. It reports that interest in the name Meghan jumped 49 percent for girls after the royal wedding, for example. BabyCenter predicts similar bumps for Archie, and even Eugenie and Jack.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on May 8, 2019 at 6:34am PDT

Archie was actually rising in popularity even before it became a royal moniker. Some of it may have to do with Riverdale, but it’s really at the intersection of two other trends currently happening in baby names. First off, there’s a tendency to use “old man” names for boys (like Theodore or Gus).

But even more prevalent than that, more parents are using nicknames as full names (as in Wells over Maxwell, Wendy over Gwendolyn, and Dani over Danielle). BabyCenter notes lookups for the short, punchy name Izzy is up 36 percent, and Ricky is up 25 percent. For girls, interest in nickname-names is even greater: Cassie is up 43 percent, and Toni, Nell, and Tori all saw double-digit increases.

People are choosing names from the ’20s — and the ’90s.

BabyCenter has seen an increase in interest in Jazz Age names, like Frank (up 17 percent), Barbara (up 11 percent), Ruth (up 10 percent), Virginia, and Tony. But just as many are looking to a more recent past, with names that recall their ’90s boy band/pop star days, like Brittany (up 33 percent), Nicole, Amber, Nicholas, Austin, and Jonathan. (They say it might be a VSCO-girl thing.)

Pop-culture still drives some names.

Parents are feeling the force to name their kids after Star Wars characters: The SSA had Kylo (as in Kylo Ren) is one of the top 10 fastest-climbing names. BabyCenter also notes that Cassian — one of the main characters in Rogue One — jumped 10 percent, and Leia had a 30 percent increase in lookups.

And, even though it’s over, Game of Thrones is still one of the main name-generators. Aria has already cracked the top 20. According to BabyCenter: Olenna is up 71%, Ellaria is up 53%, and Stark is up 9% among its users. Yara is also on the list of the SSA’s fastest-climbing names, having jumped more than 300 places in rank in the last year.

View this post on Instagram

The pack survived

A post shared by Sophie Turner (@sophiet) on May 21, 2019 at 1:34am PDT

If the Starks aren’t influencing baby names, then it’s the Kardashian/Jenners. In addition to the rise of Saint (a name that’s actually banned in some countries because it resembles an official title), BabyCenter has seen interest rise in Stormi, True, Chicago, Dream, Reign, and even Nori, the nickname for North. It’s only a matter of time before Psalm enters the list, too.

Plus, everyone loves Keanu Reeves.

BabyCenter says interest in the name Keanu has increased 24 percent. Between John Wick Chapter 3, Always Be My Maybe, and Toy Story 4, the future Bill and Ted Face the Music star has been on everybody’s minds lately. It’s amazing to think about future daycare classes and all of the little Keanus running around together.

According to the Social Security Administration, these are the 50 most popular names for girls.

The SSA says that these are the current most popular names for girls (from the year 2018, the most recent year available).

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Ava
  4. Isabella
  5. Sophia
  6. Charlotte
  7. Mia
  8. Amelia
  9. Harper
  10. Evelyn
  11. Abigail
  12. Emily
  13. Elizabeth
  14. Mila
  15. Ella
  16. Avery
  17. Sofia
  18. Camila
  19. Aria
  20. Scarlett
  21. Victoria
  22. Madison
  23. Luna
  24. Grace
  25. Chloe
  26. Penelope
  27. Layla
  28. Riley
  29. Zoey
  30. Nora
  31. Lily
  32. Eleanor
  33. Hannah
  34. Lillian
  35. Addison
  36. Aubrey
  37. Ellie
  38. Stella
  39. Natalie
  40. Zoe
  41. Leah
  42. Hazel
  43. Violet
  44. Aurora
  45. Savannah
  46. Audrey
  47. Brooklyn
  48. Bella
  49. Claire
  50. Skylar

Also according to the SSA, here are the 50 most common names for boys.

The SSA’s records say that these were the boys’ names used most often in 2018.

  1. Liam
  2. Noah
  3. William
  4. James
  5. Oliver
  6. Benjamin
  7. Elijah
  8. Lucas
  9. Mason
  10. Logan
  11. Alexander
  12. Ethan
  13. Jacob
  14. Michael
  15. Daniel
  16. Henry
  17. Jackson
  18. Sebastian
  19. Aiden
  20. Matthew
  21. Samuel
  22. David
  23. Joseph
  24. Carter
  25. Owen
  26. Wyatt
  27. John
  28. Jack
  29. Luke
  30. Jayden
  31. Dylan
  32. Grayson
  33. Levi
  34. Isaac
  35. Gabriel
  36. Julian
  37. Mateo
  38. Anthony
  39. Jaxon
  40. Lincoln
  41. Joshua
  42. Christopher
  43. Andrew
  44. Theodore
  45. Caleb
  46. Ryan
  47. Asher
  48. Nathan
  49. Thomas
  50. Leo

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Marisa LaScala Parenting & Relationships Editor Marisa LaScala covers all things parenting, from the postpartum period through empty nests, for GoodHousekeeping.com; she previously wrote about motherhood for Parents and Working Mother.

Here are the most popular baby names in the US

Noah and Emma continue to be extremely popular names for newborns.

Every year around Mother’s Day, the Social Security Administration releases statistics on the popularity of baby names from the previous year. The SSA just released the most popular names from 2015.

As we have in the past, we took a look at how the popularity of the 10 most popular names has shifted over the past decade. Here’s the recent share of 2015’s most popular boys names:

Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from SSA

There hasn’t been much of a shift from last year’s most popular names. The top six boys names — Noah, Liam, Mason, Jacob, William, and Ethan — were in the same order in 2015 as in 2014. Going a little further back though, we can see the rise of Liam over the past 10 years. The share of boys with that name has more than quadrupled over that time.

Here are the most popular girls names:

Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from SSA

As with the boys, there are a lot of similarities to last year’s list. The top three girls names — Emma, Olivia, and Sophia — were in the same order in both years. Isabella topped out in popularity in 2010, coinciding with the peak popularity of the “Twilight” franchise, the young-adult book and movie series about vampires whose protagonist was named Bella Swan.

For more, .

The top baby names of 2017 are official, and they’re heavy on the M sounds: Liam for boys, and Emma for girls.

Emma is a returning champ in the No. 1 slot, but Liam rose to the top of the list for boys for the first time, knocking down long-running favorite Noah (which now sits at No. 2 for boys). William, James, Logan, Benjamin, Mason, Elijah, Oliver and Jacob rounded out the top 10 boys’ names. For the first time since World War II, Michael is out of the top 10, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), which maintains the list.

Oliver’s counterpart, Olivia, ranks No. 2 for girls, followed by Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Mia, Charlotte, Amelia, Evelyn and Abigail. Amelia and Evelyn are new to the girls top 10 this year. Last year’s No. 10 girls’ name, Harper, is now ranked at 11.

Bouncing boys

According to BabyNameWizard.com, a website that tracks trends in baby naming, Liam first squeaked into the top 1,000 baby names in the 1970s. It began to pick up in popularity in the 1990s but really took off after the turn of the century. Between 2000 and 2008, Liam gradually climbed the ladder from the 140th-most-popular baby name to the 75th. It then leapt to No. 49 in 2009 and jumped into the top 10 in 2012. It was the second-most-popular boys’ name from 2014 to 2016.

In that same time frame of 2000 on, the classic Michael maintained an enviable ranking at No. 2 and No. 3 for boys’ names for a decade straight. In 2011, it wavered, dropping from the third spot on the list to the sixth. This year, Michael ranked 12th in popularity for boys.

The fastest change on the boys list occurred much farther down in the rankings. According to the SSA, Wells leapt from 1,419th to 915th.

“The fastest-rising boys’ names are all over the place,” said Laura Wattenberg, the founder of BabyNameWizard.com and author of the book “The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby” (Harmony, 2013). “It’s really, really interesting. There is no pattern, although there are a lot of meaning-based place names like Cairo.”

Trending girls

For the fourth year in a row, Emma topped the name charts for girls; the name also hit the No. 1 spot in 2008, before spending a few years at No. 2 and No. 3. According to the SSA, Evelyn last saw the top 10 in 1915, and Amelia has never made it that high in popularity before. The second-most-popular name for girls, Olivia, has been in the top 10 since 2001 and has held the No. 2 spot since 2014. Sophia, which held the top spot from 2011 to 2013, is now No. 5 on the list of girls’ names.

The biggest ladder-climber for girls was Ensley, which moved from 2,436th last year all the way to 965th this year, according to the SSA. It’s not clear what drove the jump, though one of the stars of the TV show “Teen Mom 2” named her daughter Ensley in January 2017.

“I never cease to be amazed at the power of ‘Teen Mom,'” Wattenberg said. The show consistently spawns new “hot” names, Wattenberg said. Pop culture tends to generate niche names that rise from year to year but rarely crack the top 10, she said.

One trend in girl names is a subset of mix-and-match names built from various prefixes and suffixes, Wattenberg said. For example, names like “Oaklynn” and “Camreigh” combine portions of common names in new ways.

“They all end up with a really similar feeling, which is that we’re inventing new names with a place name or surname feeling, even if you’ve never heard of that place before,” Wattenberg said. Old English naming patterns used a similar mix-and-match approach to arrive at names like Ethelred, she said.

Another trend evident in this year’s data, according to Wattenberg’s Twitter feed, is that Americans are steering clear of political names for their babies. They will, however, take inspiration from political families, Wattenberg tweeted. While the name Donald continued its long-running fall from grace last year, Barron, Ivanka and Melania all became more popular.

Original article on Live Science.

Click through for a larger version. (Reuben Fischer-Baum)

My friend Judy used to always say that whenever she met another Judy, she knew exactly how old that Judy was—to the day.

Now that level of precision might be a bit of a stretch, but, as the above map wonderfully shows, there’s good reason for that line of thinking. The most popular baby girl names in the United States are flashes in the pan—each one appearing on the map briefly, before being swept out by an up-and-comer.

The map was built in Adobe Illustrator by Deadspin’s Reuben Fischer-Baum using data from the Social Security Administration. “Color palette,” Fischer-Baum wrote to me over email, “has to be credited to Stephen Few, from his excellent data viz book Show Me The Numbers.” Earlier drafts gave each name a unique color, he says, but in the end “it was a lot cleaner and more interesting to limit the palette to just the most popular name for any given year, and put the rest in grayscale so you could see how the different ‘eras’ of top names progressed.”

Over at Jezebel, Fischer-Baum describes the picture that emerges:

Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half. If you’re named Jennifer and you were born between 1970 and 1984, don’t worry! I’m sure you have a totally cool, unique middle name.

Behind Fischer-Baum’s data visualization is another tale—a lovely one—which explains why we have this baby name data in the first place. Turns out, this GIF owes its very existence to one curious dad. As Ruth Graham wrote in The Boston Globe earlier this year:

In 1997, Michael Shackleford was an employee of the Office of the Actuary at the Social Security Administration’s headquarters in Baltimore; his wife was pregnant and he was determined to avoid giving the child a common name like his own. With his access to Social Security card data, he wrote a simple program to sort the information by year of birth, gender, and first name. Suddenly he could see every Janet born in 1960. He could see that the number one names in 1990 were Michael and Jessica. He realized this could be important. “I knew that my eyeballs were seeing this list of the most popular baby names nationwide for the first time,” he recalled recently. “It was too good to keep to myself.”

And indeed it was—especially in its GIF incarnation.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees coverage of American constitutional law and government in the Battle for the Constitution series. Connect Facebook Twitter