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What are the Most Popular Names for a Baby in the United States?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated May 17, 2024
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Though some baby names, such as Emily, Katherine, and Benjamin, have been popular and common for hundreds of years, many of the most popular names for children in the United States today have gained prominence only in recent years. Many of the current top names feature unique spellings or are gender-neutral, meaning that they can be used for either a boy or a girl.

In the Social Security Administration's list for 2006, many of the names in the top ten were names that had been popular for generations, such as Emma, Emily, Samantha, Michael, Matthew, Anthony, and Christopher. However, farther down on the list of popular names for children, more creative and original names appeared, such as Kaley, which was number 41 for girls; Avery, 66 for girls; Aiden, 49 for boys; and Mason, 42 for boys.

Names of Biblical origin, such as Mary, Jacob, and Joseph, are still among the most popular names for children of both genders, as they have been for hundreds of years. Recently, the name Nevaeh has also become popular among Christian families — the 70th most popular girl's name is a reversal of the word "heaven." The United States' large Latino community is also evident in today's most popular baby names, with common Spanish names like Juan, Angel, and Jose appearing on the most popular boys' name list.

Unusual spellings have also become common, particularly for girls' names. Some of the names on the list include Kaitlyn, Kaylee, and Katelyn. For the top ten boys' names, there were 86 spelling variations. For the most popular girls' names, there were 163 different forms of spelling. Some of the most popular names that can be used for either a boy or girl baby are Taylor, Morgan, and Riley.

Among modern celebrities, it has become a trend to pick extremely unusual names for babies. Actor Nicolas Cage named his son Kal-el, after the birth name of comic book superhero, Superman, while magician Penn Jillette named his daughter Moxie CrimeFighter.

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Discussion Comments
By oscar23 — On May 27, 2011

Well, I’ve got to say that I totally respect unique names, but we have to be careful that are kids are not ridiculed in school over them. I myself chose names that were unusual for my own children, but I was careful to keep them from being embarrassing.

I tutor a 5th grade boy right now, and he was telling me that one of his friend’s nickname is Double D – as in the bra cup size. How did he get such a weird pet name? For no other reason that his two of his initials are D.

I tried to persuade my student that this might not be the best way to address his friend, but he thought it was the greatest; just barrels of fun! I can’t help but think it would take an awfully confident 11-year-old to carry the nickname Double D and come out unscathed.

By Moldova — On May 27, 2011

@Mutsy - I just wanted to say that among the most popular names in the world are Matthew and Sophia. I love these names. I think that the variation of Sophia and Sophie is great. It is a really regal sounding name and reminds me of a name that a princess or a queen would have.

The name Sophia has a Greek origin and it also means wisdom. It is my favorite girl’s name. Matthew is a great name for a boy and he was one of the Apostles. A lot of Catholic families name their sons after the Apostles like John, Matthew, Luke, and Joseph.

By mutsy — On May 27, 2011

@Potterspop- I agree with you to a certain extent, but the parents still have the right to name their child whatever they want. I have to say that my pet peeve is the unique spelling of some of these names.

I prefer the traditional spellings and when I see a name that is spelled differently I just want to go and correct it. I understand that parents want to provide a little uniqueness to the name and they think that spelling it differently offers that but it really does not.

By Potterspop — On May 27, 2011

I think there should be some kind of law against people who give their children ridiculous names. If you know anything about psychology you understand the effect this has on your entire life.

Maybe it is possible to get away with this to some extent if you are a media star, as you move in a different world. For the vast majority though this isn't the case. It is asking for trouble to force a nonsense or plain stupid sounding name onto children. I'm thinking here of the family who named brothers 'winner' and 'loser'.

Even a regular name with a strange spelling is going to gift them the chore of having to spell it out every single time they use it in a formal setting.

By angelBraids — On May 27, 2011

There's nothing wrong with wanting to choose a less common name for your child.

I grew up in an era where it seemed every third baby girl had been named after one of the original Charlie's Angels! I had seven friends called Sabrina, which confused the heck out of my poor mother.

This made me determined not to be so obvious when it came to naming my kids. There are plenty of books you can use to find something a little unusual but not particular to popular culture.

Just the other day I read an article called 'The most popular baby names in 2010', and sure enough Jack was high on the list. No surprise considering many heroes from TV shows have this name!

By anon75206 — On Apr 05, 2010


To answer your question, here are the top ten names for boys and girls. (boys names on the left and girl names on the right)

Jacob Emma

Michael Isabella

Ethan Emily

Joshua Madison

Daniel Ava

Alexander Olivia

Anthony Sophie

William Abigail

Christopher Elizabeth

Matthew Chloe

By anon72029 — On Mar 21, 2010

Morgan, Aby, Rachael, Logan, Katie, Taylor, Kylie, and Riley. Morgan, Logan, and Riley are cool because they are mix gender names.

By anon31274 — On May 02, 2009

What are the current top ten names for boys? and for girls?

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