What are the most popular baby names in the US?
The US Social Security Administration has just released the 2015 data. Let’s start with the most popular names for girls and boys. More analysis coming later today!
New Most Popular Baby Names for Girls
The most popular baby names for girls in the US are:
- Emma – 2014 marks the triumphant return of Emma! A Top Ten name since 2002, a literary favorite, and, of course, Ross and Rachel’s baby on Friends, Emma briefly held the #1 spot in 2008. A few readers speculated that Emma would be back. I was a skeptic, but here she is!
- Olivia – Plenty of us thought that Olivia might just take the top spot in 2013. Not quite, but this Shakespearean name did eclipse Sophia to land at #2.
- Sophia – Elegant and timeless, Sophia stays in the Top Five, but slips to #3. Except this name really is much more popular than you might guess. Variant spelling Sofia rose to #12. Combined, Sophia/Sofia is easily far more popular than Emma.
- Isabella – Another former #1 name, the regal Isabella remains a Top Five favorite.
- Ava – With her short, sharp sound and plenty of Hollywood glam, mini name Ava is still going strong. Ava has ranked in the Top Ten every year since 2005.
- Mia – Mia is the third ends-in-ia name to rank in the Top Ten! Is this the age of -ia? Maybe so. Another influence? Like Sophia/Sofia, Isabella, and Emma, it’s popular with Spanish-speaking families.
- Emily – Polite and poetic, Emily is a good girl name that’s ranked in the Top Ten since 1991. Dorothy has more vintage style, and Everly is the new kid on the block, but Emily remains the reigning three-syllable, ends-in-y name for this generation.
- Abigail – An Old Testament favorite with an admirable First Lady and a great meaning – my father is joy. Like Emily, this one isn’t new to the top of the charts.
- Madison – After peaking at #2 in 2001/2002, Madison is starting to fade, sure to replaced by quickly rising surname names like Harper – which just missed the Top Ten, ranking #11 in 2014.
- Charlotte – It’s the Week of Charlotte! First a princess, and now the classic name breaks into the US Top Ten for the first time ever. I’d called Charlotte a future #1 name pre-princess. I’m thinking this could happen even sooner than my initial guess!
Exiting the Girls Top Ten: Elizabeth dropped to #11.
New Most Popular Baby Names for Boys
- Noah – I was positive that Liam would unseat Noah for the #1 place! But nope, Noah held on tight.
- Liam – Liam was the name I had tapped for #1. In some ways, it’s a longshot. The #1 name for boys in the US is almost always a Biblical name. (The sole exception? The Germanic Robert, the top name in the US for most of the 1920s and 30s.) But likable Liam is an Irish form of William, a name that feels classic with a twist, modern but rooted, and stylish without being trendy. It’s a winning combination.
- Mason – Mason was major even before the name was given to the firstborn Kardashian grandchild. Soundalike Jason peaked at #2 in the 1970s. If anything, the reality show family might be discouraging some parents from considering Mason for their sons.
- Jacob – Long-time #1 name Jacob has fallen to #4, but still sees plenty of use.
- William – Classic, regal William has been much in the spotlight over the last few years. He’s the boy who will be king, all grown up and raising a family of his own now. While there are many classic names, William is truly a name that’s never out of style.
- Ethan – Colonial Ethan has cooled in recent years, but remains a favorite for many parents.
- Michael – For the third year in a row, Michael is flat at #7. One thing that has changed over the years? Every Michael used to automatically be called Mikey or Mike. Now, the little Michaels that I know are Michael.
- Alexander – Ancient Alexander has been in the US Top Ten since 2008.
- James – Classic names rise and fall, and while James is more enduring than many, it’s nice to see this name back in the US Top Ten.
- Daniel – We all know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. But this name doesn’t just owe its popularity to the Biblical tale. Daniel is the boys’ equivalent of Isabella and Mia – very popular with Spanish-speaking families.
Exiting the Boys Top Ten: Jayden, replaced by James. I think that should make some readers very happy!
If you had to use a Top Ten name, what would you use? I’d go with Alexander for a boy. (Oh, wait, I already did!) For a girl, I think Sophia would still win, because it’s a family name for us – even though it’s so very popular. How about you? Or would you automatically drop a name if it made the Top Ten?
I agree with you that Charlotte could reach the top spot. I’m already thinking about the top ten of 2025 and I predict Vivian, Eleanor and Aria (there’s that -ia again) will be there along with Charlotte. Time will tell!
I like Mia and James, although Mia wouldn’t work very well with my last name so it’s just as well it’s hypothetical.
My daughter’s name broke into the top 1000 last year and this year rose slightly (from the high to the low 900s – obviously I don’t like them very popular!).
Christina Fonseca says
Abigail and Ethan if I had to choose a Top 10 name. Isabella would have been my choice for years and years, but now I know too many.
James and William are so boring and overused, jesus. I wish they would fade faster, instead they’re rising.
My James is nearly 4. If I had to use another top 10 boys name it might be William which has surprisingly been growing on me lately. For girls I am sad to see Elizabeth gone. If I had to pick from the curtent top ten list I would say Emily.
There are names on this list that have been popular for over 20 years in England and Australia e.g Liam and Emma. Most of the other names are fairly common here so arent surprising. I think we might be trending towards more American names in the British colonies now, like Sullivan and other last names used as first names.
My son is due the 20th and I’ve been dying to see the new rankings to see where the names we are considering have moved to! I don’t know that I would change my mind solely on this data, but I’ve still been anxious to see it.
If I had to choose a top 10 name I think I’d choose Emily for a girl because it’s a name I’ve always found beautiful and probably Daniel form the boys. I don’t like Dan/Danny, but I do think Daniel has a very nice sound.
I actually love quite a few of the top 10 names on both sides. Alexander, James, Michael, William, Emily, Sophia, Charlotte– these are beautiful, timeless, solid choices. If any of them were family names, they’d be very tempting. But since they’re not for myself and my partner, and they are so very popular, it’s easy to pass on them for our own list.
I have to admit, I am just a little disappointed with how similar this list is to 2013’s! And 2012, for that matter. The top 10 has been remarkably stable for years now. I’m wondering when the next big sea change will happen. Looking at the top 10 lists from the 1980s–mid-2000s, it seemed like girls’ names especially cycled through much more quickly. Could it be because the average maternal age is rising? I haven’t thought this one through all the way, but maybe stylistic choices are partially generational on the part of the mothers (and fathers! not to leave them out), and now those women and men are having kids at a much wider age range– some starting in their 20s, as was more common in the past, and others not really getting going until in their late 30s or even early 40s. So the same woman who would have chosen Emily or Ava when she was 25 in 2005 is using it as she has her first at 35. Maybe?
I think the next time the top 10 really shuffles (which I’m beginning to think won’t happen for a few more years…) Harper will replace Madison, Avery will get in there somehow (knocking out Abigail?), and Charlotte will be in the top 5. I also think Amelia could reach top 5 in the next 5 years, and Sofia could be in the top 10 too.
The boys list is harder to predict, though I wonder if Elijah and Lucas will be top 10 fairly soon.
Kim Waggoner says
If I had to, I think I’d use Ava and James.
I’m generally not considering any names that are in the top 50. I’d have to REALLY love it, but when a name comes up, the first thing I do is look at its rank and if it’s in the top 50, drop it before I do love it. Charlotte was on my list prior to finding it in the top 20 or it becoming royal, and just because of the popularity, I let it go. Then an acquaintance from high school had a baby last month and named her daughter Charlotte with the middle name we’re planning on using. I’m glad I dropped it.