Let’s look at Pennsylvania baby names.
It’s the fifth most populous state, behind only California, Florida, Texas, and New York.
If you grew up in the United States, chances are you know all about Pennsylvania – at least the eastern part of the state, that played such a pivotal role in the American Revolution. School children and families alike troop past the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Betsy Ross’ house and Benjamin Franklin’s print shop are popular tourist stops, too.
But there’s more to the state than just the colonial landmarks. It stretches to the east, crossed by rivers and mountains, with Harrisburg and Lancaster near the middle and Pittsburgh in the west.
Are the names of this Mid-Atlantic state particularly distinctive? At first glance, the answer is no. But maybe it’s hard to see because there are just so many regions and cities.
If you’re after Pennsylvania baby names with ties to the Keystone State, plenty of options emerge.
First, let’s look at the most popular baby names in Pennsylvania.
TOP TEN BOY NAMES IN PENNSYLVANIA
1. NOAH (#2 in the US)
The top two boy names are swapped in Pennsylvania. Of course, Noah was the top name across the nation until recently, so chances are we’ve all heard our fair share of Noah, no matter where we live.
2. LIAM (#1 in the US)
Liam comes in second in Pennsylvania, but not by much. According to the United States Social Security Administration, parents welcomed 650 new Liams, versus 698 new Noahs.
3. BENJAMIN (#7 in the US)
One of Pennsylvania’s most famous sons, Benjamin Franklin was a statesman, inventor, and major figure in early America. Across the state, “Big Ben” Roethlisberger played 18 seasons as quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Is it any surprise that this classic name ranks higher here than elsewhere?
4. OLIVER (#3 in the US)
A traditional favorite, well-established in the US Top Ten.
5. OWEN (#22 in the US)
Owen fares far better in Pennsylvania than many places in the US.
6. JAMES (#5 in the US)
An enduring classic, never out of style.
7. LOGAN (#21 in the US)
As with Owen, Logan is far more popular in Pennsylvania than elsewhere.
8. HENRY (#9 in the US)
A name both traditional and surprisingly stylish.
9. LUCAS (#8 in the US)
Popular across much of the English-speaking world, and Europe, too.
10. MASON (#18 in the US)
A former national Top Ten name, Mason remains a chart-topper in the state.
TOP TEN GIRL NAMES IN PENNSYLVANIA
1. OLIVIA (#1 in the US)
Tops in Pennsylvania, and tops across the US, too.
2. CHARLOTTE (#3 in the US)
Speaking of top names, Charlotte is popular everywhere – and even a bit more common in the state.
3. EMMA (#2 in the US)
A long-time #1 favorite across the country, and still hovering near the top.
4. AVA (#5 in the US)
No surprises here. Powerhouse mini name Ava is a favorite everywhere.
5. SOPHIA (#6 in the US)
The same is true for traditional Sophia.
6. AMELIA (#4 in the US)
Amelia lags just slightly behind its national ranking.
7. HARPER (#10 in the US)
In most of the country, Harper is a literary choice – and very popular. It’s a popular name in Pennsylvania, too – but it’s possibly boosted by Philadelphia Phillies MVP Bryce Harper.
8. ISABELLA (#7 in the US)
Romantic and strong, Isabella ranks in the Top Ten nearly everywhere – and has for years.
9. EVELYN (#9 in the US)
Tailored, vintage Evelyn is a favorite in Pennsylvania, too.
10. MIA (#8 in the US)
Mia fares slightly worse in Pennsylvania, mostly to make space for Harper farther up on the list.
TOP 100 BOY NAMES IN PENNSYLVANIA
Names marked with a * do not appear in the US Top 100.
TOP 100 GIRLS NAMES IN PENNSYLVANIA
Names marked with a * do not appear in the US Top 100.
100. (tie) Piper
INSPIRED BY PENNSYLVANIA
Betsy Ross sewed the original American flag – or so goes the story. There’s at least one other seamstress with an equally credible claim. But it’s easy to see how this name would be just right for a daughter born in Pennsylvania.
Benjamin ranks far higher on the list of Pennsylvania’s most popular boy names than elsewhere in the US. So why not his surname, Franklin, too?
As in Harrisburg, capital of the state. The capital city was named for James Harris, Sr. An immigrant from England, Harris located to the area and operated a ferry across the Susquehanna River, becoming a respected local leader.
As in Independence Hall, the building where the Continental Congress ultimately approved the Declaration of Independence.
The Liberty Bell is an inescapable symbol of the city of Philadelphia, and a symbol of freedom everywhere.
The state takes its name from William Penn. “Pennsylvania” means “Penn’s Woods.” Born into a prominent family, Penn would use his inheritance to establish the American colony around the ideals of religious tolerance. An adult convert to the Quaker faith, he brokered a deal to bring Quaker immigrants to his newly-established land.
If you know your Rocky movie history, the story begins with a down-on-his-luck prizefighter called Rocky Balboa. One of cinematic history’s most famous training sequences ends with the Italian Stallion finally running to the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s considerable steps.
In the west, Pittsburgh is the Steel City, famous for heavy industry.
I’m a long time Phillies fan: I could see names like James/Jimmy (Rollins), Ryan (Howard), Shane (Victorino), Chase (Utley), and Cole (Hamels) from the 2008 World Series Champion team continuing to be options for parents who were kids or younger adults, and I’m not surprised to see current Phillies names like Harper and Bryson among the “more popular in PA than generally.” I’d predict 2022s National League champion team led to a boost of Bryce or Rhys in the region. This year, maybe Turner gets a boost? Lots of appealing player names from the past and present that are also familiar enough not to seem laughable or overly obvious if chosen in part due to fondness for a player/team.
Another great post, Alex!
Steel / Steele is one I’d use.
Thanks for noticing, Anchors_and_Whales!
I’d love to see more parents opt for Independence and Philadelphia. The 250th anniversary of the Revolution is coming up in just a few years, so maybe it will happen!
Brandywine has always been a guilty pleasure name of mine.
Oooh … good point RE: the 250th.
Also Brandywine – YES!
I love Indie as a nickname for Ingrid!