Category: most popular baby names
by Abby Sandel
Back in 1944, names like Judy, Beverly, and Bruce felt new. In the 1970s, Kelly, Justin, and Shawn were novel. And in 1994, we were busy naming our sons original choices like Austin and Tyler, while our daughters became Alexis and Taylor.
Parents are always dreaming up new baby names, taking our inspiration from pop culture and the past. Not every new name feels freshly minted. Some seem like throwbacks, even vintage gems. Others become mainstream so quickly that it’s hard to imagine the names haven’t always been in use.
But make no mistake: plenty of the most popular baby names in the US are recent arrivals, as new the newborns who wear them.
How to define a truly new baby name? There are eight boy names and ten girl names that have only ranked in the US Top 100 for the past five years. They’ve also (almost) never charted in the US Top 1000 prior to 1984 – thirty years ago.
Our research intern Megan Garon pored over the US statistics to compile the following list of the top girls’ and top boys’ name for every letter from A to Z. Well, not every letter as it turns out there is no girls’ name starting with U in the Top 1000!
Other interesting facts that emerge when looking at the US popularity list through the alphabetical lens:
— Some letters (E, for instance) include names that are a lot closer to the top of the list than others (F, to cite a nearby example). This is hardly earth-shattering news and yet, the differences are notable.
— While there are plenty of traditional names heading their letter’s popularity rank, a remarkable number of the top names are new ones. Take H, for example, where Harper and Hunter trump classics Helen and Henry, or P, where Peyton and Parker dominate rather than Patricia and Paul.
— In a few cases, the top names for a letter for girls and boys are remarkable similar — Riley and Ryan, for instance, and Willow and William, and especially Quinn and Quinn! This is evidence of the trend toward boys’ and girls’ names taking their sound and style cues from each other.
Here, the most popular names for every letter in 2013 in the US, with overall standings for the names in parentheses.
Most of us know that the top names on the Social Security list aren’t given to as many babies as they once were. Here, data whiz Kelli shows how the Number 1 names have become less and less popular through the years, tracing the percentages of babies given the top name from 1880 to now.
For a second year, I present the “real” Top 50 by combining the different spellings of each name. Because when you hear “Jacob!” on the playground, you have no idea how his name is spelled, but you know you hear the name a lot. Where does it really rank compared to other names?
Note: These are the combined spellings of the names in the Top 1000 only. The main name listed is the spelling given to the most babies in 2013 (SSA Rank is in parentheses). The others are in alphabetical order. Opinions vary on how different spellings are pronounced. I went with my best judgment.
You should know that your mother and I spent the better part of both her pregnancies agonizing over your names. We did the bookstore thing. Surfed Nameberry til we fell asleep. Many nights. Had wayyy too much fun on NameVoyager and Nymbler. Talked to friends, made mental notes of names we heard shouted at playgrounds and malls.
We tested out hundreds of candidates to see how each sounded with our last name, what possible nicknames there were, teasing likelihood for each, whether we enjoyed alliterative names or hated them. And in the end, we happily selected Jacob and Sophia — or Jake and Sophie depending on whether or not you’re in trouble. And for that, we’re sorry.