Category: popular names for girls
By Linda Rosenkrantz
There was a time when the top baby name lists of different countries reflected their own distinctive native cultures. When John and Mary headed those of most English-speaking countries, just as Giovanni and Maria and Juan and Maria and Jean and Marie et al were in first place elsewhere.
But that has changed. With the homogenization of culture in general, with an increase in international travel, the spread of the internet and global audiences watching the same TV shows, we are no longer surprised to find the Irish appellation Liam ranking high on the list in Switzerland or the Old Testament Ethan suddenly Number 3 in Monaco. This is a moment when certain names, often in a variety of indigenous forms, are spreading epidemically across the world.
Many of us at Nameberry automatically dislike names that are “too popular.”
But look more closely at the most popular names and you’ll find lots of wonderful names that deserve their widespread use. Names that have stood the test of time, that have intrinsically pleasing sounds, that are associated with heroic characters.
So let’s this once set aside our name snobbery and own up to names we love from the Top 100 most popular names.
I love the name Sophia, for instance, and would proudly give it to a daughter or wear it myself.
For boys, there are even more popular names that I love. In fact, my own two sons’ names, Joseph and Owen, are both in the Top 100. And I also adore Elijah, Caleb, Henry, Nathaniel, Isaiah, Isaac, Thomas….almost too many to mention.
Popular baby names get a bad rap, especially — okay, we admit it — here on Nameberry.
But popular baby names are popular for a reason: A lot of people like them for a lot of good reasons. Popular names often have a sound and feel that’s right in step with the times, they’re fresh but also have meaningful roots, they appeal to a wide range of different kinds of parents.
Right now, in fact, the popular baby names hold more intrinsic appeal than ever. Time-honored, noble names for girls; strong, classic names for boys — there’s more to like than to not like.
How are we defining popular? If you can pick from the Top 10, great, but any baby name in the Top 100 is fair game.
The history of baby names is littered with former stars that burned brightly for a decade or two, only to fade from view.
Many of these once-hot names are lovely, even classic. They’re just not as stylish as they once were (although some, especially from the earlier decades, are on their way back in).
We looked at the Top 25 baby names for each decade of the 20th century to pick out choices that were hot back them, and are not today. Included here are Old People Names like Bertha and Clarence, Baby Boomer names such as Karen and Gary, today’s mom and dad names such as Jennifer and Jason, and names like Taylor and Tyler that are beginning to be heard much more often on babysitters than on babies.
It’s easy to confuse popularity with stylishness. Many baby names feel “popular” when they’re merely stylish: We’re hearing them a lot, they’re in step with the baby name fashions, and we worry that if we choose them, our little Matilda is going to be one of many.
And perhaps if you live in some edgy, baby-centric enclave – Park Slope, Brooklyn, say, or Bernal Heights in San Francisco – that will be true. But for the most part, the numbers tell a different story, with many of the most stylish names used by very few parents.
One note: Names can be popular and stylish, so many of those in the popular column also qualify as stylish.
Looking just at girls’ names today, here’s a statistics-based reality check on what’s stylish vs. what’s truly popular. (Numbers in parentheses represent how many babies were given that name in the most recent U.S. count.)