10 Years of Baby Names

October 15, 2018 Pamela Redmond
baby names 2018

by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz

We launched Nameberry in October 2008, the same month the economy collapsed and a few weeks before Barack Obama was elected president.

In that decade, 40 million babies were born in the US, and 235 million people viewed 1.5 billion pages of our site. The Social Security Administration recorded 56,000 baby names, and Nameberry’s database cimbed to 70,000 names, along with nearly 500 curated lists, 3728 blogs, over 180,000 lists created by visitors, and 3,386,947 forum posts.

Based on our 10 (must be our lucky number!) bestselling name books, starting with the groundbreaking Beyond Jennifer & Jason in 1988, Nameberry is now the biggest baby name site in the world. 

This decade has seen enormous changes in both the world and in what and how people name their babies. Back in 2008, our names of the year included Joe (the Plumber), Trig (Palin), and Edward (from Twilight). Beyonce and Jay-Z got married, Brad and Angelina had twins, and mansplaining became a thing.

So far in 2018, the US birthrate fell to a new low, down 10 percent from a decade ago. Beyonce and Jay-Z are now the parents of twins, Brad and Angelina are divorcing, and mansplaining….is still a thing.

Over the next 10 days, we’ll be celebrating our 10th anniversary by tracking all the amazing changes we’ve seen in the past 10 years of baby names. Today: The seismic shifts in baby names 2018 compared with 2008. 


Girls’ names always moved up and down in popularity more quickly than boys, with choices based more on style than tradition and more girls given unusual names.

This decade has turned that age old naming pattern on its head, with boys’ names changing more rapidly than girls and parents becoming as adventurous in naming their sons as their daughters.

The first piece of evidence: Every single one of the Top Five boys’ names has changed in the past 10 years.

Top 5 boys names in 2008: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel

Top 5 boys names in 2017: Liam, Noah, William, James, Logan

For girls, by comparison, only ONE name has changed in the Top 5 lineup:

Top 5 girls names in 2008: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Olivia, Ava

Top 5 girls names in 2017: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia

The number of girls’ names in general use has dropped 10 percent in line with the birth rate, but the number of boys’ names is down by only three percent.

Fewer boys are given a Top 100 name now compared with a decade ago — 39 percent vs. 45 percent — while the percentage of girls who get a Top 100 name has remained steady at about 30 percent.

And there are half as many megahit names given to more than 10,000 boys as there were 10 years ago, meaning that even the most popular boys’ names today are unlikely to become pandemic the way dad’s name Jason or grandpa’s John did.

The most popular first initials remained fairly stable for both genders, with A leading for girls and J for boys. But the letter L entered the Top 5 for both genders and E joined the Top 5 for girls. A third of girls still are given names that end in A and a third of boys still get names that end in N.

When you go from the most popular baby names to names making the biggest moves up the charts over the past decade, the changes become more dramatic.


Which names have gained the most in popularity over the past 10 years? Here are the 10 names for each gender that have grown the most in usage in the US since 2008:























Given the dip in birth rate, the sheer number of names in use each year hasn’t increased, but every year old names fall away and new ones are coined. More than a quarter of the 30,000 names on the official US 2017 baby names roster, for instance, did not appear on the 2008 list.


Which of the new names coined over the past decade are most likely to stick around? Here are the 10 most popular new names, five for girls and five for boys, created since 2008, along with the celebrities, pop culture events, and name trends that inspired them..


Daleyza – Beauty blogger Kenia Ontiveros and Mexican-American singer Larry Hernandez invented this name for their daughter, born 2010; all three starred in the reality show Larrymania. Daleyza Hernandez has 480,000 Instagram followers – 60,000 for every year she’s been alive. Younger sister’s invented name Dalary is growing in popularity too.

Cataleya – The name of a variety of orchid — and, crucially, Zoe Saldana’s character in 2011 film Colombiana.

Kehlani – Mononymous singer Kehlani began performing at age 14, and has been the namesake for thousands of girls since then, under various spellings.

Khaleesi – The title assumed by Daenerys Targaryen when she married Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones.

Bexley – One of many, many, many names ending in -ley, -ly or -leigh that’s become popular in the last few years.


Castiel – An angel character, played by Mischa Collins, who joined the cast of CW show Supernatural in its fourth season.

Neymar – 26-year-old Brazilian soccer star Neymar is widely considered one of the best players in the world.

Kiaan – One of many South Asian names that have soared in popularity in recent years; Bollywood actress Karisma Kapoor used it for her son.

KyloKylo Ren is the main villain of the new Star Wars trilogy, played by Adam Driver.

Finnick — Trident-wielding Finnick Odair was the breakout star of Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, played by Sam Claflin in the movie adaptation.


The legalization of same-sex marriage and an expansion of our collective views of gender are two of the most significant cultural shifts of the past decade, with accompanying shifts in the gender identity of many baby names. The names here crossed over in the past 10 years from being used primarily for one sex to being used more often for the other.

10 Names that flipped from masculine to feminine

    Quinn – 28% to 80% girls

    Peyton – 45% to 77% girls

    Charlie – 28% to 52% girls

    Dakota – 43% to 58% girls

    Skyler – 41% to 56% girls

    Lennon – 20% to 65% girls

    Leighton – 27% to 74% girls

    Oakley – 45% to 52% girls

    Justice – 41% to 56% girls

    Sutton – 26% to 64% girls

10 Names that flipped from feminine to masculine

    Kyrie – 14% to 91% boys

    Milan — 36% to 64% boys

    Raylan — 44% to 91% boys

    Bentlee – 32% to 84% boys

    Camdyn – 43% to 65% boys

    Dominique – 42% to 61% boys

    Arrow – 44% to 64% boys

    Jaidyn – 32% to 65% boys

    Tru — 47% to 70% boys

    Linden – 48% to 57% boys

Over the coming 10 days we’ll bring you lots more analysis and highlights of how baby names have changed over Nameberry’s first decade. We’ll be looking at the booming Berry community and the most influential celebrity names, at the top trends of the past 10 years and predictions for the next 10, with contributions from Nameberry’s top editors and writers.

Thanks to Joe Satran for the statistical analysis here and on upcoming blogs and to our partner and Nameberry engineer Hugh Hunter, without whom we’d be reading this on paper, or more accurately, not reading it at all.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles


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