20 Terrific Names That Made the Top 20


To celebrate the start of 2020, we take a look at baby names that have been in 20th place in the charts over the years.

It’s a position we don’t think about much: so often we focus on the names at number one, or in the Top Ten. But if you’re looking for something well-known and well-loved, that fits in with your child’s peer group but is unlikely to be all over the playground, number 20 is an ideal spot. To put it in figures, the 20th most popular names in the US in 2018, Matthew and Scarlett, were given to about 1 in 200 boys, and about 1 in 250 girls.

What else can we say about the names at number 20? Since 1880 (when the name data begins), 60 different boys’ names and 81 different girls’ names have occupied the spot. They include classics like John (2008) and Elizabeth (1940, 1954, 1962-63), and one-generation wonders like Eugene (1927-29) and Brittany (1997).

Brian has been there most often, sitting at number 20 from 1960-64 on his way up the charts, and then from 1986-87 on the way back down. Most frequent for girls is Rose, which has ranked there six times, in 1896, 1898, 1901-02, and 1920-21.

Here are 20 of the best names that have been at number 20 over the years, all of them worthy to use again in 2020.

Albert#20 in 1921-23. Current rank: #452

This is a Top 100 name in the UK (and Norway and Denmark), but will American parents ever follow suit? It works in many European languages, and has a nickname for every occasion, from streamlined Al to vintage Bertie.

Alice#20 in 1930. Current rank: #71

A sweet literary classic, Alice has been a little overlooked for several generations but is now back on an upward trend.

Bessie#20 in 1905. Current rank: below the Top 1000

This nickname for Elizabeth has a wholesome rustic feel about it, and – we think – makes a lovely name in its own right. In the same style, Annie, Carrie and Nellie have also been at number 20.

Christina#20 in 1984 and 1987. Current rank: #439

Although she reached peak popularity in the 1980s, Christina feels more evergreen than variants like Kristen and Christine (which was #20 in 1952 and 1966). Chirpy nicknames like Kit and Stina keep it modern.

Clarence#20 in 1882 and 1910. Current rank: below the Top 1000

Is Clarence so out it’s in again? This stately name is one of the gentler-sounding options for boys, and could honor a special Cla(i)re.

Earl#20 in 1894. Current rank: below the Top 1000

Think title names are a modern trend? Think again. Stately Earl was popular long before the new wave of names like Duke and Royal, and nowadays it would be a less common alternative with a vintage vibe.

Evelyn#20 in 1908 and 2003. Current rank: #10

The most popular of all the Ev- names, Evelyn hit #20 on her way up to the Top 10 twice, almost a hundred years apart.

Florence#20 in 1924. Current rank: #971

There’s a Florence in just about every school in the UK, but this flowery place name – with spunky nicknames like Flo and Flossie – has been slower to bloom again in the States.

Frank#20 in 1939-40. Current rank: #392

Another old-timey nickname, standalone Frank is more popular today than either Francis or Franklin. At a time when honest communication can seem elusive, it also has appeal as a virtue name.

Harry#20 in 1918-19. Current rank: #620

A firm favorite in Britain – think Potter and Prince Harry – this name has been in style limbo Stateside for decades but is beginning to show signs of an upswing.

Irene#20 in 1906 and 1909. Current rank: #637

Glamorous Irene hit its peak in the 1920s, making it a perfect candidate for a hundred-year revival.

Jackson#20 in 2017. Current rank: #17

Can you believe Jackson has been in the US Top 100 for 20 years? This stylish surname is at the height of its popularity, and among alternatives like Jaxon and Jaxson, this spelling feels like a classic.

Logan#20 in 2006. Current rank: #10

Another recent occupier of 20th place, this stylish Irish name with superhero credentials looks set to be a favorite for a while yet.

Louise#20 in 1910 and 1919. Current rank: #800

After years in the wilderness, chic Louise – a Top 3 name in France – has recently returned to the US Top 1000. We’re hoping for a big comeback this decade. Masculine Louis was also number 20 from 1912-14.

Maude#20 in 1882. Current rank: below the Top 1000

A medieval name popular with the Victorians, elegant Maude has fallen off the radar, making it an almost-unique choice.

Paul#20 in 1895-97, 1902 and 1907. Current rank: #234

A gem hiding in plain sight, Paul is simple and well-used with oodles of history and namesakes… but how many of us know a baby Paul? And how refreshing would it be to meet one?

Raymond#20 in 1909 and 1938. Current rank: #299

Dashing Raymond is a name fit for a medieval knight. You’re more likely to find it on a grandpa or great-grandpa than on a baby, but it could be a handsome choice for your little Ray of light.

Rose#20 in 1896, 1898, 1901-02, and 1920-21. Current rank: #123

Predictable as a middle name, this classic flower name sounds fresh in the front spot.

Virginia#20 in 1912. Current rank: #540

Vivacious, literary and patriotic, Virginia has been somewhat neglected recently. We love all the nickname options, including traditional Ginny, modern Vivi or Gigi, and unexpected Ginger (as in Rogers).

Walter#20 in 1931. Current rank: #271

With iconic namesakes like Disney and Whitman, it was only a matter of time before parents rediscovered Walter. It’s recently started to climb the charts again.

Which of these names would you like to see at number 20 again?

About the Author

Clare Green

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