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2018 Most Popular Names: The Playground Analysis

Digging deep into the data

by Kelli Brady

For several years now, I have been putting together the Playground Analysis as a fun way to view the true popularity of names. When you hear a name on the playground, do you know how it is spelled? A lot of people may name their child a name after hearing it and liking it, and decide to spell it as a variant of the traditional spelling. So, you may hear more “Aiden!” yelled on the playground than “Liam!” and wonder why Liam is ranked #1 on the SSA’s 2018 Popular Names list, well above Aiden. Since the SSA list is done purely by spelling, the Playground Analysis combines the different spellings of names to reveal the true Top 50 most popular names of 2018!

Note: These are the combined spellings of the names in the Top 1000 only. When the numbers from the entire list are added, positions could change. The main name listed below is the spelling given to the most babies in 2018 (SSA Rank is in parentheses). The others are in alphabetical order. Opinions vary on how different spellings are pronounced. Keep in mind that when you hear “Alayna” vs “Elena” on the playground, the sound differences that make the names unique may not be clear. In any case, I went with my best judgment.

GIRLS MOST POPULAR NAMES

Emma still remains on the top of the 2018 SSA list for girls. But while Sophia is #5 on the SSA list, it still remains on the top of the 2018 Playground Analysis. When looking at the PA’s Top 50, the largest jumps that take place after adding the alternative spellings are by Adeline (#78 to #7), Madelyn (#72 to #16), Elena (#66 to #29), Ariana (#68 to #35), Eliana (#83 to #37), and Hailey (#79 to #49). Some variations of names have risen into or fallen out of the SSA Top 1000, and any differences from last year have been noted in the list below.

Birth numbers are another way of showing how this analysis explains what you hear around town. When combining the Top 1000 names in spelling, there were more than 2,000 girls named Sophia and Sofia in 2018 than named Emma. It is also interesting to consider the continuing spread of name popularity, meaning the popular names are being used less than before even though they are ranked the same or even increasing in rank. For example, Zoe went down in usage from 5,129 girls in 2017 to 5,062 girls in 2018 but increased in rank from #41 to #40. In fact, out of the PA’s Top 50, only 12 popular spellings went up in usage: Amelia, Charlotte, Aria (all spellings of Aria went up except Ariah), Harper, Layla, Camila, Mila, Ella, Luna, Eliana, Everly (all spellings went up), and Eleanor.

1. Sophia (5) – Sofia
2. Olivia (2) – Alivia
3. Emma (1)
4. Amelia (8) – Emelia, Emilia
5. Isabella (4) – Isabela, Izabella
6. Ava (3) – Avah
7. Adeline (78) – Adaline, Adalyn, Adalynn, Addilynn, Adelyn, Adelynn (Adilynn dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
8. Mia (7) – Miah
9. Charlotte (6)
10. Aria (19) – Ariah, Ariya, Ariyah, Arya
11. Riley (28) – Rylee, Ryleigh, Rylie
12. Evelyn (10) – Evelynn (Evalynn dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
13. Zoey (19) – Zoe, Zoie
14. Harper (9)
15. Layla (27) – Laila, Lailah, Laylah, Leila, Leyla
16. Madelyn (72) – Madalyn, Madalynn, Madeleine, Madeline, Madelynn, Madilyn, Madilynn
17. Camila (18) – Camilla, Kamila, Kamilah*
18. Abigail (11)
19. Emily (12) – Emely, Emilee
20. Avery (16) – Averi, Averie
21. Elizabeth (13) – Elisabeth
22. Chloe (25) – Khloe
23. Aubrey (36) – Aubree, Aubrie
24. Scarlett (20) – Scarlet, Scarlette
25. Madison (22) – Maddison, Madisyn
26. Mila (14)
27. Ella (15)
28. Lily (31) – Lillie, Lilly
29. Elena (66) – Alaina, Alayna, Elaina
30. Leah (41) – Lea, Leia, Lia
31. Nora (30) – Norah
32. Victoria (21)
33. Luna (23)
34. Grace (24)
35. Ariana (68) – Arianna (Aryanna dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
36. Hannah (33) – Hana, Hanna
37. Eliana (83) – Aliana, Alianna, Elianna, Elliana, Ellianna
38. Penelope (26)
39. Everly (53) – Everlee, Everleigh
40. Maya (61) – Maia, Mya, Myah, (Miya dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
41. Brooklyn (47) – Brooklynn
42. Lillian (34) – Lilian
43. Addison (35) – Addisyn, Addyson
44. Natalie (39) – Nataly, Nathalie
45. Eleanor (32)
46. Paisley (52) – Paislee, Paisleigh
47. Allison (69) – Alison, Alisson*, Allyson, Alyson
48. Anna (54) – Ana
49. Hailey (79) – Hailee, Haley, Haylee, Hayley
50. Sarah (67) – Sara

*New spelling to the SSA Top 1000

Eliana, Everly and Luna rose into the Top 50 of the 2018 PA, while Kailey, Mackenzie, and Savannah fell out of it.

For those of us who feel as though the –line names are different from the –lyn names, here is an additional note:

If the variations of #7 Adeline (Adaline) are separated from the variations of Adalynn (Adalyn, Addilyn, Addilynn, Adelyn, Adelynn, and Adilynn), Adalynn moves down to #23, while Adeline is pushed down to #61.

Likewise, if the variations of #16 Madelyn (Madalyn, Madalynn, Madelynn, Madilyn, and Madilynn) are separated from the variations of Madeline (Madeleine), Madelyn moves down to #37, while Madeline is pushed down to #89.

BOYS MOST POPULAR NAMES

Jackson and its alternate spellings remain firmly at #1 on the 2018 Playground Analysis, moving up from #17 on the 2018 SSA list. Aiden continues to move down, from #3 on the 2017 PA list to #4 in 2018. The biggest movers from the SSA list to the PA list are Kayden (#97 to #13), Jace (#90 to #43), and Nicholas (#74 to #44).

While the overall numbers have again decreased from 2017 to 2018 just as they did last year, the Jacksons continue to be a dominant force on the playground, although the gap is decreasing… almost 3,500 boys were named a variation of Jackson over Liam in 2018 (as opposed to a difference of over 4,500 last year). Out of the PA Top 50, only 6 name spellings have increased in usage from 2017 to 2018: Oliver, Kayden, Henry, Mateo, Jack, and Levi. The rest of the popular names have all decreased in usage, showing the spreading out of interest in these names. You can also see this in the fact that Lucas jumped from 11 to 8 in the SSA ranking but actually decreased in usage (12,951 boys in 2017 to 12,585 boys in 2018).

1. Jackson (20) – Jaxen, Jaxon, Jaxson, Jaxxon
2. Liam (1)
3. Noah (2) – Noe
4. Aiden (19) – Adan, Aden, Aidan, Ayden, Aydin, (Aaden dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
5. William (3)
6. Lucas (8) – Lukas
7. Grayson (32) – Graysen, Greyson, (Greysen dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
8. James (4)
9. Elijah (7) – Alijah
10. Oliver (5)
11. Benjamin (6)
12. Mason (9) – Maison, Mayson
13. Kayden (97) – Caden, Caiden, Cayden, Kaden, Kaiden
14. Logan (10)
15. Alexander (11) – Alexzander
16. Jacob (13) – Jakob
17. Ethan (12)
18. Michael (14) – (Micheal dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
19. Carter (24) – Karter
20. Daniel (15)
21. Jayden (30) – Jaden, Jaiden
22. Henry (16)
23. Matthew (20) – Mathew
24. Mateo (37) – Matteo
25. Sebastian (18)
26. Samuel (21)
27. David (22)
28. Joseph (23)
29. John (27) – Jon
30. Owen (25)
31. Wyatt (26)
32. Dylan (31) – Dillon (Dilan dropped from the SSA Top 1000)
33. Isaac (34) – Issac
34. Caleb (45) – Kaleb
35. Jack (28)
36. Julian (36) – Julien
37. Luke (29)
38. Levi (33)
39. Gabriel (35)
40. Connor (57) – Conner, Conor, Konnor
41. Anthony (38)
42. Christian (55) – Cristian, Kristian
43. Jace (90) – Jase, Jayce
44. Nicholas (74) – Nickolas, Nicolas, Nikolas
45. Josiah (53) – Jasiah, Jesiah*, Joziah
46. Christopher (42) – Kristopher
47. Lincoln (40)
48. Joshua (41)
49. Andrew (43)
50. Isaiah (51) – Izaiah

*New spelling to the SSA Top 1000

Isaiah rose into the Top 50 of the 2018 PA, while Cameron fell out of it.

Does this reflect what you are hearing on the playground?

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6 Responses to “2018 Most Popular Names: The Playground Analysis”

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gnolib Says:

May 14th, 2019 at 9:20 am

It’s crazy to me that Jackson is really the number 1 baby boy name, but is nestled away in the 20s, and I wonder if that is somehow contributing to its popularity. Websites report Liam as the top name, and people assume ultra popular names like Jackson and Aiden are “safe” and not as overused.

On another thought, I’d really be interested in the data that combines all names beyond the top 1000. Especially for girls names, people can get a bit, ahem, creative, and I think going to the top 2000 or so would be an interesting look as well. (Although not a data crunching project I’d want to take on personally!)

KayM210210 Says:

May 14th, 2019 at 9:38 am

My favorite post of the year, so happy I got to see this before our baby arrives in July. Still considering Evelyn, even though it is so popular!

Beau Jean Says:

May 14th, 2019 at 11:11 am

This is my favorite post also! I wish more expecting parents were aware of this.

I’m sure people can pronounce their names however they want to, but I really believe that Noe does not belong in the number count for Noah. I have only heard Noe pronounced as rhyming with Joey and Zoe.

calyma Says:

May 14th, 2019 at 5:01 pm

namenerds.com combines all 15k+ names.

http://namenerds.com/uucn/pop.html

paulapuddephatt Says:

May 15th, 2019 at 10:43 pm

This is great information. Some names are much more prone to alternative spellings than others.

Saylorchic Says:

May 16th, 2019 at 7:55 pm

I love this!

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