Popular Baby Names 2016

The new list of top baby names features some big surprises

popular baby names 2016

The most popular baby names of 2016 feature stability at the top of the list, with Emma and Noah holding tight to their Number 1 positions and contenders Olivia and Liam steady at Number 2.

The newest name in the Top 10 baby names is the Biblical Elijah, making the top ranks for the very first time. Elijah was the Old Testament prophet who rode to heaven in a chariot of fire. Last year’s newcomer Benjamin rose all the way to Number 6, while Charlotte vaulted to Number 7.

Perhaps the biggest news of 2016 is once-popular Caitlin‘s slide from the Top 1000, along with several of her spelling variations.

The entire Top 10 for girls remained the same, with some shifts in rank. Charlotte moved up the most, 3 places, with Ava, Isabella, and Mia each hopping up one place. Former Number 1 girls’ name Sophia slid to Number 4. Riley and Aria moved into the Top 25 names for girls.

Among baby boy names, Michael surprised the pundits by not only hanging on to his half-century spot in the Top 10 but moving up two places. Alexander left the Top 10 for boys. The 25 most popular boy names  feature some surprises too, with Owen and Sebastian rising in the standings.

Classic boys’ names William and James also moved up, while Ethan, Mason, and longtime Number 1 Jacob moved down.

The Top 10 baby names for 2016 in the US, with comparisons to their standings in 2015, are:


  1. Emma   =
  2. Olivia =
  3. Ava +1
  4. Sophia -1
  5. Isabella =
  6. Mia =
  7. Charlotte +3
  8. Abigail =
  9. Emily =
  10. Harper=


  1. Noah =
  2. Liam =
  3. William +2
  4. Mason -1
  5. James +2
  6. Benjamin +4
  7. Jacob -3
  8. Michael +1
  9. Elijah
  10. Ethan -4

The full Top 1000 baby names can be found here.

Emma and Noah are both also popular throughout much of the rest of the Western World. Emma, a German name that means “universal,” ranks among the top names in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe. Noah, the name of the Biblical patriarch that means both rest and wandering, ranks among the Top 100 throughout the English-speaking countries as well as in Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

Britain’s Princess Charlotte propelled her name into the Top 10 for girls for the first time last year. The classic royal girls’ name, a feminization of her grandfather’s name Charles, has proven its staying power by moving further up the list, a possible contender for Number 1 in the future.

Classic baby names were also winners on the boys’ side, with traditional names William, James, Benjamin, and Michael making strides over relative newcomer Mason.

The biggest jumps in the Top 1000 are Kehlani and Kylo. Grammy nominee Kehlani Parrish propelled her name up nearly 2500 paces to rank at Number 872 for girls. And Kylo, the name of the character Kylo Ren in Star Wars who is the grandson of Darth Vader, soared nearly 2400 places to make Number 901 for boys.

The second fastest risers were Royalty for girls and Creed for boys. Celebrity names Saoirse (as in Irish actress Ronan) and Benicio (actor del Toro) were the third fastest rising, with the mythical Ophelia and Adonis coming in fourth, both making the Top 400.

Caitlin fell out of the Top 1000 for the first time in decades, decreasing over 500 places to grab the dubious distinction of being the girls’ name that decreased the most in popularity . She was followed by three spelling variations of the name: Caitlyn, Katelynn, and Kaitlynn — all now more likely to be the names of new moms rather their babies.

On the boys’ side, the fastest-falling names were the spelling variations Jonael, Aaden, and Triston.

Some familiar names that saw big drops: Denise, Lindsay, Erica, and Jenny for girls, and Freddy, Dwayne, and Ronnie for boys. Donald dropped 45 spots, from 443 to 488; it jas neem dropping in popularity since 2000.

Among the new names on the list are Nameberry favorites Sylvie, Calliope and Poppy for girls, and Ira and Fox for the boys.

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17 Responses to “Popular Baby Names 2016”

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Orchid_Lover Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 9:47 am

So what were the highest-debuting names? Royalty for girls and Kylo for boys?

nuttymussel Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 9:50 am

@Orchid_Lover I think Kylo and Kehlani?

Orchid_Lover Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 9:58 am

No they listed biggest movers not highest debuters which is quite a different measure sometimes. There were 581 female Royalty s and 320 Kehlani s so Royalty definitely debuted higher. I also wonder if there was also possibly a higher-debuting boys name than Kylo since it jumped a lot since there were only 35 in 2015 but 238 this year, however there could be other boys names that didn’t start from as low of a number in 2015 but still debuted with more than 238 boys. Perhaps they haven’t had time to mine the data for the highest debuters yet.

nuttymussel Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 10:06 am

Ah! I misunderstood the stats then. Yeah, quite possibly there hasn’t been time yet.

annamac Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Yay!! So happy to see the list. Ophelia didn’t make the top 400, though, as the article says. Ophelia’s #580.

thorn144 Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

lol “jas neem” instead of has been

maureenmce Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Aw, so excited to see Fox in the top 1000! Though, I hope it doesn’t get *too* popular, as we’ve had it picked out for a boy name since our honeymoon in 2013 and really hope to use it one day soon!

beynotce Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 4:25 pm

My analysis shows Fox (#746) for boys and Royalty (#532) for girls as the highest-ranking debuts.

I’m actually really surprised that Bowie still hasn’t shown up in the top 1000.

Orchid_Lover Says:

May 12th, 2017 at 5:29 pm

@beynotce that’s what I’ve come to conclude as well!

@maureenmce I think Fox will actually be a pretty perfect popularity level for some time to come. I don’t think enough people will be brave enough to use it for it to climb into the top 50 territory anytime soon but at least being in the top 1000 lends some familiarity. In my opinion, when non-name-nerds feel like a name is “weird” its usually just because it is unusual to them, so this increased familiarity should help with acceptance of your choice among your adult peers.

jame1881 Says:

May 13th, 2017 at 7:20 am

Every year Owen gains I get more sad 🙁 I’ve loved it for at least a decade! Ah well. At least it’s a great name 😉

clairels Says:

May 13th, 2017 at 8:54 am

I wonder if the fall of Caitlin has anything to do with Caitlyn Jenner.

Bassilly Says:

May 13th, 2017 at 4:48 pm

@clairels, I wonder the same thing!

Bassilly Says:

May 13th, 2017 at 4:56 pm

OH, and according to this website:

Kylo went from 3269 to 901, with a 2368 increase, making it the top debuting boys name AND
Kehlani went from 3359 to 872, with a 2487 increase, making it the top debuting girls name!

Second place go to Creed and Royalty, who had a 370 & 618 increase respectively;

Bassilly Says:

May 13th, 2017 at 4:58 pm

But, Fox and Royalty are now the highest inside the top 1000 that weren’t in it before, even though their increases weren’t as much as Kylo and Kehlani.

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