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Presidential Baby Names Break Popularity Records

February 15, 2020 Pamela Redmond
presidential baby names

Presidential baby names, the last names and in a few cases the first names of America’s presidents, are more popular than ever in the US. Presidential names are used for both girls and boys in increasing numbers. The presidential connection may be more direct in some cases (Lincoln) than others (Taylor). But as a class, presidential baby names are reaching new heights on the US popularity charts.

Here, the most popular presidential baby names today for each gender.

Boy Names

Jackson — President Andrew Jackson, who held office from 1829 to 1837. Born into poverty in Tennessee, Jackson won fame as a general. But he also was a slaveowner and an anti-abolitionist and enacted the Indian Removal Act which forcibly relocated many Native Americans. In recent times more baby boy Jacksons were probably named for singer Michael, but he’s no longer a worthy namesake either.

Luckily Jackson has other merits to recommend it as one of the great American baby names. Currently Number 17, it’s always ranked in the Top 1000.

Carter — While President Jimmy Carter is certainly an upstanding person, we doubt many of the baby Carters were named in honor of him. Carter was propelled to a national Number 24 by several popular TV characters. It’s now at its highest point ever.

Lincoln — Honest Abe is the prime reason for this name’s popularity. Though always on the Top 1000, it’s only really taken off since 2000. Now it stands at Number 40, its highest point ever.

Theodore — While most presidential first names can hardly be tied directly to their White House bearers, Theodore’s current popularity is not not connected to President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt has cross-party appeal and was also a champion of the environment. Theodore now stands at Number 44, nearly where it was at its height during Roosevelt’s presidency in the first years of the 20th century.

Harrison — William Henry Harrison is one of those Presidents who for most people is merely a dim memory from high school history. Harrison’s current popularity, just outside the Top 100, has more to do with Beatle George or even baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

Tyler — President John Tyler was briefly President Harrison’s vice president before taking the main office in the 1840s. While he directly influenced the rise of Tyler as a first name, he’s hardly an influence now. In terms of name-o-bilia, more notable is probably the fact that Tyler had 15 children, including daughters named Letitia and Pearl and sons named Lyon, Tazewell, and Lachlan.

Abraham — Sure, this name is biblical, but these days it’s probably more closely tied to President Lincoln. It stands at Number 164.

Grant — Ulysses S. had a notable first name, but his surname ranks at Number 182 independent of his influence. Grant has always ranked in the Top 400.

Hayes — Jessica Alba had more to do with propelling this name, which she chose for her son, to its current Number 343 than did President Rutherford Hayes. But its presidential connection helps ground it. Hayes was president when the first Social Security baby name tally was kept in 1880, and undoubtedly was the reason the name Hayes stood at Number 708 that year and remained in the Top 1000 until the early 1900s. But it’s shot straight uphill since 2010 and now ranks twice as high as ever. Kevin Costner also chose it for his son.

Franklin — Franklin was the first name of two presidents, Pierce and Roosevelt. It peaked in 1933, the year Roosevelt came to office, but has started inching up the charts again in recent years, now standing at Number 435.

Pierce — Pierce Brosnan is almost certainly a bigger influence on the popularity of this name than Franklin Pierce. Still, it’s ranking near its peak in the 1890s.

Nixon — This name is so popular in Utah that that state alone propelled it to its highest point ever in 2017, when it broke the Top 500. Now it stands just outside. It’s hard to imagine anyone with a working knowledge of President Richard Nixon naming their baby after him.

Quincy — Quincy Jones propelled this name to its peak at Number 273 in 1977, but President John Quincy Adams has to take some of the credit for this name’s current popularity. It’s Number 618.

Ford — One of our hottest names of the year, Ford reemerged on the US Top 1000 in 2014 and now has climbed to Number 635, its highest point in almost a century. While most people might relate it to the car, there was President Gerald Ford in the 1970s.

Jefferson — The name of the third president Thomas Jefferson has always stood in the Top 1000, but is sullied today due to Jefferson’s connection to slavery and is losing ground.

Truman — We wouldn’t be surprised if the name Truman, as in President Harry S., broke into the Top 1000 in the next year or two. Truman was given to 162 baby boys in the US in 2018. 

Clinton — Clinton may be a politically-charged presidential name, depending on whether you love or hate President Bill and would-be President Hillary. While it has validity of its own as a name, the presidential connection is powerful.

Ike — Do you like Ike? Nearly 70 parents last year named their baby boys Ike, the famous nickname of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Girl Names

Madison — Madison is definitely off its peak — it actually reached Number 2 in the first years of this century — and it was propelled to its heights by the mermaid in Splash and not President James Madison. Still, it’s presidential and continues to rank in the Top 25.

Kennedy — President John F. Kennedy’s surname ranks second only to Riley as the most popular Irish girls’ name in the US. Kennedy peaked as a boys’ name at Number 516 in 1964, the year after the president’s assassination. It first made the girls’ list in 1994 and now ranks only a few places off its peak in 2014.

Reagan — Reagan really took off as a girls’ name in the early 1990s, after Reagan’s presidency. It broke the Top 100 in 2015 and 2016 and now lies just below.

Taylor — Taylor is one of those names that at this point is only tangentially presidential. It peaked in the 1990s and continues to rank in the Top 125 thanks to Taylor Swift, not President Zachary Taylor aka Old Rough and Ready.

McKinley — McKinley, surname of President William, who was assassinated in 1901, enjoyed a straight upward ride on the girls’ chart form 2005 till 2015. Now slightly off its peak, it still ranks in the Top 500.

Carter — Carter ranks lower for girls than boys, but still makes the Top 500, 

Monroe — While Monroe’s popularity is more thanks to Marilyn along with Mariah Carey’s choice of the name for her twin daughter, the presidential connection to Founding Father James Monroe may have invested it with the power to reach its highest point ever at a current Number 603. While the name has not ranked for boys since the early 1970s, the number of baby boy Monroes has been increasing in recent years.

 

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 of the same name.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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