60 Southern Baby Names With Charm And Style
What makes a Southern name? Just a unique blend of tradition and modern style.
Parents in the American South are famous for passing on family names to children, for example by repeating first names, or using mom's maiden name as a first name. This means that classics like John and Mary rank relatively highly in the South, alongside last names like Sawyer and Piper that are not quite so popular in the rest of the country.
Yet Southern parents are also some of the most inventive baby namers. There is a strong trend in the South for alternative spellings, like Karter and Rylee, along with positive, spiritual words like Messiah and Journee.
The South's high proportion of Black Americans is likely to be driving these trends. Many of the most Southern names, such as Amir, Kingston, Genesis and Trinity, are especially popular with Black American parents.
Mississippi's Top 100 baby names are the most different from the national charts, thanks to its small population. Names only in the Top 100 in the Hospitality State include Miracle, Molly and Malaysia for girls, and Karson, Kyrie, and Kashton for boys.
Other states have their unique favorites too: Camille and Evangeline are only in the Top 100 in Louisiana; Zion and King in Georgia; Collins and Katherine in Alabama.
Names relatively less common in the South include Spanish ones like Valentina and Sebastian, and Jewish/biblical favorites such as Leah and Micah.
We analyzed the most popular baby names 2022 to reveal which ones are particularly common in the South, especially in the core Southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Many of these names are well-used all over the country, but they rank higher than the national average in the South. Read on for over 60 cool, stylish baby names that will feel right at home rocking on a Southern porch.
Popular Southern Girl Names
When it comes to girl names, Southern parents truly love to blend traditional with modern. Ultra-classics like Mary and Margaret are disproportionately popular in parts of the South, but so are contemporary choices like Kehlani and Remi.
Respellings are as popular as, if not more than, the originals: so names like Aubree, Ryleigh, and Khloe are all especially common in Southern states.
Using last names as first names for girls is a strong Southern tradition, especially to honor a family surname. The most famous example is (Nelle) Harper Lee, whose name has been stratospherically popular in the last decade. Harper is still a Top 10 girl name in every Southern state, although it has dropped out of the national Top 10.
Read on for more girl names more popular in the South than they are nationwide.
One of the -ley ending surnames that's in style, Blakely ranks at Number 167 nationally. But it's in the Top 100 in several Southern states: Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, as well as Kentucky and Arkansas.
Vintage, feminine, and spunky, Eliza is on the rise everywhere, but especially in Southern states. Eliza is Number 122 in the USA, but within the Top 100 in Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Clara is another feminine vintage sweetheart that's especially hot in the South.
While most of the country is swooning over Josephine, this sweet short form is the more popular option across much of the South. Josie ranks at Number 119 nationally, but is in the Top 100 in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Josephine, however, doesn't make the Top 100 in most of these states.
Other retro nicknames, like Annie and Millie, are also especially popular in the South.
Journee is one of the most popular modern spiritual names, especially for parents in the South. Ranking at Number 195 in the USA, it makes the Top 50 in Mississippi and Louisiana, and is in the Top 100 in Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.
The singer's Hawaiian-esque name has caught on in the South even faster than the rest of the country. Ranking at Number 152 nationwide, it is a Top 50 name in Mississippi, and also makes the Top 100 in Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and the Carolinas.
Another celebrity-inspired baby name that Southern parents love. This respelling of Chloe comes in at Number 186 in the USA, but makes the Top 50 in Mississippi and Louisiana. It is also a Top 100 girl name in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia.
This evergreen tree with striking white flowers is native to the South, and is both the state tree of Mississippi, and the state flower of Louisiana. So it's no surprise that Southern parents are the biggest fans of this nickname-rich vintage charmer. Magnolia is Number 151 in the whole USA, but makes the Top 100 in Mississippi, Alabama, both Carolinas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas.
The most classic name of all is on a downward trend nationally, ranking at Number 136. But it's still in the Top 10 in Alabama, and is Number 13 in Mississippi! Mary is also within the Top 100 in most other Southern States — likely sometimes as the first part of combo names like Mary Grace and Mary Lou.
Another classic, Margaret, is also more popular than average in Southern states, especially Alabama again.
Both Oaklynn and her unisex sister Oakley are among the fastest-rising names in the country, but the South got there first. Oaklynn ranks at Number 159 in the US, but is in the Top 50 in Kentucky and Arkansas (okay, we're getting borderline Midwest here), and in the Top 100 in most Southern states.
Adalynn and Raelynn are also above average popularity in most Southern states.
Last names as first names are a Southern staple for both sexes. Jaunty Saylor is a particular standout: sitting below the Top 200 in the US, it ranks in the Top 100 in Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
Below are more particularly Southern baby girl names:
Popular Southern Boy Names
Boy names popular in the South blend several styles — sometimes in the same name! Think high-aspiring modern names like Legend and Messiah, along with rugged outdoor/county choices like Rhett, Sawyer and Stetson.
As with Southern girl names, there are also alternative spellings on the list: parents in the South like Karter almost as much as Carter, Kaiden alongside Kayden, and Jayce as well as Jace.
The Southern states are leading the way on rising names like Ace, Atlas and Hayes: they're getting popular everywhere, but are ahead of the national average in the South. You heard it here first!
At the same time, the classics reign too. John is a Top 10 boy name in several Southern states, although it is down at Number 26 in the whole USA.
Here are baby boy names with a distinctly Southern flavor, starting with our top ten:
This international name, meaning "prince" in Arabic, was one of the fastest-rising names of 2022, and the South is leading the way. It sits at number 113 nationally, but is a Top 50 name in Georgia and Louisiana, and a Top 100 name in Mississippi, Alabama, and both Carolinas.
This modern-sounding biblical name is popular nationwide, but especially so in the South. Asher is a Top 10 name in Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia.
Last name-style Braxton ranks at number 157 in the US, but is within the Top 100 in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Similar-sounding Bryson is another name paricularly popular in the South.
Carson is number 110 nationally, but sits at number 44 in Mississippi, and also in the Top 100 in Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina.
This modern successor to Jason ranks at number 103 in the US, but is inside the Top 100 in most Southern states. Jayce is also in the Top 100 in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Boosted to fame by Gwen Stefani's son, Kingston is on trend both as a place name, and for its air of royalty. Nationally it ranks at number 128, but it's a Top 10 name in Mississippi, and in the Top 50 in South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas: truly a distinctly Southern name.
Another superlative name that makes the Top 50 in Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Arkansas, but is below the Top 100 nationwide.
Messiah blends modern spiritual names with grandiose virtues. It's number 188 in the USA, but ranks 64th in South Carolina, and is also in the Top 100 in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana.
Among the latest wave of cool occupation names, Sawyer is past its peak popularity and ranks at number 131 in the USA. But it's still a Top 50 name in Kentucky, and is in the Top 100 in several other Southern states.
Country-vibe Waylon is rising everywhere, but the South got there first. Ranking in 66th place nationwide, Waylon is a Top 10 name in Mississippi and Kentucky; in the Top 20 in Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas; and higher than average in all the other Southern states too.
Here are more boy names particularly popular in the South right now: