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Top Baby Names 2021: The Playground Analysis

Top Baby Names 2021: The Playground Analysis

The top baby names in the US were recently revealed to be Liam and Olivia… again. But if you feel like you hear other names more often, there’s a good reason for that!

The baby name data released each year by the Social Security Administration lists variant spellings like Aiden and Aidan, Riley and Ryley as totally separate names – which can have a big impact on their standing in the charts.

The Playground Analysis groups the names from the official US popularity charts according to their sound and then ranks the groups instead of the individual spellings. Listing the various spellings together gives us a more accurate view of what the #1 name is in the country.

So, when all variants are combined, these are the girl and boy names you are actually likely to hear most often on the playground!

Top Girl Names 2021

There was no change in the Top 5 girl names on the Playground Analysis compared to last year. Sophia remains on top, as it has been since I started the Playground Analysis ten years ago, but the total number of uses continues to decrease.

Charlotte and Adeline both move up a spot, pushing Isabella down from #6 to #8. Aria broke into the Top 10 from #12 last year, and Camila fell out of the Top 10 to #13.

Big movers up are Nora (#33 to #25), Eleanor (#36 to #28), Nova (#49 to #42), Eliana (#26 to #19), Hazel (#47 to #41), and Isla (#22 to #17).

Big movers down are Ariana (#40 to #49), Aubrey (#38 to #46), Emily (#21 to #27), and Madison (#29 to #34).

Three names have risen into the PA Top 50: Kehlani was a huge jumper (#59 to #45), Violet (#52 to #44), and Lyla (#53 to #47).

And three names fell out of the Top 50: Kaylee declined the most (#46 to #60), followed by Hannah (#44 to #52), and Lillian (#50 to #55).

Compared to the official rankings, the biggest movers up are Kehlani, Alaia, and Lyla – all outside of the SSA Top 100, but all inside the Top 50 when variant spellings are combined.

And Adeline also deserves a special mention: its many variant spellings propel it from all the way down at #94 on the official charts into the PA Top 10!

See the full Top 50 most popular girl names 2021, according to our Playground Analysis, below.

NB: Names are given in their most popular form, together with their SSA rankings and total combined births, plus the most common variant spellings. All spellings given to five or more babies are included in the figures, but I have only listed those with 50 or more births due to length. For example, Amelia has 34 alternative spellings used in 2021, but only four are listed here.

Playground Analysis Top 50 Girl Names

1. Sophia (#6) – 19567 births – Sofia, Sofiya

2. Olivia (#1) – 19268 births – Alivia, Alyvia, Olyvia

3. Amelia (#4) – 19037 births – Emilia, Emelia, Amilia

4. Emma (#2) – 15555 births – Ema

5. Ava (#5) – 13441 births – Avah, Ayva, Ayvah

6. Charlotte (#3) – 13427 births – Charlette

7. Adeline (#94) – 12659 births – Adalynn, Adalyn, Adelyn, Adaline, Adelynn, Addilyn, Addilynn, Adilynn, Addalyn, Adilene, Addalynn, Addelyn, Adilyn, Adalyne, Adalynne, Adelyne

8. Isabella (#7) – 12657 births – Izabella, Isabela, Izabela, Izzabella, Ysabella, Issabella

9. Mia (#8) – 11726 births – Miah, Miya, Miyah

10. Aria (#22) – 11579 births – Arya, Ariyah, Ariah, Ariya, Aarya, Aryah, Aariyah

11. Riley (#37) – 11149 births – Rylee, Ryleigh, Rylie, Rhylee, Rilee, Rylei, Reilly, Ryley, Rileigh, Rhyleigh

12. Evelyn (#9) – 11082 births – Evelynn, Evalyn, Evalynn, Evelin

13. Camila (#12) – 11006 births – Kamila, Camilla, Kamilah, Kamilla, Kamyla

14. Zoey (#38) – 10388 births – Zoe, Zoie

15. Layla (#25) – 10206 births – Leila, Laila, Leyla, Laylah, Lailah, Leilah, Leylah

16. Madelyn (#71) – 10127 births – Madeline, Madilyn, Madeleine, Madelynn, Madilynn, Madalyn, Madalynn, Maddilyn

17. Isla (#33) – 10063 births – Ayla, Aila, Ila, Iyla, Aylah, Eila, Iylah, Aayla, Aiyla, Islah, Ilah

18. Elena (#53) – 9286 births – Alaina, Elaina, Alayna, Alena, Elayna, Aleyna, Ellena

19. Eliana (#48) – 8738 births – Elliana, Elianna, Ellianna, Eliyanah, Elyana, Elyanna, Ellyana, Eliyana

20. Gianna (#13) – 8486 births – Giana, Jianna, Jiana

21. Harper (#10) – 8388 births

22. Everly (#50) – 8303 births – Everleigh, Everlee, Everley, Everlie, Everli

23. Chloe (#24) – 8288 births – Khloe, Kloe, Khloee

24. Luna (#11) – 8239 births

25. Nora (#27) – 8040 births – Norah

26. Avery (#19) – 8021 births – Averie, Averi, Avarie

27. Emily (#21) – 7886 births – Emely, Emilie, Emilee, Emmalee

28. Eleanor (#15) – 7750 births – Elinor, Eleanore, Elanor, Elleanor

29. Scarlett (#20) – 7737 births – Scarlet, Scarlette, Skarlett

30. Elizabeth (#14) – 7494 births – Elisabeth

31. Aaliyah (#61) – 7475 births – Aliyah, Alia, Aleah, Aliya, Aliah, Alya, Aleigha, Alea, Eliyah, Aaliya

32. Lily (#31) – 7460 births – Lilly, Lillie, Lili

33. Abigail (#17) – 7261 births – Abbigail

34. Madison (#29) – 7181 births – Maddison, Madisyn, Madyson, Madisson

35. Ella (#16) – 7169 births – Ela

36. Mila (#26) – 6685 births – Milah, Milla

37. Leah (#46) – 6368 births – Lia, Lea, Liah, Liya, Liyah, Leigha, Lya

38. Maya (#55) – 6366 births – Mya, Maia, Myah, Mayah, Maiya

39. Penelope (#23) – 6366 births

40. Ellie (#30) – 6177 births – Elly, Elli, Ellee

41. Hazel (#28) – 6149 births – Hayzel

42. Nova (#32) – 5943 births – Novah

43. Alaia (#128) – 5851 births – Alayah, Alaya, Alaiya, Aleia, Alaiyah, Alaiah, Aleyah, Aleya, Aalayah, Alayiah

44. Violet (#35) – 5799 births – Violette, Violett

45. Kehlani (#150) – 5701 births – Kailani, Kaylani, Keilani, Kailany, Kelani, Kaelani, Keilany, Klani, Kayloni, Kaylanie, Kylani, Keylani

46. Aubrey (#65) – 5679 births – Aubree, Aubrie, Aubri, Aubreigh

47. Lyla (#110) – 5617 births – Lila, Lilah, Lylah

48. Paisley (#52) – 5585 births – Paislee, Paisleigh, Paizley, Paizlee

49. Ariana (#88) – 5544 births – Arianna, Aryana, Aryanna, Ariyanna, Ariyana

50. Grace (#34) – 5507 births

Top Boy Names 2021

We have a new #1! For the first time in the ten years of the Playground Analysis, the top name for boys is the same as the official #1! Liam pushed Jackson – the top boy name on the PA since 2014 – down to #2.

The rest of the Top 10 stays very similar, with Oliver and Aiden switching places, and James and William also switching spots.

Big movers up include Luca (#37 to #15), Theodore (#28 to #20), Asher (#40 to #33), Leo (#45 to #38), Jack (#26 to #21), and Miles (#33 to #28).

The names that have descended five or more spots include Matthew (#32 to #40), Carter (#18 to #25), Jacob (#21 to #27), Lincoln #44 to #50), and Isaac (#38 to #43).

New entries into the PA Top 50 are Hudson (#51 to #42), Ezra (#52 to #44), and Thomas (#55 to #49) – replacing Isaiah (#48 to #57), Anthony (#49 to #56), and Jace (#50 to #55).

Compared to the official rankings, Kayden makes the biggest leap: from outside the official Top 100 to #13 when variant spellings are combined. Rhyming Jayden also sees a big rise, up from #41 to #22, and Miles rises from #54 to #28.

And who knew that Grayson is actually a Top 10 name?! It ranks at a comfortable #35 officially, but with Greyson also in the Top 100 and several other spellings in or just outside the Top 1000, that adds up to a very popular sounding name.

Luca also deserves a special mention: it moves from #42 officially to #15 on the Playground Analysis – and the popularity of the very similar Lucas and Luke will make it feel more common still.

Below, see the full Top 50 most popular boy names 2021 according to our Playground Analysis.

Playground Analysis Top 50 Boy Names

1. Liam (#1) – 20520 births – Lyam

2. Jackson (#14) – 19554 births – Jaxon, Jaxson, Jaxxon, Jaxen, Jaxyn, Jaxsen, Jaxsyn

3. Noah (#2) – 18875 births – Noa

4. Oliver (#3) – 14676 births

5. Aiden (#26) – 14342 births – Ayden, Aidan, Adan, Aden, Aydin, Aydan, Eiden, Eydan, Aidyn, Adin, Eyden, Aiyden

6. Elijah (#4) – 13680 births – Alijah, Elyjah

7. Lucas (#8) –13283 births – Lukas

8. Grayson (#35) – 12489 births – Greyson, Graysen, Greysen

9. James (#5) – 12396 births

10. William (#6) – 12088 births

11. Benjamin (#7) – 11854 births

12. Mateo (#15) – 11633 births – Matteo, Matheo

13. Kayden (#108) – 11590 births – Kaiden, Caden, Kaden, Cayden, Caiden, Kaeden, Kaidyn, Kaedyn, Keyden, Kadyn

14. Henry (#9) – 11473 births – Henri

15. Luca (#42) – 10871 births – Luka, Lucca, Lukah, Lucah

16. Michael (#17) – 9904 births – Mikael, Micheal, Mikel, Mykel

17. Alexander (#13) – 9861 births – Alexzander, Aleksander

18. Mason (#18) – 9734 births – Mayson, Maison, Masen, Masyn

19. Levi (#12) – 9627 births – Levy

20. Theodore (#10) – 9612 births – Theodor

21. Jack (#11) – 9535 births

22. Jayden (#41) – 9411 births – Jaden, Jaiden, Jadon, Jaydon, Jaidyn, Jaydan, Jeyden, Jaeden

23. Ethan (#20) – 9182 births – Eithan

24. Daniel (#16) – 9149 births

25. Carter (#39) – 9103 births – Karter

26. Sebastian (#19) – 9097 births – Sebastien, Sabastian

27. Jacob (#24) – 8859 births – Jakob, Jaycob, Jakub

28. Miles (#54) – 8847 births – Myles

29. Logan (#21) – 8820 births

30. Owen (#22) – 8758 births

31. Samuel (#23) – 8565 births

32. John (#27) – 8471 births

33. Asher (#25) – 8281 births

34. Joseph (#28) – 8184 births – Josef

35. Julian (#33) – 8162 births – Julien

36. Wyatt (#29) – 8006 births

37. David (#30) – 7881 births

38. Leo (#31) – 7776 births

39. Josiah (#49) – 7768 births – Jasiah, Joziah, Jesiah, Jessiah, Jaziah

40. Matthew (#36) – 7740 births – Mathew

41. Luke (#32) – 7726 births – Luc

42. Hudson (#34) – 7717 births – Hudsyn

43. Isaac (#40) – 7645 births – Issac, Isaak, Izaak, Izaac

44. Ezra (#37) – 7542 births – Ezrah

45. Dylan (#44) – 7507 births – Dillon, Dilan, Dillan

46. Caleb (#51) – 7505 births – Kaleb

47. Gabriel (#38) – 7251 births

48. Cameron (#62) – 6995 births – Kameron, Kamryn, Kamron, Camren, Camron, Camryn, Kamren, Kamran

49. Thomas (#46) – 6981 births – Tomas

50. Lincoln (#45) – 6953 births – Linkin

It’s interesting to note how many more variant spellings there are on average for girl names compared to boy names, with a few notable exceptions. And, despite that, it’s also interesting to see how many more boys than girls receive these Top 50 names each year.

Readers, do these lists echo what you are hearing on the playground? Have any of you changed your baby name choice based on the Playground Analysis? Share your comments on the Nameberry forums!

About the Author

Kelli Brady

Kelli Brady is a stay at home mom of two who needed an outlet for her name obsession. She found it at NameFreak!, a blog dedicated to a wide variety of name-related whims and fancies. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Her eBook, Name-alytics, is a look at the history of the Top 100 names in the United States. Check it out at https://gumroad.com/l/name-alytics!