Top Baby Names (and some at the bottom)

Top Baby Names (and some at the bottom)

By Clare Green

The last couple of weeks have seen some big baby name stories in the news, including the release of the US 2018 popularity charts and a new baby for pop royalty – plus scintillating snippets from the rest of the world.

America’s top baby names, state by state

On May 10, right in time for Mothers’ Day, the latest top baby names for the USA came out and the fun began! We’ve already looked at the biggest risers and fallers at the top of the charts, the real-life rankings when you group different spellings together, and new entries to the Top 1000 that are full of potential.

Elsewhere on the web, others have been busy with the data too. Want to know the top boy and girl name for each letter of the alphabet? They could be helpful if you’re looking for a less popular name. For example, the top boy name and girl name starting with Y are way down in the 400s and 500s (that’s Yusuf and Yaretzi), so if you choose a Y name you’re guaranteed it won’t be overused.

How about some of the most interesting names right at the bottom of the list, used for only 5 boys or girls? Name your baby Hamlet, Testimony or Scooter, and chances are they won’t meet another one. In the battle of the car names, Ford wins by a mile, followed by Chevy and Tesla – although that could be in homage to Nikola Tesla rather than the electric car. As predicted, following the bad press around Harvey in late 2017 – first the hurricane and then the Weinstein scandal – the name took a drop in 2018. Almost two years on, Harvey isn’t so much in the public eye, so it will be interesting to see if this is a blip and it goes back to climbing in next year’s charts.

As usual, a week later we got the next treat: the full name statistics for each US state and territory. There’s lots to look at here, and the press has already begun.

If you love a good graphic, here are colorful maps showing the top boy and girl names in each state. They clearly show pockets of preferred names – like Ava and William in the Southern States and on the East Coast – and which states have one-of-a-kind favorite names, like Grayson in South Dakota and local specialty Aurora in Alaska.

Other stand-out state name news includes a snapshot of the Top 5 baby names in Alabama since 1960, and a graph tool that will tell you exactly how popular your name is in Minnesota. (Watch out, you have a limited number of views without subscribing.) You can also see which names are extra big in California: Mateo, Julian, Luna, Victoria and Camila are on the top 10 in the Golden State but not nationally. And finally, find out the biggest risers and new entries to the Top 100 in Georgia, which include Zion, Zuri, Waylon and Ansley.

Psurprised by Psalm

Also just in time for Mothers’ Day, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian announced the name of their fourth child: West, Saint and Chicago’s little brother is Psalm!

Although no one that we know of predicted this exact name, its style comes as no surprise. By now, we’ve all figured out that Kim and Kanye love big bold word names, but our predictions leaned more secular. Others guessed they might choose Bear (“Bear West” would be a phrase name on a par with North West), and there was even a rumor going round that they named their son Pollokshaws, after a district of Glasgow, Scotland! His big brother Saint suggested Sainty 2 would be a good name.

However, Psalm makes perfect psense: Kanye has been going through something of a spiritual awakening recently, including reading the book of Psalms, so this is a neat way to combine music, a biblical name, and the striking Kardashian-West style. Psalm has been used for a handful of boys and girls most years over the last two decades. We’ll have to wait a year to see if it inspires any more parents now.

Name news around the world: Liam and Mila

Liam is the most popular boy name in the US, and it’s big in many other countries too. But one place you won’t find any Liams is Iceland…until now. It’s just been added to the country’s list of approved names, along with Kira, Náttúra (meaning nature), Lucia, Snæsól (meaning snow-sun), Kusi (meaning kiss) and Neó. Tough luck if you want to name your Icelandic baby Jette, Marzellíus or Midian: those names have been rejected.

What’s the point in studying names? We can probably come up with a hundred answers between us, but in France one good reason is that the country doesn’t collect census data on ethnicity or religion. Looking at baby names can help to fill the gap and make educated guesses about the nation’s make-up. For example, a recent study found that while first-generation migrants from North Africa often use traditional Arabic names like Mohamed, second-generation parents are more likely to use international names that cross cultures and languages, like Sarah and Mila.

Teacher troubles

It’s common for people who work with children, like teachers and sports coaches, to find choosing baby names extra hard. Here three teachers who weigh in on the names that children make or break for them. For some, a whole naming style makes their heart sink, while sometimes one otherwise great name, like Will, is tainted by one individual. If you’re a teacher, or meet a lot of kids, does this ring true for you?

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare Green

Clare Green has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from names peaking right now to feminist baby names, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. Her work has featured in publications such as The Independent and HuffPost. Clare has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and recently completed an MA dissertation researching names in multilingual families. She lives in England with her husband and son. You can reach her at