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American Baby Names

American Baby Names
American baby names come from a range of sources, just like Americans themselves. There are Native American baby names, American place names for babies, names important in American history and namesakes for American heroes and artists, and baby names invented by Americans and used primarily in the US.

Along with Savannah and Lincoln, American baby names ranking in the US Top 100 include Madison, Maverick, and Kennedy. Unique American names gaining visibility range from Denali, the name of Alaska's highest peak, to Jaxton, an American invention.

We are using the word American here in its generic sense, referring to the US only. We realize Canada and Mexico along with several other countries are part of America or more specifically North America. Also, many names popular in the US such as Emma and Liam, while widely used names for American babies, are not included on this list as they have different etymological origins and are not identified as uniquely American.

Here, a curated selection of the best American baby names.
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PhoenixHeart

  • Origin:

    Arizona place-name and Greek
  • Meaning:

    "dark red"
  • Description:

    Phoenix rolls a lot of cool trends into one: it's a place-name and a bird name, it ends in the oh-so-hip letter x, and as the mythic bird that rose from the ashes, it's a symbol of immortality. It's also got celebrity chops, via the acting family that includes Joaquin and the late River, and as the child of an ex-Spice Girl.

MaverickHeart

  • Origin:

    American
  • Meaning:

    "independent, nonconformist"
  • Description:

    At the rate it's growing, Maverick soon won't seem like such a maverick anymore. Heard first in a 1950s James Garner western TV series, and then as the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun, Maverick symbolizes an unfettered, free spirit.

TallulahHeart

  • Origin:

    Choctaw, Irish
  • Meaning:

    "leaping water, lady of abundance"
  • Description:

    As memories of the outragrous actress Talullah Bankhead have faded, this hauntingly euphonious Choctaw name has re-entered the public domain. A modern hipster favorite, it's been chosen for their daughters by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Damian Dash, Rachel Roy and Sara Rue, trail-blazed by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis for their now grown daughter. (Trivia tidbit: Bankhead's namesake was her paternal grandmother who, in turn, was named after the Georgia town of Tallulah Falls.)

AustinHeart

  • Origin:

    English, shortened form of Augustine
  • Meaning:

    "great, magnificent"
  • Description:

    Austin is one of the most attractive city names for babies, with an attractive southwestern feel, place-name panache and the solid base of having long been an Anglo-Saxon surname and a first name since medieval times. Austin reached the Top 10 in the 1990s, but has been gradually slipping down the list.

MadisonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Matthew"
  • Description:

    Madison originated as an English surname, a variant of Mathieson, meaning "son of Matthew." It is occasionally translated as "son of Maud," as Maddy was historically a nickname for Maud. It was introduced as a feminine given name in the 1984 movie Splash, in which the main character takes her name from New York’s Madison Avenue street sign.
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LincolnHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "town by the pool"
  • Description:

    Lincoln cracked the Top 50 for boys' names for the first time in 2016, more than 150 years after the death of its most famous bearer. This is especially remarkable because, as crazy as it seems now, Lincoln was deeply out of fashion as recently as the late 90s, consistently hovering near the bottom of the Top 1000. This admirable presidential choice with a stylish two-syllable sound projects the tall, rangy, upright, image of Honest Abe. Bill Murray is father to a son named Lincoln, and Kathryn Erbe's boy Carson has Lincoln for his middle name. Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard gender-bent it for their daughter.

JacksonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Jack"
  • Description:

    Cool name Jackson is one of the celebrisphere's top favorite boy names, having been chosen by, among others, Spike Lee, Poppy Montgomery, Carson Daly, Maria Bello, Natalie Maines, Scott Wolf, Maya Rudolph, and Katey Sagal. After a spectacular rise, this stylish presidential name has been in the Top 25 since 2010, overtaking John as one of the most popular boy names starting with J.

SavannahHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "flat tropical grassland"
  • Description:

    A place name with a deep Southern accent, the once-obscure Savannah shot to fame, with others of its genre, on the heels of the best seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was set in the mossy Georgia city of Savannah. Originally a substitute for the overused Samantha, Savannah is now becoming overused itself, long among the top girls' names starting with S.

ReaganHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little king"
  • Description:

    A strong, straightforward Irish unisex surname, with a merry glint in its eye, Reagan has been leaping up the popularity lists, to become one of the top girl names starting with R. Some will inevitably link it to President Ronald, but spell it Regan and it's a Shakespearean name: a daughter of King Lear.

KennedyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "misshapen head"
  • Description:

    This attractive surname name still projects that Kennedy family charisma. While it didn't come into widespread use until long after the deaths of martyred heroes President John F. or Senator Robert Kennedy, Kennedy is now one of the most popular unisex names for girls as well as the top girls' name starting with K. This is one name that manages to sound trendy and classic at the same time.
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VirginiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "virginal, pure"
  • Description:

    Virginia is a lovely place name starting with the fashionable V and having deep historical roots, yet, unlike some other other girls' classics, has been sorely neglected in recent years.

AlaskaHeart

  • Origin:

    Native American
  • Meaning:

    "great land"
  • Description:

    State name Alaska stems from an Aleutian word for the land mass itself. The number of baby girls named Alaska has doubled in the past five years, and is sure to continue increasing as more place names are annexed as baby names. Wilder but as habitable as Dakota or Cheyenne, Alaska is a girls' name choice for the future.

SierraHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "saw"
  • Description:

    Sierra is a name borrowed from the western mountain range, with Latin rhythm and cowboy charm, that has led to many offshoots: Cierra, Cyara, and so on. It is now probably past its peak but retains its pretty-yet-strong sound. The meaning refers to the sharp, irregular peaks of some of the Western mountains such as the Sierra Nevada.

LibertyHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Less common than other virtue names, Liberty is nonetheless a name with a long American heritage.

HuckHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Huckleberry, word name
  • Description:

    Though forever tied to Huck, short for Huckleberry, Finn, this is an undeniably cute short form that may have some life as part of the hipster taste for names like Duke and Bix.
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BookerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational surname
  • Meaning:

    "scribe"
  • Description:

    Booker would make for a very cool name, for writers, reformers, R & B fans and those wanting to pay tribute to Booker T. Washington.

CheyenneHeart

  • Origin:

    Sioux
  • Meaning:

    "people of a different language"
  • Description:

    The name of a courageous tribe, Cheyenne became quite popular in the 1990s, inspiring a wide range of spelling variations—Shyanne is one example that's still on the rise.

HawthorneHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "lives where hawthorn hedges grow"
  • Description:

    The great American novelist sets this above many other surnames (and nature names, for that matter), but it's still an imposing and adventurous choice. Do nicknames Hawk or Thorne make it more approachable? The timid should stick with Nathaniel.

BrooklynHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    Extreme makeover: Brooklyn has gone from jokey Borough Boy name in the 1990s to the leading girls' name starting with B. The status of New York's Brooklyn as hipster heaven is ironic as few bona fide Brooklyn hipsters would choose this name.

DakotaHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name; Sioux
  • Meaning:

    "friendly one"
  • Description:

    An early and still one of the most popular unisex names, also a place name and name of a Native American people in the northern Mississippi valley, which makes it a controversial baby name choice. While the popularity of Dakota is trending downward for both genders, it's one of those rare genuinely gender-neutral names that is used for nearly equal numbers of boys and girls.
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RowdyHeart

  • Origin:

    American word name
  • Description:

    Rowdy was first famously used as a given name in the television series Rawhide, with the young Clint Eastwood playing Rowdy Yates. More recently, competitive swimmer Rowdy Gaines has been featured in a series of TV commercials, and a new badass baby name is gaining notice. The word Rowdy originated in the U.S. in the early 19th century, used to describe a rough or lawless backwoodsman. It's one of the distinctly American names.

BodeHeart

  • Origin:

    Possible diminutive of Bodhi
  • Description:

    Bode is a short and sharp name that re-entered the Top 1000 in 2014 after a few years off the list. However, with its flat sound and omen-related meaning, we do not think naming your son Bode bodes very well.

HuckleberryHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name and literary name
  • Description:

    Everybody knows Huckleberry Finn, the Mark Twain character named, Twain said, for the 19th century slang term for "humble." A few modern parents have put it on a birth certificate, including "Man Vs. Wild" star Bear Grylls, who, like many parents, will call the boy the much more manageable Huck. It was also the name of a child on TV's West Wing,

KayleeHeart

  • Origin:

    American variation of Kayla
  • Meaning:

    "laurel, crown"
  • Description:

    A widely used name, Kaylee pulls together something from Kayla and something from Hailey, yet somehow loses something in the process. It has surpassed cousin Kayla on the charts and is one of three girls' names starting with Kthat ranks in the US Top 100.

StetsonHeart

  • Origin:

    American surname
  • Description:

    Most known as a popular brand of Western hats, this surname has a brief history as a given name. It charted in the US Top 1000 in 1989 and 1991-95. It has been experiencing renewed interest in the last few years, having reentered the popularity charts in 2013 and now ranking its highest ever at Number 709.
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DaxtonHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    More and more parents are turning to this name as a route to the cool nickname Dax.

CarolinaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Caroline; also place-name
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    Languid, romantic, and classy, this variation heats up Caroline and modernizes Carol, adding a southern accent.

IndianaHeart

  • Origin:

    American place-name
  • Meaning:

    "land of the Indians"
  • Description:

    Indiana is one of those place-names (think Camden and Trenton) that sounds cooler than the place that inspired it. Its fashionable -ana ending certainly sounds eminently name-like, and Indie/Indy/Indi is one of the hottest nickname names for girls right now.

SpikeHeart

  • Origin:

    American nickname name
  • Description:

    Spike is part mid-century nickname-name, ala Buster or Buck, and part word name, with an all-over cool creative dude feel thanks to directors Spike Lee and Spike Jonze. Mike Myers named his son Spike. That's right: Spike and Mike. Spike qualifies as one of the distinctly American names.

JaxtonHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    We've had Jackson, Jaxcon and Jaxon, and now we have Jaxton.
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KaidenHeart

  • Origin:

    Spelling variation of Kaden, modern invented name
  • Description:

    This version of Kaden is also a popular choice and one of the many boys' names starting with k that can also start with a C, as in Caiden, Cayden et al.. Kaiden Alenko is a character in the video game Mass Effect.

ZumaHeart

  • Origin:

    American place-name and Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "peace"
  • Description:

    Zuma was entered in the American name lexicon when musicians Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale chose it for their son. Californians will recognize Zuma as the name of a beautiful beach in Malibu, and it's also the surname of a South African president. With the lovely meaning of peace and its place-name associations, Zuma is one of those American names that literally sprang from the earth.

ZaydenHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    The most popular spelling of the fast-climbing member of the Aiden-rhyming clan is used by parents who love the first initial Z. Zaiden is nearly as popular, and Zaden is a ways behind.

WrenleyHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    With Wren gaining a lot of popularity recently, it's not surprising to see variants already popping up. Wrenley, which jumps on the Wren bandwagon and adds the trendy "ley" suffix for good measure, was given to thirteen baby girls in the USA in 2014; we haven't seen it pop up anywhere else yet, but we think it's only a matter of time.

BronxHeart

  • Origin:

    Place name
  • Description:

    Rockers Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz put a new baby name on the map when they chose this downscale New York borough name for their son. The Bronx, the place, was named for early Dutch settler Jonas Bronck. Might Bronx become the next Brooklyn? We'd be surprised if it did.
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TopangaHeart

  • Origin:

    Native American
  • Meaning:

    "where the mountain meets the sea"
  • Description:

    Used for a free-spirited character on a 1990s sitcom, this name of a beautiful Southern California canyon does have an unconventional aura.

RebelHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Meaning:

    "rebel"
  • Description:

    Asking for trouble. Rebel Wilson is female, but this name is truly gender neutral, though hardly neutral in any other way. Rebel is undoubtedly one of the edgiest boys' names starting with the letter R.

RaylanHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    Raylan, one of an uncountable number of two syllable, surname-like boys’ names end in n that are in style these days, is inspired by Raylan Givens, the cowboy hat-wearing U.S. Marshall created by writer Elmore Leonard and starring in the television series Justified. The Ray part of the name is of course a traditional choice -- it's usually said to mean "wise" -- but the lan takes it out of Old School Raymond territory. Other variations include Raylen, Raylon, Rayden and so on. The name is also sometimes given to girls, but not nearly as often as it is for boys.

GloryHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Glory sounds fresh and uplifting and a lot more modern than Gloria (which is definitely feeling the stirrings of a revival, though some might still view it as a terminal Old Lady name). Glory, as in "Glory Be" and "Old Glory," has both a religious and a patriotic flavor.

JulyHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "month name"
  • Description:

    Most things Jul-related – from the month of July to popular modern names Julia and Julian – originate with Roman emperor Julius Caesar, and the month name July is no exception. Fifteen girls and seven boys were named July in 2013, putting this month name into the class of gender neutral names.
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SequoiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Native American, Cherokee
  • Meaning:

    "sparrow"
  • Description:

    This name of a giant tree, itself named for a nineteenth-century Cherokee who invented a way to write his tribe's language, makes a strong, stately statement.

MileyHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    One-time overnight success name, thanks to Hannah Montana actress and singer Miley Cyrus, Miley has fallen quickly from her peak of Number 127 in 2008. For Miley Cyrus, Miley was a childhood nickname (because she was so smiley); Destiny is her real name. Miley is a good lesson in avoiding trendy names. Popular opinion of the source can sour leaving a fresh name looking dated.

BeyonceHeart

  • Origin:

    Invented name
  • Description:

    You know who Beyonce is. One of the most famous people in the world. When she was born, her name was truly unique; it was a riff on her mom's maiden name, Biyence, with an accent over the final e.

MontanaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish place-name; "mountainous"
  • Meaning:

    "mountainous"
  • Description:

    Relaxed western place-name that still has some masculine punch, but be warned: this whole posse of similarly trendy names, like Sierra and Dakota, will soon ride toward the sunset.

TimberHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    Though some forward-looking parents are now choosing wood-related names like Oak, Pine, and Ash, this generic option would be even more avant garde.
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JeffersonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Jeffrey"
  • Description:

    The name of the third U.S. President sounds, like Harrison and Jackson, more modern and stylish now than its root name. Used as a first name long before our surname-crazed era, Jefferson was most famously connected to the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis--and is the middle name of another Prez, William Clinton. Fictional Jeffersons include Jefferson Bricks in Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit and Jefferson Almond in Henry James' Washington Square, the title character in the Frank Capra classic film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," plus others--for better and for worse-- in "Married With Children," "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Kit Kittridge: An American Girl."

AmericaHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    Given to children of both sexes as far back as colonial times, this carries a lot of baggage. However, parents continue to take the risk. Actress America Ferrera may be have inspired some families to choose the name. Ferrera's Honduras-born mother shares her unusual name.

KimberHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Kimberley
  • Description:

    This diminutive of Kimberley is gaining momentum as a standalone name. For our part, we're stumped by its rise.

ClintonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "hilltop town"
  • Description:

    Like many names that have strong political connotations, the attractiveness of the name Clinton will be affected by your world-view. But, taking politics out of the equation, Clinton has a lovely pastoral meaning, a strong sound and a tremendously wearable nickname - Clint - all which would seem to be in its favor for at least a second thought.

KateriHeart

  • Origin:

    Mohawk variation of Katherine
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    St. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American saint, canonized in 2012. St. Kateri was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior, born in 1656 in upstate New York. She converted to Christianity at age 20 and died at 24, and was known as "Lily of the Mohawk." Kateri was the name the saint took on, a native variation of Katherine, upon her baptism.
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