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Most Common Names for Boys

Common names are not the same as popular names: Common names are those most often found among the total population or for a certain period of time, as opposed to those popular for babies born in any one year. These are the 100 most common names for males in the US in the past century, with James at the top of the list, followed by John, Robert, Michael, and William.

Along with James and William, other common boy names that remain in the US Top 50 include Alexander, Benjamin, David, Gabriel, Henry, Jacob, Noah, and Samuel. The common names for boys that have fallen the farthest in popularity include Ralph, Willie, Gerald, and Billy.

Some popular names for boys today, such as Number one Liam, don't yet make it onto the list of the century's most common male names. Over time, older names such as Gary and Eugene will pass away, to be replaced by names such as Aiden and Jackson given to so many baby boys today.
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ArthurHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    " bear"
  • Description:

    Arthur, once the shining head of the Knights of the Round Table, is, after decades of neglect, now being polished up and restored by some stylish parents, emerging as a top contender among names for the new royal prince.

HenryHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Henry was derived from the French Henri, which ultimately comes from the Germanic name Heimrich, made up of the components heim, meaning “home” or “estate,” and rich, meaning “ruler.” The most famous wearer is Henry VIII of England, best known for having six wives—two of whom he beheaded for not bearing him sons. It’s been used in the British royal family many times since.

JackHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Jack is a derivative of John that originated in medieval England. The name went from John to Johnkin to Jankin to Jackin to Jack. The name was so common in the Middle Ages that Jack became a generic term for a man.

ThomasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "twin"
  • Description:

    Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.

JamesHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Jacob, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    James is an English derivation of the Hebrew name Jacob. James is biblical (the name of two apostles in the New Testament), royal (kings of both England and Scotland), presidential (with more U.S. Chief Executives named James (six) than any other name), and it is shared by countless great writers and entertainers.
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EthanHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "strong, firm"
  • Description:

    Ethan derives from the Hebrew name Eitan. There are several Ethans in the Old Testament, the most prominent of whom, Ethan the Ezrahite, is praised for his wisdom. International variations include Etan and Izan.

ZacharyHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord has remembered"
  • Description:

    Zachary is the English variation of Zacharias, which itself is derived from the Hebrew name Zechariah. The name Zachary is attached to eight different people in the Bible, the most prominent being the father of John the Baptist, and it's also presidential, via 12th president Zachary Taylor. Zackery is an alternate spelling, and nicknames include Zack, Zach, Zac, and Zak.

JacobHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Jacob comes from the Latin name Iacobus, which was ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Ya’aqov. In the Old Testament, Jacob was one of the most important patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. He was the youngest son of Isaac and Rebecca and the twin brother of Esau, as well as the husband of both Leah and Rachel. The 12 tribes of Israel evolved from his 12 sons.

NoahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "rest, repose"
  • Description:

    Noah was derived from the Hebrew name Noach, which itself came from the root nuach, meaning “rest.” In the bible, Noah was deemed the only righteous man of his time, singled out by God to survive the great flood sent to punish the world. Noa is generally a separate feminine Hebrew name, although it's also found as a variant spelling of the male name Noah.

CharlesHeart

  • Origin:

    French from German
  • Meaning:

    "man, free man"
  • Description:

    Charles derives from the Germanic name Karl, meaning "man" or "freeman", and is a royal name in multiple European countries. A famous early bearer is Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and then Roman Emperor in the 8th-9th centuries. The word for “king” in several languages came from Charles, including Slavic, Russian, and Polish.
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LouisHeart

  • Origin:

    German and French
  • Meaning:

    "renowned warrior"
  • Description:

    Kate and William shocked the world when they announced that they'd named their third child Louis -- Prince Louis Arthur Charles, to be more precise. But we've been predicting a comeback for this classic name for a long time.

WilliamHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    William is derived from the Germanic name Wilhelm, composed of the elements wil, “will,” and helm, referring to a helmet or protection. The name was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, with William being the Norman variation of the name. In Central and Southern France, it was translated as Guillaume.

SamuelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "told by God"
  • Description:

    Samuel was derived from the Hebrew name Shemu’el, meaning “told by God.” In the Old Testament, Samuel was one of the great judges and prophets of the Israelites, destined for a holy life from birth. He established the Hebrew monarchy, anointing both Saul and David as kings.

MichaelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "who is like God?"
  • Description:

    Michael was derived from the name Mikha’el, which comes from the rhetorical question mī kā’ēl, meaning “who is like God?” in Hebrew. In the Bible, Michael is the archangel who led the other angels to victory in a war against Satan, one of only two archangels (the other is Gabriel) recognized by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. The widespread popularity of Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan were major contributors to its long-running success.

DanielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my judge"
  • Description:

    Daniel was derived from the Hebrew name Daniyyel, from the elements din, meaning “judge,” and ’el, “God.” The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament describes the Jewish prophet’s life of captivity in Babylon and visions of the last days of Earth. Dan and Danny are common short forms of Daniel.
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AndrewHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Andrew is a variant of the Greek name Andreas, ultimately derived from the element aner, meaning “man.” In the New Testament, Andrew was one of the twelve apostles and the first disciple to be called by Jesus. Although the origins of the name are Greek, Andrew is the patron saint of both Scotland and Russia, as well as Greece. It has associations with two of America's most famous artists, Wyeth and Warhol.

AlexanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "defending men"
  • Description:

    Alexander is derived from the Greek name Aléxandros, composed of the elements aléxein, meaning “to defend,” and aner, meaning “man.” According to Greek legend, the first Alexander was Paris, who was given the nickname Alexander by the shepherds whose flocks he defended against robbers. He was followed by Alexander the Great, aka Alexander III, who conquered much of Asia.

DylanHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "son of the sea"
  • Description:

    Dylan was derived of the Welsh components dy and llanw, meaning “sea.” In Welsh mythology, Dylan was a legendary sea god who prompted all the waters of Britain and Ireland to weep when he died. The name came to prominence via the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, whose name Bob Dylan adopted in tribute.

AnthonyHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "priceless one"
  • Description:

    Anthony is derived from the Roman family name Antonii, and was initially used as Antony, without the “h.” The name evolved into Anthony in the 17th century, when it was speculated that it derived from the Greek word anthos, meaning “flower.” In England, whether it's spelled Anthony or Antony, the name is often pronounced as the latter, while Americans typically utter the “h” if present.

LoganHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "small hollow"
  • Description:

    Logan originated as a Scottish surname which was derived from a place of that name in Ayrshire. The place name came from lagan, a Scottish Gaelic diminutive of lag, meaning “hollow.” Alternate spellings include Logon, Logen, and Logyn, which is more common among girls.
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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.

RyanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little king"
  • Description:

    Ryan’s use as a given name was inspired by the surname Ryan, a variation of the Irish O’Riain meaning “son of Rían.” Rían is composed of the Irish-Gaelic elements , meaning “king” and an, a diminutive suffix. Ryan is considered a unisex name in the US, where variant spellings Ryann and Ryanne are also valid for girls.

JohnHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    John is an English derivative of the Hebrew name Yochanan via the Latin name Iohannes, itself coming from the Greek Ioannes. John was a key name in early Christianity, borne by John the Baptist, John the Apostle and John the Evangelist, plus 84 saints and 23 popes, as well as kings and countless other illustrious notables. Contrary to popular belief, the names John and Jonathan are unrelated, the latter being an elaboration of Nathan.

DavidHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "beloved"
  • Description:

    David is derived from the Hebrew name Dawid, which evolved from the element dod, meaning “beloved.” It is the name of the Old Testament second king of Israel who, as a boy, slew the giant Philistine Goliath with his slingshot. He grew up to become a wise and highly cultivated leader who enjoyed music and was a poet, later providing inspiration to such great sculptors as Michelangelo and Donatello.

BrandonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "broom-covered hill"
  • Description:

    Brandon, a forebear of the Braden-Caden pack, had a great run of popularity over several decades, being in the Top 10 from 1992 to 1998, one of its inspirations being hearthrob Brandon Walsh played by Jason Priestley on the original Beverly Hills 90210--and it was aso the name of several soap opera characters.
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JoshuaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord is my salvation"
  • Description:

    Joshua was derived from the Hebrew name Yehoshu’a, from the roots yeho, referring to God, and yasha’, meaning “to save.” Joshua shares origins with the name Jesus, which comes from the Aramaic variation Yeshu’a. An important figure in the Old Testament, Joshua was the successor to Moses who finally led the Israelites into the Promised Land, inspiring the hymn "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho."

NathanHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "given"
  • Description:

    Nathan was derived from the name Natan, which came from Hebrew verb natan, meaning “gave.” In the Old Testament, Nathan was the name of a prophet and also that of one of King David's sons. Nathaniel and Jonathan are related names.

BenjaminHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "son of the right hand"
  • Description:

    Benjamin is derived from the Hebrew name Binyamin, from the elements ben, meaning “son” and yamin, “right hand.” In the Old Testament, Benjamin was the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob and Rachel in the Book of Genesis, and he was one of the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Nicknames for Benjamin include Ben, Benny, Benji, and Benno.

NicholasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "people of victory"
  • Description:

    Nicholas is derived from the Greek Nikolaos, a name that evolved from the components nikē, meaning “victory”, and laos, “people.” It shares origins with Nike, the name of the Greek goddess of victory. Nicholas is also a New Testament name that is well-used in literature, such as in Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby.

KevinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "handsome"
  • Description:

    Kevin was derived from the name Caoimhín, which originated from the Irish elements coém, meaning “handsome,” and gein, “birth.” The feminine name Caiomhe, anglicized as Keeva, comes from the same origins. Kevin was first popularized by the seventh century Saint Kevin, who founded a scholastic monastery near Dublin and was rewarded by being made one of that city's patron saints.
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AaronHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "high mountain; exalted, enlightened"
  • Description:

    The origin of the name Aaron is debated—some say it was derived from Hebrew, while others claim it originated in Ancient Egypt. In the Old Testament, Aaron, the older brother of Moses who was appointed by God to be his brother's spokesman, was the first High Priest of the Israelites. The Hebrew version is Aharon—in Yiddish it can be Aaran—and the name appears in Arabic as Haroun or Harun.

VincentHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "conquering"
  • Description:

    Vincent is a name with a complex image. After being quietly used for centuries, it is suddenly seeming stylish, along wih other V names. Even the nickname Vince has been given a reprieve via actor Vince Vaughn and country singer Vince Gill. Vin Diesel was born with the more prosaic name Mark Vincent.

MatthewHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Matthew is the English derivative of Matthaios, the Greek form of the Hebrew Mattiyahu, composed of mattan, meaning “gift” and yah, in reference to God. The biblical Matthew was the apostle who wrote the first Gospel in the New Testament. Mateo, Matthias, Teo, Matek, and Mattia are among the many named derived from Matthew.

GabrielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my strength"
  • Description:

    Gabriel was derived from the Hebrew name Gavri’el, taken from the elements gever, meaning “strong,” and ’el, in reference to God. In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is the archangel who heralded the news of Jesus' birth, and appears in Christian, Jewish and Muslim texts. He presides over Paradise, serving as the angel of mercy, life, joy, judgment, truth and dreams.

PatrickHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "noble, patrician"
  • Description:

    Patrick, long tied to a hyper-Irish image, is enjoying something of a renaissance as a stylish classic, as it has long been considered in England. Along with such choices as Charles and George, Patrick has escaped overuse in recent decades.
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PeterHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "rock"
  • Description:

    Peter is derived from the Greek Petros, meaning “rock” or “stone.” One of the most important figures in the Christian hagiography is Saint Peter, keeper of the Gates of Heaven. Born Simon bar Jonah, he was given the nickname Peter by Jesus, to signify that he would be the rock on which Christ would build Christianity. Centuries later, there was Peter the Great, the czar who developed Russia as a major European power.

JosephHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah increases"
  • Description:

    Joseph evolved from the Hebrew name Yosef, which was derived from the verb yasaf, meaning “to increase.” In the Old Testament, Joseph is the 11th and favorite son of Jacob and Rachel; in the New Testament, it is the name of the carpenter husband of the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. Joe and Joey are common nicknames for Joseph, and Josephine is the feminine form.

WalterHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "army ruler"
  • Description:

    Walter was seen as a noble name in the Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Walter Scott era, but it then spent decades in baby name limbo. Now quite a few independent-minded parents are looking at it as a renewable, slightly quirky, classic, stronger and more distinctive than James or John, second only to William among the handsome classic boy baby names starting with W. The recent popularity of Breaking Bad has brought us Walter White, conferring on the name Walter a new kind of cool and prompting a fresh wave of popularity.

EdwardHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "wealthy guardian"
  • Description:

    Unlike perennials William, John and James, Edward is a classic that moves in and out of fashion. This royal Anglo-Saxon standard has benefited in recent years from the popularity of the hot hero of the vampire sensation Twilight -- Edward Cullen -- who has given his name a new infusion of cool.

ChristopherHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek and Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bearer of Christ"
  • Description:

    Christopher derived from the Greek Christophoros, which is composed of the elements Christos, referring to Christ, and phero, meaning “to bear.” The name was originally used figuratively, to represent the bearing of Christ in one’s heart. Later it became used to honor Saint Christopher, a third century martyr who became the protective saint of travelers, reflecting the legend of Christopher being the giant who carried the Christ Child over a river.
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RobertHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "bright fame"
  • Description:

    Robert was derived from the ancient Germanic name Hrodebert, from the elements hrod, meaning “fame” and bertha, “bright.” Robert was the name of three kings of Scotland, including Robert the Bruce, who freed Scotland from English rule. The name was brought to England by the Normans.

AdamHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "son of the red earth"
  • Description:

    Adam -- a primal Old Testament name -- was revived as a 1960s cowboy name. Adam is not as popular as it once was and feels ready for a respite, replaced by newer A names like Aidan/Aiden, Avery and Axel. Its most prominent current bearers include Adams Sandler, Levine, Brody and Driver -- who plays a character named Adam on Girls.

JesseHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift"
  • Description:

    King David's father turned 1980s cowboy, Jesse is now down in popularity. The name is associated with a wide variety of bearers, from outlaw Jesse James to Olympic athlete Jesse Owens to activist Jesse Jackson to current actors Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jesse Eisenberg. The spelling Jesse is more usual as a boys' name while Jessie is more traditional for girls.

EricHeart

  • Origin:

    Old Norse
  • Meaning:

    "eternal ruler"
  • Description:

    Eric is derived from the Old Norse name Eiríkr, from the components ei, meaning “ever,” and ríkr, “rule.” It was adopted by English speakers in the mid-nineteenth century, who were already familiar with the exploits of the tenth century Viking navigator and discoverer of Greenland, Eric the Red. Erik is an alternate spelling and the preferred form of the name across much of Europe.

LawrenceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from Laurentium"
  • Description:

    Lawrence has survived from Roman times, when Laurentium was a city noted for its laurel trees (the laurel is a symbol of wisdom and achievement). It was in the Top 50 from the 1890s through the 1950s and the Top 100 for decades longer, always among the most popular boys' names starting with L, but Lawrence is now used less for babies than Landon or Lorenzo. Nickname Lauro perks it up while Larry feels terminally dated. The Laurence spelling was popularized by Sir Laurence Olivier and is also attached to fellow actor Laurence Fishburne.
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JoseHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and Portuguese version of Joseph
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah increases"
  • Description:

    Jose is as widespread in the Hispanic community as Joseph and Joe are elsewhere in the U.S., though its numbers here are starting to decrease somewhat. Jose is one of those Spanish baby names that has never crossed over into the Anglo naming culture.

HarryHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Henry
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Harry is the medieval English form of Henry, which derived from the Germanic name Heimrich, meaning “estate ruler.” Harry was the nickname of all eight King Henrys; it is also a diminutive of Harold and Harrison.

BruceHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish and English from French
  • Meaning:

    "from the brushwood thicket"
  • Description:

    Bruce is a Norman place name made famous by the Scottish king Robert the Bruce, who won Scotland's independence from England in the fourteenth century. It's perennially popular in Scotland, but has been rarely used here for a generation -- though the impact of Bruces Lee, Springsteen, Dern and Willis, as well as Batman's Bruce Wayne -- still lingers. At one time Bruce was so widespread in Australia, it became a nickname for any Ozzie man. An interesting alternative is Brix, the Normandy place name where the Bruce family originated.

FrankHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Francis or Franklin
  • Meaning:

    "Frenchman or free man"
  • Description:

    A Top 10 name from the 1880s until the 1920s, Frank has fallen from favor but still has a certain warm, friendly real-guy grandpa flavor that could come back into style, like other such choices as Jake and Jack. Maybe thanks to Sinatra, it's become a new hipster favorite with such couples as Diana Krall and Elvis Costello.

JasonHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "to heal"
  • Description:

    Jason, the Number 3 name for the entire decade of the 1970s -- thus the title of our original baby-naming book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason -- is more likely to be dad's name now than baby's, but it's still a widely used name.
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