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Top Middle Names

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The top middle names for baby boys and girls over the last century are a more stable group than first names, which go in and out of fashion more dramatically and rapidly. The most common middle names, on the other hand, often honor family members or provide a smooth bridge between first and last names, so they're a less diverse group.

For girls, the top middle names of the last hundred years are Marie, Ann (and Anne), and Elizabeth. For boys, Michael ranks as the top middle name of the century, followed by Joseph, William, and James.

Girl middle names popular in the first half of the 20th century that later faded away include Irene, Mae and May, and Ruth. After 1950, middle names for girls that rose to prominence include Kay, Sue, and Renee. After the year 2000, Rose, Grace, and Faith became popular middle names for girls.

For boys, middle names popular before 1950 include Henry, Francis, and Eugene. After 1950, Lee, Ray, and Wayne came into use. Lee remained popular as a middle name for boys after the year 2000, when Alexander and Matthew also came into play.

Here, based on official records, are the top middle names for babies in the US for the past 120 years.

  • Alan

    In its three most popular spellings -- Alan along with Allen and Allan -- this midcentury favorite has tended to skew older. It was a Top 100 name from 1938 to 1971, peaking at Number 40 in 1951.... Read More 

  • Alexander

    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... Read More 

  • Allen

    Allen is the spelling of this name -- other common spellings are Alan and Allan -- most associated with the surname; it might also be the most appropriate if you're trying to steer clear of Al as... Read More 

  • Andrew

    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... Read More 

  • Ann

    Ann, the name of the sainted mother of the Virgin Mary, was among the top girls’ names for centuries, in both the original English Ann spelling and... Read More 

  • Anne

    The name of the sainted mother of the Virgin Mary was among the top girls’ names for centuries, in both the original English Ann spelling and the... Read More 

  • Anthony

    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... Read More 

  • Charles

    Charles was derived from the Germanic name Karl, which came from the word karlaz, meaning “free man.” The now-defunct Anglo-Saxon variation of Charles was Ceorl, from which the word... Read More 

  • David

    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... Read More 

  • Edward

    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... Read More 

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