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Most popular baby names in the past 100 years

  • Most popular baby names in the past 100 years

    A name can be a crucial building block for one’s identity. Whether a child is named in honor of a grandparent, a fictional character, or just because a chosen moniker sounds pretty, that choice will likely remain with the person for the rest of their life. But did you know that names can also impact level of success and likelihood of getting a job? There have also been cases where judges have had to legally intervene and prevent attempted name changes on the grounds of abuse, confusion, or simply being too bizarre (sorry, 1069). Names, it is clear, have power.

    But certain name trends have withstood the test of time. Stacker has combed through Social Security Administration data, examining births from 1918 to 2017, and the corresponding names given to newborns. All names are from Social Security card applications for births within the U.S., and the top 50 for each gender are ranked according to their popularity within the total births over the past 100 years.

    Read on to find out which names qualify as the most popular. Spoiler alert: 1069 not included.  

    ALSO: Fastest falling baby names of the last 50 years

  • #50. Jerry (boys)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 603,690

    Rank in 2017: #556

    Total babies born in 2017: 488

    Peak year: 1947

    Perhaps the multitude of famous Jerrys, from Seinfeld to a certain mischievous mouse, have contributed to the popularity of this beloved name. Jerry has somewhat fallen from grace—there were more than 17,000 baby Jerrys in 1943, and only 488 in 2017. However, hope of a comeback is never fully lost.

     

  • #50. Emma (girls)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 544,181

    Rank in 2017: #1

    Total babies born in 2017: 19,738

    Peak year: 2003

    Though the origin of the name Emma dates back earlier than the 18th century, the rise of its popularity may be connected to the 1709 Matthew Prior poem, “Henry and Emma." Of course, Jane Austen's “Emma," published in 1815, probably didn't hurt either. Both of these literary works helped bring the name into a more public light, and in 2017, Emma ranked as the #1 name choice for girls.

     

  • #49. Dennis (boys)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 611,483

    Rank in 2017: #544

    Total babies born in 2017: 510

    Peak year: 1952

    Modern day Dennises have a vast legacy. The name's Greek origin is “Dionysios," which refers to a follower of the god of wine and revelry, Dionysos. The name is also connected to St. Denis, a third century martyr. From martyrdom to debaucherous revelry, Dennis has it covered.

     

  • #49. Carolyn (girls)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 544,283

    Rank in 2017: #841

    Total babies born in 2017: 321

    Peak year: 1947

    The popularity of Carolyn steadily increased throughout the 1930s, rocketing from the #41 spot in girl baby names in 1933, to #10 in 1942. From there, however, its cache began to decrease once again. Carolyn was ranked as 841st in 2017, and only 321 Carolyns were born into the United States last year.

     

  • #48. Jack (boys)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 635,553

    Rank in 2017: #35

    Total babies born in 2017: 8,419

    Peak year: 1927

    Historically and in folklore, Jack is often used to represent a charming, clever, if not slightly off-kilter character—there's Jack Frost, Jack of “Jack and Jill," Jack with his infamous beanstalk, and even Captain Jack Sparrow. The name tends to represent the success of the common man, although of course has been lent to some darker figures, like Jack the Ripper, as well.

     

  • #48. Janet (girls)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 544,939

    Rank in 2017: not in top 1000

    Total babies born in 2017: data not available

    Peak year: 1954

    The name Janet was originally inspired by a shorter version of the name Jane, which itself comes from the French for Jehanne. Although data for new baby Janets are not available for the past few years, perhaps the popularity of a certain Janet (both good and bad) will help bring this name back into fashion.

     

  • #47. Alexander (boys)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 646,339

    Rank in 2017: #13

    Total babies born in 2017: 12,467

    Peak year: 1993

    Early popularity of Alexander can almost certainly be traced back to Alexander the Great, the Macedonian ruler who established one of the largest empires of the ancient world. Clearly the name remains beloved and for several years throughout the 1990s, nearly one percent of male babies took the name Alexander. In 2017, the name did not crack the top 10, but was still a common enough choice.

     

  • #47. Rachel (girls)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 546,090

    Rank in 2017: #195

    Total babies born in 2017: 1,591

    Peak year: 1985

    A name is truly part of the cultural zeitgeist when it's linked to a particular hairstyle, but the name Rachel far out-dates Jennifer Aniston's lovely locks on “Friends." Rachel was a biblical figure, appearing in Genesis as the wife of Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin.

     

  • #46. Patrick (boys)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 661,324

    Rank in 2017: #171

    Total babies born in 2017: 2,283

    Peak year: 1964

    While St. Patrick's Day for many in the United States is primarily an excuse to drink, drink, and then drink some more, Saint Patrick himself was vastly responsible for both the Christianization of Ireland, and bringing the name Patrick into vogue. However, the name was not used much on the Emerald Isle before the 17th century, as it was seen “too sacred for everyday use.

     

  • #46. Debra (girls)

    Total babies born in last 100 years: 548,265

    Rank in 2017: not in top 1000

    Total babies born in 2017: data not available

    Peak year: 1955

    Debra, a variant of the name Deborah, has strong Jewish origins. In Hebrew, “devorah" translates to “bee," and Deborah is also the name of a Book of Judges figure in the Old Testament, who leads the Israelites to safety away from the Canaanites. Deborah was later adopted by the English.

     

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