It’s a question expecting parents get on a regular basis: Do they have a name for their soon-to-be-born child yet? Naming a child is a massive responsibility; one that will impact how people see the child throughout the rest of their lives. Some research suggests that a person’s name can influence many different factors in their lives, from their profession to their choice of spouse to whether or not they’re accepted to a particular school (though more recent findings have called into question a few of those conclusions).
Still, whether or not a name determines if someone ends up working as a doctor or a lawyer, names still have a huge impact on a person’s identity. Parents taking on this weighty responsibility vary greatly on their approach to naming their newborns. Some prefer to stick to family names, some look to classic and timeless names that will never go out of fashion, others favor unique names that may raise a few eyebrows, and some parents even let their children choose. Additionally, various cultures have different naming traditions—for example, parents in the days of early Christianity were encouraged to name their children after early church figures while in some Jewish cultures, it’s taboo to name your child after a living relative.
Naming trends follow a fascinating path throughout American history. Today, America’s diverse population has led to a wide variety in baby names that reflect historical figures, religious and cultural preferences, and pop culture. To help understand which names dominate today, Stacker looked to data from the Social Security Administration, which ranks names by the number of babies born in 2018.
Read on to find out if your name, the names of your children, or other family and friends land on this list of the most popular names in the U.S.
Story updated by Isabel Sepulveda.
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- Babies born: 6,719
Leo is Latin for lion and represents an astrological sign—as well as many famous popes, 13 of them to be exact. Other famous bearers of the name include Russian author Leo Tolstoy (of “War and Peace” fame) and famous actor Leo (short for Leonardo) DiCaprio (known for “Titanic” among other movie credits).
- Babies born: 6,779
In Aramaic, Thomas means “twin.” The name has biblical ties, too. In the New Testament, it's Thomas the apostle who doubted the return of Jesus, inspiring the term “doubting Thomas.”
- Babies born: 6,802
Asher, a name with Jewish origins, means happy or blessed, and can be traced to the Old Testament: Asher was Jacob’s eighth son and Zilpah’s second son. Asher began shooting up in popularity in the U.S. in the early 2000s.
- Babies born: 6,905
With Irish origins and a meaning of “little king,” boys named Ryan share the name with a number of well-known celebrities. Ryan O'Neal was one of the first to make the name famous, and nowadays, actors like Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, and TV and radio host Ryan Seacrest keep the name in headlines.
- Babies born: 6,929
The name Caleb comes from the Hebrew word for “dog.” Modern translations, however, often include references to faith and devotion.
- Babies born: 7,020
Theodore, often shortened to Teddy, has religious connotations: The name means God-given. Perhaps the most famous Theodore in American history was the 26th President Theodore Roosevelt, for which the classic childrens’ toy is named after, the teddy bear.
- Babies born: 7,234
The name Andrew has biblical roots, and means “manly.” It's often shortened to Andy or Drew, both of which also made it to the top 500 names of 2017.
- Babies born: 7,261
Christopher has Greek origins and a meaning of “one who carries Christ.” It has been a popular name for boys for decades, peaking at #2 first in 1972–73, and then again from 1979 to 1994.
- Babies born: 7,368
Perhaps most well known as the surname of the 16th U.S. president, Lincoln now holds its own as a popular first name. The name has Celtic and English origins, and means “lakeside colony.”
- Babies born: 8,003
The name Anthony, said to mean “priceless one,” is Latin in origin. It can be traced to the Roman family name "Antonius," of which the famous historial figure Marcus Anotonius (also known as Mark Anthony in English) belonged. He was a ruler and general who lived from 83–30 B.C.; and was married to Cleopatra at the end of both of their lives.
- Babies born: 8,169
A Spanish version of a biblical name, Mateo has soared in popularity in recent years. Mateo is the name of Jane's son in the massively popular TV show "Jane the Virgin," which aired from 2014 to 2019. The English version, Matthew, has been steadily near the top of the charts for decades: The name means, “gift of God.”
- Babies born: 8,335
The name of a messenger of God in the Bible, Gabriel means “God is my strong man.” The angel Gabriel also serves as a prominent figure in Jewish and Islamic texts.
- Babies born: 8,417
Another name with strong biblical roots, Isaac is Hebrew for “he will laugh.” The name also belongs to renowned English physicist, Isaac Newton.
- Babies born: 8,440
Meaning “joined in harmony,” Levi has roots in Hebrew. The name also has ties to modern U.S. history since it belongs to German immigrant Levi Strauss, whose Levi Strauss and Co. made the first blue jeans.
- Babies born: 8,538
An English name that means “son of the gray-haired one,” Grayson also serves as a surname. Those with the name share it with the fictional Dick Grayson, alter-ego of Robin, sidekick to superhero Batman.
- Babies born: 8,553
A newer name to climb the charts, Jayden skyrocketed to popularity in the first decade of this century when multiple celebrities chose it for their sons (including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, Andre Agassi, and Christian Slater). The name, which has Hebrew roots and means “thankful,” was given to nearly 90,000 boys between 2000 and 2009.
- Babies born: 8,577
Luke has a meaning of “light giving.” It also has biblical ties—the third book in the New Testament is the Book of Luke—as well as pop culture connections. The original “Star Wars” film, with lead character Luke Skywalker, was released in 1977, just three years before Luke first appeared on the top 100 names chart.
- Babies born: 9,119
John reigns as one of the most popular boy names of all time, with over 4.5 million Johns born in the United States since 1918. The name means “God is gracious” in Hebrew.
- Babies born: 9,127
With roots as an English last name, Wyatt is now popular as a first name, too. It means “little warrior.” Some celebrities, including Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell as well as Sheryl Crow more recently, have named their sons Wyatt, suggesting a possible source for the name’s recent popularity surge.
- Babies born: 9,288
A traditional Welsh name, parents who pick the name Owen may be drawn to its meanings of “young warrior” and “noble.” Well-known Owens of pop culture include actor Owen Wilson, the title character in John Irving's “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” and more recently, fictional protagonist Owen Grady of the “Jurassic World” movie series.
- Babies born: 9,312
An adapted English surname of a cart driver, Carter has been consistently in the top 1,000 names since 1900. It reached its highest rank to date, #24, in both 2015 and 2017.
- Babies born: 9,555
The name Joseph carries strong biblical ties and Hebrew origins meaning, “may God give increase.” The name has been consistently used in the United States for decades, and is the ninth most popular male name of the past century.
- Babies born: 9,697
With Hebrew origins, David means “beloved” or “uncle.” A number of notable Davids have existed both past and present, from well-known biblical figure King David (of the David and Goliath legend) to musician David Bowie, soccer player David Beckham, and comedian Dave Chappelle.
- Babies born: 9,924
Matthew is a biblical name that's shared with the writer of the first gospel of the New Testament. It means “gift from God,” and is the 13th most popular name of the past century.
- Babies born: 10,054
Sebastian has Latin and Greek origins, and means “venerable.” Current Sebastians share the name with a martyred saint, composer Johann Sebastian Bach, and a classic Disney character from "The Little Mermaid."
- Babies born: 10,323
Not to be confused with Jaxon, Jackson (or “son of Jack”), was originally an English surname that has taken on a first name life of its own. Famous Jacksons include painter Jackson Pollock and singer-songwriter Jackson Browne.
- Babies born: 11,173
Daniel has Hebrew roots and a meaning of “God is my judge.” The name has been ranked as high as #5 four times—in 1985, 1990, 2007, and 2008.
- Babies born: 11,620
Michael has been the most popular name in the United States 44 times in the past century, though it's currently #12. The name is Hebrew for “who is like God?”
- Babies born: 11,770
In Hebrew, Jacob means “supplanter,” someone who takes the place of someone else. The name, which has ties to the Old Testament, has been popular for decades, ranking as high as #1 from 1999 to 2012.
- Babies born: 11,854
Since 2002, Ethan has held every spot in the top five, except the elusive #1. The name has Hebrew origins, and means “strong” and “firm.” Well-known modern-day Ethans include actor Ethan Hawke, as well as Ethan Hunt, the protagonist in the “Mission Impossible” film series.
- Babies born: 11,989
Based on its continued popularity, the phrase “Alexander the Great” can also be applied to the popular name. The ancient Greek name, shared by a king and military conqueror, means “defender or helper of mankind.”
- Babies born: 12,886
Another name with strong biblical roots, Elijah has had a steady presence among the top 600 names since the early 1900s. It didn't break into the top 10 until 2016. In Hebrew, it means “Yahweh is God.”
- Babies born: 13,381
The name Benjamin has been given to over 700,000 boys in the past century, securing it a spot as the #42 most popular boy's name. The name means “son of my right hand,” and has ties to the Old Testament, as well as American history, thanks to Benjamin Franklin.
- Babies born: 13,389
Oliver is often considered to have Latin roots meaning “olive tree.” The name re-entered the top 100 chart in 2009, more than 100 years after a streak of popularity in the 1880s and 1890s.
- Babies born: 13,525
Not only is it highly ranked this year, the name James also has the distinct honor of being the top male name for the past century, with nearly 4.8 million boys and men sharing it. It means “supplanter,” just like another top 10 boy's name, Jacob.
- Babies born: 14,516
William also has earned a spot as the fifth most popular name of the century. The name, which means “resolute protector,” is shared among a number of notable figures in history and present-day pop culture, including William Shakespeare, William Wallace, and Prince William. It's also the given first name of William “Brad” Pitt.
- Babies born: 18,267
Noah, which comes from a Hebrew word for “rest,” is the name of the biblical hero who survived the flood in the Old Testament. It's also seeing a surge in pop culture references, too, perhaps most notably as the name of the male lead in “The Notebook,” played by Ryan Gosling. The film was released in 2004, shortly before the name broke into the top 20 for the first time.
- Babies born: 19,837
Liam has soared to popularity so quickly that it doesn't yet have a spot on the top 100 names of the century. It's a shorter version of William, and has the same protective meaning. Baby boys named Liam share the moniker with celebrities, including actors Liam Neeson and Liam Hemsworth, and singer Liam Payne.
- Babies born: 4,378
Skylar is a unisex name that was brought to New York in the 17th century by English settlers. It has many different spellings and spiked in popularity, as both a girl’s and boy’s name, in the early 2000s.
- Babies born: 4,379
The name Claire also is of Latin origin and means "bright” and "famous.” It was popular in the early 1900s, but rose again to the top of the baby lists in the mid-1980s and has stayed there ever since.
- Babies born: 4,518
The name Bella started to rise to the top of the charts in 2010, thanks to the "Twilight" book and movie series. Its origin is Latin and is a form of the name "Belle,” meaning beauty.
- Babies born: 4,611
Brooklyn has been on the rise for baby girl names in the past two decades; perhaps related to the boom is the fact that David and Victoria Beckham (former Spice Girl) named their son Brooklyn in 1999. The name is not as popular in New York as it is in other places. In English, Brooklyn means "water” or "stream,” but it is most popularly linked to the New York City borough.
- Babies born: 4,662
Audrey is a name that has been around since the time of Shakespeare and means "noble strength.” It was originally derived from Saint Audrey, and became more popular because of Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn. It has stayed high on the list ever since the 19th century, but saw a surge in the 2000s.
- Babies born: 4,745
The name Savannah has a Spanish origin and means "treeless plain,” however because of the city in the state of Georgia, some take this as more of a Southern name. It was very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, then took a steep dive in the 1950s. But it picked back up in the 1980s and has remained a top girl’s name ever since.
- Babies born: 4,785
Aurora is derived from the Latin word for dawn. The name can be seen in the phenomena the northern lights or the aurora borealis.
- Babies born: 4,794
Violet has three different origins with varied meanings. The English meaning comes from the "Viola," who was a character in Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night,” while the Italian and American meaning of the girl’s name is "flower.”
- Babies born: 4,916
In 2016, Bustle picked the name Hazel as a retro baby name that is making a comeback. Indeed, ever since 2015, Hazel has seen an uptick for the first time since the 19th century. The name is English and is based on the hazel tree.
- Babies born: 4,995
Leah is a traditional name that first appeared in the Bible. The popularity of the name comes from English and Hebrew backgrounds. It also has different meanings. In English and Hebrew, it means "tired and weary.” However, in Gaelic, it means "the light of the sun.”
- Babies born: 5,062
A Greek name, Zoe means "life.” When the name first came about, Hellenized Jews took the name as a translation of "Eve.” As time went on, it became a more Christian name and had peak popularity in the 1990s. The name dropped to a lower point on the most popular baby names list in 2007 and then spiked again in 2008.
- Babies born: 5,095
The name Natalie means being born at Christmastime, especially in the Russian language. In Spanish, Natalie is derived from the word "natalis,” which means birthday. The name has been among top baby girl names since the 1970s. It was the most popular in 2006 when over 10,000 girls were given the name.
- Babies born: 5,121
Stella comes from the Latin language and means "star.” It was most popular in the early 1900s, but popped up again (and stayed at the top) in the late 1990s. Stella, in pop culture, is widely known for a main character in Tennessee Williams’ play, "A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Babies born: 5,190
The name Ellie has Greek origin and means "shining light.” It's commonly used as a nickname for Eleanor or Ellen. The name's popularity grew after 2002, the same year NBC released a new sitcom called "Watching Ellie" starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Carell, and Darren Boyd.
- Babies born: 5,190
The name Aubrey means "elf ruler" and has a Germanic origin. It can also be spelled as Aubree or Aubri, although the latter two are not as popular. The name has flip-flopped in popularity over time; it was very popular from the 1920s to the 1940s, but took a nosedive after 1960. It wasn’t until 2008 that the name became popular again; three years prior in 2005, Aubrey O'Day first appeared on MTV's popular reality show, "Making the Band," in which Sean "Diddy" Combs helped put together girl group Danity Kane.
- Babies born: 5,203
Addison is English in origin and translates to mean "Adam,” which in Hebrew means earth. It was mildly popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but it reached its peak in 2007. That is the year that the character Addison Montgomery-Shepherd was introduced in the hit television show "Grey’s Anatomy,” which could be part of why it rose in popularity.
- Babies born: 5,534
Lillian is an English name that means "innocence,” "beauty,” and "purity.” It is often a nickname for Elizabeth and can be a longer version of the name Lilly. From 1885 to 1915 it was popular, but dropped from favor from 1920 to 1990. It starting coming back into vogue from 2002 on.
- Babies born: 5,629
Hannah is another name that has multiple meanings in various languages. The American and biblical meanings show Hannah means "gracious,” "merciful,” and "willingly to give.” In Hebrew and English, Hannah is the name of Samuel the prophet and means "favor of grace.” It was insanely popular in the late 1800s, dipped in the 1900s, and climbed back to the top in the 1980s where it remains a top name.
- Babies born: 5,694
The name Eleanor originally came from the French name Aliénor, which is derived from the name Helen. Eleanor, in the English language, means "shining one” or "bright one,” and in German, it means "alien” or "foreign.” Eleanor was at the height of its popularity in 1915, dropped significantly, but eventually made its way back up the list.
- Babies born: 5,706
Lily, or Lilly, which is a common spelling, comes from the English perennial flower. It’s currently most popular in Scotland and Wales, but is still at the top of the charts in the United States. Lily reached its peak in 2008 after a slow climb to the top.
- Babies born: 5,799
Nora has been incredibly popular among those with Irish heritage, but is Latin in origin. It is commonly used as a nickname for Eleanor and means "torch” or "honor.” It was popular in the 1880s, but slowly declined through the 1900s. It started its rise again in 2002 and remained at the top since.
- Babies born: 5,899
While we saw the name "Zoe” previously on this list, Zoey is ranked higher than the other spelling. The meaning of the name is the same; it means "life” in Greek. This spelling has had rising popularity since 1990. It peaked in 2004 and has remained high on the most popular names for baby girls lists ever since.
- Babies born: 5,976
Riley is a unisex name that has English origin that combines the words "ryge" and "leah," and means "one who dwells near a rye field.” It also is derived from the Scottish name Reilly. The name reached peak popularity in 2010 and has remained a favorite ever since.
- Babies born: 6,474
Penelope is a Greek name that means weaver because in Greek mythology the goddess Penelope, wife of Odysseus, weaved to ward off suitors and pass the time before her husband came home. Popularity of the name has gone up and down over time, but its most recent peak started in 2006 and it has continued to climb.
- Babies born: 6,626
Chloe seems to be a more recent popular baby name, but it does have ancient ties; the Greek goddess Demeter was sometimes known as Demeter Chloe. Chloe was also named in the New Testament in the Gospel of Paul. It has a meaning of all things nature and translates to "green shoot.” Before cracking the top baby names in the United States, it was popular in France and the United Kingdom. It started to become more popular in 2008, just as the Kardashians, including Khloe Kardashian, started to become more famous.
- Babies born: 6,724
Grace seems like a traditional, religious name that is rooted in Latin heritage and means "blessing” or "favor.” The name was dormant for most of the 20th century, but reached new popularity in the mid-1990s and has continued to rise.
- Babies born: 6,897
Luna translates literally as "moon,” and has been increasing in popularity ever since J.K Rowling introduced her "Harry Potter" character, Luna Lovegood. Another famous Luna is Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s daughter, born in 2016.
- Babies born: 7,036
Madison is of German and English descent and means “son of a mighty warrior.” There are many spellings of the name, including Madyson, Maddison, and Madisson, but Madison is by far the most popular. While Madison was always a common name, it started to rise in 2007.
- Babies born: 7,089
Victoria is the female version of Victor; in English and Latin, the name means "victory” and "victorious.” It also has strong English roots because of the royal Family and Queen Victoria. Victoria has remained generally popular throughout the years.
- Babies born: 7,182
Scarlett is an English name and most notably means "red” when it is spelled as Scarlet. It is derived from the French word "escarlate” which translates to someone who sells rich cloth. The name became increasingly popular because of "Gone with the Wind” main character Scarlett O’Hara, but skyrocketed in 2006 and has stayed in the list of top baby girl names.
- Babies born: 7,394
Aria is of Italian heritage and means "solo melody.” Some may also consider it a derivation of the Greek name Ariana, which means "very holy.” An alternate spelling is Arya. Aria started to rise in popularity in 2013, which may be attributed to the character on the TV series "Pretty Little Liars" (on the air from 2010–2017), as well as Arya Stark, a major character on HBO's "Game of Thrones" (2011–2019).
- Babies born: 7,621
Sofia has two spellings: Sofia and Sophia. Sofia comes from the Greek word wisdom and is mostly used in Spanish culture; as a former queen held the name. Sofia has increasingly become more popular because of stars like Sofia Coppola, Sofia Vergara, and Sofia Richie. The name was low on the popular list from 1930 to 1980, but quickly started to rise afterwards.
- Babies born: 8,053
Avery is an Old English name that means "elf,” and initially was a boy’s name. The name was mildly popular in the mid-20th century but it wasn’t until 1980s that it started a slow rise in popularity.
- Babies born: 8,055
Ella is a French name, but it has different meanings in other languages. In French it means "little cinders,” which can refer to the origin of Cinderella. In Gothic, Ella means "truly lively” and in Greek, it means "shining, bright one.” It has remained high on the list of top names for baby girls since 2000.
- Babies born: 8,126
Mila is a name that has a Slavic origin and the most popular meaning is "pleasant” or "dear.” Other meanings are "favor” and "grace.” While Mila is most popular in Northern Europe, the popularity in the United States has been increasing since 2005, possibly due to actress Mila Kunis.
- Babies born: 8,513
Elizabeth can be spelled as Elisabeth, but it is most popular with a "z.” It means "God is my oath” in Hebrew. It also can mean "my God is my abundance, my God is my vow.” Elizabeth has always been a popular name, most notably because of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II. With some dips along way, Elizabeth again was on the upswing in 2012 and has remained popular.
- Babies born: 8,656
Emily is of Latin origin and translates to mean "rival.” It originally began as the name "Emil,” but later the last letter was added. Emily has always been popular, but it wasn’t until 1994 that it hit a huge spike. Emily fell to the bottom of the list soon after, but picked back up in 2008.
- Babies born: 9,796
As a traditional Hebrew name, Abigail means "joy of the father.” It also can be considered a biblical name because it was King David’s wife’s name in the Bible. The name hit its popular height in the 1980s and has remained a top choice ever since.
- Babies born: 10,376
The first time Evelyn ever appeared as a popular baby name was in 1910. In the 1970s, Evelyn hit a peak and it wasn’t until mid-2010s that it rose to the top again. Evelyn has origins in French, Hebrew, and Celtic and means "lively,” "life,” and "pleasant.”
- Babies born: 10,582
Harper began as a boy’s name and while it still remains unisex, it is more popular now as a girl’s name. It is an English, Scottish, and Irish name that means "harp player.” The name began rising in popularity in 2012 after David and Victoria Beckham named their daughter Harper the previous year.
- Babies born: 12,301
It wasn’t until 2006 that Amelia started to gain popularity. It has Latin roots and is said to be a combination of the names Emelia and Amalia; it also can be a variation of Emily.
- Babies born: 12,642
The name Mia has many origins—Israeli, Scandinavian, Latin, Italian, and American. The name's most common meanings are "wished for child” or "rebellion.” In Israeli, the name is short for Michal and in Italian, it’s short for Marie. The name has been popular since the 1960s and has remained on top lists.
- Babies born: 12,940
Charlotte is the feminine version of Charles, which means "free man.” Charlotte’s rise to the top of the name charts has only been happening since 2013 when it cracked the top 20. The rise of the name likely will continue because of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.
- Babies born: 13,928
Sophia is more popular than its previous spelling, Sofia, but holds the same meaning of "wisdom” in Greek. Sophia rose to popularity in 2002 and has been a favorite name since.
- Babies born: 14,464
Isabella is the Italian and Spanish version of Elizabeth and means "pledged to God.” It has been one of the most popular and used girl’s names since 1990 and has never left the spotlight.
- Babies born: 14,924
Ava has a Germanic history and can mean "desire.” In Latin, it can also be translated to "bird like.” Ava often has been a popular name since the 19th century and started to make a run again in 2012.
- Babies born: 17,921
Olivia is of Latin origin and means "olive tree” and is the female version of Oliver. It has been a favorite baby name for a few years and finally became #1 in 2016, and has remained a top name.