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Baby names gaining popularity in the 21st century

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Baby names gaining popularity in the 21st century

With the rise of social media and the increased necessity of having a major online presence, we all feel the growing need to develop a personal brand in order to set ourselves apart. For expecting parents this often translates into major anxiety over picking the perfect baby name. After all, the base of any personal brand, online or not, really starts there. Ethnic, religious, political, or specifically gendered names often signal a lot about a person—whether that message is intentional or not.

The impact a name has, and the angst parents feel over choosing just the right one, is nothing new. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported more than a decade ago that parents were facing unprecedented stress over choosing a name and going to untold (and expensive) lengths to find the perfect moniker. Expectant parents are hiring consultants, employing the services of numerologists, and even taking polls among their friends and family to help them narrow down the near-infinite list of possibilities.

Stances on the use of popular names for a newborn have always varied. Some parents appreciate the relative neutrality of a popular name, knowing their child won’t be singled out. Others prefer something more unique in order to set their child, and their brand, apart. Wherever you stand on the popular name debate, we’re here to help.

To aid you in your baby name search, Stacker used the Social Security Administration’s historical archives of baby names to compile a count of the birth names from 1980–1999 and 2000–2018 (the last year from which data is available, although it was released in 2019). The names were then ranked in order of the largest percent change between the two datasets to uncover the baby names that are gaining popularity in the 21st century. We found that, overall, the growth of names for baby boys appears much more drastic than the growth of names for baby girls.

From Isabela to Ayden, read on to find out which names are poised to be some of the most popular over the next century

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Michael Pettigrew // Shutterstock

#25. Girl: Isabela

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 469.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 11.2
- Percent change: 3,900%

A baby girl name with Spanish origins, Isabela means “my God is bountiful.” Sometimes spelled with two Ls, Isabela was a common name for those of royal descent during the middle ages, given to the likes of Queen Isabella of Castile whose marriage to King Ferdinand II was the basis for the unification of Spain. Isabela was the most popular name given to baby girls born in the United States in 2010, according to Behind the Name,

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#25. Boy: Judah

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 980.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 21.6
- Percent change: 4,213%

An ancient Hebrew name, it is thought that Judah was derived from the Hebrew word “yadah” meaning “praise.” Judah is an important character in the Bible, a direct descendant of King David and Jesus. As such, the name is especially popular in religious circles, especially those who adhere to Christian and Jewish faiths.

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#24. Girl: Zoey

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 4,231.4
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 100.3
- Percent change: 3,908%

A Greek name meaning “life,” Zoey is a variation of the name Zoe. There are several celebrities who bear the moniker (or close variations of it) including Zoey Deutch, Zooey Deschanel, and Zoe Kravitz.

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MIA Studio // Shutterstock

#24. Boy: Emery

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 196.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 4.1
- Percent change: 4,461%

Centuries ago, the Normans introduced the name Emery to England, and while the name was never immensely popular, it survived. Finally gaining traction as a name given to newborn boys, Emery means “work ruler.”

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phadungsak sawasdee // Shutterstock

#23. Girl: Amaya

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,547.2
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 35.2
- Percent change: 4,076%

A distinct ethnic group with mysterious origins and their own unique language and culture, Basque peoples have influenced modern-day culture in a wide variety of meaningful ways. For example, the popular girls name Amaya is a variation of Amaia, a Basque word that means “the end.”

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#23. Boy: Easton

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,578.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 51.5
- Percent change: 4,661%

Traditionally, Easton has been used as a surname that is loosely translated as “east town” from Old English. While the name is rising in popularity as a first name, celebrities who bear the name still, by and large, carry it as a last name, like Michael Easton of “General Hospital” fame.

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Pixabay

#22. Girl: Leia

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 391.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 8.1
- Percent change: 4,492%

With the resurgence of the popularity of the “Star Wars” franchise, it’s no surprise to see the name of the original heroine, Princess Leia, once again on the rise. Leia is an ancient Greek iteration of the ancient Hebrew name Leah, which means “weary.”

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Pixabay

#22. Boy: Ryder

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,274.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 45.1
- Percent change: 4,696%

Ryder has British origins and translates to “cavalryman” or “messenger.” Modern-day parents may remember it as the given name of former “Boy Meets World” actor Rider Strong, who played Shawn Hunter. Part of the boost may also come from actress Kate Hudson naming her son Ryder in 2004.

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pixelheadphoto digitalskillet // Shutterstock

#21. Girl: Aniya

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 807.9
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 16.1
- Percent change: 4,667%

Another Hebrew name, Aniya shares origins with the name Anna. The feminine name means “God favors.” The name would make a great pick for parents looking for something truly original, as not many celebrities or famous figures have borne the moniker.

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Tatiana Chekryzhova // Shutterstock

#21. Boy: Jensen

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 369.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 7.2
- Percent change: 4,810%

Literally translated as “son of Jens,” Jensen is another name that has traditionally been used as a surname (this time in Denmark) but is now gaining popularity as a first name. “Supernatural” and “Smallville” actor Jensen Ackles is perhaps the most well-known celebrity to use the name.

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javi_indy // Shutterstock

#20. Girl: Hayden

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,310.6
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 26.1
- Percent change: 4,671%

A unisex name, Hayden was derived from an Old English surname that meant “hay hill.” Like Leia, the name has connections to the “Star Wars” franchise, albeit not as explicit: Hayden Christensen played a young Anakin Skywalker in both "Episode II - Attack of the Clones” and "Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.” Additionally, Hayden Panettiere of “Nashville” fame has likely inspired many parents to give the moniker to their newborn girls.

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wavebreakmedia // Shutterstock

#20. Boy: Matteo

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 825.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 15.3
- Percent change: 5,023%

An Italian version of the name Matthew, Matteo means “gift of Yahweh.” Over the years, there have been a number of famous Italians who’ve been named Matteo, including retired goalkeeper Matteo Sereni and Sicilian crime boss Matteo Messina Denaro.

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Lopolo // Shutterstock

#19. Girl: Presley

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,072.6
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 21.1
- Percent change: 4,741%

Arguably the most famous Presley to date was king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley. The unisex name has, in fact, been used as a surname meaning “priest clearing” more frequently than as a first name, but 21st-century parents are beginning to see the appeal of the moniker as a given name.

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Tatiana Dyuvbanova // Shutterstock

#19. Boy: Hudson

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 3,003.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 55.1
- Percent change: 5,079%

Originally a surname, Hudson means “son of Hugh.” Some 21st-century parents may be inspired to go with this name based on some of the biggest celebrities of their younger years, such as Rock Hudson, Kate Hudson, or Hugh Hudson.

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Aaron Amat // Shutterstock

#18. Girl: Ava

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 12,913.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 251.5
- Percent change: 4,779%

A Latin name meaning “life,” Ava has become incredibly popular among the Hollywood set in recent years. For example, Reese Witherspoon named her oldest daughter Ava, and filmmaker Ava DuVernay has dominated the big screen for the better half of the last decade. That being said, Ava is far from a new name: 8th-century King Pepin also chose the moniker for his own daughter who later became a saint.

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#18. Boy: Gideon

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 607.9
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 11.0
- Percent change: 5,150%

A hero of the Old Testament, Gideon was a prolific warrior and judge. The name, which has Hebrew origins, means “feller” or “hewer,” highlighting the character’s success on the battlefield.

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Matva // Shutterstock

#17. Girl: Willow

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,489.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 28.0
- Percent change: 4,954%

The daughter of Hollywood royalty, Willow Smith is among a small number of celebrities who bear this name. The name Willow is derived from the Old English word “welig,” the name of the weeping tree.

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2p2play // Shutterstock

#17. Boy: Carmelo

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 249.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 4.2
- Percent change: 5,619%

NBA fans will recognize this name as one belonging to Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony. The masculine form of the name Carmel, Carmelo means “garden.”

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Pixabay

#16. Girl: Layla

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 4,351.2
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 79.5
- Percent change: 5,100%

The first name on our list with Arabic origins, Layla means “night.” The name first gained popularity thanks to a 7th-century Arabic poem called “Qays and Layla.”

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Olesia Bilkei // Shutterstock

#16. Boy: Declan

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,806.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 29.3
- Percent change: 5,767%

The Irish Gaelic language referred to simply as Irish in its home country, is going extinct: Fewer than 200,000 people today speak it as a first language. However, there are still bits of the dying language that remain popular in global culture. The boys name Declan is an anglicized version of the Irish word “Deaglán" whose meaning has been lost.

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#15. Girl: Serenity

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,883.3
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 48.9
- Percent change: 5,507%

Virtue names likely landed in America with the arrival of the Puritans in 1630. Serenity, which means “peaceful” in its language of origin (Latin) is a prime example of a moniker the devoutly religious group might have chosen for new little girls.

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Oksana Kuzmina // Shutterstock

#15. Boy: Porter

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 560.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 8.8
- Percent change: 5,946%

Centuries ago, Porter was an English surname that highlighted the bearer’s occupation as a doorkeeper. Today, Nameberry most closely associates the first name with the upper middle class—far from its humble origins.

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#14. Girl: Violet

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,411.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 39.3
- Percent change: 5,736%

Latin in origin and meaning “purple,” Violet was a wildly popular name in the 19th century before losing its steam around 1920. Today, the name has seen a resurgence thanks to film characters like Violet Parr in “The Incredibles,” book characters like Violet Baudelaire in “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and celebrity children like the daughter of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.

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Iren_Geo // Shutterstock

#14. Boy: Jett

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 709.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 9.7
- Percent change: 6,881%

The boys name Jett, derived from the English word “Jet,” as in an airplane, is a fairly new one. In fact, Behind the Name doesn’t have any data on the moniker before 1999, when the name was ranked the 795th most popular boys name in the country.

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Black-Photogaphy // Shutterstock

#13. Girl: Journey

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 670.4
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 10.9
- Percent change: 5,770%

The name Journey has a complex etymology: It comes from the English word, which was derived from an old French word, which had its own roots in the Latin word “diurnus.” That original word meant “of the day,” but modern parents seem to choose it more for its allusion to a spiritual or physical voyage.

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#13. Boy: Jayden

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 10,852.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 146.6
- Percent change: 6,935%

Derived from a Hebrew name Jadon, meaning “thankful,” Jayden is a truly modern spelling of the ancient name. The name received a major bump in popularity when songstress Britney Spears chose it for her second son, Jayden James, in the mid-2000s.

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Natee K Jindakum // Shutterstock

#12. Girl: Parker

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 814.4
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 12.4
- Percent change: 6,164%

Traditionally, Parker has been more commonly used as a boys name than a girls name, but with gender-neutral names on the rise, we’re seeing more and more girls with the name. The name has been traditionally used as a last name identifying the bearer by their occupation as a “keeper of the park.”

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Vasiuk Iryna // Shutterstock

#12. Boy: Emiliano

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,135.6
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 15.2
- Percent change: 7,021%

With Spanish and Italian origins, Emiliano means “work.” Perhaps the most notable owner of the moniker is Emiliano Zapata, one of the primary leaders of the Mexican Revolution.

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Pixabay

#11. Girl: Teagan

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,039.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 13.3
- Percent change: 7,325%

It’s long been cited that the name Teagan came from a Welsh saint of the same name, but Medieval scholars now hold that there’s no certain evidence that the figure ever existed. Instead, the name seems to stem from an Irish surname, Ó Tadhgáin, meaning “descendant of Tadhgáin.”

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Pixabay

#11. Boy: Karson

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 698.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 7.5
- Percent change: 8,742%

A more modern spelling of the classic name Carson, Karson stems from a Scottish surname of unknown meaning. Celebrities with the name include television personality Carson Daly and Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

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#10. Girl: Hazel

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,803.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 22.5
- Percent change: 7,513%

Hazel, for the tree or color, began to be used as a first name in the 19th century. In 2012, John Green gave his heroine in “The Fault in Our Stars” the name, which is derived from the Old English word hæsel.

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Philippe Put // Flickr

#10. Boy: Jaxon

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 4,070.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 39.0
- Percent change: 9,829%

In 1997, Jaxon made its first appearance on the Top 1,000 list for baby names. This updated spelling of the classic Jackson (and English surname meaning “son of Jack”) has remained popular with parents ever since, ranking as the 39th most popular name for boys in 2018.

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#9. Girl: Camila

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 3,553.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 42.1
- Percent change: 7,929%

A Spanish variation on Camilla, Camila means “young ceremonial attendant” in Latin. In ancient times, the name was associated with the swift-footed Roman huntress who was a favorite of the goddess Diana. Today, more people draw a connection with pop star Camila Cabello.

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#9. Boy: Jaiden

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,474.2
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 12.2
- Percent change: 11,427%

A variation of the Hebrew Jadon and a slightly different spelling than Jayden, this name also means “thankful.” In years past, Jayden has been the more popular spelling of the name for both boys and girls, but it seems that Jaiden is finally getting its moment in the sun.

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Pixabay

#8. Girl: London

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,780.3
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 21.0
- Percent change: 7,973%

Naming their children after exotic or personally meaningful places has long been a popular practice for American families. London as a baby girl’s name is a perfect example of this. The unique moniker stems from the capital city of the United Kingdom, which has its origins in either a Latin or Gaelic word.

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#8. Boy: Aiden

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 10,701.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 71.2
- Percent change: 14,179%

Aiden is an anglicized version of the old Irish name Adohán or Áedán which means “little fire.” There are a number of famous Aidens from which to draw name inspiration, including a 7th-century saint known for his kindness and generosity and a popular character (Aidan) from the 1998–2004 hit series “Sex and the City.”

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Surne1shots // Shutterstock

#7. Girl: Aniyah

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,287.2
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 11.6
- Percent change: 10,487%

It is thought that Aniyah, which is itself a variation of the name Aniya, may have originally stemmed from the Arabic name Aaliyah. Aaliyah is the feminine version of Aali, which means “lofty, high, supreme.” The girls name was of course popularized by pop star Aaliyah who tragically died in an airplane accident in 2001.

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Olesia Bilkei // Shutterstock

#7. Boy: Rowan

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,116.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 7.2
- Percent change: 14,738%

Scottish and Irish in origin, Rowan means “little redhead.” There is some dispute as to whether the name was first used solely as a female name, but regardless of its origins it's decidedly unisex today. Rowan Atkinson of “Mr. Bean” fame gives the name ties to Hollywood.

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Pixabay

#6. Girl: Ryleigh

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,266.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 10.9
- Percent change: 10,985%

Ryleigh is a more feminine spelling of the classic boys name Riley. The name actually comes from two distinct sources: an Irish surname, Rielly, and an Old English surname that translates to “rye clearing.”

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Unsplash

#6. Boy: Cayden

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,722.1
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 10.5
- Percent change: 15,555%

There are a handful of names on our list that bear the distinction of being “modern, invented names.” Cayden is among them. Behind the Name reports that Cayden (alternatively spelled Caden) came into fashion in the 1990s thanks to its fashionable -den suffix.

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Amalia Zilio // Shutterstock

#5. Girl: Adeline

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,365.4
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 11.4
- Percent change: 11,278%

The first name with French origins on our list, Adeline means “noble” or “nobility.” Introduced to England by the Normans in the 11th century, the name was popular during the medieval ages and again during the Victorian gothic revival. Today, there are a half-dozen common spellings of the name used by families in the United States.

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gpointstudio // Shutterstock

#5. Boy: Xander

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,410.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 8.0
- Percent change: 16,755%

A diminutive of the Latin name Alexander (which, in turn, is a variation of the Greek Alexandros), Xander means “defending men.” While there are dozens of historic Alexanders, the shorter version of the name first rose to fame in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the “XXX” film.

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Marlon Lopez MMG1 Design // Shutterstock

#4. Girl: Izabella

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,309.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 10.4
- Percent change: 11,919%

An updated spelling of the classic Isabella, Izabella means “pledged to God.” Spanish and Italian in origin, the name lends itself to cute nicknames like Izzy and Bella.

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yifanjrb // Shutterstock

#4. Boy: Brantley

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,090.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 4.8
- Percent change: 21,486%

Brantley is a truly modern first name with historic origins. There is an Old High German word, brante, that means “fire.” This word was worked into a popular surname, Brändle, that ultimately became a popular American first name.

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Dasha Muller // Shutterstock

#3. Girl: Piper

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,211.3
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 16.2
- Percent change: 12,867%

Like dozens of other popular 21st-century names, Piper came from an English surname that designated the bearer as a “pipe or flute player.” Actress Piper Perabo and “Charmed” character Piper Halliwell both helped give the name a popularity boost in the early 2000s.

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noBorders - Brayden Howie // Shutterstock

#3. Boy: Jaxson

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,381.3
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 8.0
- Percent change: 28,355%

Jaxson is an alternative spelling of Jackson and Jaxon that literally translates to “son of Jack.” However, the spelling is decidedly more modern than the spelling of seventh President Andrew Jackson’s last name.

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Unsplash

#2. Girl: Hadley

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,462.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 10.6
- Percent change: 13,010%

Nameberry predicts that Hadley, the name of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife and a character on the popular television show “True Blood,” could be this generation’s Hailey. The name itself, which stems from a surname, means “heather field.”

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Canva

#2. Boy: Kayden

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,604.2
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 7.1
- Percent change: 34,991%

In the same family as Hayden, Aiden, and Braden, Kayden is another “modern invented name.” Behind the Name suggests that Kayden could possibly be tied to the Irish Gaelic last name Mac Cadáin, meaning “Son of Cadán,” although there is no definitive proof of that.

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Oksana Kuzmina // Shutterstock

#1. Girl: Lola

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,054.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 7.6
- Percent change: 13,168%

A diminutive of Dolores, which means “Lady of Sorrows,” Lola is one of the most internationally popular Spanish names for baby girls. Plenty of celebrity parents have chosen the name for their baby girls, including Kelly Ripa, Lisa Bonet, and Annie Lennox.

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Alena Vostrikova // Shutterstock

#1. Boy: Ayden

- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 3,809.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 7.5
- Percent change: 48,481%

A phonetic spelling of Aiden, the boy’s name Ayden is also used in Turkey. The name means “little and fiery”—perfect for rough-and-tumble tykes.

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