Stories behind the 50 most popular baby names for girls

Written by:
January 29, 2019

Stories behind the 50 most popular baby names for girls

Most peoples' name is someone else’s name, whether the person came before or after you. Names may derive from cultural or biblical influences or be long-standing family handles. At different times, certain baby names are more popular than others. They come into vogue, and go out, often depending on world or cultural events of the time.

Curious about the current top names? You can now track and look up the most popular baby names of any given year and correlate them to cultural phenomena. Stacker checked with the Social Security Administration and rounded up the top 50 baby girl names from 2017.

Read on to find out the popular names, their meaning, origin, and other fun facts.

RELATED: Stories behind the 50 most popular baby names for boys

1 / 50
Regina_Zulauf // Pixabay

#50. Bella

Number of babies named: 4,611
Rank in 2016: #78 (28 spots lower than 2017)

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.

2 / 50
Esudroff // Pixabay

#49. Claire

Number of babies named: 4,683
Rank in 2016: #40 (nine spots higher than 2017)

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.


3 / 50
Deedee86 // Pixabay

#48. Violet

Number of babies named: 4,699
Rank in 2016: #47 (one spot higher than 2017)

Violet has three different origins with different 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.”

4 / 50
OmarMedinaFilms // Pixabay

#47. Skylar

Number of babies named: 4,706
Rank in 2016: #42 (five spots higher than 2017)

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.

5 / 50
Shannon Mcgee // Flickr

#46. Audrey

Number of babies named: 4,808
Rank in 2016: #39 (seven spots higher than 2017)

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.

6 / 50
Wonderwoman // Flickr

#45. Paisley

Number of babies named: 4,927
Rank in 2016: #46 (one spot lower than 2017)

Paisley, a Gaelic name meaning ‘church or cemetery’ first popped up as a baby girl’s name in 1988. It’s remained popular over the years, especially in Western states like Wyoming, Idaho, and South Dakota.

7 / 50
jlw2012 // Pixabay

#44. Ellie

Number of babies named: 4,993
Rank in 2016: #43 (one spot higher than 2017)

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 Carrell, and Darren Boyd.

8 / 50
Gift Habesha // Unsplash

#43. Hazel

Number of babies named: 5,004
Rank in 2016: #52 (nine spots lower than 2017)

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.

9 / 50
1041483 // Pixabay

#42. Stella

Number of babies named: 5,038
Rank in 2016: #45 (three spots lower than 2017)

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.”

10 / 50
cuncon // Pixabay

#41. Zoe

Number of babies named: 5,129
Rank in 2016: #35 (six spots higher than 2017)

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.

11 / 50
-Andretti- // Pixabay

#40. Leah

Number of babies named: 5,159
Rank in 2016: #37 (three spots higher than 2017)

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.”

12 / 50

#39. Brooklyn

Number of babies named: 5,168
Rank in 2016: #34 (five spots higher than 2017)

Brooklyn has been on the rise for baby girl names in the past two decades, most likely due to David and Victoria Beckham naming their son Brooklyn in 1999. Surprisingly, 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.

13 / 50
Zinz25 // Pixabay

#38. Savannah

Number of babies named: 5,222
Rank in 2016: #38 (no change from 2017)

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.

14 / 50
Ddimitrova // Pixabay

#37. Luna

Number of babies named: 5,320
Rank in 2016: #77 (40 spots lower than 2017)

Luna translates literally as "moon,” and has been on the rise of baby names 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.

15 / 50
dimitrisvetsikas1969 // Pixabay

#36. Natalie

Number of babies named: 5,516
Rank in 2016: #31 (five spots higher than 2017)

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.

16 / 50
Ddimitrova // Pixabay

#35. Eleanor

Number of babies named: 5,519
Rank in 2016: #41 (six spots lower than 2017)

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.

17 / 50
Ambermb // Pixabay

#34. Addison

Number of babies named: 5,593
Rank in 2016: #29 (five spots higher than 2017)

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 Shepherd was introduced in the hit television show "Grey’s Anatomy,” which could be why it rose in popularity.

18 / 50

#33. Lily

Number of babies named: 5,816
Rank in 2016: #24 (nine spots higher than 2017)

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.  

19 / 50
MiguelRPerez // Pixabay

#32. Hannah

Number of babies named: 5,872
Rank in 2016: #33 (one spot lower than 2017)

Hannah is another name that has multiple meanings in multiple 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.

20 / 50
BenKerckx // Pixabay

#31. Aubrey

Number of babies named: 5,891
Rank in 2016: #25 (six spots higher than 2017)

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 nose dive after 1960. It wasn’t until 2008 that the name became popular again.

21 / 50
Lingrun // Pixabay

#30. Mila

Number of babies named: 5,941
Rank in 2016: #48 (18 spots lower than 2017)

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 rising star, actress Mila Kunis.

22 / 50
Virvoreanu-Laurentiu // Pixabay

#29. Zoey

Number of babies named: 6,026
Rank in 2016: #26 (three spots higher than 2017)

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.

23 / 50
Tatiana8Meskova // Pixabay

#28. Nora

Number of babies named: 6,036
Rank in 2016: #36 (eight spots lower than 2017)

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.

24 / 50
Abdullah_Shakoor // Pixabay

#27. Lillian

Number of babies named: 6,132
Rank in 2016: #28 (one spot lower than 2017)

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.

25 / 50
Virvoreanu-Laurentiu // Pixabay

#26. Layla

Number of babies named: 6,274
Rank in 2016: #30 (four spots lower than 2017)

Layla means "night” and "dark beauty,” and has a Middle-Eastern/Arabic origin, usually Egypt. Layla didn’t rise to popularity until 2012 when over 6,000 baby girls were given that name.

26 / 50
1899441 // Pixabay

#25. Riley

Number of babies named: 6,343
Rank in 2016: #22 (three spots higher than 2017)

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.

27 / 50
Nyokasoftware // Pixabay

#24. Penelope

Number of babies named: 6,639
Rank in 2016: #27 (three spots lower than 2017)

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.

28 / 50
DeanWissing // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Camila

Number of babies named: 6,752
Rank in 2016: #32 (nine spots lower than 2017)

Camila is an Italian name that means "attendant.” Its recent rise in popularity started in 2000 and has remained high on the list of baby girl names ever since.

29 / 50
Learen // Pixabay

#22. Chloe

Number of babies named: 6,912
Rank in 2016: #20 (two spots higher than 2017)

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.  

30 / 50
Rizwandawa // Flickr

#21. Grace

Number of babies named: 6,991
Rank in 2016: #19 (two spots higher than 2017)

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.

31 / 50
Nick928 // Pixabay

#20. Aria

Number of babies named: 7,132
Rank in 2016: #23 (three spots lower than 2017)

Aria is a name of Italian heritage and means "solo melody.” Some may also consider it a derivation of the Greek name Ariana, which means "very holy.” The alternate spelling is Arya, which can also be a boy’s name. Aria started to rise in popularity in 2013, most likely due to the character on the TV series "Pretty Little Liars.”

32 / 50
dimitrisvetsikas1969 // Pixabay

#19. Victoria

Number of babies named: 7,267
Rank in 2016: #21 (two spots lower than 2017)

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.

33 / 50

#18. Scarlett

Number of babies named: 7,679
Rank in 2016: #18 (no change from 2017)

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.

34 / 50

#17. Madison

Number of babies named: 7,847
Rank in 2016: #15 (two spots higher than 2017)

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.

35 / 50
KevinWalsh // Flickr

#16. Ella

Number of babies named: 8,014
Rank in 2016: #17 (one spot lower than 2017)

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.

36 / 50
AsimChadhuri // Flickr

#15. Sofia

Number of babies named: 8,134
Rank in 2016: #14 (one spot higher than 2017)

Sofia has two spellings: Sofia and Sophia. Sofia comes from the Greek word wisdom and is mostly used in Spanish culture because their former queen holds 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.

37 / 50
btchurch // Pixabay

#14. Avery

Number of babies named: 8,186
Rank in 2016: #16 (two spots lower than 2017)

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.

38 / 50
Claire51700 // Pixabay

#13. Elizabeth

Number of babies named: 8,915
Rank in 2016: #13 (no change from 2017)

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.

39 / 50
Ddimitrova // Pixabay

#12. Emily

Number of babies named: 9,746
Rank in 2016: #9 (three spots higher than 2017)

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.

40 / 50
McStone // Pixabay

#11. Harper

Number of babies named: 10,451
Rank in 2016: #10 (one spot higher than 2017)

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.

41 / 50
Stocksnap // Pixabay

#10. Abigail

Number of babies named: 10,551
Rank in 2016: #8 (two spots higher than 2017)

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.

42 / 50
Wsucht // Pixabay

#9. Evelyn

Number of babies named: 10,675
Rank in 2016: #12 (three spots lower than 2017)

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.”

43 / 50
Miltonhuallpa95 // Pixabay

#8. Amelia

Number of babies named: 11,800
Rank in 2016: #11 (three spots lower than 2017)

Amelia was never at the top of the charts and it wasn’t until 2006 that it started to gain more 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.

44 / 50
BenKerckx // Pixabay

#7. Charlotte

Number of babies named: 12,893
Rank in 2016: #7 (no change from 2017)

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.

45 / 50
Infoshri // Flickr

#6. Mia

Number of babies named: 13,437
Rank in 2016: #6 (no change from 2017)

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.

46 / 50
Rob // Flickr

#5. Sophia

Number of babies named: 14,831
Rank in 2016: #4 (one spot higher than 2017)

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.

47 / 50
Tung256 // Pixabay

#4. Isabella

Number of babies named: 15,100
Rank in 2016: #5 (one spot lower than 2017)

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.

48 / 50

#3. Ava

Number of babies named: 15,902
Rank in 2016: #3 (no change from 2017)

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.

49 / 50
Bottlein // Pixabay

#2. Olivia

Number of babies named: 18,632
Rank in 2016: #2 (no change from 2017)

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.

50 / 50
Marvelmozhko // Pixabay

#1. Emma

Number of babies named: 19,738
Rank in 2016: #1 (no change from 2017)

The #1 baby girl name in 2017 was Emma. It’s an English name, taken from the German word for "whole” or "universal.” It was always a popular name, but skyrocketed starting in in 2004.


Trending Now