Most popular baby names in the 21st century
What is in a name? Though neither Romeo nor Juliet can claim a spot on any lists of the most popular baby names of the 21st century in the U.S., this collection has a little bit of everything. There are reimagined surnames, Puritan virtue names, and names born from rom-coms, sitcoms, and dreamed up by Shakespeare himself.
Each year, the Social Security Administration annually gathers and analyzes name data, offering tremendous insight into past and present time periods; thus, we are able to get a glimpse into those cultural connections and trends that influenced the naming of our parents, grandparents, and so on. Maybe this doesn’t entirely explain why we refer to certain first names (Ethel, Beatrice, Clarence) as sounding “old-fashioned” or "old” for a baby, though it at least shows the first-choice names in the previous century when our families’ older generations were growing up.
Today, “vintage” and “retro”—equal parts uncomplicated response to an increasingly complicated, connected society and proof that what’s classic and simple prevails—is truly en vogue in sectors like fashion, home music listening, and mobile phones. Well, names are similar. In data released in December 2019, the SSA’s most popular names of the 2010s still included timeless, transcendent favorites like Noah, Sophia, Elijah, and Olivia.
For this particular list, Stacker brought together a wider range of data provided by the Social Security Administration, ranking each entry by the total number of American babies given a certain name in the 21st century. The list’s data is split up by birth gender, as reported on the baby’s Social Security card application.
As the list shows, the era of Tom, Dick, and Harry is mostly gone. Instead, fascinating names (and traditional ones) populate the most popular baby names in the 21st century; though celebrity babies help boost a name’s popularity, Blue Ivy, Suri, or Apple have yet to crack the list.
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#50. Cameron (boys)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 156,587
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #69 (5,271 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2000 (ranked #31; 12,761 babies born)
Though originally Scottish in origin, this name's 21st-century popularity is perhaps more rooted in Hollywood. Director James Cameron's “Titanic" dominated the theaters during many 21st-century parents' formative years, and Cameron Crowe's “Almost Famous" was released in September of 2000.
#50. Aubrey (girls)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 90,677
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #36 (5,190 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2012 (ranked #15; 8,047 babies born)
No, the surge in popularity isn’t directly attributable to Aubrey “Drake” Graham, much of whose worldwide fame came after 2012, the year that “Aubrey” reached its peak as the 15th most popular baby name. Aubrey—the French, English meaning of which is "elf ruler”—has grabbed a spot in SSA’s 21st-century rankings, having been popular among boys in the Middle Ages, becoming a common name for girls beginning in the 1970s, and today evoking such female stars as Aubrey Plaza.
#49. Kevin (boys)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 159,595
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #125 (3,124 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2000 (ranked #32; 12,667 babies born)
Kevin is actually the English version of the Irish name Caoimhín, who was a saint in sixth-century Ireland. Now, what spurred the name's peak in 2000? It's hard to know if it was Kevin Bacon's performance in “Hollow Man" or Kevin Garnett putting up 22 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
#49. Gabriella (girls)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 91,827
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #70 (3,677 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2010 (ranked #33; 6,177 babies born)
This name is the female version of Gabriel, a biblical name which in Hebrew means “God is my strength.” In the Christian Bible, the archangel Gabriel appears to tell Mary that she is pregnant with Jesus. All through the 2000s, Gabrielle Union was starring in films, appearing in both “Bring It On" and “Love & Basketball" in 2000.
#48. Jordan (boys)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 160,920
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #82 (4,646 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2000 (ranked #36; 12,167 babies born)
This name gets its roots from the ancient river that runs between Jordan and Israel, which also was the site of Jesus' baptism by John in the New Testament. But let's be real: It also got a popularity boost when a kid from North Carolina named Michael Jeffrey Jordan became the greatest man to ever play basketball.
#48. Brooklyn (girls)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 92,622
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #47 (4,611 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2011 (ranked #21; 7,164 babies born)
Based on the property value hike in Brooklyn this last decade (68.1% according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel), young Americans seem to have an affinity for the New York City borough. Naming your child Brooklyn can serve as a way to vicariously exist near the increasingly affluent borough—based on Kanye West's “Couldn't afford a car so she named her daughter Alexis" theorem). The name is also favored by David and Victoria “Posh Spice" Beckham, who named their eldest son Brooklyn.
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#47. Isaiah (boys)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 162,296
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #51 (6,614 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2006 (ranked #39; 10,448 babies born)
This biblical name draws its roots in the Hebrew Bible. Isaiah was an eighth-century B.C. prophet and is mentioned specifically in Christianity's Gospel of John for having predicted the coming of Christ. Detroit Pistons' great Isiah Thomas' name is spelled without the first “a,” but current NBA star Isaiah Thomas uses the more traditional spelling.
#47. Riley (girls)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 95,803
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #28 (5,976 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2016 (ranked #22; 7,131 babies born)
This name actually entered use as a surname, which meant “wood clearing" or “rye clearing" in Old English. Today, it's one example of the growing trend of using surnames as first names to give your kid a distinctive name or to honor a celebrity (see: Hendrix, Bowie).
#46. Hunter (boys)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 164,020
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #56 (6,066 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2000 (ranked #35; 12,535 babies born)
It's not hard to unscramble the meaning of this name, which comes from the Old English “hunta" which means: “hunter." This name's popularity is likely more related to Hunter S. Thompson, who was portrayed by Johnny Depp in 1998's “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” than by “Survivor" cast member Hunter Ellis, but who can say.
#46. Leah (girls)
- Total babies born in the 21st century: 96,463
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #41 (4,995 babies born)
- Most popular year: 2009 (ranked #29; 6,788 babies born)
This name comes from the Old Testament. Leah was the first wife of Jacob, who was tricked by her father into marrying Leah rather than her younger sister, Rachel.2018 All rights reserved.