Baby names with the most timeless popularity
Baby names are all unique, whether super popular or not as commonly known. Names also tend to follow trends; if a name was popular the year you were born, you might tend to know more people with that name. Every year, the Social Security Administration tallies the most popular baby names based on how many infants were registered with that name in the past year.
The following names, however, never went out of style. Year after year, they remain in the top ranks for a variety of reasons: The names are usually traditional, whether biblical, royal, or family names. Some of these perennial favorites have clear etymological reasons that parents might choose. For example, the name Nicholas comes from the Latin “victory of the people”—not a bad choice for a parent hoping to give their child every advantage in life.
But other names have no such clear meaning that explains their popularity. One example is Charlotte, which comes from an obscure French recipe for a dessert similar to apple pie or apple tart. Some names receive a boost from famous figures who have that name in the time period they crest in popularity, while other decades of peak popularity for a given name are best seen in retrospect, with a look at famous bearers of the name who were born during that time.
Stacker looked to the Social Security Administration Baby Names Database to round up the top 50 baby names for each gender with the most timeless popularity. Analyzing baby name popularity rankings by decade from 1910 to 2019 (the most recent year released), Stacker ranked names with the highest average ranking across all decades. To qualify, a name must have ranked in the top 200 for at least seven of the eleven decades from 1910 to 2019.
These names have been at the top of the baby name list for over 100 years, and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
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#50. Albert (for boys)
- Average rank 1900-today: #79.1
- Most popular decade: 1920s (average rank: #21)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #474 (614 babies born)
Albert is a German name meaning “noble bright” or “noble family.” The name has had an illustrious history since the turn of the 20th century, with Albert Einstein, Albert Camus, and Albert Pujols representing the name at the highest levels of science, literature, and sports.
#50. Rachel (for girls)
- Average rank 1900-today: #109.0
- Most popular decade: 1990s (average rank: #15)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #191 (1,529 babies born)
Rachel is a biblical name for the wife of Jacob. The name was most popular in the 1990s, which should come as no surprise to those who know the fictional character Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston on the hit TV show “Friends.” The character was so popular she even had a haircut named after her—one of the decade’s most famous.
#49. Dale (for boys)
- Average rank 1900-today: #78.3
- Most popular decade: 1950s (average rank: #50)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #1,460 (118 babies born)
In the 1950s, the name Dale was among the most popular names for boys. Maybe it's because of past noteworthy name holders, like Dale Carnegie, an American writer who passed away in 1955, or Dale Earnhardt SR., who, according to Bleacher Report, is the second best NASCAR driver of all time.
#49. Sara (for girls)
- Average rank 1900-today: #107.1
- Most popular decade: 1980s (average rank: #30)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #163 (1,731 babies born)
Sara is a popular alternative spelling of Sarah, which means “princess.” Some of the most popular Sara/Sarahs today include the actress Sarah Jessica Parker, the comedian Sarah Silverman, and the politician Sarah Palin.
#48. Eugene (for boys)
- Average rank 1900-today: #76.0
- Most popular decade: 1920s (average rank: #24)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #784 (294 babies born)
Stately and echoing of importance, the name Eugene is of Greek origin and means "wellborn" or "noble." While the name has sort of fallen out of favor among the cool kids these days, it was one of the most popular names at the turn of the 19th century, all the way up to until the 1940s, writes Nameberry. The article continues that there are even a few popes and saints that carry the name.
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#48. Melanie (for girls)
- Average rank 1900-today: #102.4
- Most popular decade: 1970s (average rank: #56)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #110 (2,582 babies born)
The name Melanie goes back literally thousands of years, derived from the Greek name "Melania," which means "blackness," according to Henry George Liddell's "A Greek-English Lexicon." But the name burst into the American mainstream with the 1936 novel (and subsequent film), "Gone with the Wind," as one of the leading women is named Melanie Hamilton. By 2007, it was the 80th most popular name for girls in America, according to Behind the Name.
#47. Sean (for boys)
- Average rank 1900-today: #75.7
- Most popular decade: 1970s (average rank: #39)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #301 (1,120 babies born)
Irish in origin, Sean is the Emerald Isle's version of the biblical name, John. It is pronounced "Shawn" in the majority of Ireland, but in the northern counties the name is pronounced "Shan" or "Shayn." According to Behind the Name, Sean was at its most popular in the United States in the 1980s.
#47. Ruby (for girls)
- Average rank 1900-today: #97.3
- Most popular decade: 1920s (average rank: #28)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #66 (3,707 babies born)
The name Ruby derives from the precious stone with the same name. The name was more popular a century ago than it is today, but that didn’t stop the parents of the actress, model, and TV presenter Ruby Rose’s parents from naming her Ruby when she was born in the 1980s. Earlier in the century, civil rights activist Ruby Bridges—who was only 6 years old when in 1960 she became the first African American child to attend a previously all-white school in New Orleans—was born in '54.
#46. Willie (for boys)
- Average rank 1900-today: #75.0
- Most popular decade: 1920s (average rank: #28)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #1,004 (206 babies born)
There are a few famous Willies who have graced history — both fictional and real. From Wonka to Nelson, the name Willie is well-known throughout the United States. For most countries, however, the name Willie is a nickname for the English name, William.
#46. Anne (for girls)
- Average rank 1900-today: #96.9
- Most popular decade: 1920s, 1960s (average rank: #81)
- Popularity rank in 2019: #569 (530 babies born)
Anne is a biblical name for the mother of the Virgin Mary. Today, some of the best-known Annes include the actress Anne Hathaway, and the author Anne Frank, whose “The Diary of Anne Frank” has sold more than 30 million copies since being first published in Dutch as "Het Achterhuis" ("The Secret Annex") in 1947.