Most popular baby names for millennials
Millennials are having their moment. The media is obsessed with those born between 1981 and 1996. Pundits constantly wonder: Why are they drinking more, not going on vacation, and most puzzling, why do they want to buy a car more than a house?
Here at Stacker, we elected to ask a more basic question. What are the millennials’ monikers? Once we started looking at the list, we were more than a little surprised that it included names like Amy, Kyle, Laura, and Eric. We were also surprised that the firstborn of this group are turning 38 this year.
To determine the most popular names of the millennial generation, Stacker compiled data from the Social Security Administration’s Baby Names Archives and ranked every popular name from 1981 to 1996 by how many babies were given that name in the overall 16-year period. The most popular years for each name and each name’s rank today (i.e. in 2018) are also included.
In 2017 Pew Research Center used 1996 as the last birth year for millennials for the future noting that, “anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 this year) is considered to be part of the millennial generation.” The study notes that millennials were shaped by major events including being the generation that witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attack, helping elect the first black president, and being part of the nation’s most ethnically and racially diverse adult generation.
A short list of celebrities who were born in 1981 includes Amy Schumer, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, and Chris Evans. These first names popped up on our list. And there are plenty more. Click through our slideshow and see how many millennial names made our list.
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#25. Girl: Amy
- Total millennials with this name: 171,621
- Peak popularity: 1981 (#6 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1996 (#88 rank)
- Today's rank: #205 (1,497 babies born)
The name Amy peaked in popularity as the first millennials were born in 1981, the same year comedian Amy Schumer was born. Fans of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel “Little Women” may have named their baby girls for Amy March, the youngest sister. Admirers of President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter may have chosen the moniker to honor the couple’s daughter Amy Lynn Carter.
#25. Boy: Kyle
- Total millennials with this name: 271,387
- Peak popularity: 1990 (#18 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1981 (#52 rank)
- Today's rank: #223 (1,668 babies born)
Basketball player Kyle Lowry’s mother scored a slam dunk when she named her son Kyle in 1986 just before the named peaked in popularity in 1990. The unisex name that means narrow is also made popular by actor Kyle Chandler and race car driver Kyle Busch.
#24. Girl: Laura
- Total millennials with this name: 175,891
- Peak popularity: 1985 (#14 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1996 (#66 rank)
- Today's rank: #340 (935 babies born)
The name Laura has spanned generations (although only 935 babies were named Laura this year) since it was mentioned in the poetry in the 1300s by Francesco Petrarca. It is more likely that mothers were thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder from the popular TV show “Little House on the Prairie” when they named their girls Laura.
#24. Boy: Tyler
- Total millennials with this name: 274,848
- Peak popularity: 1993–1994 (#5 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1981 (#96 rank)
- Today's rank: #119 (3,298 babies born)
If you mention the name Tyler, many people think of the famous writer and director Tyler Perry. Hollywood medium Tyler Henry is keeping the unisex name in the spotlight for the 20-somethings.
#23. Girl: Kimberly
- Total millennials with this name: 188,467
- Peak popularity: 1981 (#13 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1996 (#41 rank)
- Today's rank: #170 (1,696 babies born)
While she is best known by her nickname Kim, Kimberly Kardashian West is certainly the celebrity who makes the moniker sparkle. Rod Stewart, Reggie Jackson, and James Garner all named their daughters Kimberly.
#23. Boy: Eric
- Total millennials with this name: 287,156
- Peak popularity: 1981 (#17 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1996 (#35 rank)
- Today's rank: #160 (2,389 babies born)
Guitarist Eric Clapton comes to mind for Baby Boomers who listened to his songs on record albums back in the day. Anyone who tucked their child in bed reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” imagines Eric Carle when they hear the name Eric. President Donald Trump surely thinks of his son Eric when someone says the handle.
#22. Girl: Christina
- Total millennials with this name: 190,503
- Peak popularity: 1985 (#12 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1996 (#57 rank)
- Today's rank: #439 (719 babies born)
The 19th-century English poet Christina Rossetti may have been responsible for the spike in popularity of the name when her poetry became popular in the 1970s. Supermodel Christie Brinkley and tennis player Chris Evert, both sharing variations of the name, also helped it zoom in the 1970s and 1980s. Today people think of pop singer Christina Aguilera when they hear the name.
#22. Boy: Brian
- Total millennials with this name: 296,881
- Peak popularity: 1981–1983 (#14 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1994 (#37 rank)
- Today's rank: #235 (1,618 babies born)
R&B legend Brian McKnight is top of mind for anyone who listened to his Grammy-nominated “Anytime” album. Fans of “Breaking Bad” may think of Walter White played by Bryan Cranston when someone says the name, while fans of “Family Guy” will smile and conjure the image of the charming white dog Brian Griffin.
#21. Girl: Michelle
- Total millennials with this name: 204,849
- Peak popularity: 1981–1982 (#11 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1996 (#47 rank)
- Today's rank: #263 (1,239 babies born)
The Beatles may have bolstered the name Michelle with their hit song in the 1970s and 1980s, but we can thank First Lady Michelle Obama for the name being in the spotlight today. Actresses Michelle Williams and Michelle Pfeiffer have also helped the name perform well.
#21. Boy: Kevin
- Total millennials with this name: 297,835
- Peak popularity: 1987, 1989 (#19 rank)
- Lowest popularity: 1994, 1996 (#26 rank)
- Today's rank: #125 (3,124 babies born)
Back in the seventh century, Saint Kevin founded a monastery. Today's Kevins include actors Kevin Hart and Kevin Bacon. Which Kevin do you think inspired Jimmy Kimmel to name his son Kevin?