Presidential names ranked by their current popularity
Presidents loom large in the American consciousness. Elections occur once every four years, and campaigning begins well in advance. Advertisements pepper radio and television waves, headlines are full of reports from the campaign trail, and the internet is full of ads and opinions on each candidate. Once a candidate has actually been sworn in, their decisions impact many facets of American life, making it almost impossible for Americans not to have a relatively high level of awareness of, at the very least, their president’s first name.
So when it comes time for parents to name their children, it is no surprise that some turn to presidential names, perhaps hoping their children will grow up to occupy stations of similar prestige and import to their predecessors.
But not all presidential names are valued equally. Stacker used the Social Security Administration’s Baby Names database to rank the 31 first names of U.S. presidents by their popularity in 2018 and found that the reputation of the president with the same name did not always correspond to how popular the name is today. For example, none of the presidents with the most popular presidential name—William—are remembered as particularly excellent presidents but still come out far ahead in name rankings than presidents with more aspirational legacies, such as Abraham Lincoln.
One factor is that other famous Americans share the same name as these ex-presidents. To wit, Warren Harding is hardly remembered as America’s best president, but Warren Buffett is a widely respected investor, and one of the richest people in the world. Other names simply fall out of fashion, as with Millard, the least popular presidential name.
Click through for a look at the most popular presidential names parents give their children today.
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- Name popularity rank in 2018: #8,096 (9 babies born)
- Name shared by: Millard Fillmore
With a name the New York Times calls “vaguely ridiculous,” it’s no surprise Millard Fillmore’s first name is the least popular of the presidential names. The 13th president’s recent biographer suggested the name could rhyme with “dullard.”
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #7,562 (10 babies born)
- Name shared by: Rutherford B. Hayes
Perhaps one reason Rutherford isn’t one of the more popular presidential names today has to do with the 19th president’s tenure. Rutherford B. Hayes ran on a platform promising to serve only one term, during which he managed to antagonize those who had helped put him in office.
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #5,284 (17 babies born)
- Name shared by: Barack Obama
The most recent occupant of the Oval Office before the current one, Barack Obama was a popular if divisive president. Although his name is not the most popular in the United States, more parents than ever have chosen to name their children Barack in recent years.
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #3,769 (28 babies born)
- Name shared by: Grover Cleveland
Parents who want to name their children after President Grover Cleveland may not be exactly accurate to name their children “Grover.” The 24th president’s real first name was Stephen. Interestingly, he is the only president to have served two non-consecutive terms.
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #2,658 (46 babies born)
- Name shared by: Bill Clinton
Although Bill sounds like a common name, it is one of the less popular presidential names. One reason may be that many parents, like Bill Clinton’s parents, may name their children William, and only nickname them Bill.
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- Name popularity rank in 2018: #2,021 (71 babies born)
- Name shared by: Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover’s reputation may make parents more hesitant to name their children after him. Hoover was widely blamed for the Great Depression in its aftermath, although in recent decades his reputation has bounced back.
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,858 (80 babies born)
- Name shared by: Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow isn’t the most popular of presidential names, but this isn’t for lack of admiration for the former President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson is widely seen as one of the most admired American presidents, steering the country ably and admirably through World War I.
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,704 (91 babies born)
- Name shared by: Chester Arthur
The National Constitution Center called Former President Chester Arthur “one of the more obscure leaders in American history,” so it may come as no surprise that his name isn’t wildly popular for parents looking to name babies after famous leaders. One reason Arthur may not be in such fuzzy focus? He was never meant to be president, assuming the office only after the assassination of James Garfield.
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,683 (93 babies born)
- Name shared by: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Although Dwight D. Eisenhower is widely regarded for his stewardship of the country in the decade following World War II, this hasn’t always been the case. In 1962, a C-SPAN poll of prominent historians ranked him as “barely average,” although his reputation has grown steadily since, which can only be good news for future parents naming their children Dwight.
- Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,520 (111 babies born)
- Name shared by: Lyndon B. Johnson
The architect of the Great Society that put in place many of the social programs Americans rely upon today, Lyndon Johnson is also remembered for further enmeshing the United States in a disastrous war in Vietnam. The popularity of his name is assisted by the fact that it can be given to men and women alike.
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