Most popular baby names of the past decade
William Shakespeare's famous female protagonist once asked, "What's in a name?" The answer? Honestly, quite a bit. Though the young lovestruck Juliet presents her soliloquy in the interest of proving quite the opposite—that a name means nothing, and her affection for Romeo should not be hindered by feuding family names—the truth about the weight carried by a name is quite contrary to her point.
The reality is that names tell stories. They tell stories about those who give them to us, and they come to tell stories about us as we carry them through our lives. They tell stories about cultural trends and current events that inform them or about the long-standing traditions that serve to carry them on from generation to generation. Names are like mirrors that reflect where we've come from, who we are, what connects us, and where we're going.
This is a time when finding unique baby names—think Aymeline, Bohan, and Ingram—seems to be a high priority. A look at baby name trends over the past decade shows that even as we grasp for the unconventional, there's still a fair share of names that reign supreme when it comes to baby name selection.
Stacker consulted data from the Social Security Administration to collect the most popular baby names of the past decade. The names were ranked by the total number of American babies that were given the name between 2010 and 2018. The story also includes each name's highest and lowest points of popularity in the decade or the years in which the most and least children were given these names. This list is broken down by birth gender, as reported on the baby's Social Security card application. The names on this list include that that have been popularized by television phenomena (Aria, from "Game of Thrones"), names rooted in tradition (Samuel, which is rooted in the Bible), and those that coincide with technological advances (we're looking at you, Alexa).
Read on to learn more about the top 100 baby names of the past decade and the stories behind their popularity.
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#50. Arianna (girls)
- Total babies with this name: 39,168
- Peak popularity: 2014 (Rank: #40; 5,263 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #95; 2,956 babies born
Originally Greek, the name Arianna—which means "very holy"—saw peak popularity in 2014, which corresponded with a few popular culture events that coincided with the peak. For one, singer Ariana Grande saw rising popularity in 2014. In 2013, Grande had her first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with her song "The Way," before seeing continued success in 2014 with the release of her second studio album, "My Everything," which featured the hit single "Break Free" and "My Everything," which reached #1 on the charts in September 2014. In March of 2014, another famous Arianna—Arianna Huffington—released her book, "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder."
#50. Charles (boys)
- Total babies with this name: 63,434
- Peak popularity: 2014 (Rank: #51; 7,339 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #52; 6,604 babies born
The name Charles is of French and German origin, with roots in the Germanic name Karl, meaning "free man." While the name was still in the top 50 most popular boy names for the decade, it has mostly been on a steady decline, except for a couple of spikes during some years between the 1920s and 1930s.
#49. Alexa (girls)
- Total babies with this name: 39,952
- Peak popularity: 2015 (Rank: #32; 6,050 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #90; 3,053 babies born
Alexa is a name of Greek origin. It may either be a derivative of the Greek name Alexandra, meaning "the helper of mankind." It can also exist as a standalone name, in which case it comes from the Greek word "alexein," meaning "to help or defend." Peak popularity came just a few months after Amazon released its smart speaker, the Amazon Echo, which was marketed alongside its now-iconic voice of the product: Alexa.
#49. Eli (boys)
- Total babies with this name: 64,124
- Peak popularity: 2012 (Rank: #44; 8,059 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #58; 6,027 babies born
The name Eli comes from Hebrew and means "ascended, uplifted, high." The peak popularity of the name came in 2012, which may or may not have had something to do with the New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning winning his second Super Bowl MVP award in February of that year.
#48. Penelope (girls)
- Total babies with this name: 40,789
- Peak popularity: 2017 (Rank: #24; 6,639 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2010 (Rank: #200; 1,547 babies born
The name Penelope has a Greek origin, coming from the word pēnē, meaning "thread on a bobbin." The name itself was given the definition "weaver" due to its role in Greek mythology, where the wife of Odysseus, Penelope, spent her time weaving while she waited for her husband to come back from the Trojan War—which took 20 years. For this reason, the name has often been associated with loyalty and faithfulness, as well.
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#48. Aaron (boys)
- Total babies with this name: 64,773
- Peak popularity: 2011 (Rank: #50; 7,613 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #60; 5,953 babies born
A name of Hebrew origin, Aaron, means "exalted or enlightened." There has been some debate about the name's roots, with some believing that it comes from Ancient Egypt. In the Old Testament, Aaron is the older brother and spokesperson for Moses, playing a critical role in the prophet's appeal to the Egyptians to free the Israelites from slavery. Today, the name remains pretty steadily popular, with a few contemporary famous namesakes, including actors Aaron Paul, from "Breaking Bad," and Aaron Eckhart.
#47. Nevaeh (girls)
- Total babies with this name: 41,654
- Peak popularity: 2010 (Rank: #25; 6,420 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #85; 3,359 babies born
A relatively recent name, Nevaeh, is "heaven" spelled backward. The name's popularity first started rising when rocker/rapper Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. introduced his baby daughter, Nevaeh, on MTV's home tour show, "MTV Cribs" back in 2000. This is a polarizing one, though: While the popularity of the name has been on the rise since the early aughts, that rise has coincided with some serious disdain for the name on the other side of the spectrum, too.
#47. Levi (boys)
- Total babies with this name: 68,602
- Peak popularity: 2018 (Rank: #33; 8,440 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2010 (Rank: #70; 6,006 babies born
Levi is believed to derive from the Hebrew word yillaweh, meaning "he will join." While the name was at its lowest popularity coming into the decade, a rising trend of celebrity children that were given the name around that time like Levi James Crow and Levi Alves McConaughey may have set the stage for the names to crawl back to fame.
#46. Kaylee (girls)
- Total babies with this name: 41,958
- Peak popularity: 2010 (Rank: #35; 6,095 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #97; 2,938 babies born
Kaylee, which is almost a portmanteau of two other names (Kayla and Hailey), is an American name that means "laurel, crown." The name was most popular at the start of the decade, after which it began to fall out of favor as the years went on.
#46. Hunter (boys)
- Total babies with this name: 69,268
- Peak popularity: 2013 (Rank: #36; 8,954 babies born)
- Lowest popularity: 2018 (Rank: #56; 6,066 babies born
An English name by origin, Hunter, means "one who hunts." While the name saw several years of high popularity within the past two decades, it was virtually unused in the U.S. before 1990 but saw its most significant climb to popularity in the decade leading up to the turn of the millennium.
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