Most popular saints' names for babies
Most popular saints' names for babies
Religion-based names have long been a tradition across the different faiths. Not only do they offer a chance to honor a family’s values and beliefs in a particularly personal way, but they also keep religious histories alive from one generation to the next.
In the case of Christianity, the Bible has long been a rich source of theologically guided names. However, there are also over 10,000 saints throughout Roman Catholicism and other Christian denominations that have influenced Christian naming practices significantly. Saints are individuals––either from scripture or historical accounts––who lived a life of virtue, such that they may be considered “servants of God.” Through a papal canonization process, those who meet these high standards are given sainthood status. It is this level of holy sanctity that has made saints such popular sources of name inspiration in Christian families.
That said, as Christianity evolved over the years, there have been fluctuations in the popularity of saintly names. The Protestant Reformation, for example, saw a divergence from certain Catholic traditions––e.g., recognition of papal authority––and the birth of new Christian denominations that placed the teachings of the Bible above all else. With this shift came a concurrent shift in Christian nomenclature. Those in areas where Protestantism took over became less interested in naming their children after saints and more interested in selecting monikers that were pulled directly from the Bible.
Despite these changes, saint-inspired naming practices have remained a strong tradition. These names offer more than just a perfunctory nod to key biblical or religious figures; they offer a chance to celebrate the rich history of the Christian faith and those who have shaped, protected, and––in many cases––suffered for it throughout history.
In order to identify the most popular baby names of today that are inspired by Christian saints, Stacker cross-referenced data from the Social Security Administration and the name database Behind the Name. We compiled a list of notable saints from Behind the Name and then ranked their names according to the number of babies given those names in 2018.
Read on to discover the top 100 names––39 girls’ names and 61 boys’ names––in the U.S. shared by Christian saints throughout history.
You may also like: The 100 best cities to raise a family
#100. Matteo (boys)
- 2018 rank: #196 (2,084 babies born)
The Italian version of the name Matthew, Matteo is a moniker shared with Saint Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament and the author of the Gospel of Matthew. Despite the name’s growing popularity since the 1990s, its namesake saint was seemingly less popular during his time. When chosen by Jesus to be an apostle, St. Matthew was also a tax collector, a profession that was not held in particularly favorable regard. Nevertheless, the Gospel of Matthew remains one of the most quoted books of the Bible and St. Matthew’s name––along with variations of it––remains popular. Matteo is a name shared by many celebrity sons, including those of actor Colin Firth and singer Ricky Martin.
#99. Nicolas (boys)
- 2018 rank: #192 (2,094 babies born)
Nicolas is a French variation of the name Nicholas, which was popularized by St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, and the wrongly imprisoned (among several others). The saint, who was a bishop during the fourth century in a town located in what is present-day Turkey, was the inspiration for the figure we recognize today as Santa Claus (hence Santa’s alternative moniker, St. Nick). Among the most famous namesakes today is actor Nicolas Cage.
#98. Patrick (boys)
- 2018 rank: #189 (2,111 babies born)
Those who don the name Patrick are named for St. Patrick, a fifth-century British missionary who is best known for his role in spreading Christianity across Ireland. Born Maewyn Succat, it wasn’t until St. Patrick completed his studies in the priesthood that he changed his name and headed to Ireland, where he spent 40 years preaching and evangelizing the Irish. St. Patrick was also responsible for building the first Irish church. Today, this patron saint of Ireland is remembered (rambunctiously, and often with a drink in hand) each year on his namesake holiday: St. Patrick’s Day.
#97. Richard (boys)
- 2018 rank: #187 (2,119 babies born)
The name Richard is shared with St. Richard of Chichester, the patron saint of coachmen. The bishop––who was educated at Oxford––was known for his role in defending the Catholic church and his empathy for and generosity toward the poor. One of St. Richard’s most notable legacies, however, was the shrine in Chichester that was erected following his death––a shrine that had become a popular site of worship and a place of miracles, until it was destroyed by Henry VIII. While this name is still hanging on to some of its favor, the moniker’s popularity has been steadily dwindling in the U.S. since the 1970s.
#96. Andrea (girls)
- 2018 rank: #134 (2,154 babies born)
Andrea is the female version of the name Andrew, which is given after St. Andrew. A fisherman by trade, St. Andrew—along with his younger brother, Simon Peter—was selected by Jesus to be a disciple and, as it goes in the Gospel of Matthew, to join Jesus as a “fisher of men.” It is believed that St. Andrew was one of the closest disciples to Jesus, which could explain why the religiously significant name has managed to remain consistently popular throughout the decades. It was only recently, in 2013, that the name fell out of the top 100 girl’s names in the U.S. for the first time since the 1960s. Its usage has since continued dipping slightly with each subsequent year.
You may also like: U.S. Air Force by the numbers
#95. Miguel (boys)
- 2018 rank: #179 (2,171 babies born)
Miguel is the Spanish and Portuguese version of the name Michael, which may be given after St. Michael the Archangel. An angel rather than an actual saint, St. Michael led the good angels in the battle against Lucifer, according to scripture. In addition to acting as the leader of God’s angels and army, St. Michael serves as the protector of the Christian faith and the Catholic church. Though Miguel ranks 179th in the U.S., the cognate of Michael is considerably more popular in its nations of origin, ranking 26th and ninth in Spain and Portugal, respectively.
#94. Victor (boys)
- 2018 rank: #177 (2,213 babies born)
Victor was the name of many early saints, including St. Victor of Marseilles, the patron saint of the tortured. The popularity of the Christian name, though, may be as much based on its namesake saints as it is on the name’s deeper meaning: Victor derives from the term meaning “to win” and, in medieval times, the name was often used in reference to Jesus Christ’s triumph over sin.
#93. Lorenzo (boys)
- 2018 rank: #173 (2,241 babies born)
The Italian version of the boy’s name Lawrence, Lorenzo is a moniker that might be given with St. Lawrence in mind. St. Lawrence is the patron saint of the poor and of cooks. During his life, the deacon––and later, martyr––was tasked with protecting the church and its goods, as well as sharing the church’s alms among the poor. The name Lorenzo may also be given in reference to another religious namesake: St. Lorenzo Ruiz, who was the first Filipino saint and the first figure to be beatified in a ceremony outside of the Vatican.
#92. August (boys)
- 2018 rank: #170 (2,264 babies born)
Though August is most traditionally used as a shorter form of Augustus, the name––which has been used by many celebrities for their sons, including Mariska Hargitay and Dave Matthews––may also be given in reference to St. Augustine, the patron saint of brewers. The tale of St. Augustine is one of redemption, as the saint spent a long portion of his younger years veering away from his faith and living waywardly. It was not until later in his life that he came back to Christianity, was baptized, and became a priest. St. Augustine was also proclaimed one of the first four doctors of the Church thanks to his prolific theological and philosophical writings.
#91. Edward (boys)
- 2018 rank: #169 (2,268 babies born)
Edward is a name given as much in honor of a saint as a king. One of its most prominent Christian namesakes, St. Edward the Confessor, ruled over England between 1042–1066 as one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings the country would see. The ruler earned himself the title of “confessor”—which is considered one step short of martyr, but still a symbol of suffering for one’s faith—through his devotion to prayer, Christianity, and resisting the world’s unholy temptations. St. Edward is widely remembered for his healing powers—he was the first to begin the tradition of healing the ill with a simple touch of his hand—and for the building of St. Peter's Abbey at Westminster (better known today as Westminster Abbey).
You may also like: U.S. Air Force history from the year you were born
#90. Margaret (girls)
- 2018 rank: #127 (2,312 babies born)
Though there are several saints who bore the name Margaret—e.g., St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Margaret Clitherow—the name is most commonly given in reference to St. Margaret of Antioch. Though her very existence has been drawn into question in recent decades, St. Margaret of Antioch was easily one of the most revered saints during medieval times. Stories told of the saint include one in which she overcame Satan in the form of a dragon and another in which she was tortured and beheaded upon her refusal to denounce her Christian faith. The voice of St. Margaret of Antioch was also said to be one of those heard by another saint, St. Joan of Arc.
#89. Mary (girls)
- 2018 rank: #126 (2,327 babies born)
Mary, of course, is the name most commonly given in reference to St. Mary the Virgin, who was the mother of Jesus Christ. The patron saint of humanity, St. Mary is often regarded as one of the most important of the Christian saints because she consented to be used for God’s will when she was told by the archangel Gabriel that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, she would become the mother of Jesus Christ. This significance is likely why the name Mary reigned supreme as a girl’s name in the English-speaking Christian world until the mid-20th century.
#88. Timothy (boys)
- 2018 rank: #165 (2,330 babies born)
Translated from its Greek origin, the name Timothy actually means “honoring God.” As a saintly name, the moniker may be given in reference to St. Timothy, who was a close companion and faithful follower of St. Paul. St. Timothy accompanied St. Paul on his missionary journeys and aided him in his evangelical efforts.
#87. Abraham (boys)
- 2018 rank: #164 (2,344 babies born)
As far as saint-inspired names go, the name Abraham may be given in reference to St. Abraham Kidunaia, a saint most recognized for his faithful devotion to God through hermitage and solitary prayer. However, the name may also be given in reference to the patriarchal figure from the Old Testament who became the father of multiple nations through his sons, Isaac (father of Hebrews) and Ishmael (father of Arabs). In Christianity, Abraham obeys God’s commands unquestioningly throughout biblical scripture, including when he is instructed to sacrifice his own son. Though Isaac is ultimately spared by God, the biblical story is considered to have been foreshadowing of Jesus Christ’s comparable sacrifice when he is crucified.
#86. Antonio (boys)
- 2018 rank: #163 (2,352 babies born)
A Spanish and Italian version of the name Anthony, Antonio may be given in reference to one of several critical figures in Christianity. First, there is St. Anthony the Great, a fourth-century monk who is considered the father of Christian monasticism. The name Antonio may also be given in reference to St. Anthony of Padua, the Portuguese-born patron saint of lost and stolen items. Though this cognate of Anthony rose in popularity in the U.S. during the latter half of the 20th century, it’s popularity has actually been on a slight-but-steady decline each year for the past two decades. Famous namesakes include model and actor Antonio Sabàto, Jr. and actor Antonio Banderas.
You may also like: American history from the year you were born
#85. Eric (boys)
- 2018 rank: #160 (2,389 babies born)
The name Eric—which comes from Old Norse and means “ever ruler”—could be used in reference to a number of Christian saints. For one, it may refer to St. Eric IX of Sweden, the ruler credited with the establishment and rise of Christianity in Upper Sweden. However, Eric could also be used in reference to some more prominent saints with similar, as opposed to exact, monikers. For example, the name may be a shortened version of the name Alberic—as in Saint Alberic of Cîteaux, a French monk who co-founded the Cistercian Order—or Agericus––as in St. Agericus, a French saint revered for his reputation as a miracle worker.
#84. Alexandra (girls)
- 2018 rank: #125 (2,394 babies born)
Alexandra is a name that may be given after St. Alexandra, the empress and martyr. The wife of Emperor Diocletian, St. Alexandra first came to Christianity after meeting and being moved by St. George during his imprisonment. Upon publicly professing her own faith in Christianity, St. Alexandra was sentenced to death, though she died naturally before she could be executed. That said, as the female version of the boy’s name Alexander, the name Alexandra may also be given in reference to St. Alexander of Jerusalem, who, above all else, was an example and a symbol of unwavering faith in the face of criticism.
#83. Emmanuel (boys)
- 2018 rank: #159 (2,404 babies born)
The name Emmanuel is one that ties back to a few different saints, including St. Emmanuel Trieu and St. Emmanuel Phung, both of whom were Vietnamese martyrs canonized by Pope John Paul II. A variation of the name––Immanuel––also appears in the Bible as the name for the Messiah in Isaiah’s prophecy, and maybe the likelier inspiration behind the name for those who use it. While the name is never actually one that Jesus goes by, its use in reference to him is more meant to reference the name’s Hebrew translation––“God is with us”––and its reflection of Christ’s role as the incarnation of God amongst men.
#82. Rose (girls)
- 2018 rank: #123 (2,432 babies born)
While St. Rose of Lima—the first canonized saint born in the Americas—is likely the saint namesake honored by the name Rose, St. Rose’s given name at birth was actually Isabel. It was her beauty—along with a vision that a servant once had in which Isabel’s face turned into a rose—that earned her the nickname and confirmation name “Rose.” The moniker’s popularity in the U.S. saw its height much earlier in the 1900s, but it has been steadily on the rise again over the past 10 years after seeing a significant dive in popularity in previous decades (save for a brief spike after 1997, the year in which “Titanic” was released).
#81. Faith (girls)
- 2018 rank: #122 (2,442 babies born)
The name Faith may be given as a nod to Christianity and devotion to God overall. That said, it could also be used in reference to St. Faith of Conques. The French saint is remembered today for her martyrdom, as she refused to give into paganism, even in the face of torture by the Romans. It’s believed that when St. Faith was killed by the Romans for her refusal to renounce Christianity, she was only 12 years old.
You may also like: 50 famous paintings and the stories behind them
#80. Jude (boys)
- 2018 rank: #157 (2,468 babies born)
For music lovers, Jude goes hand in hand with The Beatles. In Christianity, the name is likely used in reference to St. Jude, who was one of the original Twelve Apostles. The patron saint of hope and impossible causes, St. Jude has been the inspiration for more than just parents—the saint’s moniker was also given to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, which opened in 1962 with the unveiling of a statue of St. Jude and has since been committed to being a place of hope for cases that might otherwise be deemed lost causes.
#79. Maria (girls)
- 2018 rank: #116 (2,595 babies born)
As a Latinized version of Mary, the name Maria may be given in reference to St. Mary the Virgin. However, it may also be used in reference to St. Maria Goretti, an Italian saint and the youngest canonized saint in history. St. Maria, who died at the young age of 11, lost her life when she resisted a sexual assault by her neighbor, Alessandro. Right before she died, St. Maria proclaimed that she forgave her attacker—a sentiment that she repeated again when she appeared to Alessandro during his imprisonment.
#78. Natalia (girls)
- 2018 rank: #114 (2,617 babies born)
Natalia can be given in reference to a number of figures from Christianity. For starters, the name may be used to honor St. Natalia, who is known for her martyrdom along with her husband Adrian. Adrian converted to Christianity after their marriage and was guided in the faith through St. Natalia’s help. As a female variation of the name Nathaniel, Natalia may also be used in reference to St. Nathanael—also known as St. Bartholomew—who was an apostle. The name may even honor Jesus himself, as the origin of the name (the Latin “nātālis”) means “day of birth” and refers to Christ’s birthday.
#77. Isabelle (girls)
- 2018 rank: #113 (2,640 babies born)
The name Isabelle is, at its core, tied to religion (the French name means “pledged to God”). Beyond its etymology, though, the name may also refer to a number of saints, including: St. Isabel of France, the French royal who devoted her life to God, refused to marry, and was known for seating and feeding the poor at her table before dining herself; St. Isabella of Portugal, who was known as a peacemaker thanks to her naturally calming presence; and St. Rose of Lima, whose given name at birth was Isabel.
#76. Abel (boys)
- 2018 rank: #146 (2,663 babies born)
Abel, or St. Abel the Just, was the second son of Adam and Eve. Abel’s death—the result of a jealousy-fueled murder by his older brother Cain—is considered one of the first-ever recorded deaths in human history. Today, St. Abel the Just represents the first martyr of Christianity and a source of righteousness in humanity. Abel is certainly one of the lesser-utilized biblical names, which for some may add to its allure. Famous namesakes include the son of Amy Poehler and Will Arnett, Abel Arnett, as well as singer Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name, The Weeknd.
You may also like: Most popular dog breed the year you were born
#75. Giovanni (boys)
- 2018 rank: #143 (2,747 babies born)
Giovanni—which means “God is gracious”—is an Italian variation of the name John. While it may be used in reference to saints that bear the Italian cognate—e.g., St. Giovanni Leonardi—the name more likely refers to St. John the Baptist, the evangelist and forerunner of Christ who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. The name has certainly been more popular in its native Italy over the years—one of its most famous namesakes was the Italian fashion designer, Giovanni “Gianni” Versace—but has been rapidly growing in use stateside since the mid-’60s.
#74. Justin (boys)
- 2018 rank: #141 (2,787 babies born)
The name Justin comes from the Latin word meaning “fair and righteous,” and it might be used in reference to St. Justin, the martyr who converted to Christianity after exploring a myriad of pagan philosophies. Even after he found religion, he continued viewing philosophy and Christianity as cooperative forces, and believed that certain elements of philosophy could serve to solidify one’s following of Christ. St. Justin thus became the first Christian philosopher. The name Justin has fluctuated in U.S. popularity over the years; it began to spike in the 1960s and has been on a relatively steady decline since 1988.
#73. Juan (boys)
- 2018 rank: #139 (2,826 babies born)
Like Giovanni, Juan is a variation—this time Spanish, rather than Italian—of the name John. It may thus refer to St. John the Baptist, Jesus Christ’s forerunner and the saint who brought the first followers to Christianity. That said, it’s also possible that Juan could be given in reference to a saint that bore the same name, like St. Juan Diego, a Mexican native and the patron saint of indigenous people. While the name’s popularity is strongest in Spain, it has nevertheless seen impressively consistent favor in the U.S. over the past several decades. Until 2015 when the name’s rank fell to #114, Juan had remained amongst the top 100 boys’ names since 1970.
#72. Carlos (boys)
- 2018 rank: #137 (2,839 babies born)
The Spanish and Portuguese cognate of the English and French name Charles, Carlos means “free man.” When considered in relation to saint namesakes, Carlos could reference to several saints with the moniker, including: St. Charles Garnier, a Jesuit in Paris who was among the North American Martyrs canonized by Pope Pius XI; St. Charles of Sezze, an Italian shepherd known for his holiness, charity, and aspirations of joining the priesthood; and St. Charles Borromeo, a priest and bishop of Milan known for his charity and for playing a role in the Protestant Reformation.
#71. Diego (boys)
- 2018 rank: #134 (2,880 babies born)
A Spanish variation of the name James, Diego as a saint-inspired moniker is most likely used in reference to saints that bear the anglicized variation. For example, the name may reference St. James the Great, one of Jesus Christ’s first disciples and one of the few chosen to witness the Transfiguration. St. James the Greater is not to be confused with St. James the Less, who was also one of the Twelve Apostles and who just as easily may be the inspiration behind the use of the name Diego. St. James the Less, who died a martyr, is known for his advocacy that the Christian Church was open to all those who wished to join it and follow Christ. While this name’s popularity is particularly high throughout Europe—the name is highly utilized in Spain, Italy, and Portugal—its usage in the U.S. has mostly been on the rise since the 1960s.
You may also like: Most popular baby names in the 21st century
#70. Ivan (boys)
- 2018 rank: #133 (2,897 babies born)
Another variation of the name John—this time Russian—Ivan is like Juan and Giovanni in that the name is most likely to be used in reference to famous saints that bore the name John, including St. John the Baptist, Jesus Christ’s predecessor and the saint who encouraged the first Christians to follow Christ. Famous namesakes of this Russian cognate of John include Ivan Sergei, the television actor who has appeared on shows including “Charmed,” “Body of Proof,” and “The Mentalist.”
#69. Vivian (girls)
- 2018 rank: #95 (2,956 babies born)
While the name Vivian may be chosen for its Latin meaning—the moniker means life—it could just as easily be used in reference to St. Vivian (also known as St. Bibiana). Left an orphan after her Roman Catholic parents were persecuted for their faith, St. Vivian ultimately met a fate similar to her parents’ when her refusal to sin resulted in her being tied to a pillar and beaten to her death. Though never truly unpopular over the past century, the name Vivian has been slowly increasing in rank over the past three decades. The name was chosen by several celebrity couples for their daughters, including Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, as well as Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady.
#68. Julia (girls)
- 2018 rank: #93 (2,989 babies born)
The moniker Julia pays tribute to St. Julia of Corsica, a noblewoman who was sold into slavery, and died a martyr when she was crucified for refusing to renounce Christ and worship pagan gods. A female variation of the names Julius and Julian, Julia could easily be a reference to Pope St. Julius I, who served from 337 to 352, or St. Julian, the patron saint of travelers, as well. The name has remained relatively steady in popularity over the decades, and famous namesakes include actress Julia Roberts and chef Julia Child.
#67. Josephine (girls)
- 2018 rank: #91 (3,023 babies born)
The name Josephine—which is French and translates to “Jehovah increases”—may be given in honor of St. Josephine Bakhita. The Sudanese saint, though born into a comfortable family, spent a large portion of her life in slavery after being captured and sold. It was during her time in slavery that St. Josephine was introduced to Christianity, which actually made her thankful to her kidnappers. As the female variation of the name Joseph, it’s possible that Josephine may also be given in reference to St. Joseph, Jesus Christ’s foster father and Mary’s husband.
#66. George (boys)
- 2018 rank: #127 (3,059 babies born)
The moniker George is most likely given in reference to St. George, the patron saint of England and a famous Christian martyr who was imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded under Emperor Diocletian and his persecution of Christians. It was St. George who also turned St. Alexandra—the wife of Diocletian—to Christianity during his imprisonment. While the name George remained highly popular in the U.S. for decades—it was, after all, the name of the nation’s founding father and first president, George Washington—it has been declining in use since the 1950s.
You may also like: U.S. Marine Corps history from the year you were born
#65. Luis (boys)
- 2018 rank: #126 (3,084 babies born)
The Spanish form of the French and German name Louis, Luis is most likely a reference to St. Louis IX of France. The only French king to be granted sainthood, St. Louis IX remained true to his oath at coronation to serve his people with God as his guide. The king’s reign was one marked by fairness in diplomacy, generosity to the poor, and dedication to peace. The name’s U.S. popularity has been steadily rising for the most part since the 1940s.
#64. Kevin (boys)
- 2018 rank: #125 (3,124 babies born)
Kevin—the anglicized version of the Irish name Caoimhín—is often given in honor of St. Caoimhín, the patron saint of Dublin. Known for his solitary lifestyle, St. Caoimhín—also known as St. Kevin—is primarily remembered for establishing a monastery and monastic settlement in Glendalough, Ireland. The name rose to popularity in the U.S. between 1920–1950, and from there it remained a top boy’s name for decades before dropping out of the top 50 in 2010 and continuing to decline in popularity over the subsequent years. Famous namesakes include actor Kevin Bacon and basketball player Kevin Durant.
#63. Lydia (girls)
- 2018 rank: #89 (3,184 babies born)
St. Lydia was a seller of purple dye in Thyatira before she became St. Paul’s first Christian convert in all of Europe. Known for serving God through her hospitality, St. Lydia is one of the few women mentioned in the New Testament. The name has been one of firsts throughout history, even beyond the Bible, as it was also the moniker of Lydia Taft, the first woman to legally vote in colonial America. The name Lydia may thus carry a bit of a trailblazing spirit.
#62. Valentina (girls)
- 2018 rank: #81 (3,416 babies born)
The Latin name meaning “strength,” Valentina could be used in reference to a couple of different saints. For starters, it may be used in commemoration of the Palestinian St. Valentina, who is remembered for dying a martyr with her friend, St. Thea. As the female version of Valentine, it’s also possible that Valentina could be used in reference to any number of St. Valentines. The most popular, St. Valentine of Rome, is the patron saint of love, marriage, and engaged couples and is the saint commemorated on Feb. 14.
#61. Gianna (girls)
- 2018 rank: #80 (3,429 babies born)
A diminutive of Giovanna—which itself is a feminized variation of the name John—Gianna is a moniker that may be given in reference to any saint who bore the name John. This might include: St. John the Almsgiver, known for his service to the poor; St. John the Apostle, one of the original Twelve Apostles and believed to be the longest living apostle; or St. John the Baptist, Christ’s predecessor. However, the name could also be given in reference to a saint who bore the name itself: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian pediatrician and the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children.
You may also like: What having a baby was like the year you were born
#60. Silas (boys)
- 2018 rank: #110 (3,479 babies born)
Silas—which could be a shortened form of the name Silvanus—is a name shared by St. Silas, a prophet and missionary in the New Testament. St. Silas is known for having accompanied St. Paul on his second missionary journey in which he spread news of Jesus being the Messiah. The saint may have also served as St. Peter’s secretary later on. The name’s popularity in the U.S. was on a steady decline for the bigger part of the 20th century, but picked back up around the 1970s. Famous namesakes include politician Silas Deane, as well as celebrity baby Silas Randall Timberlake, the son of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.
#59. Zachary (boys)
- 2018 rank: #109 (3,528 babies born)
There are a few saints that the name Zachary may be given in reference to, but the most likely namesakes might be: St. Zachary, a martyr and the father of St. John the Baptist; St. Zacharias, the last of the Greek popes; or St. Zacharias of Vienne, a bishop and martyr who was among the first French Christian evangelists. It wasn’t too long ago that Zachary wasn’t a top contender as far as boys’ names go, but it saw a surge in popularity in the mid-20th century and climbed to its peak in the ’90s before starting on a slight downward turn again at the turn of the century. Famous namesakes include actors Zachary Quinto, Zachary Levi, and Zac Efron.
#58. Damian (boys)
- 2018 rank: #108 (3,540 babies born)
A name of Greek origin meaning “to tame,” Damian may be used in reference to St. Damian of Molokai, a Belgian priest and the patron saint of leprosy who spent most of his life as a missionary in Hawaii helping those who suffered from the disease. Despite this name’s occasional use as a nod to sainthood, Damian also endured a bout of sinking popularity as a result of representing evil rather than good in the 1976 horror film “The Omen.”
#57. Eva (girls)
- 2018 rank: #75 (3,542 babies born)
The Spanish variation of the name Eve, Eva is most likely used in reference to Eve, one of the first humans—along with Adam—in the Old Testament. While there are some conflicting opinions over whether or not Adam and Eve are, in fact, considered saints, one school of thought in Catholicism is that the two are celebrated as saints on their feast day—Dec. 24 aka Christmas Eve—because of their repentance for their committance of original sin against God.
#56. Vincent (boys)
- 2018 rank: #107 (3,552 babies born)
Vincent––a name rooted in Latin that means “to conquer”––could be a reference to St. Vincent de Paul. The French priest and patron saint of charities is known for his service to the poor as well as his early opposition of the Jansenist movement––which advocated for asceticism––in France. Famous namesakes include painter Vincent van Gogh and actor Vince Vaughn. The famous saint is also a very literal inspiration for the stage name of singer/songwriter St. Vincent.
You may also like: These baby names are going extinct
#55. Elena (girls)
- 2018 rank: #66 (3,758 babies born)
A variation of the names Helen and Elena, Elena is most likely used in reference to St. Helena, the patron saint of new discoveries. St. Helena’s greatest legacy was her discovery of the True Cross—the cross that Jesus was crucified on. A moniker that has been steadily rising in popularity over the past several decades, Elena belongs to such namesakes as the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and actress Elena Goode.
#54. Jason (boys)
- 2018 rank: #100 (3,847 babies born)
The Greek name—which means “healer”—may be given in honor of St. Jason of Tarsus, a martyr who was imprisoned by the Romans for his evangelism. It was during his time in prison that St. Jason—along with St. Sosipater—played a role in converting a gang of thieves, later known as the Martyrs of Corfu, to Christianity. St. Jason also hosted St. Paul the Apostle during one of his mission trips.
#53. Miles (boys)
- 2018 rank: #98 (3,964 babies born)
While the traditional origin of the name Miles is considered to be Milo, the Norman-French name Miles may also be a medieval variation (or nickname) of Michael. As such, the name may be given in reference to St. Michael, the patron saint of soldiers and the leader of God’s army in heaven. Not only was St. Michael the leader in the battle between good and evil among the angels—a battle in which Satan and all fallen angels were cast to hell—but he was also a protector during the Crusades. Famous namesakes of the moniker include actor Miles Teller and football player Miles Austin.
#52. Emilia (girls)
- 2018 rank: #58 (4,020 babies born)
Emilia—a moniker of Spanish, Italian, and Hungarian origin—may be used to commemorate St. Emilia, the daughter of a martyr. St. Emilia is often referred to as the mother of saints because five of her 10 children went on to be saints as well, including St. Basil the Great, St. Peter of Sebaste, and St. Gregory of Nyssa. Among Emilia’s most famous namesakes is the “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke.
#51. Anna (girls)
- 2018 rank: #54 (4,145 babies born)
A variation of the Hebrew name Hannah, Anna is a name that may most likely be given in reference to one of two key figures in Christian scripture. The first is St. Anne, who was the mother of the Virgin Mary. The second is the more direct (albeit less familiar) namesake, St. Anna the Prophetess, who was present at the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem and played a role in spreading the news of the Messiah.
You may also like: Most popular baby names in America
#50. Leonardo (boys)
- 2018 rank: #92 (4,205 babies born)
A name meaning “brave lion,” Leonardo is an Italian and Spanish variation of the German moniker Leonard. A saint who may inspire use of the name is St. Leonard of Noblac, the patron saint of prisoners who was granted the right by King Clovis to liberate those prisoners he found worthy. One of the most famous Leonardos—actor Leonardo DiCaprio—got his name by way of a different source of inspiration, though: artist Leonardo da Vinci. According to an interview with the “The Wolf of Wall Street” star, DiCaprio’s name was chosen by his parents while looking at a da Vinci painting at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
#49. Lucy (girls)
- 2018 rank: #51 (4,354 babies born)
A variation of Lucia, the name Lucy may most commonly be used in reference to St. Lucy of Syracuse, the patron saint of the blind. The fourth-century saint—who died a martyr—is said to have had her eyes gouged out as punishment, but they were later found to be miraculously restored upon her burial. Though the name saw a plunge in popularity in the 1970s, it began steadily climbing in rank again in the ’90s. Famous namesakes of the moniker include actress Lucy Liu and journalist—and daughter of Stephen Hawking—Lucy Hawking.
#48. Roman (boys)
- 2018 rank: #85 (4,364 babies born)
Roman, which is a variation of the name Romanus, could be given in honor of St. Romanus, the martyr who was moved to convert to Christianity upon seeing the plight of St. Lawrence and his suffering for the faith. The name could also be a nod to St. Boris, whose Christian name was Roman—one of the first two canonized saints of the Russian Church.
#47. Jordan (boys)
- 2018 rank: #82 (4,646 babies born)
The name Jordan could easily be a nod to the Jordan River, which was the body of water in which Jesus was baptized by St. John the Baptist. However, when considered in the context of Christian saints, the name may likelier be given in reference to St. Giordano Ansalone, the martyr and priest who embarked on missionary journeys across Asia.
#46. Santiago (boys)
- 2018 rank: #81 (4,647 babies born)
Unlike most saint-inspired monikers that pull from a saint’s first name alone, Santiago is an interesting case in which the Spanish name itself translates to “Saint James.” The name is comprised of two parts: the Spanish santo, which means “saint,” and Yago, an Old Spanish form of James. The name could be considered a nod to one of several saints with the moniker, including St. James the Great, one of Jesus Christ’s first disciples and one of the few chosen to witness his transfiguration, and St. James the Less, the martyr known for declaring the Christian church open to all those who wished to join it.
You may also like: Least obedient dog breeds
#45. Adam (boys)
- 2018 rank: #78 (4,675 babies born)
While it’s possible that the name Adam could be used in reference to St. Adam—the patron saint of gardeners—it is more likely that the Christian use of the name would be a reference to the first humans in the Old Testament. As explained in the case of the name Eva, while Adam and Eve are not traditionally considered saints, they are nevertheless celebrated as such for their repentance of their great sin. A famous namesake of the moniker includes “Marriage Story” star Adam Driver.
#44. Dominic (boys)
- 2018 rank: #75 (4,753 babies born)
Dominic—a variation of the Latin name Dominicus, meaning “of the Lord”—has long been used in honor of one of its most famous saint namesakes: St. Dominic, founder of the Order of the Preachers (also known as the Dominican Friars). The name may also be a reference to St. Dominic Savio of Italy, who was the youngest known non-martyred saint. The name is shared by a number of famous namesakes, including “The Affair” actor Dominic West and film director Dominic Sena.
#43. Nicholas (boys)
- 2018 rank: #74 (4,801 babies born)
Like the French variation of the name Nicholas is a moniker popularized by St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, sailors, and wrongly imprisoned individuals. The bishop and saint was known, among other things, for his protection of children and his deliverance of them from evil and danger. Among the most famous namesakes today are singer Nick Jonas, comedian Nick Offerman, and actor Nicholas Hoult.
#42. Zoe (girls)
- 2018 rank: #40 (5,062 babies born)
Zoe, which means “life” in Greek, is a name that may honor St. Zoe of Rome. The martyr was mute until her voice was restored by St. Sebastian. It was then that she professed her faith in Jesus Christ. Though the name’s popularity fluctuated greatly over the decades, it saw its biggest spike in popularity in 1988––which also happens to be the year that singer Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet chose the name for their daughter, Zoë Kravitz.
#41. Robert (boys)
- 2018 rank: #71 (5,140 babies born)
Robert is a name shared by St. Robert of Bellarmine, a revered theologian of his time and the first Jesuit to become a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain. What St. Robert is most remembered for, however, is his firm opposition to anti-Catholic ideas that circulated after the Protestant Reformation. The name’s steady popularity over the years—it sat comfortably in the top 10 boys’ names for most of the 20th century—took a small hit in the ’90s and it has been on a slow and steady decline since.
You may also like: How Pride is celebrated around the globe in 25 photos
#40. Elias (boys)
- 2018 rank: #67 (5,310 babies born)
The name Elias could be given in honor of several saints who bore the name, including the martyr St. Elias of Spain and St. Elias, the patriarch of Jerusalem. A variation of the name Elijah, Elias may also be a reference to St. Elijah, a prophet and patron of the Carmelite Order. Of all the stories about St. Elijah, the most familiar is likely that in which he split the Jordan River in two and road up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Among the famous namesakes that bear the name is “Lord of the Rings” actor Elijah Wood.
#39. Jeremiah (boys)
- 2018 rank: #65 (5,561 babies born)
Known as the “Weeping Prophet,” St. Jeremiah was sent by God to urge people to repent during the time of King Josiah and his successors. The Book of Jeremiah also warned of the impending destruction of Babylon and oncoming judgment from God to those who refused to repent. Despite the name’s growing popularity in recent years, Jeremiah doesn’t have quite as many famous namesakes as a variation of the moniker: Jeremy (e.g., Jeremy Piven, Jeremy Renner, Jeremy Irons).
#38. Adrian (boys)
- 2018 rank: #62 (5,788 babies born)
The name Adrian is shared by a few different saints, including St. Adrian of Nicomedia, the once-pagan husband of St. Natalia who converted to Christianity after being moved by the devotion of the persecuted. Just a few of the moniker’s famous namesakes include “Entourage” actor Adrian Grenier and basketball player Adrian Dantley (not to mention a total of six popes).
#37. Aaron (boys)
- 2018 rank: #60 (5,953 babies born)
Though the name is especially popular in Judaism as it belonged to the older brother of Moses, Aaron is a moniker that also holds major significance in Christianity. St. Aaron—who was chosen by God to be the first High Priest the Old Law—is one of the ancestors of St. John, who baptized Christ. Famous Aarons include actor Aaron Eckhart and football quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
#36. Christian (boys)
- 2018 rank: #55 (6,509 babies born)
Though the name Christian is very much a direct nod to Christianity in that it’s the title given to a follower of Christ, the moniker may also be a reference to St. Christian of Clogher, an Irish bishop. Though the name dipped considerably in popularity in the early part of the 20th century, it has enjoyed a bumpy trip back to the top of the charts. In addition to having strong roots in Christianity, this name has its fair share of overlap with the fashion world, too, thanks to namesakes including Christian Louboutin, Christian Dior, and Christian Siriano.
You may also like: Which state is this 'Jeopardy!' clue about?
#35. Charles (boys)
- 2018 rank: #52 (6,604 babies born)
The French name Charles has its root in the Old English ceorl, which means “free man.” Like Carlos, the name Charles could refer to any number of namesakes, including the martyr St. Charles Garnier and the Italian St. Charles of Sezze. Of all the potential saints to inspire the use of this name, one of the likeliest could be St. Charles Borromeo. The priest, who later became bishop of Milan, was known for inspiring devoutness by example. In addition to being recognized for his charity and his service to the hungry during the famine of 1576, St. Charles is remembered for his role in church reform during the Protestant Reformation.
#34. Isaiah (boys)
- 2018 rank: #51 (6,614 babies born)
Isaiah comes from Hebrew and translates to “salvation of the Lord.” The name is shared with the Old Testament prophet, St. Isaiah, who was considered a key figure in the New Testament because of his prophecies, including that of the coming Messiah. Though the name’s popularity was on a downturn for most of the 20th century, its climb back to popularity in the mid-70s coincided with the premiere of “Little House on the Prairie,” which featured a character called Isaiah. Famous contemporary Isaiahs include “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Isaiah Washington and basketball player Isaiah Thomas.
#33. Leo (boys)
- 2018 rank: #50 (6,719 babies born)
Even though it could just be a shortened version of Leonardo, the name Leo—which means “lion”—has a saint namesake of its own. St. Leo the Great was elected pope in 440 and is best remembered for his efforts to protect the unity of the church and defend the human-yet-divine nature of Jesus Christ against opposing schools of thought.
#32. Thomas (boys)
- 2018 rank: #49 (6,779 babies born)
There are a number of saints who share the name Thomas, but the most famous of them is St. Thomas of the Twelve Apostles. St. Thomas is known for being the first to openly acknowledge the divinity of Christ after first doubting the veracity of the Resurrection. The name Thomas’s popularity was pretty consistent for most of the 20th century, but its rank began declining around 1970.
#31. Theodore (boys)
- 2018 rank: #44 (7,020 babies born)
A name meaning “gift from God,” Theodore could honor several different saints, including St. Theodore Amasea, the martyr who was burned at the stake after refusing to worship the pagan gods and burning down the Temple of Cybele. Though the name’s rank has been on the rise for the past few years, Theodore’s highest percentage of use in the early 1900s coincided with the presidency of namesake Theodore Roosevelt.
You may also like: Most popular baby names for boys the year you were born
#30. Victoria (girls)
- 2018 rank: #21 (7,089 babies born)
Victoria comes from the Latin word meaning “to win,” and may thus allude to Jesus Christ’s triumph over sin. However, as a saint-inspired name, Victoria may likelier be given in reference to St. Victoria, the early Christian martyr died at the hands of a pagan suitor after her refusal to renounce Christ. The name Victoria may be also given in reference to any of the early saints who bore the name Victor, including St. Victor of Marseilles, the patron saint of the tortured. Famous namesakes include fashion designer and ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, as well as Queen Victoria of England.
#29. Andrew (boys)
- 2018 rank: #43 (7,234 babies born)
This English variation of the Greek name Andreas—which means “masculine”—is shared by St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland and Russia. St. Andrew was one of Jesus Christ’s first disciples in the New Testament and one of the Twelve Apostles. Andrew has a host of notable namesakes, such as musician Andrew Lloyd Webber and actor Andrew Garfield.
#28. Christopher (boys)
- 2018 rank: #42 (7,261 babies born)
The etymological breakdown of the name Christopher reflects the role of the most famous saint who bore it. A variation of the Greek name Christophoros—which means “bearing Christ”—the name belonged to St. Christopher, who once carried a young Jesus across a river on his shoulders. Christopher was the second most popular boy’s name in the country for nearly 15 years before beginning to drop in rank at the end of the 20th century. Still, the slew of Hollywood leading men who bear the name—Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, and Chris Pratt are all part of what Vanity Fair has called a “Chris-ening of Hollywood”—are a testament to Christopher’s historical popularity.
#27. Sofia (girls)
- 2018 rank: #17 (7,621 babies born)
Sofia is a variation of the name Sophia, which may honor the potentially mythical St. Sophia of Rome. Though St. Sophia wasn’t a martyr herself, the saint is still considered one for the suffering she endured in having to watch the torture and beheading of her three martyred daughters—Faith, Hope, and Love. The moniker saw fluctuating popularity in the early 20th century before totally dropping off the charts in the mid-30s. Sofia came back into play in the '70s and has bumpily climbed its way to peak popularity, fueled by the influence of famous namesakes like actress Sofia Vergara.
#26. Anthony (boys)
- 2018 rank: #38 (8,003 babies born)
Like the Spanish and Italian Antonio, Anthony is a moniker that could be given in honor of a few Christian saints, the two most likely being St. Anthony the Great of Egypt and St. Anthony of Padua. Other possible namesake saints may include St. Anthony the Hermit, who led a solitary lifestyle but was revered for the miracles that he was said to have performed, and St. Anthony of St. Ann Galvão, who was the first Brazilian-born saint and one known for his healing powers. The moniker––which has remained impressively steady in U.S. popularity over the past century––has such famous namesakes as actor Anthony Hopkins and singer Tony Bennett.
You may also like: Space discoveries that will blow your mind
#25. Mateo (boys)
- 2018 rank: #37 (8,169 babies born)
A slight variation of the Italian Matteo, which itself is a variation of the name Matthew, Mateo is also a moniker most likely given in reference to St. Matthew, who was one of the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament and is the author of the Gospel of Matthew. This Spanish cognate of Matthew is the name of actor Benjamin Bratt’s son with his longtime wife, actress and former model Talisa Soto.
#24. Julian (boys)
- 2018 rank: #36 (8,307 babies born)
Julian—a name of Latin origin meaning “youthful”—the name Julian is one that could be used in reference to St. Julian the Hospitaller. The patron saint of travelers, St. Julian is remembered for his devotion to aiding sick and weary travelers on their journeys, which he dedicated himself to as a form of penance for his sins. As a variation of the name Julius, it’s also possible that Julian could be used in commemoration of Pope St. Julius I, known for his firm opposition of Arianism, which contested the concept of the Holy Trinity and claimed that Jesus was human and not divine.
#23. Gabriel (boys)
- 2018 rank: #35 (8,335 babies born)
Gabriel, like Michael, is a name that carries significance in all three of the monotheistic religions. In Christianity, St. Gabriel appears in both the Old Testament and the New Testament as a messenger of God. It was St. Gabriel who delivered the news to St. Zachary that he would father St. John the Baptist and the news to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. The name was not particularly popular in the U.S. until the late ’60s, but has since climbed the charts, belonging today to famous namesakes including “Suits” actor Gabriel Macht.
#22. Isaac (boys)
- 2018 rank: #34 (8,417 babies born)
The name Isaac may be given in reference to a number of saints, including St. Isaac the Great, the Armenian religious leader known for first translating the Bible to Armenian, and St. Isaac Jogues, one of the North American Martyrs. The most likely inspiration for the name, though, is the son of St. Abraham, who—despite being considered the father of the Hebrews and one of the founding fathers of Judaism—is commemorated as a saint in Christianity for being an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Famous namesakes include the English physicist Isaac Newton and football player Isaac Redman.
#21. Elizabeth (girls)
- 2018 rank: #13 (8,513 babies born)
The English name Elizabeth is shared by St. Elizabeth, who is the wife of St. Zachariah, the cousin of the Virgin Mary, and the mother of St. John the Baptist. The girl’s name has seen impressively consistent popularity over the decades, remaining in the top 30 names for over 100 years. Several famous namesakes include Queen Elizabeth II, and actresses Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Banks, and Elizabeth Olsen.
You may also like: Most popular baby names for baby boomers
#20. Luke (boys)
- 2018 rank: #29 (8,577 babies born)
The name Luke—an English variation of the Greek name Loukas—has its biblical history in that it’s shared by St. Luke the Evangelist, the patron saint of surgeons and physicians. St. Luke was a doctor who traveled with St. Paul the Apostle on his evangelical journeys. St. Luke is also one of the four saints—along with St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. John—who authored the four canonical Gospels. A few contemporary namesakes of the moniker include actor Luke Wilson and country singer Luke Bryan.
#19. John (boys)
- 2018 rank: #27 (9,119 babies born)
Like its multiple international cognates on this list—i.e. Giovanni, Juan, and Ivan—John may be used in reference to any of the countless saints who bore the name. Still, the most common inspiration for the moniker is likely one of three figures: St. John the Baptist, Christ’s predecessor and baptizer; John the Apostle, who was one of the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament; and St. John the Evangelist, who was the brother of St. James the Greater and one of Christ’s first disciples. Of all saint-inspired names, John has remained remarkably consistent in popularity over the years, sitting comfortably in the top 10 boys’ names for over a century before dipping down to #11 in 1987 for the first time in decades. A single look at the slew of famous namesakes—presidents (e.g., John F. Kennedy, John Adams), actors (e.g., John Krasinski, John Stamos, John Travolta), musicians (e.g., John Legend, John Mayer), etc.––confirms the longstanding popularity of the moniker.
#18. Owen (boys)
- 2018 rank: #25 (9,288 babies born)
Owen comes from Celtic and means “young warrior.” The name is shared by St. Owen, a bishop and chancellor from France whose legacy includes fighting simony—i.e. the act of buying and selling church offices or religious privileges, like pardons. Notable people who share the name include actor Owen Wilson (“Wedding Crashers," "Wonder") and Nobel Prize-winner Owen Chamberlain, who co-discovered the antiproton.
#17. Joseph (boys)
- 2018 rank: #23 (9,555 babies born)
Yet another enduringly popular name, Joseph’s long-standing high rank is likely thanks to the name’s reference to St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and husband of Mary who was known for always following the word of God loyally. Up until 2008, the name Joseph had remained in the top 15 for over a century, save for two years—1968 and 1970—when it fell to #16. It has since remained just slightly outside of the top 15 bracket.
#16. David (boys)
- 2018 rank: #22 (9,697 babies born)
In a biblical sense, David is most commonly used in reference to St. David, the King of Israel. Though he lived long before Jesus Christ’s time, St. David played an important role in the shaping of Christian worship because of his authorship of 73 of the 150 psalms that came to be known as the Book of Psalms. The name’s high-ranking popularity has been remarkably steady over the decades, and some of its famous namesakes today include “Friends” actor David Schwimmer, and “Californication” and "The X-Files" actor David Duchovny.
You may also like: States doing the most for a clean energy future
#15. Samuel (boys)
- 2018 rank: #21 (9,734 babies born)
The Hebrew name Samuel comes from the Old Testament, and is shared by St. Samuel the Confessor. St. Samuel was an Christian Orthodox monk from Egypt known for building a monastery and suffering—though not dying—for his faith. Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Elliott, and Samuel Page are among Hollywood’s famous Samuels.
#14. Matthew (boys)
- 2018 rank: #20 (9,924 babies born)
For those parents wanting to give a nod to St. Matthew in a more traditional sense, the choice may be to forego European variations of the name and opt for the classic Matthew. It makes sense that while Mateo and Matteo have seen more use in the U.S. in recent decades, they have always seen their highest levels of popularity in the cognates’ countries of origin. In that same vein, the most popular variation of the name in the U.S. remains the anglicized Matthew. Some famous namesakes of the moniker include actors Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon, and Matthew Broderick.
#13. Sebastian (boys)
- 2018 rank: #18 (10,054 babies born)
While the name Sebastian may most commonly be associated with a certain cartoon crustacean from the Disney film “The Little Mermaid,” the moniker could also be associated with St. Sebastian. A martyr and the patron saint of athletes and archers, St. Sebastian is a common focal point of Christian and Renaissance art, in which the saint is most frequently depicted tied to a tree and pierced with arrows. Today, actor Sebastian Stan of “Captain America” and “I, Tonya” fame is one star who may be contributing to the monikers rising status.
#12. Henry (boys)
- 2018 rank: #16 (10,649 babies born)
The name Henry—which comes from the Germanic name meaning “home ruler”—has a royal past, having belonged to a number of monarchs throughout history. Even the most famous saint who bore the name—St. Henry—was a German king dedicated to establishing peace throughout Europe. Even famous namesake Henry Cavill’s rise to fame touching on themes of royalty, with one of the actor’s early breakout roles being on the Showtime drama series, “The Tudors.”
#11. Daniel (boys)
- 2018 rank: #15 (11,173 babies born)
Daniel—which comes from the Hebrew meaning “God is my judge”—is a name shared by several saints. One of the most famous is St. Daniel the Stylite, a monk who lived acerbically atop a pillar in Constantinople. The popular moniker has held its favor over the years and has remained in the top 50 boy’s names since 1920. Daniel Radcliffe—who shot to fame playing the titular boy wizard in the “Harry Potter” film series—is among its contemporary namesakes.
You may also like: U.S. Marines by the numbers
#10. Michael (boys)
- 2018 rank: #14 (11,620 babies born)
Like Miguel and Miles, the name Michael is one that may be given in reference to St. Michael the Archangel, who led God’s army against Lucifer and the fallen angels. Though it currently sits at #14 on the list of top boy’s names, the moniker held the #1 spot in the U.S. every year from 1954–1998. This long reign at the top could be attributed to the fact that the name holds significance not only in Christianity, but in all three of the monotheistic religions, as St. Michael is the most mentioned angel throughout the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran.
#9. Alexander (boys)
- 2018 rank: #11 (11,989 babies born)
The name Alexander can be given in commemoration of one of its most famous saint namesakes, St. Alexander of Jerusalem. A bishop and martyr, St. Alexander’s life was one marked most notably by a steadfast commitment to Christianity and righteousness. According to tales of his life, St. Alexander was a prime example of religious devotion and strength, even when threatened with punishment, imprisonment, and death (he was once thrown to wild animals for refusing to renounce his faith, but the animals refused to attack the saint). This strong character of St. Alexander—paired with the name Alexander’s Greek origin, meaning “defending men”—gives the popular boy’s moniker an air of courage and powerful resolve.
#8. Lucas (boys)
- 2018 rank: #8 (12,585 babies born)
Like its slightly hipper cousin Luke, Lucas is a variation of the Greek name Loukas, and likely a nod to St. Luke the Evangelist, known for his travels with St. Paul and his authorship of the third of the four canonical Gospels in the New Testament. The moniker––which spiked to popularity in the late ’60s and has been more or less on an uptick ever since––belongs to such namesakes as actors Lucas Till and Lucas Bryant.
#7. Charlotte (girls)
- 2018 rank: #6 (12,940 babies born)
As the female variation of the name Charles, Charlotte––like Charles and Carlos––may be used in reference to any one of the saints who bore that name, including St. Charles Garnier, one of the North American Martyrs canonized by Pope Pius XI; St. Charles of Sezze, an Italian shepherd known for his charity; and St. Charles Borromeo, the priest and bishop known for his role in the Protestant Reformation. After a period of reduced use in the late 1900s, the name’s popularity picked back up again at the turn of the century, which may have been ironically linked to the premiere of the not-so-saintly HBO show “Sex in the City” in 1998.
#6. Benjamin (boys)
- 2018 rank: #6 (13,381 babies born)
This biblical name has strong roots in the Old Testament, as it belonged to one of the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. As a saint-inspired name, however, the name Benjamin may likelier refer to the deacon called St. Benjamin who suffered immense torture at the hands of the Persians after he refused their instruction to refrain from preaching. Benjamin has long been a favored name in the U.S., but has become especially popular in recent years as it has climbed into the top 10. Famous namesakes include one of the nation’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, as well as actor Ben Affleck.
You may also like: Fastest-warming cities in the U.S.
#5. Oliver (boys)
- 2018 rank: #5 (13,389 babies born)
A name meaning derived from the Latin word meaning “olive tree,” Oliver is most likely given in reference to St. Oliver, the Archbishop from Ireland who defended Christianity in the face of intense persecution and who became the last Roman Catholic martyr in England when he was hanged in 1681. Though the name has rapidly climbed its way into the top five boys’ names in America, Oliver has held the #1 spot in for several years running in New Zealand (seven years running), Australia (three years running), and England (six years running).
#4. James (boys)
- 2018 rank: #4 (13,525 babies born)
Like the aforementioned variations of the name, James could refer to one of several saints. The first is St. James the Great, one of Christ’s first disciples and one of a select few chosen to witness the Transfiguration of Jesus. Another is St. James the Less, the martyr known for his advocating that the Christian Church be considered open to all who seek to follow Christ. The hugely popular name remained comfortably in the top five for most of the 1900s, and only recently saw a slight loss of rank. In addition to remaining popular throughout the years in the U.S., the moniker has proven to have international appeal, ranking highly in Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and the Netherlands.
#3. William (boys)
- 2018 rank: #3 (14,516 babies born)
This English name is shared by St. William of Gellone, a soldier who ultimately became a monk and built a monastery in Gellone that was later renamed in his honor. William’s popularity has remained consistent over the years, dropping out of the top 10 bracket only a handful of times over the last century. In addition to this saint namesake, the moniker has belonged to presidents (e.g., Bill Clinton), writers (e.g., William Faulkner), and actors (e.g., William Moseley), just to name a few.
#2. Ava (girls)
- 2018 rank: #3 (14,924 babies born)
Ava is most commonly given in reference to St. Ava, the niece of King Pepin the Short. St. Ava was blind as a child. After being cured of her blindness by St. Rainfredis, she was drawn to Christianity and devoted her life to the faith by becoming a nun. The name has seen a major spike in popularity in recent decades, and it has many famous namesakes in the form of celebrity children, including the daughters of Hugh Jackman and Reese Witherspoon.
#1. Emma (girls)
- 2018 rank: #1 (18,688 babies born)
While Emma may honor male saints named Emmanuel, the moniker is more likely given in reference to St. Emma. Born into German nobility, St. Emma devoted herself to her faith when she lost her husband and became a widow. Centuries after her death, St. Emma’s tomb was opened and, while the saint’s body had turned to dust, her right hand––the hand she had supposedly used to dispense charity––remained intact. Emma’s German origin, which means “universal,” aligns well with the widespread popularity of the girl’s name, which ranked #1 in the U.S. for the fourth time in a row, as well as ranking #1 in France, Germany, and Norway.
You may also like: Cities doing the most for a clean energy future