Baby names gaining popularity in the 21st century
With the rise of social media and the increased necessity of having a major online presence, we all feel the growing need to develop a personal brand in order to set ourselves apart. For expecting parents this often translates into major anxiety over picking the perfect baby name. After all, the base of any personal brand, online or not, really starts there. Ethnic, religious, political, or specifically gendered names often signal a lot about a person—whether that message is intentional or not.
The impact a name has, and the angst parents feel over choosing just the right one, is nothing new. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported more than a decade ago that parents were facing unprecedented stress over choosing a name and going to untold (and expensive) lengths to find the perfect moniker. Expectant parents are hiring consultants, employing the services of numerologists, and even taking polls among their friends and family to help them narrow down the near-infinite list of possibilities.
Stances on the use of popular names for a newborn have always varied. Some parents appreciate the relative neutrality of a popular name, knowing their child won’t be singled out. Others prefer something more unique in order to set their child, and their brand, apart. Wherever you stand on the popular name debate, we’re here to help.
To aid you in your baby name search, Stacker used the Social Security Administration’s historical archives of baby names to compile a count of the birth names from 1980–1999 and 2000–2018 (the last year from which data is available, although it was released in 2019). The names were then ranked in order of the largest percent change between the two datasets to uncover the baby names that are gaining popularity in the 21st century. We found that, overall, the growth of names for baby boys appears much more drastic than the growth of names for baby girls.
From Isabela to Ayden, read on to find out which names are poised to be some of the most popular over the next century
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#25. Girl: Isabela
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 469.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 11.2
- Percent change: 3,900%
A baby girl name with Spanish origins, Isabela means “my God is bountiful.” Sometimes spelled with two Ls, Isabela was a common name for those of royal descent during the middle ages, given to the likes of Queen Isabella of Castile whose marriage to King Ferdinand II was the basis for the unification of Spain. Isabela was the most popular name given to baby girls born in the United States in 2010, according to Behind the Name,
#25. Boy: Judah
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 980.7
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 21.6
- Percent change: 4,213%
An ancient Hebrew name, it is thought that Judah was derived from the Hebrew word “yadah” meaning “praise.” Judah is an important character in the Bible, a direct descendant of King David and Jesus. As such, the name is especially popular in religious circles, especially those who adhere to Christian and Jewish faiths.
#24. Girl: Zoey
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 4,231.4
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 100.3
- Percent change: 3,908%
A Greek name meaning “life,” Zoey is a variation of the name Zoe. There are several celebrities who bear the moniker (or close variations of it) including Zoey Deutch, Zooey Deschanel, and Zoe Kravitz.
#24. Boy: Emery
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 196.8
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 4.1
- Percent change: 4,461%
Centuries ago, the Normans introduced the name Emery to England, and while the name was never immensely popular, it survived. Finally gaining traction as a name given to newborn boys, Emery means “work ruler.”
#23. Girl: Amaya
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 1,547.2
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 35.2
- Percent change: 4,076%
A distinct ethnic group with mysterious origins and their own unique language and culture, Basque peoples have influenced modern-day culture in a wide variety of meaningful ways. For example, the popular girls name Amaya is a variation of Amaia, a Basque word that means “the end.”
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#23. Boy: Easton
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,578.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 51.5
- Percent change: 4,661%
Traditionally, Easton has been used as a surname that is loosely translated as “east town” from Old English. While the name is rising in popularity as a first name, celebrities who bear the name still, by and large, carry it as a last name, like Michael Easton of “General Hospital” fame.
#22. Girl: Leia
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 391.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 8.1
- Percent change: 4,492%
With the resurgence of the popularity of the “Star Wars” franchise, it’s no surprise to see the name of the original heroine, Princess Leia, once again on the rise. Leia is an ancient Greek iteration of the ancient Hebrew name Leah, which means “weary.”
#22. Boy: Ryder
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 2,274.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 45.1
- Percent change: 4,696%
Ryder has British origins and translates to “cavalryman” or “messenger.” Modern-day parents may remember it as the given name of former “Boy Meets World” actor Rider Strong, who played Shawn Hunter. Part of the boost may also come from actress Kate Hudson naming her son Ryder in 2004.
#21. Girl: Aniya
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 807.9
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 16.1
- Percent change: 4,667%
Another Hebrew name, Aniya shares origins with the name Anna. The feminine name means “God favors.” The name would make a great pick for parents looking for something truly original, as not many celebrities or famous figures have borne the moniker.
#21. Boy: Jensen
- 2000-2018 average babies born annually: 369.5
- 1980-1999 average babies born annually: 7.2
- Percent change: 4,810%
Literally translated as “son of Jens,” Jensen is another name that has traditionally been used as a surname (this time in Denmark) but is now gaining popularity as a first name. “Supernatural” and “Smallville” actor Jensen Ackles is perhaps the most well-known celebrity to use the name.
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