Most popular baby names in the last 100 years

Most popular baby names in the last 100 years

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By: Sophia Crisafulli
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Most popular baby names in the last 100 years

Names have power.

Numerous studies have shown that names can impact a person's level of career success along with their likelihood of getting a job. There have also been cases where judges have had to legally intervene and prevent attempted name changes on the grounds of abuse, confusion, or simply being too bizarre.

Stacker combed through Social Security Administration data, examining births from 1920 to 2019 (most recent data), and the corresponding names given to newborns. All names are from Social Security card applications for births within the U.S., and the top 50 for each gender are ranked according to their popularity within the total births over the past 100 years.

Whether a child is named in honor of a grandparent, a fictional character, or just because a chosen moniker sounds pretty, that choice remains with that person for the rest of their life, short of an official name change. No matter how arbitrary, our given names resonate as significant components of our identities.

Keep reading to discover the most popular baby names in the last 100 years—and if yours made the cut.

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#50. Jerry (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 602,696
- 2019 popularity rank: #676 (377 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

Perhaps the multitude of famous Jerrys, from Seinfeld to a certain mischievous mouse, have contributed to the popularity of this beloved name. Jerry has somewhat fallen from grace—there were more than 17,000 baby Jerrys in 1943 and just 488 in 2017. 

Oksana Kuzmina // Shutterstock

#50. Virginia (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 531,894
- 2019 popularity rank: #537 (567 babies born)
- Peak year: 1922

The popularity of the name Virginia may be linked to the state's crucial role in American history. When the English began colonizing North America in the late 16th century, Virginia covered more area than the state's modern boundaries and was named such in honor of “The Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth I of England.

Anna Grigorjeva // Shutterstock

#49. Dennis (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 611,319
- 2019 popularity rank: #552 (506 babies born)
- Peak year: 1952

Modern-day Dennises have a long name lineage with varied cultural touchstones. The name's Greek origin is “Dionysios,” which refers to a follower of the god of wine and revelry, Dionysos. The name is also connected to St. Denis, a third-century martyr—not to mention the titular character from the classic TV series "Dennis the Menace" that ran from 1959 to 1963.

Zdenka Darula // Shutterstock

#49. Janet (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 541,277
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,696 (122 babies born)
- Peak year: 1954

The name Janet was originally inspired by a shorter version of the name Jane, which itself comes from the French for Jehanne. From early Hollywood starlets Janet Gaynor and Janet Leigh to singer-songwriter Janet Jackson, Janets have been making entertainment headlines for the last century. 

Minnikova Mariia // Shutterstock

#48. Jack (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 637,347
- 2019 popularity rank: #19 (9,349 babies born)
- Peak year: 1927

Historically and in folklore, Jack is often used to represent a charming, clever, if not slightly off-kilter character—there's Jack Frost, Jack of “Jack and Jill,” Jack with his infamous beanstalk, and even Capt. Jack Sparrow. The name tends to represent the success of the common man, although of course has been lent to some darker figures like Jack the Ripper, as well.

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#48. Carolyn (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 542,250
- 2019 popularity rank: #940 (279 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

The popularity of Carolyn steadily increased throughout the 1930s, rocketing from the #41 spot in girl baby names in 1933 to #10 in 1942. From there, however, its cache began to decrease once again. Carolyn was ranked as 841st in 2017. Well-known Carolyns include actor Carolyn McCormick ("Law and Order," "You Know my Name") and Carolyn Cassady, an American writer who was married to Neal Cassady and was a major character in Jack Kerouac's classic memoir "On the Road."

Oksana Kuzmina // Shutterstock

#47. Patrick (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 663,725
- 2019 popularity rank: #206 (1,870 babies born)
- Peak year: 1964

Saint Patrick himself was vastly responsible for both the Christianization of Ireland and bringing the name Patrick into vogue. However, the name was not used much on the Emerald Isle before the 17th century, as it was seen as “too sacred for everyday use.

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#47. Rachel (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 546,309
- 2019 popularity rank: #191 (1,529 babies born)
- Peak year: 1985

A name is truly part of the cultural zeitgeist when it's linked to a particular hairstyle, but the name Rachel far outdates Jennifer Aniston's lovely locks on “Friends.” Rachel was a biblical figure, appearing in Genesis as the wife of Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin.

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Anna Grigorjeva // Shutterstock

#46. Alexander (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 666,982
- 2019 popularity rank: #11 (11,230 babies born)
- Peak year: 1993

Early popularity of Alexander can almost certainly be traced back to Alexander the Great, the Macedonian ruler who established one of the largest empires of the ancient world. The name remains beloved and for several years throughout the 1990s, nearly 1% of male babies took the name Alexander. In 2019, the name did not crack the top 10 but was still a fairly common choice.

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#46. Debra (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 548,279
- 2019 popularity rank: #3,068 (52 babies born)
- Peak year: 1955

Debra, a variant of the name Deborah, has strong Jewish origins. In Hebrew, “devorah” translates to “bee,” and Deborah is also the name of a Book of Judges figure in the Old Testament, who leads the Israelites to safety away from the Canaanites. Deborah was later adopted by the English.

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#45. Raymond (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 679,913
- 2019 popularity rank: #328 (1,011 babies born)
- Peak year: 1924

Though there are still new Raymonds being born in the U.S., the name reached its height of popularity several decades ago. It was the 15th most popular baby name in 1918 and held a ranking close to that for several years. By 1949, Raymond was ranked #30 for boy's names and generally continued to fall from there.

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#45. Catherine (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 550,466
- 2019 popularity rank: #243 (1,299 babies born)
- Peak year: 1956

Catherine has lost popularity by a slim margin to a very similar-looking cousin: Katherine. However, Catherines everywhere can take solace in the fact that they have more than one legendary figure among their group; for example, Catherine of Aragon and Catherine the Great. While the latter Russian empress is often remembered for her romantic activity, she also organized the coup that brought her to power.

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#44. Gregory (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 706,987
- 2019 popularity rank: #390 (798 babies born)
- Peak year: 1962

Gregory stems back to Greek roots, with the name itself indicating watchfulness. The name has also belonged to many a pope, beginning with Gregory I, who was commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great and is considered a founding figure of the medieval papacy. 

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#44. Christine (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 563,333
- 2019 popularity rank: #922 (285 babies born)
- Peak year: 1952

It likely comes as no surprise that Christine comes from Christian origins. The name's meaning, with Latin roots, is commonly understood as “follower of Christ.” The popularity of this name was highest in 1952 but has fallen since.

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#43. Frank (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 707,244
- 2019 popularity rank: #403 (768 babies born)
- Peak year: 1918

Frank most certainly falls into the category of simple, classic boys names that once experienced a boom but have taken a dive in popularity in recent years. However, there's a chance that Frank could come back in a slightly different form. In 2018, Today noted that a vintage naming trend was on its way back: using boyish nicknames such as Frankie for girls.

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#43. Ruth (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 563,391
- 2019 popularity rank: #231 (1,335 babies born)
- Peak year: 1920

Ruth has one of the earliest peak years of any name on this list, having reached its apex in 1920. The name has biblical roots, but the most notable modern-day Ruth is likely Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was born in 1933 and served as associate justice of the Supreme Court. 

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#42. Samuel (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 710,086
- 2019 popularity rank: #22 (9,237 babies born)
- Peak year: 2001

Samuel, a name with extensive historical origins, has consistently ranked in the 21st century as one of the most-favored name choices for baby boys. Samuel is originally derived from the Hebrew name Shemuel. Important historical figures bearing this name include Samuel the Prophet, a revered figure in Judaism.

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#42. Emma (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 570,150
- 2019 popularity rank: #2 (17,102 babies born)
- Peak year: 2003

Though the origin of the name Emma dates back earlier than the 18th century, the rise of its popularity may be connected to the 1709 Matthew prior poem called “Henry and Emma.” Of course, Jane Austen's “Emma,” published in 1815, probably didn't hurt either. The name hit its peak in 2003—one year after Rachel and Ross named their daughter Emma on “Friends.”

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#41. Benjamin (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 730,425
- 2019 popularity rank: #7 (12,942 babies born)
- Peak year: 1989

The name Benjamin comes from the Hebrew name Binyamin, which translates to “son of the south.” Benjamin has made a strong showing in recent years, increasing in popularity from the #22 most popular baby name in 2010. 

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#41. Katherine (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 574,858
- 2019 popularity rank: #121 (2,431 babies born)
- Peak year: 1990

The name Katherine has Greek origins and translates to “pure.” Famous Katherines, both real and otherwise, include Katherine of Shakespeare's “Taming of the Shrew” and actress Katherine Heigl. 

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#40. Brandon (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 759,155
- 2019 popularity rank: #140 (2,671 babies born)
- Peak year: 1992

Throughout England, Brandon is the name of several small towns and parishes. There are Brandons located in Warwickshire, Suffolk, and elsewhere. The meaning, derived from the Old English “brom” and “dun,” translates closely to “the hill where broom grows.”

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#40. Samantha (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 576,029
- 2019 popularity rank: #80 (3,351 babies born)
- Peak year: 1990

In the decade leading up to Samantha's peak popularity year, Molly Ringwald played Samantha “Sam” Baker in the 1984 film “Sixteen Candles” and Samantha of immense American Girl Doll fame was initially released in 1986. From 2000 to 2019, Samantha fell from #7 to #80 on the list of most popular girl baby names in the U.S. 

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#39. Scott (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 769,663
- 2019 popularity rank: #527 (536 babies born)
- Peak year: 1971

The name Scott, unsurprisingly, has a centuries-long Scottish history. Early records of Scott as a last name date back to the 12th century in Roxburgh, Scotland. However, there is also evidence of the Old English word “scotti” denoting Gaels whose conquered land (in the fifth century and earlier) eventually became Scotland.

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#39. Nicole (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 588,265
- 2019 popularity rank: #228 (1,355 babies born)
- Peak year: 1985

Like neon spandex and big, permed hair, Nicole goes hand-in-hand with the 1980s. The name remained close to the top-10 most popular girl names from 1978 to 1988. During the absolute peak of Nicole mania, more than 1% of female babies born were given the name.

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#38. Justin (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 777,285
- 2019 popularity rank: #155 (2,516 babies born)
- Peak year: 1988

Between 1971 and 1972, the name Justin saw a massive increase in popularity amongst baby boys, climbing from #103 to #60. Though the best year for Justin was 1988, in which it was the 17th most popular boys name, Justin was solidly in the top 100 boys names every single year from 1972 to 2014. Of course, two of the most prominent Justins today were born within this time frame—Justin Bieber, in 1994, and Justin Timberlake, in 1981.

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#38. Pamela (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 592,694
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,496 (145 babies born)
- Peak year: 1954

The U.S. Social Security website's records of Pamela stop in 2011, during which there were only 266 little Pams brought into the world. However, during the 1950s, Pamela was quite a popular name. One of the earliest usages of the name occurred in the 16th century, in Sir Philip Sidney's “The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.”

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#37. Larry (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 802,430
- 2019 popularity rank: #757 (311 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

Larry was originally shorthand for Lawrence or Laurence. Larry reached its height of popularity in the 1940s, and was most popular in 1947—the year comedian Larry David was born. Other famous Larrys include TV and radio host Larry King, born in 1933, and basketball player Larry Bird, born in 1956. 

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#37. Brenda (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 606,286
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,069 (235 babies born)
- Peak year: 1957

Brenda saw sustained popularity throughout the mid-20th century. Though the exact origin of this name is up for speculation, some guess it may be linked to the Old Norse word “brandr,” meaning “sword.” Singer Brenda Lee first gained national fame as a child in 1956 when she appeared on ABC’s “Ozark Jubilee”—the year before the name hit peak popularity. 

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#36. Stephen (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 840,005
- 2019 popularity rank: #311 (1,084 babies born)
- Peak year: 1952

Like another pair on this list (Catherine and Katherine), Stephen and Steven are in a bit of a battle. Unfortunately for the “p” contingent nationwide, it's the other spelling that has maintained a little more consistent popularity. But it's not all bad news—Stephen was popular throughout the middle of the 20th century, and gets to claim quite a few famous namesakes.

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#36. Anna (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 629,400
- 2019 popularity rank: #63 (3,807 babies born)
- Peak year: 1918

Anna has been one of the most consistently well-liked names of the past century. In 1900, Anna was the third most popular baby girl name in the country, and the lowest it ever dipped since then was to 106th place, in 1971. 

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#35. Jonathan (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 844,121
- 2019 popularity rank: #64 (5,418 babies born)
- Peak year: 1988

Jonathans have maintained their place in the top 100 most popular boys names every year from 1962 to 2019. Originally derived from a Hebrew name pronounced “Yonatan,” meaning “Yahweh has given,” Jonathan is recognizable from the Old Testament.

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#35. Helen (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 652,923
- 2019 popularity rank: #429 (737 babies born)
- Peak year: 1918

While the name Helen peaked in American popularity a full century ago, there are quite a few famous or influential Helens to keep its legacy alive. Between mythological figure Helen of Troy, the incredible Helen Keller, and the iconic Helen Mirren, the name Helen will certainly remain on peoples' lips.

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#34. Eric (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 877,492
- 2019 popularity rank: #176 (2,187 babies born)
- Peak year: 1970

Eric, derived from Old Norse origins, is said to mean “eternal ruler.” Eric is one of few names with the distinct honor of being linked to a Disney prince (although there are some who contend that Prince Eric was, well, not exactly the best.

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#34. Angela (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 658,437
- 2019 popularity rank: #256 (1,266 babies born)
- Peak year: 1971

Angela from “The Office” infamously wore American Girl doll clothes made for “large colonial dolls,” but not all Angelas are quite so eccentric. The name Angela has a rich history, perhaps the most exciting part of which is the name's link to, you guessed it, angels.

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#33. Nicholas (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 891,818
- 2019 popularity rank: #78 (4,601 babies born)
- Peak year: 1995

Nicholas is a 1990s mainstay through and through. The name remained in the top 10 for most popular baby names for boys throughout most of that decade and into the early 2000s, but has taken a fall since then. Nicholas is derived from “nike,” meaning “victory.”

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#33. Shirley (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 668,154
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,487 (146 babies born)
- Peak year: 1935

Shirley Temple (the person, not the drink), can perhaps be thanked for this name's 1935 popularity peak, as some of her early hit films, like “Curly Top,” were released around this time.

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#32. Gary (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 899,858
- 2019 popularity rank: #773 (302 babies born)
- Peak year: 1952

Though the name is not immensely common amongst babies today, it did see an impressive span of high popularity. Gary began to gain popularity in the early 1930s, and maintained a spot in the top 30 boy names from 1937 all the way to 1966.

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#32. Amy (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 680,682
- 2019 popularity rank: #203 (1,471 babies born)
- Peak year: 1975

Amy wasn't just popular in the 1970s; it was a smash hit, cracking the top two most popular girl baby names four years in a row. Interestingly, the name seems to have caught on in the U.K. slightly later. Amy was the 23rd most popular girls name in England in 2007 while it only landed at #119 that same year in the U.S.

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#31. Jacob (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 925,412
- 2019 popularity rank: #13 (10,679 babies born)
- Peak year: 1998

Like many other names on this list, Jacob can be traced back to biblical roots. Jacob, the Hebrew patriarch, serves as the traditional ancestor for the people of Israel. According to Genesis, Jacob was incredibly cunning and quick-witted, and eventually fathered 13 children.

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#31. Kathleen (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 689,366
- 2019 popularity rank: #940 (279 babies born)
- Peak year: 1951

Kathleen has a mighty impressive record. The name remained among the top 100 baby names for girls for seven decades, all the way from 1920 to 1990. Kathleen is of Irish origin, as an alteration on the name Caitlin.

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#30. Ryan (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 937,629
- 2019 popularity rank: #54 (6,087 babies born)
- Peak year: 1985

Ryan is a newcomer in the name game. According to SSA data, there's no record of the name, or the amount was negligible in the U.S. prior to 1946. Ryan then made a giant leap in popularity from 1970 to 1971, moving from #139 to #51 on the list of most popular boys names. Ryan remained extremely popular for the next 30 years.

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#30. Cynthia (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 705,685
- 2019 popularity rank: #748 (373 babies born)
- Peak year: 1957

Though some have contested that the name Cynthia has long lived “in the shadow” of its assumed nickname, Cindy, it has still found plenty of time to stand on its own. Cynthia was extremely popular through much of the 1950s and 1960s.

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#29. Jeffrey (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 975,104
- 2019 popularity rank: #364 (876 babies born)
- Peak year: 1962

Jeffrey saw is heyday during the 1960s. The name remained in the top 15 throughout that decade, and even into the early 1970s. Geoffrey, a version of this name that was once popular (for instance, belonging to one of the most influential English writers, Chaucer), has become so uncommon that the SSA has no data on babies given this name since 2005.

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#29. Sharon (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 720,816
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,183 (197 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

The 1940s were a time for Sharons, the peak being 1947. However, since then, Sharon has taken an extremely sharp turn in terms of popularity. The name did not crack the top 1,000 in 2017. Sharon is referenced as far back as the Song of Solomon, a book of the Old Testament, in the phrase: “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”

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#28. Jason (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,035,285
- 2019 popularity rank: #104 (3,555 babies born)
- Peak year: 1977

The most famous bearer of the name Jason may well be in Greek mythology. Jason was the leader of the Argonauts, the seeker of the Golden Fleece, and the central figure in a lengthy stream of adventures. Within the past century in the U.S., Jason's height of popularity took place during the 1970s (reaching the top two multiple years in a row), and has remained within the top 100 boys names since then.

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#28. Laura (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 721,299
- 2019 popularity rank: #337 (944 babies born)
- Peak year: 1964

Though Laura is not quite as popular today as it once was among baby girls, the name did pull off the impressive feat of remaining within the top 100 names for nearly six decades, from the 1940s through the early 2000s. 

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#27. Timothy (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,069,165
- 2019 popularity rank: #188 (2,069 babies born)
- Peak year: 1959

Timothy has been at least in the top 400 baby names for boys since 1918, and reached its apex in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Famous Timothys include Tim Burton, Tim Allen, Tim Curry, and Timothy Dalton.

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#27. Rebecca (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 729,683
- 2019 popularity rank: #264 (1,246 babies born)
- Peak year: 1981

Rebecca is a name with Hebrew origins and remained in the top 50 most popular for baby girls in the U.S. from 1948 all the way to 2001. Rebecca also has the distinct honor of being the title of a bestselling novel (a Gothic work by Dame Daphne du Maurier), which is still remembered and widely referenced decades after its publication in 1938.

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#26. Ronald (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,073,062
- 2019 popularity rank: #527 (536 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

Peaking in the 1940s, the name Ronald was quite common from the 1930s all the way through the early 1980s. Ronalds find themselves in the unique position of having a name that has belonged to both a former president, and the mascot of one of the world's biggest fast-food chains.

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#26. Stephanie (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 738,123
- 2019 popularity rank: #352 (891 babies born)
- Peak year: 1990

Stephanie was a regular in the top 100 names for baby girls for nearly 50 years, from the early 1960s into the 2000s. During this time, the name cracked the top 10 on more than one occasion. Stephanie is derived from the ancient Greek world for “crown.”

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#25. Edward (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,097,742
- 2019 popularity rank: #192 (2,037 babies born)
- Peak year: 1924

Edward has been one of the most consistently popular names of the past 100 years—and even before that. IBetween 1900 and 1990, the name never dipped below 70th place in popularity for baby boy names. The name has a lengthy history in the United Kingdom as well, having belonged to many kings including Edward VIII, who was forced to abdicate the throne due to his desire to marry the divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson.

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#25. Deborah (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 739,809
- 2019 popularity rank: #898 (293 babies born)
- Peak year: 1954

Deborah has seen some extreme fluctuation in popularity over the years. Between 1918 and 1954, the name jumped more than 700 spots, from 744th to a stint in the top three. The name has since fallen to a similar ranking as that of 1918, sitting in the 898th spot in 2019.

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#24. George (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,159,331
- 2019 popularity rank: #119 (3,175 babies born)
- Peak year: 1921

George is derived from the Greek word for farmer and became a personal name in classical times, in junction with a widespread passion for pastoral poetry. According to legend, the saint that shares this name, St. George, was both a martyr and a dragon slayer, and is honored as the patron saint of England.

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#24. Melissa (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 753,157
- 2019 popularity rank: #339 (930 babies born)
- Peak year: 1979

Between 1961 and 1968, Melissa went from being the 95th most popular name for baby girls to the fifth. By 1978, the name was the second most popular, and held this spot for several years. Melissa, stemming from Greek roots, is said to mean “honeybee.”

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#23. Brian (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,166,797
- 2019 popularity rank: #247 (1,465 babies born)
- Peak year: 1972

Not all Brians have the fortune (or misfortune) of being mistaken for the Messiah, but they do share the history that comes with the name. Brian likely comes from Irish roots, and the famous Irish high king of the 10th century was called Brian Boru.

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#23. Amanda (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 772,882
- 2019 popularity rank: #405 (763 babies born)
- Peak year: 1987

Amanda remained in the top 10 most popular girl names for nearly 20 years, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. The name was brought into circulation after the Middle Ages, by poets who used it as a direct reference to the Latin word amanda, meaning “worthy of love.” Amanda became more commonly used during the 19th century.

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#22. Kevin (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,172,372
- 2019 popularity rank: #149 (2,610 babies born)
- Peak year: 1963

Kevin is an anglicized version of CaoimhĂ­n, or Caomghin, meaning “handsome, or noble, birth.” Kevin peaked in popularity as a boys name in 1963, and 2017 marked the first time since the 1940s that the name was not in the top 100.

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#22. Carol (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 807,303
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,804 (112 babies born)
- Peak year: 1946

An early Gaelic version of the name Carol appears as Cearbhaill, which is derived from a name belonging to, amongst others, the Lord of Ely, who helped Brian Boru achieve an Irish victory in 1014. Now a traditional woman's name, Carol maxed its popularity in 1946, and is no longer within the top 1,000 most popular baby names for girls.

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#21. Joshua (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,214,872
- 2019 popularity rank: #48 (6,574 babies born)
- Peak year: 1989

Rachel Green isn't the only one who has fawned over this name. Joshua was in the top five baby names for boys 25 years in a row, from the 1983 to 2008. In Hebrew, the name Joshua means “God is salvation.”

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#21. Michelle (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 811,401
- 2019 popularity rank: #292 (1,137 babies born)
- Peak year: 1969

The SSA has no data for Michelles born prior to 1938, but since the name burst onto the scene around World War II, it has maintained fairly solid popularity. Originally a feminine version of the French male name Michel, Michelle was most popular for baby girls in the late 1960s, but remained within the top 25 all the way from 1964 to 1992.

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#20. Kenneth (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,226,558
- 2019 popularity rank: #233 (1,611 babies born)
- Peak year: 1957

The contemporary name Kenneth is an anglicized version of both Cinaed and Coinneach. Among the most famous Kenneths today are Kenny Chesney and Kenny Rogers, who died in 2020.

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#20. Donna (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 823,285
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,804 (112 babies born)
- Peak year: 1959

In 1959, Donna reigned supreme, boasting a top five ranking. In Italian, the word donna translates to “lady” or “woman,” especially a woman of high rank.

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#19. Andrew (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,252,016
- 2019 popularity rank: #46 (6,757 babies born)
- Peak year: 1987

The real height of Andrew insanity was the late 1980s and early 1990s. The name entered the top five most popular boys names more than once during this period, peaking in 1987. Famous Andrews include actor Andrew Lincoln ("Walking Dead") and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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#19. Emily (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 826,262
- 2019 popularity rank: #12 (8,213 babies born)
- Peak year: 1999

The name Emily has seen some fluctuation over the past century (for example, it wasn't big during the 1950s), but by the late 1990s, Emily was more popular than ever. Originally, Emily came from the Latin Aemilia, and now possesses a degree of literary association due to impactful writers Emily Dickinson and Emily Bronte.

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#18. Steven (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,281,302
- 2019 popularity rank: #200 (1,962 babies born)
- Peak year: 1956

The list of notable Stevens is truly endless, ranging from Spielberg to Tyler and all the way back to the first martyr in Christian theology (albeit with a different spelling). Steven has Greek and Latin roots, tracing back to the word “stephanos,” meaning “crown.” The variation Stephen is also quite popular.

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#18. Kimberly (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 838,235
- 2019 popularity rank: #193 (1,527 babies born)
- Peak year: 1970

In 1970, Kimberly was the third most popular name for baby girls in the United States. It was popular through the decade, but has since fallen somewhat, despite the ubiquity of Kim Kardashian and her squad. 

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#17. Paul (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,286,846
- 2019 popularity rank: #245 (1,495 babies born)
- Peak year: 1957

Like many names on this list, Paul is steeped in religious history. Saint Paul, the apostle, famously converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus; he then traveled extensively spreading the message of his new religion. While Paul has remained a popular name, its height of commonality was surprisingly 1957.

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#17. Dorothy (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 847,468
- 2019 popularity rank: #563 (540 babies born)
- Peak year: 1924

Throughout the 1920s, Dorothy maintained a steady run as one of the top choices for baby girl names, and it remained among the top three names for over a decade. It makes sense, considering Frank L. Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" came out in 1900 and undoubtedly influenced little girls' names with his precocious protagonist.

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#16. Mark (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,346,509
- 2019 popularity rank: #223 (1,678 babies born)
- Peak year: 1960

There's some contention over the exact history of the name Mark, though some believed it comes from Mars, the Roman god of war. Whatever the name's origin, it has generally stood the test of time. Today, some of the most famous Marks are Mark Ruffalo, Mark Wahlberg, and Mark Zuckerberg.

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#16. Ashley (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 847,504
- 2019 popularity rank: #136 (2,019 babies born)
- Peak year: 1987

Some of the biggest celebrities in the early 2000s have names soaring in popularity in the 1980s, from Jessica (Simpson) and Amanda (Bynes) to Nicole (Richie). Famous Ashleys include Ashley Tisdale, Ashley Olsen, and Ashley Judd.

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#15. Donald (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,348,220
- 2019 popularity rank: #552 (506 babies born)
- Peak year: 1934

The Gaelic version of and predecessor to the name Donald is “Domhnall.” The name had long been popular in Scotland before it gained notoriety in the rest of the English-speaking world. While Donald is no longer a very popular choice for baby boys born in the U.S., it had a long run, with the height of its popularity being 1934.

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#15. Sandra (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 873,609
- 2019 popularity rank: #986 (260 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

One of the most well-known Sandras may be Sandra Dee, thanks to her iconic number in “Grease.” Of course, there have been a few other famous Sandras over time; for instance, Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

LeManna // Shutterstock

#14. Anthony (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,403,920
- 2019 popularity rank: #38 (7,669 babies born)
- Peak year: 1990

Anthony comes from the Latin family name “Antonius.” Perhaps the most famous figure to bear this name is Marcus Antonius (commonly known as Marc Antony), the Roman politician and general. Anthony was a fairly popular name a century ago, and after a brief period of decline, became even more popular in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Michael Pettigrew // Shutterstock

#14. Betty (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 938,638
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,395 (160 babies born)
- Peak year: 1930

One half of the duo famous for fighting over a well-known redhead (a pair that has since been given a modern twist via the TV series “Riverdale”), Betty saw a long reign as a popular name for girls. Betty was even used as slang (as seen in the movie “Clueless”) to mean a beautiful woman.

Evgeniya Yantseva // Shutterstock

#13. Matthew (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,600,285
- 2019 popularity rank: #23 (9,199 babies born)
- Peak year: 1983

Matthew was in the top three most popular boys names for most of the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike some names that see a brief spike and then fade back to obscurity, Matthew remains in the top 20. But this kind of love is a double-edged sword for many bearing the name.

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#13. Margaret (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 944,344
- 2019 popularity rank: #127 (2,199 babies born)
- Peak year: 1921

The height of popularity may have been nearly a century ago, but Margarets need not fear that their name is falling entirely out of fashion. Maybe it's the plethora of nicknames attached (Maggie, Meg, Peggy), but Margaret has begun to slowly increase in popularity in recent years.

Max Bukovski // Shutterstock

#12. Daniel (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,889,640
- 2019 popularity rank: #15 (10,504 babies born)
- Peak year: 1985

Daniel comes from the Hebrew name Daniyyel, meaning “God is my judge.” The name came into popularity in England around the Middle Ages, but didn't see its day in the U.S. until 1985. 

pyrozhenka // Shutterstock

#12. Lisa (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 965,003
- 2019 popularity rank: #955 (274 babies born)
- Peak year: 1965

Lisa belongs to one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time (Lisa from “The Simpsons”) as well as a well-known painting. Not all Lisas have such a famous smile, but they did have a peak year in 1965. 

Samuel Borges Photography // Shutterstock

#11. Christopher (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 2,032,843
- 2019 popularity rank: #44 (6,960 babies born)
- Peak year: 1984

Christopher was once a metaphorical name used by early Christians to signify that they bore Christ in their hearts. Today, it's an incredibly popular choice used widely throughout the country. Christopher was in the top three most popular boys names throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s.

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#11. Nancy (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 969,544
- 2019 popularity rank: #903 (291 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

Is it coincidence that Nancy became popular around when the first “Nancy Drew” novels entered circulation in 1930? There's little evidence to support a connection, but it seems to make sense that the name Nancy would rise as a fictional Nancy rocketed to success. The name remained popular for a short stretch, cracking the top 10 through the 1940s and early 1950s.

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LeManna // Shutterstock

#10. Charles (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 2,106,078
- 2019 popularity rank: #51 (6,348 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

Charlie, Chuck, Chip—Charles may well be the name of nicknames. The moniker has been popular with kings, dog breeds, and many, many men in the United States. Decades after its peak popularity, Charles remained within the top 50 most common names for boys.

Tanya Yatsenko // Shutterstock

#10. Karen (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 985,728
- 2019 popularity rank: #660 (438 babies born)
- Peak year: 1957

Throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, Karen was one of the most popular girls' names in the country. Somewhere along the way, however, the name became a running joke, and the internet became peppered with Karen-centric memes. Apologies to Karens everywhere.

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#9. Thomas (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 2,160,330
- 2019 popularity rank: #47 (6,612 babies born)
- Peak year: 1952

You know a name is top of the heap when it's featured on the definitive English muffin. Sure, there's also Thomas Jefferson and Tom Hanks, but it doesn't get much better than a buttery breakfast treat. The name Thomas is still among the 50 most popular for boys.

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#9. Sarah (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 993,847
- 2019 popularity rank: #81 (3,287 babies born)
- Peak year: 1982

All Sarahs understand the great “h” or “no h” debate, along with other struggles that come with having such a popular name. Sarah was close to the top 50 most popular girls names 100 years ago, and then took a dip in the middle of the century. But it returned with strength in the early 1980s, and remains relatively popular today.

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#8. Joseph (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 2,352,889
- 2019 popularity rank: #24 (9,058 babies born)
- Peak year: 1956

Joseph was a biblical figure, but his story is often told with a little extra flair (and a lot more dancing), via the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” The name has been consistently popular throughout the last century, evidenced by dozens of famous Josephs throughout the years from Joe Montana and Joe Biden to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Joseph Campbell.

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#8. Jessica (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,045,519
- 2019 popularity rank: #331 (962 babies born)
- Peak year: 1987

In 1918, Jessica ranked as the 963rd most popular girls name, barely scratching the top 1,000. The name certainly made up for lost time over the next 60 years. By 1980, Jessica was the third most popular name for baby girls, and held this spot or higher for nearly 20 years.

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#7. Richard (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 2,467,544
- 2019 popularity rank: #198 (1,969 babies born)
- Peak year: 1946

The prevalence of the name Richard during the Middle Ages gave way to the shortened and rhyming nicknames. Some of the most famous Richards in the last half-century include Richard Nixon, Richard Attenborough, and Richard Gere.

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#7. Susan (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,104,407
- 2019 popularity rank: #1,056 (240 babies born)
- Peak year: 1955

Susan is seen today as somewhat old-fashioned, barely cracking the top 1,000 most popular names for girls in 2017. However, Susan saw a lengthy run of success a few decades ago, particularly throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

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#6. David (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 3,563,170
- 2019 popularity rank: #27 (8,896 babies born)
- Peak year: 1955

There have been more than 3 million Davids born in the last century. Long before then, however, Davids held a few rather impressive titles including King of Israel and the esteemed marble masterpiece that is Michaelangelo's David.

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#6. Barbara (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,402,428
- 2019 popularity rank: #945 (278 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

The name Barbara was within the top 10 most popular names for girls for much of the first half of the 20th century. It is no longer considered quite as modern, but that certainly does not mean Barbara is gone for good. The runaway success of Netflix's series “Stranger Things” touched off an obsession with that show's character, Barb—it still remains to be seen what long-term effects that popularity will have on baby names in the coming years.

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#5. William (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 3,601,719
- 2019 popularity rank: #4 (13,542 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

The name William has been immensely popular for decades; it was the second most popular boys name in 1918, and 100 years later remains just as desirable. Famous Williams today include Prince William, Billy Crystal (born William Edward Crystal), and Bill Murray (born William James Murray).

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#5. Elizabeth (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,428,981
- 2019 popularity rank: #14 (7,844 babies born)
- Peak year: 1990

Another name, another foray into royalty. Elizabeth I was the last Tudor monarch and, of course, Queen Elizabeth II is very much in charge today. Elizabeth has seen immense swells of popularity as a name—for proof, look no further than Elizabeth Shue, Elizabeth Taylor, and Elizabeth Hurley.

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#4. Michael (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 4,330,025
- 2019 popularity rank: #14 (10,514 babies born)
- Peak year: 1957

The name Michael literally translates in Hebrew to the rhetorical question, “Who is like God?” The ubiquitous name has enjoyed a timelessness as a moniker, from Michael Stipe and Michael Jackson to Michael Bolton and Michael Keaton.

Ivanna-Ivashka // Shutterstock

#4. Linda (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,448,309
- 2019 popularity rank: #774 (355 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

Like Karen, the name Linda comes along with certain connotations (see short-lived Fox comedy “Linda From HR.”) At certain points, however, Linda was at the top of the heap for baby names. Through the 1940s, Linda was one of the most popular girls names in the country.

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#3. Robert (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 4,499,901
- 2019 popularity rank: #76 (4,813 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

One hundred years ago, Robert was the fourth most popular name for baby boys. As of 2017, this Robert appreciation has waned slightly, but the name still remains among the top-ranked monikers. Fun fact: Rob as a nickname for Robert was once rivaled by variations such as Dob and Hob.

You may also like: Most popular baby names for boys the year you were born

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#3. Jennifer (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,467,664
- 2019 popularity rank: #392 (780 babies born)
- Peak year: 1972

Today, some Jennifers may be insecure that their once massively dominant name has been overtaken by others in recent years. Still, Jennifers can take comfort in the fact that their name at various points has been so insanely popular, it was referred to as an “epidemic.”

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#2. John (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 4,502,387
- 2019 popularity rank: #28 (8,779 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

John's high ranking should not come as a surprise to most—it's literally the name given to people whose names are unknown or withheld in particular circumstances. John was the top name for boys in 1918, and remains quite popular a full century later.

CroMary // Shutterstock

#2. Patricia (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 1,560,897
- 2019 popularity rank: #936 (280 babies born)
- Peak year: 1951

Hats off to Patricia. This name, the popularity of which peaked in 1951, remained within the top 10 baby names for girls for nearly three decades. Patricia is derived from the Latin word "patrician," meaning noble.

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#1. James (boys)

- Babies born in the last century: 4,735,694
- 2019 popularity rank: #6 (13,087 babies born)
- Peak year: 1947

James is almost precisely as popular today as it was a century ago. The name has been among the top five names for boys for a great deal of the past century.

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#1. Mary (girls)

- Babies born in the last century: 3,265,105
- 2019 popularity rank: #126 (2,209 babies born)
- Peak year: 1921

Not only has the name Mary remained a favored choice throughout the century, it actually held that top spot from 1918 all the way through 1946. Though there have been many influential Marys throughout the years, the best-known likely the Virgin Mary of the Bible.

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