Over 35 million babies are born each year in the United States, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) tracks the names of each and every one. Subsequently, the organization releases an annual list, updated in the spring of every year, of the most popular baby names based on how many babies were given that name during the time period.
It’s fun to see how the names we love (and loathe) change year over year, but now that we’ve entered a whole new decade, it’s even more fun to see the shift in name preferences throughout the ten-year period.
There are a few interesting things to note about the top baby names of the decade:
– The SSA doesn’t include alternate spellings in their rankings. So if you were to include all of a name’s possible alternate spellings, the name might rank much higher on the list. Jayden, for example, stands at #14 — but if you were to factor in all the Jaydons, Jaidens, Jadyns, Jadens, and so forth, it would probably be much closer to the top.
A perfect example of this is Sophia, which is ranked #2 … and its alternate spelling, Sofia, made the list as well, at #17. In the last decade, there were 177,410 babies given the name Emma and 166,986 babies named Sophia. But if you factor in the number of babies with the alternate spelling of Sofia — 74,881 — that puts the Sophia/Sofia total at a whopping 241,867, walloping Emma for the #1 spot.
– There’s a huge variability in girls’ names, while boys stay largely the same … proving that, for boys at least, some classics just never go out of style. In fact, if you look at the data for not just the past decade, but for the past hundred years, ten of the boys’ names (James, John, Michael, William, David, Joseph, Christopher, Daniel, Matthew, and Andrew) are among the top 30 most popular — while only two of this decade’s top 30 (Elizabeth and Emily) made the hundred-year top 30.
– How does the data from the most recent decade compare to the data from the previous decade, 2000-2010? Names that dropped out of the top 30 for boys are Nicholas, Ryan, Tyler, Brandon, Jonathan, Christian, Nathan, Zachary, and Justin. There were a lot more dropping out of the top 30 for girls since 2010, such as Ashley, Alexis, Sarah, Alyssa, Taylor, Brianna, Lauren, Kayla, Jessica, Anna, Hailey, Sydney, Jasmine, and Julia.
– We can also note the trend toward shorter names, with the rising popularity of names like Ava, Mia, and Ella — and the fact that Jonathan dropped out of the top 30, but its diminutive version, John, remains. There’s also the rising trend toward unisex names, as evidenced by the surge in names like Avery, Harper, Addison, and Aubrey.
So what are the names that America has spent the last ten years giving its babies? Here are the top 30 for boys and girls!
Top 30 Boys’ Names of the Decade
Top 30 Girls’ Names of the Decade
(To see the full list of the top 200, you can go to the SSA’s website here.)
As for what this new decade will bring in terms of baby name trends, it’s anybody’s guess. Naming experts have predicted that nature names (such as Birdie, Flora, Indigo, Cove, and Hawk) will be big, and that there will be a surge in ancient Latin names such as Cassia, Caius, Augustus, and Lucius. But the next ten years will no doubt bring influences from pop culture that we haven’t even experienced yet … so there are sure to be some unanticipated surprises in a decade when it’s time to do this roundup again.
At least one thing remains the same: for boys, anyway, the classics never go out of style.
For baby naming help, inspiration, and fun, plus a database of thousands of names — both popular and unique — check out Scary Mommy’s baby naming section.
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