The Most Popular Baby Names Throughout History

There’s a lot of thought that goes into choosing a name for a baby. While some names have been used for centuries, others only stick around for a few years. As time has gone by, parents have started using some pretty outlandish names for their children. Read on to see some of the most popular baby names of all time.

1921: John & Mary

woman holding a baby in the 1920s
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Going back about a century, the Official Social Security Website reported that the most common baby names were John for males and Mary for females.

One of the biggest historic moments of 1921 was the release of the first full-length comedy film. Charlie Chaplin wowed audiences with his movie, The Kid.

1926: Robert & Dorothy

triplet baby girls in the 1920s
Smith/Fox Photos/Getty Images
Smith/Fox Photos/Getty Images

The Social Security Administration reported that Robert was the most popular male baby name in 1926. Female babies were most commonly named Mary with Dorothy trailing close behind.

This was the year when Henry Ford announced the 40-hour week that is still practiced today. Also, Greta Garbo made her film debut in Torrent.

1929: William & Betty

young baby sitting with a doll
The Montifraulo Collection/Getty Images
The Montifraulo Collection/Getty Images

Some of the most popular male baby names for 1929 included Robert, James, John, and William. The most common female baby names were Mary and Betty.

The year 1929 was significant in American history because it was the start of the Great Depression, which put an abrupt halt on the “Roaring Twenties.”

1933: Richard & Barbara

a baby sitting in a basket with an umbrella in the 30s
Fox Photos/Getty Images
Fox Photos/Getty Images

Female baby names for 1933 included Mary, Betty, and Barbara, while male names included Robert, James, John, William, and Richard.

Almost every country in the world faced the challenges of the Great Depression in 1933. Unemployment was at an all-time high peaking at 25.2 percent. Also, 1933 was the year construction began on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

1938: Charles & Patricia

woman pushing her baby in a stroller in the 30s
Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The top six baby names for boys for 1938 included Robert, James, John, William, Richard, and Charles. The top three for girls were Mary, Barbara, and Patricia.

A memorable event from 1938 was Orson Welles’ radio broadcast called The War of the Worlds. This created a mass panic across the United States.

1944: David & Carol

a baby sitting in a small tub in the 40s
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

The D-Day invasion of World War II was just one of the many historic events that occurred during 1944.

That year also brought some new baby names. David ranked sixth for male baby names behind James, Robert, John, William, and Richard. Carol came in fifth for female baby names behind Mary, Barbara, Linda, and Patricia.

1947: James & Linda

a baby holding up a peace sign
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Around the start of the baby boomer generation, the country saw a new change in top baby names. The most popular male name of 1947 was James.

The most common female baby name for that year was Linda. This year was the first time since the 1800s when Mary didn’t take the top spot for female names.

1949: Thomas & Susan

Baby wearing yellow jumper with hands covering eyes, crying
Constance Bannister Corp/Getty Images
Constance Bannister Corp/Getty Images

There were a lot of changes in the United States in 1949. One of the very first sitcoms in history, The Goldbergs, premiered in January of that year on CBS.

The Social Security Administration found that the top male baby names were James, Robert, John, William, Michael, David, Richard, and Thomas. Some top female baby names were Linda, Mary, Patricia, Barbara, and Susan.

1950: Gary & Nancy

a mother feeding her baby in the 1950s
George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

According to the Social Security Administration, Gary earned the top 10 spot for boy names in 1950 and Nancy earned the top six spot for girl names.

This was the year when the Korean War began and the first independent credit card company was created. Also, James Dean got his big break in 1950 after appearing in a Pepsi commercial.

1956: Mark & Debra

A baby girl wearing a pink hat and yellow outfit, with all her clothes strewn on the floor
Constance Bannister Corp/Getty Images
Constance Bannister Corp/Getty Images

Some new advancements for 1956 included the authorization of the interstate highway system and a higher number of high school graduates attending college.

There was a little bit of a switch for popular baby names. Mark came in eighth place for baby boy names and Debra jumped all the way to the top two spot for baby girls.

1957: Steven & Karen

Mother watching baby eat cookie
George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

Rounding out the top 10 spot for baby boy names in 1957 was Steven and Karen placed fifth overall for baby girl names.

The Space Age began in 1957 after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I and Sputnik II. This was also the time when the Beat Generation counterculture movement began.

1962: Michael & Lisa

a baby girl in a stroller in the 60s
Chaloner Woods/Getty Images
Chaloner Woods/Getty Images

Towards the end of the baby boomer generation, the United States finally saw a switch for the most popular baby names.

In 1962, the new top male baby name was Michael and the top female baby name was Lisa. This was also the year when Johnny Carson took over as host of The Tonight Show.

1965: Jeffrey & Kimberly

A mother and daughter sharing a book in the 60s
L. Willinger/FPG/Getty Images
L. Willinger/FPG/Getty Images

Many of the top male baby names hadn’t changed for decades. By the year 1965, Jeffrey was able to reach the 10th spot among popular baby boy names.

There was some variation for baby girl names. Kimberly came in fourth place after Lisa, Mary, and Karen. In 1965, the St. Louis Gateway Arch was completed and African Americans earned the right to vote.

1968: Christopher & Michelle

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The United States was going through major turmoil in 1968. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy were assassinated and men were being shipped off to Vietnam.

Even with all this change, male baby names stayed pretty consistent from previous years. Christopher came in ninth place for baby boy names and Michelle rose to the second spot for baby girl names.

1971: Jason & Jennifer

An infant dons elegant silk blouse and lace bonnet while resting in her mother's arms
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Social Security Administration reported that Jason became the eighth most popular male baby name in 1971. Jennifer climbed all the way to first place that same year for baby girl names.

Many prominent artists and bands including John Lennon, David Bowie, The Doors, and Pink Floyd released some of their most influential music throughout this year.

1975: Brian & Amy

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By the mid-1970s, there were tons of new names thrown into the mix as the older baby boomers were just starting to have children.

Brian appeared at the eighth spot in 1975 for male babies and Amy was at the second spot for female babies. Some of the year’s breakout movies included Jaws and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

1976: Matthew & Melissa

two babies in their strollers eating popsicles in the 70s
Teesside Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Teesside Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

America celebrated its bicentennial year in 1976 with the name Liberty even reaching the top thousand baby names. Liberty hadn’t been on the list since 1918.

Some of the most male baby names were Michael, Jason, Christopher, David, James, John, Robert, Brian, and Matthew. The top female baby names for 1976 were Jennifer, Amy, and Melissa.

1980: Joshua & Amanda

A baby lies in bed holding a Rubik's Cube
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of the top toys that was introduced in 1980 was the Rubick’s Cube and the makers shared that it can be solved in 20 moves or less.

Joshua rose to seventh place for male baby names behind Michael, Christopher, Jason, David, James, and Matthew. The top female baby names were Jennifer and Amanda.

1985: Daniel & Jessica

a baby boy with a baby gorilla
George Phillips/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
George Phillips/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

The Social Security Administration found that Daniel reached the top five spot for the most popular male baby names in 1985. They also discovered that Jessica climbed to the number one spot for female baby names.

Some of the most popular film releases of 1985 were Back to the Future and Rocky IV.

1989: Andrew & Ashley

three babies posing for a photo
Constance Bannister Corp/Getty Images
Constance Bannister Corp/Getty Images

Towards the end of the 1980s, there became a wide variety of different baby names for both males and females. Andrew ranked seventh for male baby names in 1989 and Ashley rose to the second position for female baby names.

McDonald’s started selling pizza in 1989, teen girls went crazy for New Kids on the Block, and superhero fans marveled at the latest Batman movie.

1991: Joseph & Brittany

a baby boy dressed in a sheep costume
Suke Tran/Unsplash
Suke Tran/Unsplash

The USA Social Security Administration found that Joseph ranked ninth in 1991 for baby boy names. Brittany was in the third spot for baby girls after Ashley and Jessica.

One of the most iconic moments that defined 1991 was the Hammer dance, which was made popular by rapper MC Hammer in his music video for “U Can’t Touch This.”

1996: Nicholas & Sarah

woman holding a baby
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The year 1996 was the end of the millennial generation and the beginning of Gen Z. Disney became one of the most successful businesses that year with four films grossing over $1.2 billion.

The top six male baby names included Michael, Matthew, Jacob, Christopher, Joshua, and Nicholas. Emily, Jessica, Ashley, and Sarah became some of America’s top baby girl names.

1999: Jacob & Emily

a baby girl in a pink dress
Yuri Tasso/Unsplash
Yuri Tasso/Unsplash

The last year of the 20th century brought some big changes for baby names. The top male name had finally changed after 37 years from Michael to Jacob.

The most popular female baby name in 1999 was Emily. This was also the year where the number of internet users skyrocketed to 150 million with half being from the United States.

2000: Tyler & Hannah

baby playing with toys
Shirota Yuri/Unsplash
Shirota Yuri/Unsplash

The world entered into a new millennium in the year 2000 with a big public frenzy over the Y2K bug. Some top music hits included Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” and Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.”

According to the Social Security Administration, the tenth most popular male baby name was Tyler and the second most popular female baby name was Hannah.

2003: Ethan & Madison

mother holding her baby
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

As the world was getting settled in to the early 2000s, baby names began to shift once again. Ethan rose up to the seventh spot for male baby names in 2003, while Madison landed in third place for female baby names.

Some of the year’s biggest blockbusters included Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

2007: Anthony & Isabella

a baby boy holding a red balloon
Alyssa Stevenson/Unsplash
Alyssa Stevenson/Unsplash

The war in Iraq sent the United States into an economic recession in 2007, but those coming of age during this time most likely remember being obsessed with Harry Potter and Hannah Montana.

Anthony ranked as the seventh most popular male baby name and Isabella came in at the second spot for baby girl names.

2010: Jayden & Ava

a baby girl in a yellow outfit
Juan Encalada/Unsplash
Juan Encalada/Unsplash

Jacob, Ethan, Michael, and Jayden rounded out the top four male baby names for 2010. Isabella, Sophia, Emma, Olivia, and Ava scored in the top five for female baby names.

This was a year when smartphones were becoming more mainstream and people were starting to spend more time on the internet rather than watching television.

2013: Noah & Sophia

a baby girl smiling for a photo
Humphrey Muleba/Unsplash
Humphrey Muleba/Unsplash

Some of the biggest events that occurred in 2013 included the release of Disney’s Frozen, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, and Argo won the Best Picture Oscar.

This was also a unique year for baby names. Noah received the top spot for baby boys and Sophia took the first place spot for baby girls.

2017: Liam & Emma

a baby making a funny face
Saiid Bel/Unsplash
Saiid Bel/Unsplash

The Official Social Security Website found that the top male baby name for 2017 was Liam and the top baby girl name was Emma.

One event that was significant for 2017 was the solar eclipse that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. While it only lasted 93 minutes, people all over the country went out of their way to try and get a glimpse.

2020: Oliver & Olivia

a baby smiling for a photo
Daniel Thomas/Unsplash
Daniel Thomas/Unsplash

According to the Official Social Security Website, Olivia became the top baby name for females in 2020. Oliver was given the third spot after Liam and Noah.

The world was met with a global pandemic in 2020 and the results may have started to shift baby name choices. Many current popular baby names are becoming more gender neutral.