The Most Popular Names In America Since 1880

Have you ever wondered why your parents picked your name and why you are not, say, Lucifer?

Deciding on a child’s name is usually a negotiation process, often ending in a compromise. Cultural influences clash with personal preferences — and the results can range from familiar to funky.

24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Social Security Administration for the period from 1880 through the end of 2019, the latest year for which data is available, to identify the most popular names in America since records began.

There is less variety among boys’ names. The Social Security Administration has tracked since 1880 more than 67,000 different female and almost 41,000 different male names in the United States.

Many historically popular names, such as Elizabeth and John, have dropped in popularity in the past decade but remain in the top 20 of all time. Other names that were popular about a century ago have not made a revival.

Some names were rare and then became popular. And some names never even make it to the 1,000 most popular names in the U.S. — these are the 30 most uncommon baby names of the last 100 years.

To identify the most popular names in America 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Social Security Administration for the years 1880 through 2019. SSA tracks every name with at least five occurrences. All names are from Social Security card applications for U.S. births after 1879. We calculated the share of each name for boys and girls born each year since. The popularity rank is based on the average frequency of each name over the 1880-2019 time period. The total number of babies given the name and the decade of their peak popularity also came from the SSA.

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