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Origins and meanings of the nation’s most popular baby names

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Written by Mary Fetzer   

Before you select a name from the nation's "most popular" list, consider its origin and meaning. Oftentimes, pairing a first name which has an origin that matches your surname creates a pleasant-sounding flow. And sometimes, a name you thought you really loved loses its luster when you discover what it means.

The most popular baby boy names in the nation


In generations past, names for boys were taken primarily from the family. It was common for a baby to have the same name as his dad, grandfather, great-grandfather...  The practice of using family names has fallen out of fashion, and more parents are giving their sons trendy names.

These names are often taken from pop culture (favorite movie characters or celebrities). Here are the Top 10 Baby Boy Names (according to the Social Security Administration):

Jacob:  Hebrew, means “Supplanter”

Mason:  French and English, “Stone worker”

Ethan:  Hebrew,  “Strong, valiant”

Noah:  Hebrew, “Repose, consolation”

William:  German, “Strong helmet”

Liam:  Irish, “Resolute defender”

Jayden:  English, “Jehovah has heard”

Michael:  Hebrew, “Poor, humble”

Alexander:  Greek, “Defender of men”

10  Aiden:  Irish, “Fire”

The most popular baby girl names in the nation


Look at a baby girl name, and you can often tell exactly what decade it came from. Consider names such as Agnes, Frances, Karen, Heather, Alexis and Kaylie and venture a guess as to when gals with these names were born.

Baby girl naming trends change more frequently and dynamically than their boy counterparts', and we anticipate that the next Top 10 girl names will differ significantly from these. 

Sophia:  Greek, “Wise”

Emma:  German, “Universal”

Isabella:  Spanish, “Devoted to God”

Olivia:  Latin, “Olive”

Ava:  English, “Iniquity”

Emily:  English, “Hard-working”

Abigail:  Hebrew, “Father’s joy”

Mia:  Italian, “Wished for”

Madison:  English, “Strong fighter”

10  Elizabeth:  Hebrew, “Oath of God”

More baby name lists


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Which baby names have the most spellings?
Family baby names: Using genealogy to name baby 

Photo credit: Johner Images/Getty Images

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