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Top baby names over the last 100 years

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Ever wonder what names will hold up over time? Check out the 50 best names for boys and girls compiled from a full century of data!

Each year the Social Security Administration publishes data on the first names given to babies born in the United States. When examined over a period of time, interesting patterns begin to emerge. We can see the rise and fall of a name, whether it is steady or sudden, and hypothesize why that might be. As you consider names for your baby, looking at this data helps put the true popularity of a name in perspective.

In addition to yearly statistics, the SSA compiles and publishes lists of the top 100 names over the last 100 years. This helps in assessing which names are the most common, not just in today's classrooms, but throughout the population.

Top 50 names for boys


Classic boy names tend to stay in style. We've included the current rank of each name in parenthesis to help you see how overall position corresponds to last year's numbers. With a handful of exceptions (like Larry, Ronald, and Gary) these names remain in heavy use. Give your baby boy any of these names and he will never run into misspellings or incorrect pronunciations!

  1. James (13)
  2. John (27)
  3. Robert (62)
  4. Michael (7)
  5. William (5)
  6. David (18)
  7. Richard (140)
  8. Joseph (20)
  9. Charles (57)
  10. Thomas (61)
  11. Christopher (26)
  12. Daniel (10)
  13. Matthew (15)
  14. Donald (415)
  15. Anthony (19)
  16. Paul (198)
  17. Mark (184)
  18. George (157)
  19. Steven (136)
  20. Kenneth (187)
  21. Andrew (22)
  22. Edward (145)
  23. Joshua (21)
  24. Brian (150)
  25. Kevin (72)
  26. Ronald (403)
  27. Timothy (125)
  28. Jason (79)
  29. Jeffrey (256)
  30. Gary (578)
  31. Ryan (30)
  32. Nicholas (54)
  33. Eric (118)
  34. Jacob (3)
  35. Stephen (252)
  36. Jonathan (42)
  37. Larry (477)
  38. Frank (327)
  39. Scott (428)
  40. Justin (85)
  41. Brandon (70)
  42. Raymond (264)
  43. Gregory (299)
  44. Samuel (25)
  45. Benjamin (14)
  46. Patrick (154)
  47. Jack (40)
  48. Dennis (455)
  49. Jerry (450)
  50. Alexander (8)

Top 50 names for girls


Unlike boy names, girl names come into — and subsequently fall out of — fashion fairly quickly. Many of the last 100 years' best names are barely clinging to top 1,000 status today!

  1. Mary (121)
  2. Patricia (680)
  3. Jennifer (191)
  4. Elizabeth (10)
  5. Linda (643)
  6. Barbara (838)
  7. Susan (844)
  8. Margaret (181)
  9. Jessica (163)
  10. Dorothy (808)
  11. Sarah (48)
  12. Karen (416)
  13. Nancy (689)
  14. Betty (unranked)
  15. Lisa (773)
  16. Sandra (766)
  17. Helen (409)
  18. Ashley (67)
  19. Donna (985)
  20. Kimberly (101)
  21. Carol (972)
  22. Michelle (168)
  23. Emily (7)
  24. Amanda (298)
  25. Melissa (202)
  26. Deborah (814)
  27. Laura (322)
  28. Stephanie (195)
  29. Rebecca (178)
  30. Sharon (882)
  31. Cynthia (499)
  32. Kathleen (664)
  33. Ruth (329)
  34. Anna (35)
  35. Shirley (907)
  36. Amy (139)
  37. Angela (196)
  38. Virginia (551)
  39. Brenda (634)
  40. Pamela (965)
  41. Catherine (172)
  42. Katherine (77)
  43. Nicole (92)
  44. Christine (705)
  45. Janet (952)
  46. Debra (unranked)
  47. Samantha (29)
  48. Carolyn (791)
  49. Rachel (138)
  50. Heather (837)

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