To learn more about names in the U.S., we collected decades worth of name data from the Social Security Administration. We analyzed names by year, generation, and region to see how the popularity of names changes over time and place. We also looked at some of the extra inspiration that comes with naming, including the most uncommon names and the most popular fiction-inspired names.
Let’s get started!
The name Amelia has increased by 142,925% since 1990, while Taylor and Katherine have declined by 99%.
Noah has risen in popularity by 133,130% since 1990.
Emily is the most common name for Gen Z girls, and Jacob is the most common name for Gen Z boys.
Hawaii, Wyoming, and Vermont have the highest frequency of uncommon names.
Mississippi has the most fiction inspired names per capita.
Name Popularity Over Time
As with almost everything in pop culture, the popularity of names changes with time. Rachel and David may top the baby name lists one year, only to be dethroned by Rory and Dean the next. Let’s look at female and male names on the rise (and fall) over the past 30 years.
The most popular names in the country have changed significantly over the past three decades. The once-trending female names Taylor, Katherine, Laura, and Amy declined in use by 99% since 1990. Meanwhile, the popularity of Amelia increased by 142,925% over the same period. As for male names, Noah increased in popularity by 133,130% since 1990, while Blake, Patrick, and Tyler fell out of fashion.
Generationally, Emily and Emma were Gen Z’s most popular female names, while Jessica topped the list for millennials, Jennifer for Gen X, and Mary for baby boomers. Among male names, Jacob and Michael were the most popular among Gen Z. Michael also topped the list for millennials and Gen X and came in second among baby boomers—that’s some impressive staying power.
As for the most recent arrivals, Olivia and Liam were the most common baby names of 2022.
State Your Name
Just as names change with time, they also change with place, as different cultures and regions have name trends. We compared national popularity of names to state popularity to identify the most uniquely popular female and male names in each state. Explore the interactive map to see the top three girl and boy names of each state.
Our analysis used name data from 2012 through 2022, only considering names that occurred at least 1,000 times overall.
Residents of states in the Mountain region took inspiration from nature. Aspen (as in the tree) was among the top three most uniquely popular female names in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Meanwhile, residents of Louisiana seemed to be dreaming of faraway places, as their top three female names were Paris, Journee, and Londyn.
Residents of New York were more inspired by their religious heritage: Chaya, Esther, and Miriam were the state’s most uniquely popular female names, and Muhammad, Moshe, and Abraham were the most uniquely popular male names.
The United States of Uncommon Names
While some parents like to name their children based on culture or trends, others like to think outside the box and give their children rare or unique names. We found names with the lowest percentage of use per state over the past 10 years to find the most uncommon names across America.
We also examined the most popular fiction-inspired names to determine which pop culture references inspire parents the most. Let’s take a look.
While some parents look to unique inspiration for uncommon names, others look to dying trends. Remington was the most uncommon male name in Indiana, taking interesting inspiration possibly from the gun-maker or the classic Pierce Brosnan series. On the other hand, Edward was the most uncommon male name in New Hampshire, proving that sometimes old classics can become new again.
Old-fashioned female names were also given new life, like Josephine in Kentucky and Caroline in Minnesota. Music was another popular inspiration for female names, like Melody in Washington and Indie in Utah. Other parents looked abroad for uncommon names, like the British name Haisley in Louisiana, the French name Adalynn in Nevada, or the Greek name Athena in Illinois and Virginia.
As for those choosing these uncommon names, parents in Hawaii, Wyoming, and Vermont were the most likely to do so.
Pulling from slightly different inspirational sources, Mississippi and Massachusetts had the most fictional character names per capita, including Bella for females and Atticus for males. Luke and Leia were also common fiction-inspired names, and we think all parents who name their kids thus should be mandated to get them a big, shaggy dog named Chewbacca—it’s the right thing to do.
Finally, California had the most Karens—literally. But please try not to hold it against them; they had their name long before “being a Karen” became a thing.
Say My Name, Say My Name
From Amy to Zachary and Addison to Zane, the popularity of names changes with time and place. Name trends receive inspiration from fictional characters, international destinations, and the natural world. Names can also be rooted in religious traditions, ancestral heritage, and family history.
No matter where names come from or whether one is as common as Michael or as unique as Haisley, they are an important part of our identity. So the next time you meet someone new, introduce your name with pride and show the other person’s name the respect it deserves—taking care to learn it, remember it, and pronounce it correctly.
We collected decades of name data from the Social Security Administration to analyze American regional and generational trends among baby names. The top names by generation were based on the top five names by gender for each year since 1946. We defined uncommon names as those occurring less than 100 times overall. To determine the states with the most fictional character names, we created a list of popular fictional characters and looked at their frequency of use in each state for all years.
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Fair Use Statement
We want everyone to learn more about “what’s in a name,” so feel free to share this article. We ask that you do so for noncommercial purposes only and provide a link back to this page so readers can access our full findings and methodology.