In the past 10 years, parents of boys are looking to be more creative when it comes to baby names. For the longest time, when it came to the most popular baby boy names, parents stuck with the standards. The name Michael was No. 1 for for more than 40 years, and, when its reign was over, the name Jacob took over for the next 13.
Now, the boys' names are becoming even more varied than girls' names. In the last 10 years, the same five baby girl names (Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia and Isabella) have occupied the top five spots, just shuffling places ever year. In the same time frame, there have been 11 boy names in the top five spots: Liam, Noah, Oliver, William, Elijah, James, Logan, Mason, Jacob, Ethan and Jayden.
So, with all this turmoil, what will be the most popular baby boy names of 2021? We take a look at the data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to identify some popular names, along with the trends that will decide the up-and-comers.
These are the boy names that have increased the most in popularity.
The SSA, which keeps track of the popularity of baby names, released the list of the most popular names of 2019, and it doesn't offer much by way of surprises. The most-used names for boys are Liam, Noah, Oliver, William, Elijah, James, Benjamin, Lucas, Mason and Ethan.
Where you do find some interesting choices, though, is when you look at the names that have seen the biggest rise over the previous year. Luckily, the SSA keeps note of those, too. That's where you'll find the ideas for what might be big in the coming year. You can see the seeds of a lot of the baby-naming trends there, too. This year, the fastest-climbers are:
Archie (call it the royal effect — this always happens with royal baby names)
Interestingly, the No. 11 name on the list, Salem, was also on the list of the fast-rising names for girls, if you're looking for a gender-neutral name. (More on that in a bit.)
Already, you can see some other trends pop out, especially when it comes to letter combinations. Names that end in -ias are clearly getting hot — add it to Silas, which has also been steadily climbing, possibly thanks to Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake.
And then there's the -iel names, both of which are Biblical in origin, which is a trend baby-name-watchers have also spotted.
And the names that have decreased in popularity? Say goodbye to Jaxtyn, Brysen, Chad, Bowie, Coen, Imran, Payton, Jaxen, Deshawn and Konnor. The names that sound like they end in -en or -on, it seems, are on the wane.
Nameberry, BabyCenter and Babynames.com found some more up-and-coming baby names.
Baby-naming websites like Nameberry and BabyCenter keep track of the interest in certain names among their users. (This doesn't mean the parents actually choose these names, but they do look up the popularity, meaning and origin.) These are the names you might expect to see on the SSA list in the next few years.
For Nameberry, the fastest-rising boy names are in line with the same trends we listed above. They are Isaias, Ezequiel, Bard, Akuma, Amadeo, Brutus, Zuko, Aarush and Jaziel. If you need more evidence that Biblical, -ias or -iel names are getting big — or if you need more inspiration and examples — there's your proof. BabyCenter's list of the most popular names overlaps more with the SSA's list, with the addition of Jackson, Aiden, Grayson, Caden, Mateo and Muhammad into the top names.
Babynames.com adds Finn, Jasper and Felix to their list of the most popular names of the the year. Finn is part of a trend the site identifies as names with Celtic origins, like the perennially popular Liam, Aidan, Declan and Owen,
City names are also getting hot.
Another baby-naming trend that Nameberry has reported is baby names inspired by travel, especially international destinations like Rome, Egypt or Israel, but also closer-to-home cities like Boston, Dallas, Denver and Houston. (Many of these names, Nameberry notes, are unisex, so they're popular for girls, too.)
But if there's one city that's far and away the hottest up-and-coming baby name, it's Cairo. Variations of it appeared on the SSA fastest-rising list three different times. Cairo jumped up 177 places, and Kairo was right behind, moving up 176 places. Kyro outdid them both, rising 623 spots. (Or is it just that people are too sheepish to name their kids Kylo, which was on the fastest-rising list last year, for fear of sounding too much like Kylo Ren?)
Everybody misses Kobe and Chadwick.
Baby names are always driven by pop-culture an the news, but this time it takes on a sadder bent. When BabyCenter looked at its baby-naming trends of the year, it found that lots of parents are choosing names inspired by departed celebrities. Kobe — after Kobe Bryant, who died unexpectedly in a helicopter crash in January 2020 — has increased in popularity by 175%. (Gianna, the name of Bryant's late daughter, also increased, rising 216% for girls.)
Similarly, over on Nameberry, Chadwick, as in Chadwick Boseman, increased in popularity 293%. Boseman, an actor best known for his role as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, died in August 2020 after an unpublicized bout with cancer.
But if there's one trending celeb name we can all feel more cheerful about, it's this: Keanu is on the fast-climbing list for the second year in a row. According to the SSA, it's up 177 places this year. (Thankfully, Bill and Ted Face the Music star Keanu Reeves is still alive.)
Parents are going a more gender-neutral route.
Not only are parents going for traditional gender-neutral names, BabyCenter notes, they're reaching across the column and choosing names that have been associated with baby girls. Among the names seeing gains for boys are Emery (up 39%), Alexis (up 26%), Ariel (up 22%), Briar (up 14%) Morgan (14%), Kendall (up 11%) and Marley (up 10%).
Here are the current 100 most popular names for baby boys, according to the Social Security Administration.
This data is for the year 2019, the most recent data available.
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