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, Elijah, William, James, Benjamin, Lucas, Henry and Alexander. These are mostly the same as last year, with Henry and Alexander bumping Mason and Ethan further down the list.
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:
Already, you can see some other trends pop out, especially when it comes to letter combinations. Names that end in -yn, like Jaxtyn and Karsyn, are taking on names that end in -ton. Aziel is on the list for the second year in a row, confirming a trend in Biblical -iel names, something baby-name-watchers have also spotted. Names that end in -as are clearly getting hot — add it to Silas, which has also been steadily climbing, possibly thanks to Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake.
And the names that have decreased in popularity? Say goodbye to Vivaan, Alexzander, Javion, Reyansh, Kenny, Yisroel, Marquis, Toby, Kolten and Castiel names which are all over the map. Sometimes, you're just not that into it anymore.
Star Wars names rule the galaxy.
Kylo is not the only Star Wars-related name on the SSA fast-climbing chart.
Anakin has risen 255 places in rank, too, making it 17th on the list of names increasing in popularity. Is it just a dark-side thing? The picture isn't totally clear: Luke, ever in vogue, is No. 31 on the list of most popular names and gaining since the year 2000; Finn is falling in popularity since its peak in 2018 and Poe and Han didn't make the top 1,000 at all. With the popularity of The Mandalorian, only time will tell if baby Din Djarins and Grogus are on their way.
Nameberry, BabyCenter and Babynames.com found some more up-and-coming baby names.
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 adds 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. In addition to Star Wars, 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, Austin 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 last year's list of 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. Egypt is on everybody's mind.
Everybody misses Kobe and Chadwick.
Baby names are always driven by pop-culture and 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 battle 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 120 places this year and 177 places last 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 2020, the most recent data available.
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