The Most Popular Baby Names of 2021, Plus Unique Names on the Rise

Marisa LaScala
·5-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

Choosing a baby name is one of the first decisions parents have to make — and also one of the most important. There are plenty of things that go into making the decision: Do you want to honor a relative? Do you want to choose a name that's obviously a boy name or a girl name, or do you want to pick a gender-neutral baby name?

One huge factor, of course, is the popularity of a baby name. Some parents want to go with the trends, and choose something traditional and classic that most people can pronounce and spell right of the bat. Other parents are looking for more unusual and unique baby names, to stand out from the crowd. But which names are which? Here, we look at the current most popular baby names, along with the trends that will affect baby names in 2021.

These baby names are experiencing the sharpest rise.

Every year, the Social Security Administration releases its list of the most popular baby names in the United States. You can see the top 50 for girls and boys below, but, at the moment, the reigning champs for girls are Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia and Isabella for girls, and Liam, Noah, Oliver, William and Elijah for boys.

But that was for last year, based on data for 2019. If you want to know what's going to be most popular next year, you have to look at the list of the fastest climbers. Luckily, the SSA keeps track of the names with the biggest jumps in popularity, too. For girls, the hottest risers are Amoura, Theodora, Navy, Emani and Yaritza; for boys, they're Sekani (which went up 6,159 places in rank!), Ermias, Amias, Kyro and Ambrose. This means that girls' names ending with an -a sound continue to be popular, like the current faves of Olivia and Emma, while boys names ending with -ias, like perennial fave Silas, are getting even hotter. Names that end in -iel, too, are doing well for boys: The next two chart-climbers for boys are Aziel and Eliel.

These baby names are losing favor.

So if the Amouras and Sekanis are on their way up, who's on their way out? The SSA also keeps track of the names that have seen the biggest drops in rank.

For boys, it's names that end with -en sounds. Jaxtyn, Brysen, Coen, Imran, Payton and Jaxen are all on the list of names that are losing popularity, along with Chad, Bowie and Deshawn.

For girls, while ending with an -a is popular, beginning with one is one the wane: Aislinn, Aiyana, Avalyn, Avah and Ansley are saw some of the biggest drops, in addition to Emmarie, Saniyah, Tatiana, Zhavia and Jayden. Names are cyclical, and of course these can always come back, but for now they're losing steam.

Nameberry and BabyCenter find more up-and-coming names.

The baby-naming website Nameberry tracks interest in names among its users, which may give a more up-to-the minute look compared with the SSA, which takes a year to release its data. So what has it noticed as a huge trend among baby names? Place names are getting big again. "The hottest among them fall into three distinct categories," the site reports. "Egyptian place names, such as Cairo and Egypt; Italian city names, including Rome and Milan and biblical place names, such as Salem and Zion." Cities in the United States are becoming popular, too, like Aspen, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Memphis. What's most interesting about these trends is that these are largely gender-neutral names.

In addition, BabyCenter does a similar tracking of user interest among its users. When it released its Top Names of 2020, there were a few names in their top 25 that didn't make the SSA's top 50, so look for these names to become more popular next year. They are: Aaliyah, Eliana, Adalyn and Gianna for girls, and Caden, Muhammad and Luca for boys.

And when BabyCenter listed the hottest naming trends of 2020, the site noted that names from the news tended to dominate. This includes political names like Kamala (up 104%), Reagan (up 26%) and Jill (up 66%); departed celebrities like Kobe (up 175%) and Gianna (up 216%); and names associated with the racial justice movement, like Breonna (up 108%).

According to the Social Security Administration, these are the 50 most popular names for girls in the United States.

The SSA says that these are the current most popular names for girls (from the year 2019, the most recent year available).

  1. Olivia

  2. Emma

  3. Ava

  4. Sophia

  5. Isabella

  6. Charlotte

  7. Amelia

  8. Mia

  9. Harper

  10. Evelyn

  11. Abigail

  12. Emily

  13. Ella

  14. Elizabeth

  15. Camila

  16. Luna

  17. Sofia

  18. Avery

  19. Mila

  20. Aria

  21. Scarlett

  22. Penelope

  23. Layla

  24. Chloe

  25. Victoria

  26. Madison

  27. Eleanor

  28. Grace

  29. Nora

  30. Riley

  31. Zoey

  32. Hannah

  33. Hazel

  34. Lily

  35. Ellie

  36. Violet

  37. Lillian

  38. Zoe

  39. Stella

  40. Aurora

  41. Natalie

  42. Emilia

  43. Everly

  44. Leah

  45. Aubrey

  46. Willow

  47. Addison

  48. Lucy

  49. Audrey

  50. Bella

Also according to the SSA, here are the 50 most common names for boys.

Also for 2019, these are the most popular names for boys.

  1. Liam

  2. Noah

  3. Oliver

  4. William

  5. Elijah

  6. James

  7. Benjamin

  8. Lucas

  9. Mason

  10. Ethan

  11. Alexander

  12. Henry

  13. Jacob

  14. Michael

  15. Daniel

  16. Logan

  17. Jackson

  18. Sebastian

  19. Jack

  20. Aiden

  21. Owen

  22. Samuel

  23. Matthew

  24. Joseph

  25. Levi

  26. Mateo

  27. David

  28. John

  29. Wyatt

  30. Carter

  31. Julian

  32. Luke

  33. Grayson

  34. Isaac

  35. Jayden

  36. Theodore

  37. Gabriel

  38. Anthony

  39. Dylan

  40. Leo

  41. Lincoln

  42. Jaxon

  43. Asher

  44. Christopher

  45. Josiah

  46. Andrew

  47. Thomas

  48. Joshua

  49. Ezra

  50. Hudson

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