Most Popular Baby Boy Names in the United States
On this page we'll look at what the most popular baby boy names are in the United States. These names are taken directly from the Social Security card applications for births that occurred in the United States.
The table below shows the most popular names for boys born in 2021, with a rank, total count for the number of births registered with that given name, and a comparison for the count for that name in 2020.
You can use the links below to view more popular boy names. This page is currently showing names ranked from 1 to 250.
How Are the Most Popular Baby Boy Names Determined?
Curious about how the list of the most popular baby boy names is compiled? Unlike the most common male first names list, or the most common surnames list, baby name lists are more current and up to date.
This is due to the fact that baby name lists are compiled using information from the United States social security administration and it is collected on a regular basis, rather than relying on census data which is only collected every 10 years.
The social security administration collects information on how people are naming their babies when the parent files with them for a social security card for their child in the same year they are born. Therefore the most popular baby boys name list is updated with a decent amount of frequency.
Where Do the Most Popular Baby Boy Names Come From?
Certain names on the list may throw you for a loop, especially if you see a name that is popular but also that you’ve never heard of before. Scientists and historians alike have spent years trying to narrow down why people name their children the way they do and have come to find there is no exact answer.
The way people name their children varies widely from culture to culture and decade to decade. Below are some possible places where it is hypothesized that people find the names they give their children.
Based on Celebrities and Pop Culture
Although there may be some deep story behind your name, the reality is, most people don’t have a story behind their name. Rather, humans tend to name their children certain names they hear at one point in their life and think of as “cool.”
And when talking about ‘hearing’ a name, how do most people hear things on a daily basis? Well, from the media, social media, and pop culture of course. Therefore many names of famous celebrities frequently make the top lists for baby names.
For example, ‘Liam’ which is at the top of the list likely came from the prominence of the actor Liam Neeson. But people don’t just take names directly from celebrities, as they also take them from the names of celebrities' children. This can be seen in the name ‘Miles’ which only began to climb up the list after famous model Chrissy Teagen named her son Miles.
People don’t just watch TV, however, and names can also come from books or other stories. This phenomenon is a bit easier to track, as it can bring back weird names to popularity, which is what happened in 2005, when older names like ‘Carlisle,’ ‘Emmett,’ and ‘Edward,’ came back to the top list after they appeared in the popular novel ‘Twilight.’
Baby Names Can be Family Names
It is very common in America for people to name their sons after the child’s father. This practice leads to many names which have been around for a long time staying on the top charts for decades.
These are names like ‘William,’ ‘Robert,’ and ‘John,’ and sometimes the parent will add the suffix ‘Jr.’ to the name, or ‘II’ to indicate the child is the second or third member of the family with that name. Although this practice is becoming less common as the years go by, anytime a little boy is named ‘William Jr.’ it helps keep the name William trending as a baby boy's name.
Parents Think of the Implication of Names
There are some names that have been on the list for decades, and continue to start there just because of the process parents go through when naming their children. Besides picking a name that both parents like, they often have to think if the name will have implications for the child.
Take the name ‘Adolf’ for example. It is an old German name that means ‘noble.’ Although you may like the name, you also know that naming your children the name Adolf would possibly lead to them getting harassed in school, and may cause people to have an opinion about your child before they even met him.
Because of a fear of giving a child a name that will cause them to be bullied or teased, some parents try to keep it simple by picking a common name. A practice that keeps names like ‘Lucas’ and ‘Alexander’ at the top of the charts.
Political and Religious Names
Although many couples have started to get more creative with baby girls' names, many baby boy names still have religious origins. ‘Noah,’ ‘Elijah,’ and ‘Daniel’ are all names that appear in the Bible and have been given to baby boys for centuries.
While some parents continue to name their children these names because they are religious, it’s also important to note that this naming tactic often overlaps with parents thinking of the implications of their child’s name. For example, a non-religious couple may name their son Daniel just because they hear the name and know there are many Daniels in the world so their son won’t be teased for his name.
Political names are often common as well among men. Parents may name their children after a famous politician, or they may take the last name of a politician and make it a first name. An example of this is ‘Obama’ which, while not popular, is a first name that came about when Barack Obama was elected. Even though his first name is Barack, people became much more attached to his last name, leading some people to name their sons ‘Obama.’
How Have Baby Boys Names Changed Over the Years?
If you had looked at this list a few decades ago, it would have looked much different than it does now. One of the main reasons why is because people have generally become more creative with naming practices over the years when it comes to baby boys.
Throughout the history of the United States, baby boy names were always quite simple. They were typically short and came from the Bible. Well, as the number of religious people has declined in the United States, many people have tired of naming their sons ‘Jacob,’ ‘John,’ and ‘Matthew.’
Of course, these names are still on the list, but they are no longer the top three. Instead, names like ‘Liam,’ ‘Oliver,’ and ‘Henry’ have taken their spots. While it has always been easy to come up with unique girls' names, it has been harder to say the same for boys' names. This hasn’t stopped people, however, as names like ‘Axel,’ ‘Maverick,’ and ‘Roman’ have all made the list in the past few years.
Part of the reason unique names are on the rise for baby boys is thanks to pop culture. Where once people only had their neighbors to look to for unique names, people now carry the internet in the palms of their hands. This makes it easier to look up unique boys' names or to find out more information about how their favorite celebrity is naming their son or daughter.
Overall, society is seeking to become more individualistic than ever before. Therefore while it was once okay for all the boys on the block to be named ‘John’ this isn’t going to fly anymore as parents look for their son to have a more unique name like ‘Thiago.’
Historical Data for Baby Boy Names
If you're interested to see how the trends and popularity of baby names for boys have changed, you can use the links below to view the historical data by decade.
All of the data on this page is sourced from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and excludes any names with fewer than 5 occurrences in any geographic area.
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"Most Popular Baby Boy Names in the United States". NameCensus.com. Accessed on February 8, 2023. https://namecensus.com/baby-names/popular-boy-names/.
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