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The Most Popular Baby Names Of All Time

Regine Mahaux / Getty Images

Popular baby names often define a generation, from 1980s hits such as Heather, Jason, and Amanda, to today’s favorites, including Emma, Olivia, and Noah. But what are the most popular baby names of all time — you know, the truly timeless ones that never go out of style? Here’s the definitive list, for both boys and girls.



1. Mary

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the most popular name of all-time for girls. While it’s fallen off a bit in popularity, its long-time reign at #1 ensured it still scores the top spot.

2. Patricia

A feminization of the popular Patrick, the name means “noble.” It was one of the most popular baby names from the ’40s to the ’60s, though it’s currently at #745 in popularity.

3. Elizabeth

Still a top 20 favorite, Elizabeth is a Biblical name that means “consecrated to God,” and comes with a score of nicknames that makes it forever stylish.

4. Jennifer

The queen of the ’70s scores the fourth spot, thanks to its overwhelming ubiquitousness. If you grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, odds are you have at least a Jen or five amongst your friends. The name means “white wave.” It’s still in the top 300 in popularity.

5. Linda

A mid-20th century favorite, Linda means “beautiful.” It’s now 700 on the list of top 1,000 names of all time.

6. Barbara

While currently sitting near the bottom of the top 1,000, Barbara was a top choice for the ’30s and ’40s. It means “foreign woman.”

7. Margaret

A perennial classic that has several cool nicknames (Maggie, Maisie, and Daisy feel freshest right now), Margaret means “pure.”

8. Susan

Susan hit its peak in popularity back in the ’30s to ’60s. It means “lily.”

9. Dorothy

Thanks to the young girl in the ruby slippers, Dorothy has always had its fans. It means “gift from God.”

10. Sarah

An Old Testament favorite girls name, Sarah has remained in the top 100 steadily. It means “princess.”


1. James

A cool classic that never goes out of style—James still sits in the top 5 most popular baby names. It means “supplanter,” and is currently starting to be seen for girls as well.

2. John

A Biblical favorite, John means “God is gracious.” It’s been used by a slew of popes, saints, apostles, and U.S. Presidents.

3. Robert

A top 10 pick for more than a century, Robert is still in the top 100. It means “bright fame.”

4. Michael

As you probably know from your circle of friends and family, Michael was the top name for more than 50 years—and since it’s still in the top 10, it isn’t going anywhere. Expect it to move further up the chart in the coming years.

5. William

Forever in vogue, William has been used for royalty and Presidents, and it means “protector.” It’s currently still in the top 3, thanks to its currently in vogue nickname, Liam.

6. David

The famed Old Testament king helped this name, which means “beloved,” remain among the top 20 popular baby names for nearly a century.

7. Richard

Don’t let the old “Dick” nickname (and the association with Richard Nixon) keep you from this classic. Now in the top 200, Richard means “ruler,” and was the name of several members of the British royal family.

8. Joseph

A top 20 favorite for nearly 150 years (it only dipped down to #21 once in 2015), Joseph has Biblical roots, and a slew of famous namesakes.

9. Charles

A French name that means “free man,” Charles was a top favorite through the mid-20th century, before dipping down into the top 75.

10. Thomas

Apostles and saints bear this name, which means “twin.” It was a top 10 pick from the 1880s to the 1960s, and is still in the top 50 baby names.

More Baby Name Ideas:

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