Classics keep top spot on list of most popular US baby names

Posted at 1:00 PM, May 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-13 13:00:18-04

The third — and fourth — time’s the charm for Emma and Noah.

Emma is the most popular girls’ name in the United States in 2016 for the third year in a row, the Social Security Administration announced Friday, and it was the fourth year Noah took the top spot for boys.

Overall, the top 10 most popular names for boys and girls didn’t change much from the year before. For boys, Alexander fell off the list. William and Mason increased in popularity for boys and Charlotte for girls.

But a warm welcome is in order for the name Elijah, which broke into the list for the first time. Some well-known Elijahs include actor Elijah Wood and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Characters on the HBO TV series “Girls” and CW series “The Originals” also bear the name.

Pop culture affects the popularity of certain names every year. Liam remains the second most popular name for boys, perhaps a nod to actor Liam Hemsworth. It has been rising through the list since 2012, when the first “Hunger Games” film, starring Hemsworth, premiered.

But these effects can also be seen when less traditional names make a huge jump in popularity beyond the top 10.

For boys in 2016, that name was Kylo, which rose from 3,359 in 2015 to 901 last year. Kylo Ren, a character introduced in the 2015 film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” is (spoiler!) the troubled son of Princess Leia and Han Solo who leans toward the Dark Side of the Force to emulate his grandfather Darth Vader.

For girls, the name Kehlani jumped from 3,359 in 2015 to 872 in 2016. Kehlani is a singer, songwriter and dancer who has collaborated with Chance the Rapper and Zayn. She was nominated for a Grammy in 2016 for her album “You Should Be Here.”

Creed and Adonis also spiked in popularity for boys in 2016, perhaps linked to the 2015 movie “Creed,” in which Sylvester Stallone once again played Rocky Balboa, this time training his boxing rival’s son, Adonis Johnson Creed. Zayn was another boys’ name on the rise, after the former One Direction member and now solo artist.

Names on the rise for girls included Kaylani (a variation Kehlani), Royalty, Saoirse, Ophelia and Alessia. Parents might have been inspired by actress Saoirse Ronan, singer Alessia Cara and actress Ophelia Lovibond or the release of several songs titled “Ophelia.”

Perhaps the Kansas City Royals, who won the 2015 World Series, are the inspiration behind Royalty, according to the Social Security Administration. Singer Chris Brown also has a young daughter named Royalty.

As for names decreasing in popularity, that included four variations on the name Caitlin for girls and Jonael, Aadren, Triston and Freddy for boys.

The 2016 election didn’t seem to have an impact on the list: There were no major changes in rankings of the names Donald or Hillary.

The Social Security Administration is able to share the ranking because parents provide children’s names when they apply for Social Security cards. The agency started releasing its popular baby name list by gender in 1997 but has collected names dating to 1880.

Most popular names for girls in 2016:

1. Emma

2. Olivia

3. Ava

4. Sophia

5. Isabella

6. Mia

7. Charlotte

8. Abigail

9. Emily

10. Harper

Most popular names for boys:

1. Noah

2. Liam

3. William

4. Mason

5. James

6. Benjamin

7. Jacob

8. Michael

9. Elijah

10. Ethan