2016 Social Security Administration Baby Name Data!

It’s here! Oh happy day! 2016 Social Security Administration Baby Name Data

Do you see anything you find surprising? Anything you thought would happen, and it did? Anything interesting? What did your kids’ names do, or the names you’re considering for future kids? (You don’t have to say what the specific names are, of course.)

39 thoughts on “2016 Social Security Administration Baby Name Data!

  1. A

    I’m a little surprised to see that both Zoe and Zoey dropped a few places. I feel like I hear this name quite a bit in my area so I thought for sure they would’ve moved up a little.

  2. Shaeby

    I was surprised how high Leilani was (I associate it with characters in 80s and 90s movies so it sounds dated to my ear). Then I noticed Kehlani, Nalani, and Ailani all took big jumps from last year so the sound must be coming back.

    1. Heidi J

      Yeah, I noticed a lot -lani names with big jumps in popularity. I guess I’ll be hearing more of these names soon? I haven’t heard them in person yet.

  3. Colleen

    I’m surprised that Ava and Emily are still as high on the list as they are. I don’t feel like I hear those names anymore. I’m slightly surprised that Harper is still only at #10.

    I’m thrilled that one of my favorite boy names dropped out of the Top Ten (Alexander).

    1. Another Heather

      I think it was gaining initially because of all the right sounds, but the stigma was keeping it back…then the Lumineers song *sigh*. I’m not exactly bummed about Ophelia, just that the sound-alike I want to use will now forever be confused for Ophelia!

  4. Amanda

    Piper has moved up 80 spots since I had my daughter in 2009 in the top 100 now. Felicity is still in the 300 range but has moved up almost 300 spots since 2012.

  5. Another Heather

    I feel like maybe I missed something while sifting through the “beyond the top 1000” data, but I can’t find the female Reys I was expecting. Yet Kylo positively skyrocketed! I thought that was interesting…especially given that (spoiler alert) Kylo murders his father.

    1. Swistle Post author

      In 2016 I see 63 new baby girls named Rey, 29 new baby girls named Ray, and 190 new baby girls named Rae.

      1. Another Heather

        You’re absolutely right, Swistle. I was clicking through with my “find” tool and must have missed it! I guess it’s still a lower number for the movie’s hero, but I was wondering what was up when I thought it hadn’t even registered! In my defense, the pregnancy brain is strong with this one ;)

  6. Kay W.

    OMG! Swistle, you just made my day! I am actually pregnant right now, but I have been having some scary complications (though it looks like everything will be manageable/OK) and haven’t been keeping up on any of my regular name blog circuits except your site. I’m on bed rest at the moment and this has MADE MY WEEKEND if not week! Thank you!!

  7. Kay W.

    Wow, Penelope at #27! And Oliver at #12! I’m sure I’ll have more I want to discuss later, but those two *really* jump out at me.

    Very slight disappointment: I was hoping there’d be at least one year with both Sophia and Sofia in the top 10, because I’m not sure there’s ever been another time when two spelling variants of a top 10/top 15 name were so close in terms of usage. However, I think the Sophia/Sofia era has probably now peaked. (I know Zoe and Zoey are also very close, but they’re in much less use and I don’t see them going top 10 together.)

    Is anyone else amazed by how stable the girls’ top 10 has been now for about 5-10 years?

    Top 10 2016:
    1. Emma
    2. Olivia
    3. Ava
    4. Sophia
    5. Isabella
    6. Mia
    7. Charlotte
    8. Abigail
    9. Emily
    10. Harper

    1. Emily
    2. Emma
    3. Madison
    4. Isabella
    5. Ava
    6. Abigail
    7. Olivia
    8. Hannah
    9. Sophia
    10. Samantha

    The only changes in a decade: Mia, Charlotte, and Harper replaced Hannah, Samantha, and Madison.

    If popular names are marked by era, we’re definitely still in the same one.

    1. Kay W.

      …which leads me to wonder, when will the next shift happen, and what will rise to the top then? Evelyn, Amelia, Scarlett, Eleanor, Penelope (!), Hazel, all seem to be rising fast. But some of them still seem too offbeat to reach top 10 usage. Interesting!

    2. Kay W.

      Also, for contrast, the decade between 1996 and 2006 saw six names (Jessica, Sarah, Taylor, Rachel, and Ashley) exit the list.

    3. Kelly

      And oddly enough, compared to how the lists changed by gender, there’s been more movement over the past decade to the Top 10 for boys than for girls. Six of the names have changed from the 2006 list (Joshua, Matthew, Daniel, Andrew, Christopher, and Anthony have been replaced with Noah, Liam, Mason, James, Benjamin, and Elijah).

    4. Kelly

      I looked and there has been a time when two spellings of a name were both in the Top 10 – Deborah and Debra from 1952-1960 (in fact they were both in the Top 4 in 1955 and 1956).

  8. Honeysuckle

    I’m impressed that Sarah, coming in at 57, now outranks Sadie, who’s sitting – albeit very nearby! – at number 60. I use the word impressed simply because I feel like Sadie is a name I hear quite a bit on the younger set, and yet she’s fallen by eight spots. And Sara (no h) has gone up 10 places. Also, Juliette – for a second year in a row – has outranked the more streamlined Juliet.

  9. Bff

    I noted this on twitter too:
    Saoirse cracked the top 1000.
    Mind. Blown.
    (Yes saoirse Ronan helps of course but still…)

    1. Ruby

      I LOVE the name Saoirse, but I was always hesitant to add it to the list of potential future baby names because the pronunciation is…not intuitive. But maybe if it gets more popular the pronunciation will become more common knowledge!

      1. Bff

        Yeah I’m done naming my own babies but a seven years ago I hesitated before using Maeve for my third (and obviously used the anglicinized spelling over Meadbh) because Maeve was ‘so unfamiliar’
        Now I think Saoirse and Aiobhe are reasonable.
        My naming style can best described as increasingly more challenging traditional Irish names LOL

  10. sandra

    I still find it amazing that Harper is so popular..I personally dislike the name with a vengeance..and it seems so out of sync with the other top 10 names that are all traditionally feminine names.

    1. sbc

      yes, but I think it goes with Asher, Fletcher, Anders, Cooper, Miller, Mason as names hat have some combo of the surname/profession/ends in “er” thing going for them. I noticed that Margo[t] and Ramona both increased a lot and I think that Harper goes with them as “spunky” names.

      I called Willa as a rising star a few years ago and it’s continued to rise…in the 400s now. Edith is also moving up. Genesis doesn’t get talked about on here a lot (I think Spanish speakers are more likely to use it) but it is really rising. It was the #1 name in DC last year and I’ll be curious when they release state-by-state data later this week to see if that continues.

      On the boy side, I love the name Ezra and while it’s getting more popular, not as quickly as I would have thought given the popularity of other E names and biblical names. It’s ahead of Malachi, but I bet that’s in part because the latter lends itself to alternative spellings.

  11. Vee

    I am excited to see Sage get more popular for boys again. From #725 in 2013 when we named our son to #546 in 2016. Sage for girls continues to hover in the 300s.

  12. Reagan

    I agree regarding Harper – I just don’t understand why it is so popular. I am also am surprised Emily remains in the top 10.

    I wonder if the increase in popularity of Poppy (283 spots up) is related to Jenna Bush’s use of the name. Also, Maxine jumped 204 ranks- maybe because of the Zuckerbergs.

    It is interesting that Wilder and Shepherd jumped so much (243, 235 ranks). They are names I have seen on line more but not in real life. I am surprised Howard jumped 136.)

    1. Kay W.

      I think Harper is widely used in the South? My sister-in-law says she hears it often at her church and it ranked in the top 5 in her state in 2015. Whereas it wasn’t even top 20 in NY or NJ in 2015—it was #35 in NJ! Excited for the 2016 state breakdowns to be released.

      Re: Emily— I hear it a lot in my diverse urban neighborhood, and I think it’s widely popular with Latino and Asian families. NYC breaks down popular names by ethnicity and in 2015 Emily ranked top 10 for Latino girls and top 5 for Asian girls. It wasn’t top 10 for white or black girls. (The white top 10 is overwhelmingly names popular in the Hasidic community though—they choose from a smaller group of names.) http://gothamist.com/2016/12/28/sorry_dylan_and_sebastian.php

      1. sandra

        I’m in New Zealand and Harper 1st entered the top 10 here in 2014 at 8th rose the next year and again 2016….I suspect it’s popularity here relates to a character on a local soap opera….the Harpers’ i know of personally (5 or 6) all have very young mothers (under 22).

        The other thing I find interesting about the Top 10 list is how universally “european/white.” The names are when I consider the ethnic diversity of a country like the US.

        1. sbc

          There have been studies about how much of a benefit is conveyed from having a “white” sounding name on a job application and I think it makes some parents hesitant to step outside the mainstream. I know my parents considered this when naming my little brother; the name they selected, when combined with our surname, was very obviously Jewish and they did it, but realized that there could come a setting where it would be a hindrance. Going “neutral” often feels safer….sad but there it is.

          1. Kay W.

            I agree with this, but I also think the top 10 for both sexes reflects huge Latino cultural influence, even if it’s not obvious at first– Isabella, Sophia/Sofia, Mia, Olivia, Emma, and Ava are Spanish-compatible and widely used in Latin families. On the boys’ side, Liam, Daniel, and Ethan would also not be at the levels they are without Spanish influence. (Liam is Irish but it sounds great in Spanish and is used a lot in Latin families!) Further down the lists, Daniel, Sebastian, Victoria, and Camila are also big among people with Latin heritage.

    2. Kim

      The data is interesting, but usage patterns are so localized. There are about 650 kids in our elementary school, and not a single Harper or Liam. Very few repeats at any one grade level.
      I did not know Samantha was ever in the top 10. Surprises me, because it feels very uncommon here.

  13. JMV

    I was surprised to see the name Mercy back in the top 1000. I wonder if it was because for the bulk of last year it was the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy for Catholics? Or is this virtue name going to rise again next year? Overall virtue names for girls seem to be declining. These virtue names rose: Sage. Saige, Liberty. These ones fell: Cherish, Justice, Hope, Faith, Harmony, and Serenity. Grace stayed the same.

  14. hystcklght

    I’m surprised that Eleanor and Nora are so low. I feel like literally every friend who has a baby names their child some variation of those names. I do like Eleanor, but I’m SO over Nora and can’t understand why it’s so popular (but why it’s actually only 36 because it feels like a top 5 name in my world!). Then again, I’m sure some of this is accounted for by the fact that Nora is a nickname for so many names, as well as a standalone name. I’m also sad that with all of this craze Ellen is at 655! It’s such a wonderful variation of the name, but perhaps still feels too middle-aged-lady?

  15. Anna

    I am verrry surprised that my daughter’s name (born 2014) is now in the top 1000. It has a popular sound, but a spelling association that probably turns a lot of people off. Also it is one of those popular-100-years-ago resurgence names. I doubt it will get much higher on the list.
    I’m pregnant with our second, and if it’s a boy, it will have my husband’s name (William, no. 3), possible nickname Liam (no. 2)… I don’t know if I can do that as the nickname. But Will, Bill, Billy are in use in the family, and Willy is… no. If it’s a girl, I have another resurgence name in mind, one which has not made the charts since 1977.


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