Top 5 Baby Names of the Last 100 Years

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It seems most new parents-to-be want a unique name for their child. Though some folks seem to take it a bit too far with monikers like Cougar, Tomorrow, Marvelous, and Tequila (and let’s not forget baby Hashtag), most parents presumably want a name their child can live with. Unusual names may seem like a great idea these days, but traditional names are traditional for a reason. They may be family names, or they may denote a certain meaning that the parents wish to convey to their offspring. Regardless of the reason, these five male and female names have stood the test of time over the last 100 years or so, based on data from the Social Security Administration.

5 William and Linda

William is the name of more than 3.7 million boys dating back to 1912. It held strong for 57 years before it dropped from the top five, but it reappeared in 2009 and has been a top name ever since. Famous Williams include William Shakespeare, William the Conqueror of England, and author William Faulkner. Linda first broke into the top five in 1941 and remained there for more than 20 years. In the last 100 years, there have been more than 1.4 million babies named Linda, which means “soft and tender” or “beautiful.”

4 Michael and Jennifer

Michael first hit the top five in 1949 and stayed there through 2010. In that time period, more than 4.2 million people have been named Michael, which means, “who is like God.” Unfortunately, naming your son Michael does not guarantee that he will be god-like. Jennifer has been the name of more than 1.4 million people in the last 100 years, first hitting the top five in 1968. It remained popular for 20 years before it fell off the top-five list.

3 Robert and Elizabeth

The name Robert has been given to more than 4.6 million boys since it first became popular in 1912. Robert means “bright fame” and is the name of many famous men including author Robert Browning, poet Robert Frost, and actor Robert Redford. Elizabeth, meaning “my God is abundance,” is the name given to more than 1.4 million girls in the last 100 years. Famous women named Elizabeth include Queen Elizabeth and actress Elizabeth Taylor.

2 John and Patricia

The name John enjoyed seemingly endless popularity from 1912 to 1972, and is still in the top 30 popular boy’s names. There have been more than 4.7 million baby boys named John in the last 100 years. Patricia first became popular in 1935, remaining in the top five for around 20 years. A total of more than 1.5 million girls have been named Patricia. It hasn’t been a popular name recently, so maybe it’s due for a comeback.

1 James and Mary

The number-one male and female baby names for the last 100 years, James and Mary have been the popular given names for around 4.9 million boys and 3.7 million girls, respectively. James has been in the top 5 from 1912 to 1980, while Mary has been from 1912 to 1967. James is still in the top 20, showing what a timeless name it really is. Mary ranked 112th in 2011, which still isn’t bad considering the millions of babies born over the last 100 years. Interestingly, the top five names, regardless of gender, are all male names. Mary comes in at No. 6 on the list of most popular names overall.
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