Popular Names that May Surprise You

Many parents in search of the perfect name have the same criteria- familiar, but not too popular. But parents referencing names from their childhood are often shocked at how drastically trends have changed. I know parents who’ve chosen names because they were highly unusual, only to discover that little Isabella and Aiden share their names with 4 other kids at school. Below are a few names that may be more popular than you realize.



Harper (#10)- This name was rare for boys and almost unheard of for girls before the year 2000, with the notable exception of author Harper Lee. But Harper skyrocketed from #884 in 2004 to #10 in 2015, a meteoric rise possibly fueled by numerous celebrity baby Harpers, including daughters of David and Victoria Beckham, George Stephanopoulis, Neil Patrick Harris, Lisa Marie Presley, and many others.

Penelope (#34)- When I was a kid, Penelope was used as a generic outrageous name (“those people are weird, they’ll name their kid Penelope or something”). That certainly isn’t true nowadays- Penelope is in the top 40 and rising. Like Harper, celebrity babies, including the daughters of Tina Fey and Kourtney Kardashian, may have helped spark the trend.

Genesis (#65)- Genesis began its rise in the 1980s and has been in the top 100 since 2008. Genesis, an English word meaning “beginning,” comes from the Greek word for “birth” and is also the first book of the bible. It’s especially popular with Hispanic Americans .

Ruby (#83)- The classic Ruby has never left the top 1000 and even ranked as high as #22 (in 1911), but fell out of the top 100 in the 1940s. Now, it’s back big time and still on the upswing. It only entered the American top 100 in 2013, but has now reached #83 and ranks in the top 25 in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England, and Scotland. I would expect it to continue its rise over the next few years.

London (#105) and Londyn (#160)—London first appeared in the top 1000 in 1994 and has been steadily rising since 1999. Together with the Londyn spelling, this new millennium name is way more popular than most modern parents realize.

Genevieve (#182)- While this name is popular on name forums, it’s generally lauded for being a bit out of the ordinary. But at #182 on the SSA list, Genevieve is more popular for babies born last year than names like Kaitlyn and Rebecca.




Mason (#3)- For parents who grew up going to school with 5 different Jasons, Mason may seem different, but not too different. But as the third most popular name in America, you’re much more likely to meet a baby Mason than a baby Jason. Its –on ending and occupational surname style are on trend, and celebrity Mason parents include Melissa Joan Hart and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Josiah (#57)- Biblical boy names ending in –ah are trending, and Josiah is among the most popular. It’s risen steadily since the 70s and is still on its way up.

Ryker (#149)- Americans familiar with the infamous Riker’s Island prison in New York will probably be shocked at Ryker’s popularity, but name enthusiasts shouldn’t be. Ryker combines the fashionable Ry- beginning with the equally trendy –er ending.

Maverick (#184)- If you’re up on name trends, you’ve probably noticed the rise of Maverick; if not, it may be quite shocking! The name made its top 1000 debut way back in 1958 when many parents were inspired by a character in a TV western. But the name quickly fell out of favor, not returning until 1994. A meteoric rise to its current popularity began in 2009- perhaps assisted by self-identified political maverick Sarah Palin.

Avery (#187) and Riley (#194)- While these names are widely known to be popular for girls, you may be surprised to learn that they’re both ranked in the top 200 for boys. They outrank Peter, Paul, and Jake. However, popularity rankings here may be deceptive- while alternate spellings like Ryleigh and Averie abound for girls, they are far less common for boys.

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