The Origins and Meanings of the 50 Most Popular Baby Names

Over the last 100 years, there have been decades at a time when a baby name holds the top spot for most popular — ahem, Michael. Of these super popular names, many held their own for so long that they're now in the top 50 names of the last century, but what do they all mean? Where do they come from? Why are they so popular?! Although that last question may be hard to answer, we're about to do the work and answer the first two for you.

Ahead, the 50 most popular baby names — 25 girls' and 25 boys' — along with their origins and meanings.

Flickr user °¨ĶŁ¥_SĦмòΘó5™¨°


  1. James: "Supplanter," or "one who follows" (Hebrew)
  2. John: "God is gracious" (Hebrew)
  3. Robert: "Bright fame" (English)
  4. Michael: "Who is like God" (Hebrew)
  5. William: "Strong-willed warrior" (German)
  6. David: "Beloved" (Hebrew)
  7. Richard: "Strong ruler" (German)
  8. Joseph: "God shall add" (Hebrew)
  9. Thomas: "A twin" (Hebrew)
  10. Charles: "Strong" (German)
  11. Christopher: "Christ-bearer" (Greek)
  12. Daniel: "God is my judge" (Hebrew)
Flickr user Donnie Ray Jones

  1. Matthew: "Gift from God" (Hebrew)
  2. Anthony: "Priceless" (Latin)
  3. Donald: "Proud chief" (Celtic)
  4. Mark: "War-like" (Latin)
  5. Paul: "Small" (Latin)
  6. Steven: "Crown" (Greek)
  7. Andrew: "Strong," "courageous" (Latin)
  8. Kenneth: "Handsome" (Gaelic)
  9. George: "Farmer" (Greek)
  10. Joshua: "Lord is salvation" (Hebrew)
  11. Kevin: "Gentle," "lovable" (Gaelic)
  12. Brian: "Strong" (Celtic)
  13. Edward: "Guardian of prosperity" (English)
Flickr user Ignat Gorazd


  1. Mary: "Wished-for child" (Hebrew)
  2. Patricia: "Of nobility" (Latin)
  3. Jennifer: Fair spirit" (English)
  4. Elizabeth: "God is bountiful" (Hebrew)
  5. Linda: "Pretty" (Spanish)
  6. Barbara: "Stranger" (Greek)
  7. Susan: "Graceful" (Hebrew)
  8. Jessica: "God sees" (Hebrew)
  9. Margaret: "Child of light" (Persian)
  10. Sarah: "Princess" (Hebrew)
  11. Karen: "Pure" (Greek)
  12. Nancy: "Grace" (Hebrew)
Stocksnap | Giu Vincente

  1. Betty: "Oath" (Hebrew)
  2. Lisa: "Consecrated to God" (Hebrew)
  3. Dorothy: "A gift of God" (Greek)
  4. Sandra: "Defender of mankind" (Greek)
  5. Ashley: "Ash-tree meadow" (English)
  6. Kimberly: "Royal fortress meadow" (English)
  7. Donna: "Lady" (Italian)
  8. Carol: "Joyous song" (French)
  9. Michelle: "Who is like God" (Hebrew)
  10. Emily: "Ambitious" (Latin)
  11. Amanda: "Worthy of love" (Latin)
  12. Helen: "Bright one" (Greek)
  13. Melissa: "Bee" (Greek)