Celebrity Names Blog

Popularity Contest: Top 20 American Female Baby Names

What does it take to be the number one baby name in America?  Or for that matter, to be in the top 20?  The top 20 are ranked separately for baby boys and baby girls, so today let's check out the baby girls and soon we'll be back to consider the boys.  

The top 20 Most Popular Female Baby Names In America:

  1. Emma                                      
  2. Isabella                                   
  3. Emily                                    
  4. Madison                                    
  5. Ava             
  6. Olivia            
  7. Sophia           
  8. Abigail           
  9. Elizabeth        
  10. Chloe         
  11. Samantha
  12. Addison
  13. Natalie
  14. Mia
  15. Alexis
  16. Alyssa
  17. Hannah
  18. Ashley
  19. Ella
  20. Sarah

What do we see?  

  • Names ending in the letter a are in 8 of the 20 top spots.  So what is it about a?  There's a gentle softness to names with this vowel as the last letter -- the name trailing off into the air.  Gentle and soft are often qualities associated with femininity, and yet there's a strength to names like Isabella and Sophia, that final a combining with some no-nonsense consonants.
  • Only 2 of 20 end with a strong consonant, in both cases t;n -- Madison and Addison.  Since the 1980s Madison has been moving on up, all the way to number 3 in 2003.  Though Madison may come from "Mad's son," Mad being short for Matthew in the Middle Ages, who can't help but think of that most famous of Avenues?  Addison came on the top 1000 scene in the 1990s, quickly flying up the ranks.
  • Not surprising at all to see Emily and Elizabeth -- almost all of us know at least one person with each of these E beginning names.  
  • Names beginning in A snag 5 of the top 20.  Ashley, Alexis and Alyssa all have the two-syllable thing going for them.
  • Hannah, a name about as old as it gets, had a lull mid-19th century, but has been on the up-and-up since the 1970s -- in 2003 reaching spot 4.
  • And what about the number one slot?  What is it about Emma?  Maybe that Ross and Rachel picked this appellation for their daughter?  No doubt that helped. Plus Austen's Emma and the Emma of Madame Bovary.  As for origin, a variant of the Germanic Erma, Emma emerged as a short form of names containing the element erm or irm -- meaning strength.  You can hear this in that double m, the solidness of the consonant.  So it's got a storied past of famous incarnations, a strong center and a gentle soft ending a -- a winning combo.  Plus, it's fun to say -- try drawing out the double m and feel the vibration.  Mmmm-mmmm good Emma!

So those are the popularity rankings at the moment.  Which names do you think are a fad and which ones will last?  Will Ava still be dominating the charts a few years from now?  It's a good bet Olivia and Sophia won't be surrendering their spots anytime soon!  

Would you choose a name ranked in the top 20 -- is that an attraction or a turn-off?   Predict the next name to pull an Addison and shoot to the top.  Annabelle's been moving up, and keep your eye on Sadie and Valeria!

--D.J.

Comments

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June 14, 2011 2:05 PM
By comment maigrir vite (not verified)

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