Top 1000 FAQ

1. How do you read the tables?

The tables are arranged like this:

This is the name's RANK in the top 700 this is how many babies were named all of the spellings of the name combined. This is the most common spelling of the name This is how many babies were named the most common spelling of the name. These are other spellings of the name that appeared in the top 700. The numbers in parentheses after the name are how many babies were named this during the year the table is for.
# given total
# given
Alternate Spellings


1. Where do you get your information?

This information comes from the Social Security Administration's Baby Name Page. It is based on the Social Security card applications for children born within the year.

2. Why isn't it as accurate as in previous years?

In 1997, the SSA's baby naming website project was started by Mike Shackleford. He, along with the next guy who took over his job, were kind enough to send me the long list of all the babies born in the USA down to 17 instances (that means that 17 or more babies had to be given a certain name for it to show up on the list). Unfortunately, the SSA doesn't give out this information anymore, so I've been using what's on the website (names down to 241 instances for girls, and 174 instances for boys). Basically, this list isn't perfect, but I think it gives a better overall picture of names than other websites.

3. What difference does it make that you don't have names down to 17 instances?

Because I'm grouping these names by spelling, the names with the most spellings will not be accurate. For example, in 2005, the name Jayden has 9 different spellings in the top 700 for boys, and 5 different spellings for girls. Since this name has so many spellings, chances are it would rank much higher overall if you could see all the different spellings that just 20, 50, or even 100 people used. Names with only one dominant spelling (such as Emma, Amanda, Peter, etc.) wouldn't have their rankings suffer, but newer, more creative names suffer from being undercounted.

4. Why group names by spelling?

It is more accurate to get an overall picture of a name's popularity by counting variant spellings. For example, without counting varying spellings, the top 10 for 2005 looks like this:

rank boys girls
1 Jacob Emily
2 Michael Emma
3 Joshua Madison
4 Matthew Abigail
5 Ethan Olivia
6 Andrew Isabella
7 Daniel Hannah
8 Anthony Samantha
9 Christopher Ava
10 Joseph Ashley

With spelling groupings, the top 10 looks a little different:

1 Jacob, Jakob Emily, Emely, Emilee, Emilie, Emmalee
2 Aidan, Aiden, Ayden, Aden, Adan, Aydan, Aydin, Aedan, Adin Madison, Madisyn, Madyson, Maddison
3 Michael, Micheal, Mikel Emma
4 Joshua Hailey, Haley, Haylee, Hayley, Hailee, Haylie, Haleigh, Hailie, Halie, Hayleigh
5 Matthew, Mathew Kaitlyn, Katelyn, Caitlyn, Caitlin, Katelynn, Kaitlin, Kaitlynn, Katlin, Katelin
6 Nicholas, Nicolas, Nickolas, Nikolas Sophia, Sofia
7 Ethan, Ethen Abigail, Abbigail, Abigayle, Abigale, Abagail
8 Andrew Olivia, Alivia
9 Christopher, Kristopher, Cristopher, Cristofer Hannah, Hanna, Hana
10 Daniel Isabella, Izabella, Isabela


When you group spellings together, you see that the names Hayley (previously at #26) and Kaitlyn (previously #34), are actually in the top 5 for popularity when all the spellings are taken into consideration. Samantha, Ava, and Ashley are no longer in the top 10, at #15, #16, and #13 respectively. My niece's name is Mikala, which hardly ever registered in the top 100, so my sister thought she was coming up with something unique. However, when you add Michaela/Mikayla/Makayla etc, the name is #25 this year-- much more popular than anyone thought!

5. How do you come up with the spelling groupings?

Putting different spellings of names together can be quite easy, or it can be very challenging. For example, we all would pronounce Hayley, Hailey and Hailee the same. What about Hali? I know one that pronounces it like Hailey, though it looks more like Halley. In ambiguous instances, I look at spelling trends forst. Spelling popularity tends to follow patterns-- people will change one letter of a name first, then change another letter, so generally slightly different spellings, like Kassandra for Cassandra would be more common than, say, Kasaundrah. This isn't a hard and fast rule, it's just a guideline to go by. Also, the more old-fashioned sounding a name, the more likely it is to have fewer spellings. Classics like Sarah, Rachel, Mary, Elizabeth, Emma, etc. only have a few different spellings.This isn't ALWAYS the case, though-- just look at Emily. In 2000, we saw Emily (25714), Emilee (920), Emely (603), Emilie (563), Emmalee (225), Emalee (122), Emiley (67), Emili (66), Emilly (57), Emmaleigh (56), Emeli (46), Emileigh (41), Emelie (40), Emalie (39), Emaleigh (33), Emmalie (28), Emmily (26), Emylee (22), Emmalea (20), Emmaly (19), and Emaly (18).

Basically, what it comes down to is that if you had 10 different people grouping these together, you'd probably get 10 different results. I do the best I can, and try to at least stay consistent over the years.

Right now I'm being troubled particularly by Mia and Maya. What is Miah? How about Miya? Sometimes I just have to make an executive decision based on gut reactions. Not perfect, but name spelling never is!

6. Why is the boys' name list longer than the girls' name list?

This is mainly because the Social Security Administration publishes the girls' name list down to 243 instances, but publishes the boys' names down to 193 instances. Why is this? Probably because more boys are named things that appear in the top 1000. For example in 2009, 31,635 boys were given the number one most common name: Aiden (or some variation thereof). However, only 24,629 girls were given the top name for girls that year, Isabella. Why is this? In the USA, people tend to be more conservative when it comes to boys' names than with girls' names. Boys have a greater tendency to be named after their fathers or grandfathers, which keeps the names more traditional as fewer newly coined names are added to the naming pool. Girls, however, are named more in keeping with fashion than tradition. For example, the top 10 names in 1950 is:

Top baby names 1950
rank boys girls
1 James Mary
2 Robert Barbara
3 John Patricia
4 William Judith
5 Richard Betty
6 Charles Carol
7 David Nancy
8 Thomas Linda
9 Donald Shirley
10 Ronald Sandra
Those same names from 1950 with 2009 rankings
boys (rank) girls (rank)
James (23) Mary (124)
Robert (64) Barbara (444)
John (32) Patricia (552)
William (8) Judith (365)
Richard (118) Betty ( - )
Charles (72) Carol ( - )
David (17) Nancy (655)
Thomas (66) Linda (544)
Donald (827) Shirley ( - )
Ronald (912) Sandra ( - )

Of those names, all of them appear in the top 750 for 2009. All but Richard, Donald and Ronald are in the top 100. For the girls' list, None of the 1950 names even cracked the top 100. Shirley, Sandra, Betty, and Carol are no longer in the top 630, and the highest ranking name, Mary, is only at #124.