Top 25 Boy Names of the Last 100 Years

One of the biggest and most important tasks for expectant parents is to choose a name for their newest family member. There is no doubt today that parents are struggling to be unique. In particular, it’s tough for parents to make sure their baby boy stands out while also making sure the name they choose isn’t too “out there”.

Some parents are choosing alternate spellings or gender-bending options, while others are on the search for the perfect name that is both interesting and timeless.

When we consider popular baby boy name lists of late, we are definitely witnessing traditional names being pushed out in favor of the likes of Aiden, Greyson, and Ethan. Many of these names were unique five or ten years ago, but as more and more people choose them, we can’t say they are unique anymore.

Will they still be in favor in 10, 20, or 30 years? It’s tough to say. Sometimes, overly popular names hit the dustbin because their popularity does them in.

If we take a retrospective look at popular boys’ names over a longer time frame, some completely different names rise to the top. Here we reveal the 25 baby boy names that are the most popular from the last 100 years. Expectant parents might be surprised to find out which ones stand the test of time. It’s also interesting to note that even though these names place in the top 25, many have fallen out of favor of late, making them unique in their own right!

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25 Kevin

The name Kevin is the 25th most popular boy’s name of the last 100 years. This means that almost 1,158,193 American parents chose it for their baby boys. This name has been in the top 100 since 1949 and never more popular than in 1963 when it rose to spot #11.

Although it never hit the #1 spot, it has been such a consistently popular name that it ranks as one of the historical greats. It came in at spot #79 most recently. That could be due to the fact Kevin is still a great name today. It's easy to pronounce, spell and with celebs like Kevin Bacon with the same name, hey, what's not to love?

Kevin has Irish roots and combines the terms "kind, gentle or handsome" and "birth". That sounds like a good start for mom at least! We don’t think anybody could go wrong with Kevin. He’ll likely be Kev for short but there isn’t anything objectionable about that.

24 Brian

Seeing Brian on this list isn’t a huge surprise. Most people know, at least, a few of them. It comes in as the 24th most popular boy’s name since 1916. In total, there were 1,159,931 baby boy Brians born in the U.S. over the last 100 years. It was quite popular through the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s when it spent many years in the top 10. That said, it has slipped to spot #189 in the most recent year.

By comparison, the name Brian wasn’t even in the top 1,000 baby boy names 100 years ago. Its meaning is uncertain but it is Irish in origin. Even though Brian isn’t super popular now, it doesn’t have an old-fashioned feel like some of the other names on this list. It is still well-suited for little boys today.

23 Edward

Edward is a regal name we don’t hear too much anymore. It was quite popular 100 years ago when it held spot #8 and stayed strong in the top 20 until 1948. That said, it dropped out of the top 100 in 1996 and ranked at spot #158 most recently. Is this name ready for a comeback? We think so.

All told, over the last 100 years, 1,161,014 American parents chose the name Edward for their baby boys. It means “rich guard” and is more popular in England and Wales (#31) and Australia (#42) than it is in the U.S. But that could be because parents in those countries are trying to name their kids with names commonly used for English royalty.

For a baby boy Edward, there are a variety of diminutives his parents could choose for him, including Ed, Eddie, Ted, Teddy, or even Ned. Famous people named Edward include Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, and Edward Burns.

22 Joshua

Joshua made a huge impression in the ‘70s and has stayed strong since. It was in the top 10 for 30 years (between 1979 and 2009) but has since slipped to #33 which is still very respectable. Comparatively, 100 years ago, it was the 585th most popular baby boy’s name.

What this means is there were 1,183,279 baby boy Joshuas born on U.S. soil over the last 100 years. And we doubt it’s going to disappear anytime soon. This name has staying power, the name has a great sound to it that easily rolls off the tongue and the name is easily recognizable so future teachers won't have any trouble pronouncing his name.

Joshua is a Hebrew name meaning salvation. We think it’s a great name that transitions nicely from baby to teen to adult. If Joshua is the chosen name, he might be called Josh for short. He'll share his full form name with the likes of Josh Duhamel and Joshua Jackson.

21 Andrew

Andrew is a name that many parents are still choosing today, so it’s no surprise it comes in as the 21st most popular boy’s name of the last 100 years. In fact, it has been in the top 100 for this entire duration and finished at spot #30 most recently. It never reached the #1 spot over the last 100 years but did make it to #5 several times.

The nice thing about Andrew is that it has a youthful feel to it and transitions nicely from baby to adult. All told, 1,235,374 Andrews have been grateful for this over the past 100 years.

Andrew is a soft sounding male name that is the English form of the Greek name Andreas. Andreas was derived from "man” and means “manly or masculine”. Anybody named Andrew might be called Andy or Drew for short. Both options have appeal.

20 Kenneth

The name Kenneth makes us think of a former high school teacher. Every high school has a teacher named Kenneth, right? Kenneth was in the top 20 between 1924 and 1964 and then stayed in the top 100 until 2002 at which point it began losing favor. That probably explains why it feels “older”. We aren’t surprised it’s one of the least popular names of today that appears on this list. It ranked at spot #199 most recently.

Courtesy of its longstanding performance, Kenneth was bestowed upon over 1,245,190 little American boys in the last 100 years, making it the 20th most popular boy’s name since 1916.

Kenneth is of Scottish decent and is the English form of both Coinneach and Cináed and means “handsome”. This name would set any little guy off to a good start. No doubt, he’d be called Ken for short.

19 George

George was derived from the Greek name Georgio and means "farmer or earthworker" and takes the 19th spot. It’s a solid boy’s name that enjoyed 76 of the last 100 years in the top 100. Since then it has fallen out of favor slightly and ranked most recently as the 136th most popular baby name.

A baby named George shares his name with at least 1,245,503 other American boys/men of the same name born in the last 100 years. Talk about a popular name! George must have something special about it if it can remain in the top 200 for more than 100 years. It'll be interesting to see if this name has real staying power.

George definitely has an older feel to it and doesn’t support a natural short-form, but we think it’s poised to make a comeback. If it’s the chosen name, he’ll be in the company of George Clooney, George Carlin, George Lucas, George Michael, George Bush and, of course, Prince George.

18 Steven

Steven is one name on this list that has a classic feel to it but is also well-suited to a little boy. It was most popular between 1955 and 1961 when it secured spot #10. Now it’s the 18th most popular boy’s name of the last 100 years. This means 1,274,181 parents chose it for their baby boy since 1916. Most recently it ranked in at #154.

What’s particularly interesting about Steven is that it fell to spot #326 in 1924 but its popularity between the ‘50s and the ‘90s helped it secure a spot on this list. Which is amazing considering how much social change caused a wider diversity of names being used in that space of time.

This name has English and Dutch roots and is held by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Steven Seagal, Steve Samkos, Stevie Wonder, and Steven Tyler. Any little boy may opt to go as Steve later in life.

17 Paul

Paul remains one of the most solid boys’ names in existence and was in the top 100 between 1916 and 1999. It never broke the top 10 but has always been a good old standby. Still pretty impressive for a name most people would consider biblical.

Paul was favored by 1,324,932 parents over the last 100 years. It arises from the Roman family name Paulus, meaning "small" or "humble" in Latin. Its meaning won’t give a child the most inspiring start to life but humility is a good trait.

Paul pairs nicely with any multi-syllabic middle name and, although it doesn’t have the “wow” factor of some popular and trendy names of today, there is no mistaking it for a name, and no confusion around how to spell it. We don’t expect it to disappear off the charts anytime soon.

16 Mark

Mark isn’t a name that is in most parents’ consideration set these days and yet it comes in as the 16th most popular boy’s name from the past 100 years. It was quite popular in the ‘50s and ‘60s, although it never ranked higher than spot #6.

Over the last 100 years, 1,341,184 American parents thought it was just perfect for their sons. Mark is a form of Marcus which is from the Ancient Roman era. Mark is more popular in Slovenia (#5), Hungary (#24) and Ireland (#65) than it is in the U.S today where it ranks in at #196.

We think Mark is a safe choice, albeit kind of boring. There are definitely more interesting names out there! Famous Marks include Mark Wahlberg, Mark Hamill, Mark Harmon and Mark Twain. And if you're feeling really fancy, you can even use the French spelling Marc to make the name more interesting.

15 Donald

The name Donald was much more popular 100 years ago than it is today when it sat at spot #20. Today it holds ranking #441 in the U.S. so there is no denying it has definitely fallen out of favor of late. It is the least popular name of today that appears on this list. Depending on who is polled, a certain politician is either giving it a good name, or a bad one.

Donald was a very popular name in the ‘20s through the ‘80s but it has since grossly fallen off the radar. That said, in the last 100 years, 1,382,078 parents named their baby boy Donald. We predict that in another decade or so it won’t even be on the top 1,000 baby boy name list anymore.

Donald is of Scottish heritage and means "ruler of the world". No doubt any Donald will become Don or Donnie at some point in his life. We think that Donald makes a great strong first name and you can pair it with a middle name that will really blow your friends and family away.

14 Anthony

Anthony comes in as the 14th most popular boy’s name from the last 100 years. It has been in the top 50 ranking for boy names for all of those years except two. Most recently it came in at spot #25. Since 1916, 1,388,799 parents chose Anthony as the name for their American baby boys.

Anthony means “worthy of praise” and is derived from the Roman family name Antonius. While most people wouldn't consider this an ancient name, it really is older than most people are aware.

Its well-known short-form Tony is popular to the point that it has become a stand-alone given name. We suspect any kid with the name Anthony will have buddies who also refer to him as “Ant”. Famous Anthonys include Anthony Kiedis of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Hopkins, and Anthony Michael Hall.

13 Matthew

Matthew is a great, traditional name that parents can’t go wrong with. It comes in as the 13th most popular boy’s name of the past 100 years. It’s been incredibly popular since 1956 and rose to the top 10 between 1972 and 2008 but never hit that coveted #1 spot. Most recently it was #15. In total, this means 1,559,938 American parents chose it for their baby boys.

The name has Greek and Hebrew roots and means "gift of the Lord." And we're sure you'll think of your little one as the greatest gift of all. Matthew Perry, Matthew Broderick, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew McConaughey come to mind when we think of celebrities sharing this name. So your little man will be in great company.

Short forms that are no-brainers include Matt or Matty, but Matthew is a strong name that works well for an adult too.

12 Daniel

We are a little surprised to see Daniel on this list but the numbers don’t lie. We like that it doesn’t have the same old-fashioned feel to it that some of the others on this list do. It has been very popular since the ‘50s and most recently settled in at spot #12. What this means is that 1,856,319 Daniels were born in the U.S. in the last 100 years.

If historical trends continue, Daniel will be around for a long while. Further, it feels on-trend with some of the rising stars among baby boy names today. For a little boy named Daniel, Dan or Danny might be his chosen short form name.

Daniel is Hebrew and means “God is my judge”. Famous Daniels include Daniel Craig, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Daniel Radcliffe.

11 Christopher

One can’t really go wrong with a solid name like Christopher. It comes in as the 11th most popular baby boy’s name of the last 100 years. Christopher hasn’t dropped off the radar like some names on this list. In the most recent year, it ranked at spot #44. That said, it isn’t as popular now as it was through the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. It never hit #1 but held the #2 spot between 1979 and 1994.

All told, 2,001,860 baby Christophers were born in the U.S. over the last 100 years, making it the first name here to crack two million! This name has Greek roots, from the name Christophorus, and means bearing Christ.

There are too many famous Christophers to mention but any little guy will be in great company. Most likely he will become Chris but Christopher is a nice, sophisticated option for a grown man.

10 Charles

Charles is a name that has truly stood the test of time, but it does have an older feel to it. It has been fairly popular since the early 1900s but despite this, it never held the #1 spot. Its best ranking ever was #5 between 1918 and 1929. Most recently, it ranked in at spot #50.

Charles is from the Germanic name meaning Karl. It comes with the non-traditional nickname Chuck as well as the more sensible Charlie. Both are cute, but most parents would have try on the short forms to see which one they'll likely stick with. To explain the former, Charles in a Middle English was Chukken. The nickname stuck, but rid itself of the syllable “ken.”

Charles cracks the top 100 boy names in many countries including England and Wales (#50), Canada (#52), Australia (#68), and New Zealand (#78). This name has a strong feeling behind it, so no wonder Charles is popular in these countries.

9 Thomas

We aren’t surprised to find Thomas on this list. It’s a classic name that has never really gone out of vogue. Most recently it ranked at spot #51. One hundred years, ago it was #10. Over 2.1 million Thomases were born in the last 100 years and we can see why.

The name itself is the Greek form of the name Ta’oma’ which is an Aramic name meaning “twin”. Most people associate this name as a biblical name, but they would be surprised that Thomas actually comes from ancient Greece.

Thomas is very popular in England and Wales (#6), Australia (#6), Ireland (#17), and Belgium (#18). A little boy named Thomas will have the perfect short form options in Tom or Tommy. Plus Thomas represents the sophisticated full name that he can grow into. This name also pairs nicely with most middle names.

8 Joseph

Joseph rose to mass popularity 100 years ago and has been solidly in the top 25 boy name rankings ever since. It never held the #1 spot but has been so consistent that it is a force to be reckoned with. Now it sits pretty at spot #21. All told, there were 2.4 million Josephs born to U.S. parents over the last 100 years.

Like many other names on this list, it is an altered version of a Greek name. In this case, it’s Joseph which came from the Hebrew name Yosef. We think using the Hebrew name Yosef will make your son stand out more and it makes the name Joseph more interesting.

Parents have to be careful with this name since its nickname, Joe, is pretty run-of-the-mill. It would be wise to give a boy named Joseph an edgier middle name to keep him unique. Just another reason to consider Yosef instead if you're considering this moniker.

7 Richard

As the 7th most popular baby boy name of the last 100 years, we aren’t surprised to find Richard on this list. Richards are in the company of roughly 2.5 million other boys of the same name born over the last 100 years. Currently, Richard ranks at spot #155 but its best years were 1930 through 1947 when it held spot #5.

It’s actually shocking to realize if a baby boy was called Richard tomorrow he may very well be the only one in his class.

Richard is derived from Germanic elements that mean “brave power”. It also comes equipped with a throng of nicknames including Rich, Richie, Rick, and Dick. The latter is a somewhat unfortunate moniker but the origin of this nickname goes back a long way to the 12th or 13th century. Rhyming nicknames were common back then so Rick became Dick and it stuck.

6 David

This name really is a timeless great that one can't go wrong with. The only issue of the past might have been that any David would need his last initial to distinguish himself from his classmates.

David makes the list as the 6th most popular boy’s name of the last 100 years. In fact, this name was quite popular 100 years ago and stayed pretty strong, never dropping below spot #28 in the rankings. In fact, in 1960 it reigned supreme as the #1 boy’s name! Presently it holds spot #18.

All told, 3,547,628 American parents chose David for their baby boy since 1916.

It has Hebrew roots and means “beloved”. Natural short forms include Dave and Davy. Famous Davids include David Cameron, David Beckham, the late David Bowie, and David Blaine.

5 William

This name, a timeless classic, and it also transitions well from baby to adulthood. William comes in as the 5th most popular name of the last 100 years. Over this time, it has never dropped below ranking #20 and has spent much of its time since 1916 in the top 10 baby boy names.

In fact, at the turn of the 19th century, William held the #2 spot and stayed there for 21 years (save for 1910 when it dropped to #3). It is derived from the German name Wilhelm and means “strong-willed warrior”. While some parents may not wish their child to be strong-willed, a child with a mind of their own means they'll lead the pack instead of follow it.

Nicknames include Will, Willy, Bill, Billy, and Liam. Famous Williams include Prince William of course, Bill Clinton, Will Smith, Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Murray, Shakespeare…the list goes on and on.

4 Michael

Just missing the podium, Michael comes in as the 4th most popular boy’s name since 1916. This means 4,297,063 American parents chose it for their baby boy over this time. Of course, this name is currently very popular in the country overall, coming in at #9.

Michael reigned supreme between 1954 and 1998 at which time it was the #1 name in the country, save for in 1960 when it slipped briefly to spot #2. One hundred years ago, it held spot #44.

Everyone knows multiple Michaels, so if this is the chosen name, he’ll be in good company. It has Hebrew origins and means “who is like god?” which is meant to be a rhetorical question. We don’t have enough space to do the list of famous Michaels justice.

3 Robert

Taking the bronze medal for the third most popular boy’s name of the last 100 years is Robert. This name was incredibly popular from the ‘20s onward such that any little Robert was likely burdened with his last initial to identify him from the throngs of Roberts in his school.

Robert reigned supreme as the #1 baby boy name between 1924 and 1939 and it wasn’t until 1986 that it fell off the top 10 chart. There have been 4,626,414 babies named Robert born in the U.S. over the past 100 years.

Robert stems the Germanic name Hrodebert and means “bright fame”. This name provides a plethora of nickname options for parents.

Naturally, a big drawback to choosing Robert for a baby boy today is that any parent probably knows a dozen adult Roberts so this makes it difficult to feel unique.

2 John

Edging Robert out by about 50,000 is John. This name takes the cake as the 2nd most popular baby boy’s name of the last 100 years. All told, there were 4,676,131 baby boys named John born in the U.S. over the past 100 years.

John was never more popular than it was 100 years ago when it held the #1 spot between 1916 and 1923. It stayed in the top 10 consistently until 1985. Most recently, it ranked at spot #26 demonstrating that it is still going strong.

John comes equipped with the unconventional nickname of Jack. This one is a bit of a riddle but to the Normans (the folks who lived in Normandy in Northern France), Jen was the term for John. They often added the suffix “kin” when they were making a nickname, so there arises Jenkin. Eventually, this became Jakin, which gave way to Jack. Of course, Jack is a very popular stand-alone name now.

1 James

Here we have the number one baby boy’s name of the last 100 years! Wow. Close to five million parents in the U.S. chose James for their baby boys over the last 100 years. It is so popular that there were almost three times as many Jameses born in this timeframe than there were Kevins, the #25 name on this list.

It currently ranks as the 7th most popular boy’s name in the U.S. It held the #1 spot between 1940 and 1952 and was in the top 10 between 1916 and 1992.

James means to supplant or replace and is actually a variant of Jacob. What’s particularly interesting is that its unconventional nicknames, Jim, Jamie or Jimmy, really transform the name. Famous folks called James include James Blunt, James Cameron, James Patterson, and James Belushi.

Sources: Behind The Name, She Knows, Social Security Administration

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