There Are The Most Popular Baby Names Of 2022
Gather ‘round baby name nerds!
If you’re a big old nerd about baby names (and I know you are or you wouldn’t be reading this right now), then it’s time to celebrate: the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently released its list of the most popular baby names of 2022. Which names won? Which names surprised us? Most important, how popular is your baby name? Here’s how 2022 shook out...
The most popular baby names are, once again, Olivia and Liam.
This should come as no big surprise. “Liam” — a diminutive form of “William” that has become its own standalone name — has been the #1 boy’s name since 2017 after a meteoric rise in the 2010s. “Olivia” has been the Queen B of girl names since 2019, and has been in the Top 10 since 2001. While Olivia has always been somewhere on the SSA baby name list (they stop ranking after the Top 1,000 which, fair), it’s never been more popular than it has been in the past 21 years. In fact, even though we often think of “Olivia” as an “old lady name,” it didn’t even crack the Top 100 names until 1990.
The whole list looks pretty familiar.
That is if you’re the kind of person who follows these things. (What can I say? Some of us are Swifties; some of us are Namies.) Almost all of the names on both the boy and girl lists were there in 2021, often in the same order.
Among boy names there were no new additions to the Top 10 — just a gentle shuffling of the names that were already there in 2021. “James” climbed the charts for the second year in a row, surpassing “Elijah” to claim the #4 spot. “Benjamin” and “Henry” did a similar flip-flop in spots 7 and 9.
Among girls, things held steady until #5, when “Sophia” and “Isabella” surpassed “Ava,” which dropped from #5 in 2021 to #7 in 2022. But overall, there’s only one big change among both lists.
Luna is in, Harper is out.
After a meteoric rise from the early 2000s and four consecutive years in the Top 10 from 2018 to 2021, Harper has dropped to #11 and was replaced by “Luna.” While “Luna” was never terribly popular prior to 2016, when it entered the Top 100, you could say it’s having a Renaissance. The name appeared in the charts (albeit in the waaaay down in the 600s to 900s) from 1900 to 1921 before reappearing and rising steadily starting in 2004. “Harper” on the other hand, didn’t even appear on the charts until 2004, but has been popping in and out of the Top 10 since 2014 (a feat for such a new name), so don’t count her out! We may not have seen the last of “Harper” yet!
Popular names tend to stay popular for years.
Generally speaking, once a name is in the Top 10 it tends to hand out there for a while. Most of the girl names on the list have been on there since the early 2000s. While the boy names are mostly newer than that, entering the list in the 2010s, “William” and “James” have mostly been in the Top 10 since 1900. (I guess they’re classics for a reason!) Of course, popularity is also relative. There are lots of factors that come into play regarding how popular a name will be in your personal experience. Rankings can vary pretty wildly from state to state. Moreover, a “popular” name might not actually belong to all that many babies in a given year. In California, the most populous state, the top spots account for under 3,000 kids. In 2021, the latest year for which was have state-by-state data, “Noah” was given to 2,591 boys and “Olivia” was given to 2,395 girls. Sure, that’s a lot of kids, but when you spread them out through the whole state your kid isn’t terribly likely to run into another “Noah” or “Olivia” in their class.
In other words, if you’re worried your baby name is too popular, you probably don’t have to be!