Baby Names

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Tuan Tran

These Are The Most Popular Girl Names Of The Century

Roll call.

Did you know that the Social Security Administration keeps tabs on the most popular girl names of all time? Or, in this case, of the last 100 years? It’s true. Turns out the great mystery of which names have been the most popular girl names in the United States is as easy as viewing the agency’s list.

These names are the ones that parents have chosen time after time since the 1920s onward. Some will seem obvious, like Mary and Anna, but others might surprise you. The fun part? Using this list of the most popular girl names of all time, you can start to think about what moniker you plan to give to your baby girl. Will you go with a classic name? Or will you shrug off tradition and choose a name that’s more unique? If anything, this list of most popular girl names will get you thinking and help you start your own list of great names to choose from. Take a look at this historical record from most popular (let’s hear it for Mary taking the number 1 seat) onward, and then sharpen your pencil to start your own brainstorm. The time has never been more right to bring Betty back into fashion.



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Is it any wonder that the name given to the mother of Jesus takes the first place in most popular girl names of all time? Consider this: “Mary was the most common name given to girls every year from the beginning of record-keeping (at least back to 1800) through 1961 (except for a six-year dip to #2, behind Linda),” reports The Atlantic. Its popularity has waned in recent years, but it still takes the number one spot.



Patricia, Patty, Pat, Trish, there’s so much you can do with this name. And it comes with a great backstory, too. Patricia means “noble” in Latin.



A Celtic name for fair one, it’s obvious how popular the name Jennifer is. Just look at all the Jennifers in Hollywood — Aniston, Lopez, Lawrence, Garner, Hudson. The list goes on and on.



Linda may sound out of style today, but it has ruled the name book for years — just look at a Boomer yearbook. And it’s easy to see why it ranks so high as one of the most popular girl names of all time: In Germanic languages, Linda means “beautiful.”



Across the pond, Elizabeths have been rulers for ages. But the popularity of the name has carried on in America as well. In Hebrew, the name means “God is my oath.”



One huge selling point in naming your daughter Barbara? You can call her Babs! How fun is that? Plus, you can teach her that the Biblical meaning of her name is “foreign.”



Another great name for nicknames, Susan comes from Hebrew and is short of Susannah. It means “lily.”



Jessica, as any elder millennial can tell you, became a hugely popular name in the 1980s and ’90s. And it continues to hold its place in the top 10 of most popular girl names of all time.



Whether you spell it with an H or not, Sarah is a strong popular name for a baby girl. In Hebrew it means noblewoman or princess.



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Sometimes names get, well, a bad name, and Karen is one of them. In recent years Karen has become a shorthand pejorative term for an entitled white woman, but we know not all Karens are bad. Sorry, Karens.



With Hebrew and French roots, the name Nancy means “grace.” That’s probably why it’s maintained its popularity all these years as one of the most popular girl names of all time.



Lisa started to gain popularity in the 1960s. In fact, in 1968 it was the most popular name in the country in all but seven states, according to It’s still a favorite and means “devoted to God” in Hebrew.



When you hear the name Betty, Betty White might be the only woman who comes to mind. But there was a time when you might have imagined dozens of Bettys, the name was so popular. A derivative of Elizabeth, Betty comes from English and means “God is satisfaction.”



In Greek, Margaret means “pearl.” How’s that for a lovely name? It’s also one of the most popular girl names of all time, at least here in the United States.



Sandra is said to be a shortened version of Alexandra and therefore means “defender of men.” Those are some strong historic vibes for a baby girl to claim.



Fun fact: Ashley originally meant a meadow where ash trees were found. Makes sense, when you think about it. Now it’s mostly thought of as one of the most popular girl names of all time.



Want a super powerful name for your baby girl? Try Kimberly on for size. It means “from the meadow of the royal fortress.” No wonder it’s so popular.



The name Emily transformed from Aemilia in Latin to Emilia in Italian to Emily in English. If wanderlust is a part of your life, consider giving your girl this travel trilogy of a name.



The list of most popular girl names of all time is like a trip through time. While Donna may not be in the top names of 2022 — Olivia is number one today — but in 1960, Donna was in the top five.



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Sometimes songs with names in them can be a clue as to when a name was popular. Consider that “Michelle” by The Beatles came out in 1965. And surely former First Lady Michelle Obama has played a role in keeping this name in the top 20 rankings.



In 2020, Dorothy was ranked 534th in name popularity. But between 1921 and today, it ranks number 21. Surely some of that can be attributed to The Wizard of Oz.



We sing carols at Christmas, so it probably won’t come as a surprise that Carol means “joyous songs.” And making a joyful noise is what the arrival of a baby is all about.



In Latin, the name Amanda means “worthy of love.” Whether that’s the reason it’s stayed so high in the realm of most popular girl names of all time, who can say? But people continue to love it and name their girls Amanda.



The Allman Brothers song “Sweet Melissa” came out in 1972, but it was a hot name long before that. It started getting popular in the 1950s, though today it’s a rare name, which might make it more attractive for your baby girl.



Deborah is a fun name in that it has so many spinoffs: Debbie, Deb, DeDe. It also has a lovely meaning: In Hebrew it means “bee.” That’s right, you can name your baby after one of the most important creatures in nature.



Crown is the meaning of the name Stephanie, one of the most popular girl names of all time. Who doesn’t want their darling to own their crown? Enough said.



Rebecca is of Hebrew origin, meaning “to tie” or “bind.” That meaning seems to resonate, not just in America but around the world — a true sign of one of the most popular girl names of all time.



You don’t hear of too many baby name announcements for wee ones named Sharon these days, but there was a time when it was one the hottest names in the country. The year was 1943 and it was ranked eighth most popular baby girl name.



Laura comes from the Latin term for the “bay laurel plant.” That might not be why it’s been so popular. It’s hard to say, but it’s been in the top 100 of most popular girl names of all time for at least 100 years.



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Cynthia means “moon goddess.” How’s that for an incredible name meaning? Perhaps that’s why it’s been such a popular moniker for so long.



Kathleen can become so many names: Kathy, Kate, Kat. It’s like a BOGO name deal. It’s meaning might also have something to do with it being one of the most popular girl names of all time: It means “pure” in French.



Amy has long been a popular first name, middle name, and double name, especially in the South where you hear Amyleigh or Amy Anne a lot.



Here’s something you might not realize: Shirley has not only been a popular girl’s name for at least 100 years; in the early 1900s, it was a popular boy’s name too. In fact, this writer’s great-uncle was named Shirley.



This probably won’t surprise you, but in Greek Angela means “angel.” What parents don’t think their newborn is an angel?



Helen of Troy may be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear this classic girl’s name. It seems many parents have wanted to channel the beauty and majesty of the mythological woman in their own girls.



Anna derives from the Hebrew name Hannah, meaning grace. And as with many Biblical names, this one has been popular for a very long time.



Try this most popular girl name of all time on your infant: Brenda. In ancient Scandinavian it means “sword.” Yep, that girl is gonna be fierce.



Pamela may bring to mind images of the television show The Office, but long before that became a mega hit, Pamela was a mega hit. It took off in English speaking countries in the 1950s and ’60s.



Nicole may sound like a very normal name given how popular it is, but consider that it’s meaning is “victory of the people.” There’s some surprising strength for a well-known name.



Author Jane Austen liked the name Emma so much she named her book and eponymous character after it. And that was way back in 1815. It’s still just as popular today. It’s been the most popular name for baby girls in the United States six out of the last 13 years. That Austen, such a trendsetter.

Love a classic name? Then take a look at the most popular girl names of all time to find just the right one for your baby girl.