America's most popular names of 2008

May 8th 2009

Just released from the Social Security Administration:


1. Jacob

2. Michael

3. Ethan

4. Joshua

5. Daniel

6. Alexander

7. Anthony

8. William

9. Christopher

10. Matthew



1. Emma

2. Isabella

3. Emily

4. Madison

5. Ava

6. Olivia

7. Sophia

8. Abigail

9. Elizabeth

10. Chloe


The big story is the shakeup on the girl's list, where Emily had been #1 since 1996.

Lots more info and analysis to come, check back often!


EDIT: A note on Emma's "rise" to the #1 spot. In 2007, Emma was the #3 name. In 2008, enough Emmas were born to make Emma...#3 in 2007. In other words, it wasn't so much that Emma rose, but rather Emily (and to a lesser extent Isabella) fell. The overwhelming trend of this generation continues to be the flattening of the curve, with the top names representing a smaller and smaller slice of babies every year.


By Orange (not verified)
May 8, 2009 9:38 AM

Isn't Isabella due for a crash soon? It began as a deliberately old-fashioned name beloved by more affluent parents. If it's #2 now, does that mean the affluent people are jettisoning the name and ceding it to others? I'd read about that phenomenon in Freakonomics. Shouldn't it be getting mangled into Izabella and Issabellah right around now?

May 8, 2009 9:38 AM


By umm.... (not verified)
May 8, 2009 9:53 AM

It is already mangled into Isabella. The name is Isabel.

By Jessica L (not verified)
May 8, 2009 10:05 AM

Just scanning the list I saw a few new inclusions: Gemma and Sloane...potentially affluent names that might become more common.

I can't believe the jump Hillary made! (I knew I should've picked it in my ballot). I really like the name, but I was expecting it to fall off the list.

And I'm shocked (and kind of disappointed) how popular Miley is this year. Miley Cyrus is beyond the point of overexposure and I wouldn't want my child's name associated with her.

May 8, 2009 10:06 AM

i admit to knowing very little about name origins, etc, but i think it would be a stretch to call isabella a "mangled" name.

May 8, 2009 10:06 AM

Good job with Kenley, Ms. Wattenberg.

May 8, 2009 10:08 AM

And is Isabella really a mangled Isabel? I figure almost all names were mangled somethings at some time, but Isabella has been around a long, long time. I think it is a name in its own right.

By Amy3
May 8, 2009 10:08 AM

I haven't actually looked at the list yet, but I'm not surprised Miley gained. As Laura has said in the past, any exposure (good or bad) can drive up a name.

Plenty of people naming babies now could assume, perhaps rightly, that Miley Cyrus will have faded by the time their baby is an older girl. And lots of others, if they've found a name they like, just wouldn't care about MC.

May 8, 2009 10:09 AM

Rory is back on the girl's list...

May 8, 2009 10:09 AM

Yeah, Emma! The 2008 SSA list is up and Emma is number 1. I never would have guessed when my third granddaughter was named Emma Elizabeth in 1989 that Emma would eventually be the #1 baby name in the country. (Emma was #151 in 1989.)

By Jessica L (not verified)
May 8, 2009 10:15 AM

Isla is new too on the girl's list (and pretty high for a new name). I thought it might gain exposure from Isla Fisher, but not until 2009.

May 8, 2009 10:17 AM

Finley and Kinley are both big gainers for girls. Olive moved up respectably.

May 8, 2009 10:20 AM

Is anyone else having trouble reading the SSA site? For me it's coming up completely FUBAR.

By Jessica L (not verified)
May 8, 2009 10:22 AM

wow look at the jump for Audrina! I do admit I like the name, but the "charachter" from The Hills is such a ditz I could never use it.

May 8, 2009 10:26 AM

I really like the name Miley, but I hadn't heard it until Miley Cyrus came along. I heard it came from her nickname, Smiley, when she was little.

I wouldn't want to name my own child that, even though I really like it, just because of how it is tied completly to her. Maybe as a nickname.

Actually I like the name Marlow . . . with Marley or Miley as a nickname.

Marley, by itself made the list at 146 and mangled Marlie 912 and so did mangled Mylee 433 and Mylie 836.

May 8, 2009 10:27 AM

I expected Barack to make the list this year, but our new president's name is still not in the top 1000. The names of the rest of the first family didn't fair too well either: Michelle went from #94 down to 103; Sasha, from 351 to 363. The only Obama name showing some gain was Malia - from 400 up to 345. Maybe Barack will make it onto the 2009 list. Yurem, with only 192 boys given that name, was #1000 in 2008. Surely Barack can surpass that in 2009.

May 8, 2009 10:29 AM

sorry, disregard my last comment. apparently the ssa site doesn't "like" google chrome.

May 8, 2009 10:35 AM

As per the discussion on last post, "Lena" is up 11 to 440. Doesn't help with the pronunciation question, though!

May 8, 2009 10:39 AM

There's a lot of stability in the top ten for both boys and girls from the 2007 to 2008 lists. Although some names gained or loss, there was only one name change in each list -- Alexander replaced Andrew and Chloe replaced Hannah. Looking at the top 20, Aiden made it for the first time (quite a feat with so many other spellings of the name, including the former standard spelling Aidan, which fell from 54 to 59) and Ella joined the top 20 too, replacing Nicholas and Grace.

By KimB (not verified)
May 8, 2009 10:42 AM

What about your thoughts on the boys?! :o)

I'm working on naming a boy and am very interested to read about boys naming trends and opinions on boys names.

I wasn't surprised by the top 10, nor on some of the spreads of the various spellings of some of the more common names. But, I'm not too familiar with the rankings of the boys names as I'm just now at the searching for names that might make the "top" list for now.

May 8, 2009 10:43 AM

Regarding the recent comparison of the popularity of Ruby and Phoebe, Ruby continued to inch up the chart, from 116 to 113, while the popularity of Phoebe declined, from 338 to 348.

By Coll
May 8, 2009 10:47 AM

Wow, 9% of boys names in the top 100 rhyme with Aiden. A friend is contemplating naming her son Hayden, another is contemplating Brayden. I'm keeping my mouth shut.

Can the -aydens continue to dominate next year? I noted variations on Aidan, Jayden, Brayden, Hayden and Caden in the top 100. Perhaps Zayden will join them.

Eli makes it into the top 100-- not a huge gain from last year (30 or so points) but definitely a super bowl effect.

My future boys name (Simon) has held very steady over the last 5 years--generally in the 250s, sometimes the 60s or 40s. Doesn't show a sustained rise, which makes me happy.

But my girls name! Oh dear, Josephine, why are you doing this to me? From 242-208 in five years? I'd better hope I get knocked up before you make the top 200 :(

I was surprised to see how low Charlotte and Caroline were ranked. 87 and 94, respectively. Based on my observations in NYC/Brooklyn I would have called them as top 50 if not top 30.

By Amy3
May 8, 2009 10:50 AM

Re: Barack, in the accompanying press release the SSA noted that while it didn't break the top 1000, it did jump 10,000 spots in 2008 (putting it in the top 3000). Pretty impressive!

May 8, 2009 11:28 AM

Interesting that most of the names of the Jolie-Pitt kids are not catching on. Zahara, Pax, Knox and Vivienne didn't make the top 1000. But in 2008 Maddox rose from #226 to #208, while Shiloh went from #787 to #650.

By Jessica L (not verified)
May 8, 2009 10:59 AM

KimB, for some reason, popularity isn't as much of an issue to me for boy's names as it is for girl's names. We're considering a top 10 name for our DS (Joseph), but I wouldn't pick anything in the top 100 for girls.

May 8, 2009 11:07 AM

I just noticed there's a new chart on the SSA website: Change in Popularity. How handy is that for NEs! The biggest gainers were Khloe (who thought that one up!) -- up 469 places -- and Jacoby -- up 200 places.

And at the other end of the spectrum, Angelique and Aldo lost the most ground.

May 8, 2009 11:00 AM

Patricia - actually, those were the ranks for Maddox and Shiloh. Maddox had 1837 namesakes this year and Shiloh had 468.

By Jessica L (not verified)
May 8, 2009 11:04 AM

Interesting that Edward fell. Weren't several posters worried about a huge jump this year?

By Wendy (not verified)
May 8, 2009 11:04 AM

You know you are a name geek when you look forward to the Friday before Mother's day because you know that SSA will release "the list"

You know you are a SUPREME name geek when you are ecstatic that SSA added a "change in popularity" page so you don't have to spend hours calculating it yourself. (not that I would EVER do this.;) )

Thanks SSA!

May 8, 2009 11:06 AM

And at the other end of the spectrum, Angelique and Aldo lost the most ground.

May 8, 2009 11:10 AM

Lot's to look at. While perusing here's what I noticed just randomly:

I notice Peyton made a huge jump for girls 121 to 60! I'm surprised that's the most popular spelling for girls, I would have thought Payton would be more feminine. NMS at all either way so who knows.

Bella made a jump from 159 to 122 no surprise there.

Piper jumped from 240 to 172, in 2006 it was 246. Bristol didn't make the list.

I also noticed Kenley at 998!

I was interested in the name Abril, is that April in another language?

Someone also mentioned Isla which redebuted at 623 (!), you know what's interesting about this name? It's been in the 900s a few times over the years, but the only other time it's been above that was in 1887 when it was #713, in 1886 it was #938, in 1888 it dropped off again. Wonder why?

Audrina as someone noted jumped from 707 to 353!
Gracelyn jumped from 803 to 683.
Hillary jumped from 961 to 715.

By Eleanor (not verified)
May 8, 2009 11:10 AM

Some observations...

I don't know one baby Emma.

I was surprised to see Peyton for girls jump so much (121 to 60). Genesis's jump didn't suprise me given the emphasis on Old Testament names (138 to 95). Serenity is also inching up (126 to 111).

Bella is up to 122, America is down by 43 slots to 503 (but only 88 less girls were named America). Katrina continues to fall from 603 to 717.

I can't wait to read your observations, Laura.

By Guest (not verified)
May 8, 2009 11:17 AM

Seeing as everyone is pouring over the new name lists, any ideas for a middle name for Aureli@ (to be pronounced uh-rail-ia)? The last name is one syllable.

Picking a middle name is a bit of a challenge because many names that end in an -a sound are too sing-songy. Also, the -a at the end of Aureli@ swallows up some middle names that begin with vowels.

By Katie from a while ago (not verified)
May 8, 2009 11:18 AM

Laura was on fire this year! Look at Marely - 742 to 334, with Mareli joining the list at 718. And Chace entered the list at an astounding 655. Kenley, as previously mentioned, made it on too.

Her falling list was almost perfect as well - the only one that didn't drop dramatically was Dakota (b).

5 out of 6 predictions 100% correct - now that's a namer on the ball.

By Amy3
May 8, 2009 11:27 AM

@Guest, my first thought about a mn for Aurelia is Katherine. The /k/ plays nicely with /a/ at the end of the fn, and the /n/ ending avoids the sing-songy problem you noted.

May 8, 2009 11:30 AM

I love the new change list! And I enjoyed the press announcement, these people clearly have a sense of humor, love it.

Also, well done Laura!!

By knp (not verified)
May 8, 2009 11:32 AM

How do you pronounce Isla?

Guest for: I have similiar problems because many of the names I like end with and -a. ones that I like are Colette, Nicole, Jade, Mari(j)ken (a Dutch version of the name Mary-- my mother is Dutch, my mil's name is Mary) but I'll be interested to see other's suggestions (once we all settle down from looking at the new list... )

By Coll
May 8, 2009 11:34 AM

Guest, how lovely that you're using Aurelia! That's a name some of us on this board have been trying to convince people to use for some time :)

I'd suggest Aurelia Jane, but as your last name is only 1 syllable that may be too curt. Let me throw out a few others (I'm going to pretend your last name is Jones for the sake of working out the flow):

Aurelia Louise Jones
Aurelia Cecily Jones
Aurelia Catherine Jones
Aurelia Colleen Jones (why not throw my own name in)
Aurelia Christine Jones
Aurelia Clare Jones
Aurelia Leigh Jones (it worked for the folk song)
Aurelia Charlotte Jones
Aurelia Elizabeth Jones
Aurelia Vivian Jones
Aurelia Daphne Jones
Aurelia Margaret Jones

May 8, 2009 11:43 AM

Guest-I will second Charlotte, and Louise and change Jane to June.

I haven't looked at the SSA list-I came here first:) but YEAH for Peyton. I picked her and Caylee and Mason (b) for risers. Destiny, Maverick, and Jonas as fallers.

By Ellbeecee (not verified)
May 8, 2009 11:56 AM


I believe you pronounce Isla eye-la. The S is silent.

I like it, and had it on the list for my DD, but DH didn't feel too strongly about it. I will keep it on the list for the next, but am worried about it's rise in popularity. I wonder if it will continue to be strong, or have a huge rise for a couple of years (due to Isla Fisher?) and then settle back into gentle obscurity.

By EVie
May 8, 2009 12:02 PM

Guest - Aurelia is on my future girl list as well, and I also have a one-syllable last name, so I have actually given this a lot of thought!

From a very picky standpoint - I would opt for a two- or three-syllable mn with the emphasis on the first syllable which does not start with a vowel or end in -a. I love the suggestions of Aurelia Charlotte, Aurelia Katherine/Catherine, Aurelia Margaret, Aurelia Daphne, Aurelia Cecily. I also like Marian, Lucy, Phoebe, Bridget, Natalie.

I personally would stay away from iambic names like Danielle or Christine in this case, because then you get three de-emphasized syllables in a row and then two stressed syllables in a row which sounds awkward to me (au-RAY-lee-ah dan-YELL SMITH). Likewise, one-syllable mns names also sound choppy with the one-syllable last name, though not quite as bad.

Maybe I'm the only one who worries about rhythm so much though?

May 8, 2009 12:09 PM

Coll -- You know how I feel about Josephine. I think you should go for it, despite its rise.

May 8, 2009 12:29 PM

i agree with JB. if you do the math, based on the number of babies named josephine, it would average out to 32 baby josephines per state this year (though i know it isn't spread evenly of course). that really doesn't seem like that many to my mind.

May 8, 2009 12:21 PM

Penelope was roughly in the 300-400s for the 1940s and 1950s, fell to the 500-700s for the 1960s and early 1970s, then fell to 848 in 1975. It then completely disappeared until 2001, when it emerged at 945. From 2001 till 2008 it's jumped from 945 to 358.

But, I haven't met or heard of any little Penelopes. Maybe it's a regional thing? Has anyone else heard of any?

May 8, 2009 12:27 PM

Anyone else notice Messiah at #704 and Guage (yes, with a "u") at #736?

As for Twilight-inspired, Edward went down, but Cullen features at #781

By jt (not verified)
May 8, 2009 12:28 PM

I can only guess that Khloe's rise came from Khloe Kardashian of reality TV fame. Their show became quite popular this last year. And yes, I am embarrassed that I know that.

May 8, 2009 12:30 PM

I think Khloe was a double edged sword kind of thing. I agree that the tv show probably gave it a boost, but it seems like it would've risen anyway, given the rise of Chloe.

May 8, 2009 12:33 PM

For girls, it seems celebrities are a big source of (so-called) inspiration: Khloe and Audrina as big jumpers, but even Jewel and Charlize feature in the top 1000.

May 8, 2009 12:37 PM

My only decent pick was Harper; she rose almost 150 places. Scarlett just inched up, and we all know how Barack did.
My fallers were Mitchell, Harold, and Hillary (oops!).

Khloe seems so obvious now.

May 8, 2009 12:40 PM

That's funny, I just posted about Khloe on the newer thread. I agree that Khloe was a double-edged sword (that seems so obvious now as CB said!) because Kourtney didn't even break the top 1000.