Surprising Baby Name Trends That Happened In 2020

The Social Security Administration's baby name data contains some interesting statistics.
The Social Security Administration's baby name data reveals some unexpected trends.
Daniel MacDonald / via Getty Images
The Social Security Administration's baby name data reveals some unexpected trends.

When the Social Security Administration releases its list of most popular baby names in the U.S. each year, the top 10 usually aren’t very shocking. After all, Liam, Noah, Emma and Olivia have consistently topped the charts for years.

But when you take a closer look at the latest SSA data, you’ll find some unexpected trends. From the rise of Nova and Ezekiel to the decline of classics like Robert and George, we’ve rounded up 16 surprising baby name facts from 2020.

1. Ezekiel is more popular than Robert.

In 2020, 5,013 baby boys were named Ezekiel, making it the 65th most popular choice for boys. Meanwhile, Robert ranked at No. 80, with 4,349 newborn baby Roberts.

2. Nova is more popular than Hannah.

Nova is a Top 50 baby name for girls, with 4,940 little Novas born in 2020. The name currently ranks at No. 38, one spot above Hannah. Last year, 4,910 baby girls were named Hannah.

3. Denise is one of the fastest-rising baby names for girls.

The name Denise rose 522 places in 2020 from the previous year, to No. 872, breaking back into the Top 1,000 after dropping off in 2016. The alternative spelling Denisse rose 942 spots, to No. 854, possibly due to the influence of reality show contestant Denisse Novoa.

4. Legend is more popular than George.

Despite its prominence in U.S. history and culture, George is not in the Top 100. The name ranks at No. 133 ― below less traditional names like No. 127 Legend, which went to 2,814 newborn boys in 2020. Only 2,746 boys were named George last year.

5. Fewer than 100 girls were named Britney, Shannon or Lacy last year.

In 2020, there were 99 newborn baby girls named Britney, 98 Shannons and 69 Lacys. The first two fell out of the Top 1,000 ranking after 2013, and Lacy dropped off in 2006.

6. Paisley is more popular than Julia.

In 2020, 4,333 baby girls were named Paisley, making it the 50th most popular girl name. Meanwhile, Julia is No. 107, with 2,485 newborn Julias in 2020.

7. Maverick is one of the top five names for boys in South Dakota.

The SSA’s data indicates that the top national names like Liam, Noah and Oliver tend to dominate on the state level, but there are some outliers. One is Maverick, which ranks at No. 49 nationally, but was the fourth most popular name for newborn boys in South Dakota last year.

8. Marissa is one of the fastest-declining names for girls.

The list of declining names tends to include less traditional choices and spellings like Jayde, Miah and Ariadne. But Marissa dropped 209 places last year on the popularity list, to No. 1,084 ― making it the second-biggest decliner from the year before for girls. It seems Marissa Cooper’s legacy is not living on.

Names like Julia and Hannah are declining as choices like Nova and Paisley rise.
Zave Smith Photography via Getty Images
Names like Julia and Hannah are declining as choices like Nova and Paisley rise.

9. Kinsley is more popular than Anna.

Kinsley is the 59th most popular name for girls, while Anna is No. 68. In 2020, 3,744 baby girls were named Kinsley, while there were 3,479 newborn Annas.

10. The SSA tracked over 3,400 more names for girls than for boys.

The SSA’s baby names data includes every name given to at least five baby boys or girls in a given year. The 2020 list includes 17,360 girl names and 13,911 boy names ― indicating a tendency for parents to get more creative with their daughters’ names than with their sons’.

11. Fewer than 200 boys were named Randall or Perry last year.

In 2020, there were 187 newborn baby boys named Randall and 146 named Perry. By 2019, both had fallen out of the Top 1,000 rankings.

12. Serenity is more popular than Lauren.

Serenity didn’t enter the Top 1,000 until 1997, and rose to No. 70 in 2020, with 3,366 baby girls named Serenity. The classic Lauren fell to No. 232, with only 1,269 baby Laurens born last year.

13. Dior is one of the fastest-rising names for boys.

You might think that a name associated with a luxury fashion line would be more likely to make waves on the list of popular names for girls (a la Chanel). But when it comes to Dior, the impact is true for both girls and boys. In 2020, the name rose 434 spots to 868 on the boys’ list and 108 spots to No. 499 for girls.

14. Axel is more popular than Adam.

Adam peaked at No. 18 in the 1980s, but now it’s down to No. 96, with 3,751 baby Adams born in 2020. Axel, however, ranks at No. 72, with 4,628 boys named Axel born last year.

15. Toby is one of the fastest-declining names for boys.

Much to Michael Scott’s delight (or so we imagine), Toby was the eighth-biggest decliner for baby boys’ names in 2020. Toby dropped from No. 954 to No. 1142, with only 169 baby boys with that name last year.

16. Genesis is more popular than Amy.

With 3,654 baby girls named Genesis in 2020, the name ranks at No. 62. That makes Genesis more popular than the classic Amy, which ranked at No. 216 and went to 1,326 baby girls last year ― as well as former top names like Mary (now No. 124 ― 2,188 in 2020) and Margaret (No. 126 ― 2,178).

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