From the Vaults: 1991's Top 10 Baby Names

Posted on: May 25th, 2017\""by Ruth Fitzpatrick

Confession: we've been completely obsessed with the Social Security Administration's baby name page ever since they released 2016's 1000 most popular names early in May. (As a friendly warning from us to you, do not go onto the website unless you're OK with getting sucked into lists of baby stats for several hours!)

After learning everything we could about 2016's list, we thought we'd delve a little deeper and look into the archives to see what's changed of the years. Today, we look back at 1991! Has much changed in the last 25 years?

The boys...

Michael A seemingly enduring classic which actually didn't experience widespread popularity in the US until the second half of the last century. It experienced a nearly 4 decade long monopoly on the top of the baby name charts from the mid-1950s, and last year was America's 8th most popular name.

Christopher Probably likely to go by Chris on a day-to-day basis, Christopher has seen a drop in popularity since its heyday.

Matthew Ever popular, this classic, long-form of the name is far more enduring and modern-sounding than the now slightly too cool for school diminutive, Matt.

Joshua A beautiful Old Testament name that's still a very popular choice, though slightly over-shadowed by this decade's mega-star of a name: Noah.

Andrew Meaning 'strong and manly', Andrew is currently experiencing a bit of a lull in popularity. Even still, just over 9000 parents in the US last year thought it was the perfect name for their little boy.

Daniel Another boys' name which has been a pan-generational favorite in the US for decades. Like Joshua, however, it might be beginning to see itself being pushed further down the list thanks to other uber-popular Old Testament choices like Benjamin, Elijah and, of course, Noah.

James For a period of time between 1993 to 2013, James dropped from the top 20, but it seems that this was merely a glitch for one of America's most enduring names, and it's no firmly back into the top 5!

David David has been a goliath among boys' names: since 1928 it's consistently ranked in the top 20!

Joseph A favorite, whose diminutive, Joe, gives off 'good guy' vibes. Nearly 11,000 baby Josephs were born last year, 20,000 fewer than in 1991. Still: a name that's in a very healthy position.

John John has suffered in recent decades from sounding slightly unoriginal and plain. However, its rich cultural, religious and political heritage means it is still a popular choice for thousands of new parents each year.

...and the girls.

Ashley 2016 was the first year in over 4 decades where Ashley finished outside the top 100, but in 1991, she reigned supreme. The popularity of names such as Audrey and Aubrey might be a contributing factor to its decline.

Jessica 1500 Jessicas were born last year, which means that it certainly hasn't disappeared from view. But it seems pretty measly when compared to 1991's figures of well over 43,000. Possibly a short-term victim of its own popularity, it's extremely likely to name will see a resurgence at some stage in the future.

Brittany A typical 'cool girls' name of the nineties and early noughties, this name has plummeted from prospective parents' consciousness. The more traditional sounding Bethany could be an alternative.

Amanda An extremely pretty and lyrical sounding name, Amanda's popularity has gone the same way as most of the top ranking girls' names on this list! But it definitely has what it takes to make an eventual comeback after parents grow tired of the current crop of chart toppers!

Samantha Thanks to the girls of Sex and the City, this is another name which sounds quintessentially late-90s/early noughties. Still holding its own in the top 50, many parents will be tempted by more exotic, fashionable sounding names like Samara or Selena.

Sarah Dethroned from the top spots by the likes of Sophia and Hannah, Sarah is such a timeless classic that it is unlikely to disappear from view for very long.

Stephanie Unisex names are in at the moment, but female derivatives of traditionally male names? Not so much. It might be a while longer before we see the likes of Stephanie, Georgina or Roberta making a splash.

Jennifer Although still an extremely pretty name, it's fallen out of favor somewhat for sounding a little too sensible and serious. Prospective parents are more likely to be attracted to the fun diminutive, Jenny, or the stylish Jenna.

Elizabeth About twice as many Elizabeths were born in 1991 than in 2016, but it still remains an enduring and extremely popular choice.

Emily The only name on the list that is actually MORE popular today than in 1991! But that is in terms of rankings rather than actual number of babies named. One interesting insight gained from looking through the SSA's records is this: there is a lot more variation of girls' names today than ever before. In 2016, just under 19,500 Emmas (the number 1 ranking name in the US) were born, about the same number as 1991's 11th most popular name, Megan. It's the same for boys: 2016's chart topper, Noah was given to approximately 19,000 babies, roughly the same number as was given to 1991's 23rd most popular name, Kevin.

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Baby Names Baby Naming Ideas Names Popularity Names By Year
Perhaps These Names Deserve Some Attention?