- Popular baby names come and go, but the following 20 names have proven they are here to stay.
- For boys, John, James, William, and David top the list of classic names.
- For girls, Elizabeth, Mary, Sara, and Anna never seem to go out of style.
Every year new baby names bubble into the cultural consciousness and others fade away. But, there are some evergreen baby names that remain current and popular year after year despite the fact that we’ve known these names for centuries.
INSIDER pulled data from the Social Security Database on which baby names stay relevant year after year and learned that when it comes to boy names, James, John, William, and David top the list, while girls names like Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah, and Anna never go out of style either.
Note that our list contains names with similar spellings (Sara and Sarah, and Catherine and Katherine) as separate entities.
James is a classic royal-inspired baby name.
Every since King James VI inherited the English throne, James has become a popular and classic baby name. We’re even starting to see more baby girls named James like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter James Reynolds.
Elizabeth is a regal name that stays never goes out of style.
From Queen Elizabeth to Liz Taylor to Elizabeth Warren, Elizabeth (and by extension, Liz or Lizzie) is a classic name that instantly feels fresh year after year.
John is popular in every generation.
According to BabyCenter, John has declined in popularity over the years, but it still manages to crack their top 50 list every year, plus the world is littered with famous men named John. From John Hancock to John F. Kennedy to John Legend and John Cena, this name is never going out of style.
Mary is the longest running most-popular girl name ever.
According to the Social Security Administration, from 1918 to 2017, Mary was the most popular name for 38 of those years. From Queen Mary II to Mary J. Blige, Mary is always a great go-to name.
William has given us tons of UK royalty.
Like many of the classic baby boy names, these names are rooted in royal history. From King William IV to the Prince William currently residing at Kensington Palace, royals (and pedestrians) love this name.
Sarah continues to stay current despite its boom in the ’80s.
Sarah is such an iconic baby name that 2017 was the first time in a century that it dropped out of the top 100 baby names in the UK, according to the Office For National Statistics. In the US, the Social Security Administration reports that the name was consistently among the five most popular baby names throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
David is a biblical name that still feels modern.
The biblical David continues to be a popular name. From David Rockefeller to David Beckham, the name is always a strong choice.
Anna is a classic name that’s here to stay.
Despite its long history as a classic baby name, the world continues to birth Annas. Hollywood, especially, is full of them: Anna Faris, Anna Kendrick, and Anna Paquin are just a few of the Annas currently in the public eye.
Joseph has turned into the popular “Joe.”
Royalty and biblical characters dominate this list and Joseph is no exception. Famous Josephs from history include Joseph (of “and Mary” fame) and the Holy Roman Emperor. Now we have Joseph Gordon Levitt, Joe Biden, and Joe Jonas.
Katherine is a name that was super popular in the ’80s.
BabyCenter.com notes that Katherine spiked in popularity at the end of the ’80s (which is interesting since the similarly spelled “Catherine” did not).
Robert, Bob, and Rob are all common evergreen baby names.
According to BabyCenter.com, Robert reached its popularity apex in the 30s, but has been a common name since then. This name (and its nickname “Bob” and “Rob”) has given us Robert F. Kennedy, Robert De Niro, and even Rob Kardashian Sr. and Jr.
Laura reached its max popularity in 1969 but is still beloved.
The Social Security Administration states that in 1969, a little over 1% of all babies born that year were named Laura. From Laura Ingalls Wilder to Laura Prepon, Laura is a solid classic.
Thomas is still a thriving name.
In 2018, Thomas was the 24th most popular name on NameBerry.com and the name is even more popular in the UK. To prove just how popular this name continues to be, think of all the Toms in Hollywood: Tom Cruise, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hanks, Tom Hardy, Tom Felton, the list goes on.
Catherine the Great set this name on the path to popularity.
From Catherine the Great to Catherine Zeta-Jones, this name comes with a ton of history. According to BabyCenter.com, this alternative spelling to the slightly more popular “Katherine” spiked in popularity in the early 1990s but is still a baby name favourite.
Richard reached the height of its popularity in the ’40s, but is still going strong.
Rebecca has morphed into the slightly more modern Becca.
Though Rebecca has its roots in the bible, the shorter Becky or Becca is the modern and stylish twist on this classic name.
Charles is a favourite that gave way to another favourite: Charlie.
Charles, Charlie, and Chuck are common (and unisex) names. Over the years we’ve had Charles Dickens, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Darwin, and Charles Barkley.
Sara is a simple twist on the slightly more popular Sarah.
Sara is a slightly modern twist on Sarah, though both names continue to be great examples of evergreen baby names. There are certainly more “Sarahs” in the public eye, but Sara Bareilles, Sara Gilbert, and Sara Foster are giving Saras a good name.
Michael is the longest running most-popular guy name ever.
According to the Social Security Administration, the name Michael has held the top spot most often over the last 100 years. From Michael B. Jordan to Michael Jackson to Michael Phelps, it’s clear that this classic name is still en vogue.
Margaret is a strong name that continues to bubble in popularity over the years.
From Princess Margaret to Margaret Cho to Margaret Atwood, this is a timeless name that does not get nearly enough credit. The Social Security Administration says that 2000 was the most popular year for babies named Margaret.
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