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Your Baby’s Name May Be More Popular Than You Think

A Redditor uncovered another way to analyze baby name data that changes popularity rankings entirely.

Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) releases its list of the most popular baby names from the previous year. In recent weeks, we learned that 2023 was another banner year for top picks Liam and Olivia, which have held steady in the #1 Boy and Girl spots since 2017 and 2019. But what if I told you that Olivia earned her supremacy on a technicality? Or that America’s 28th most popular boy’s name is actually in the Top 5. Redditor u/bookwormbec crunched the numbers and took to the subreddit r/NameNerds to blow our damn minds.

The key to these rejiggered calculations is simple and actually makes a lot of sense. Take me, for example. My name is Jamie. In my graduating class, I was one of just two folks with that name... but one of about seven when you factor in the Jaimes, Jaimies, and Jaymies. Spelling variations can significantly affect the effective popularity of a name, which is perhaps most evident when you consider that the technical Top 20 names for girls include both Sophia (#5) and Sofia (#11). In fact, when you take those variations into account, Sofia/Sophia is the most popular girls name in the country, outpacing Olivia by more than 4,000 baby girls.

Over two Reddit posts, u/bookwormbec highlights the names they feel can be considered variations rather than separate names entirely — so, Sophia and Sofia are variations whereas they note Amelia and Emilia, while generally homophones, have different etymologies and can be considered two different names. Similar names, like Thalia and Talia, were also kept separate. “I’ve gone with a basic decision that Ana/Anna endings are the same and Line/Lyn endings are the same,” they clarify in their first post on girls’ names. “Where there was a pronunciation difference and different origins, I tried to separate them. I did my best to assign the more creative spellings to the most fitting name, if there were a few options.”

As a refresher (for the normal people who haven’t memorized the Top Baby Names of 2023), here are the official top names of the previous year.

Social Security Administration

But, when adjusted for spelling variation, the new Top 20 girl names of 2023 are...

  1. Sophia/Sofia
  2. Olivia
  3. Emma
  4. Charlotte
  5. Amelia
  6. Isabella/Izabella/Isabela
  7. Mia
  8. Adeline/Adalynn/Adaline/Adalyn/Adelyn/Adelynn/Addilyn
  9. Evelyn/Evelynn
  10. Ava
  11. Camila/Kamila/Camilla
  12. Eliana/Elliana/Elianna/Ellianna
  13. Zoe/Zoey
  14. Madelyn/Madeline/Madilyn/Madelynn.Madilynn/Madalyn/Madeleine
  15. Layla/Leila/Laila/Leyla/Laylah
  16. Riley/Rylee/Ryleigh/Rylie
  17. Aria/Ariyah/Ariah/Ariya
  18. Luna
  19. Harper
  20. Lily/Lilly/Lillie

Boys’ names also shake out somewhat differently.

  1. Liam
  2. Noah
  3. Oliver
  4. Jackson/Jaxon/Jaxson/Jaxxon
  5. Mateo/Matteo/Matheo
  6. Lucas/Lukas
  7. Elijah/Alijah
  8. Luca/Luka/Lucca
  9. James
  10. Theodore
  11. Henry
  12. William
  13. Benjamin
  14. Aiden/Ayden/Aidan/Aden
  15. Miles/Myles
  16. Kayden/Kaiden/Caden/Kaden/Cayden/Caiden
  17. Grayson/Greyson
  18. Levi
  19. Sebastian
  20. Ezra/Ezrah

“The reign of the ‘aden’ names is not yet over, they are just dispersed over a ton of spellings,” u/bookwormbec notes.


Some names in this new — I guess you could call it weighted — Top 20 don’t come close to being in the Top 100 in and of themselves, but when combined with all their iterations they are mighty. Kayden, for example, the most popular spelling of that name, is only #114; the least popular, Caiden, is barely in the Top #500.

But lest this new calculation throws your baby naming plans into disarray because you’re determined your child should have a truly unique name, remember: the relative popularity of names has shifted from when you were probably kid. Even the most popular names are given to a tiny fraction of babies every year, generally less than 1% total. The names Liam and Sophia/Sofia were given to just about 20,000 each, which is a lot of babies for sure. But when you consider that’s spread out among 50 states and about 3.6 million infants, it puts things into better perspective.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see what’s really trending when you factor in the prevalence of some truly creative spellings. And to see what names hold steady with just one spelling. Truly, names like Liam, Emma, Noah, and Mia are more powerful than we could have guessed!