Special Report

Fastest-Growing First Names in America

“Nomen est omen” is a famous Latin phrase meaning “the name is a sign” — that is a portent of a person’s destiny. If that’s true then you should be careful if you ever have to choose a name for a child. 

Of course there’s an almost endless number of names to choose from. Some people simply give their children their own names. Others borrow names from their favorite books, movies, or television shows. The more creative types even make them up. (Click here for 30 uncommon baby names of the last 30 years.)

24/7 Tempo has compiled lists of the fastest-growing first names for boys and girls in the United States by comparing the 1,000 most common male and female baby names in 2016 and 2020 from the records of the Social Security Administration (SSA), and computing the percentage of change between the two years.  

The names are a remarkable mix of the traditional and the modern, including names from the Bible, classical mythology, the plant kingdom, and popular culture. (These are the 20 most popular literary-inspired baby names.)

Click here to see the fastest growing first names in the past five years.

The fastest-growing boy’s name is Theodore, which comes from Ancient Greek and means “gift of God.” It’s easy enough to see why that name might be so popular. (Interestingly, a shortened form of the name, Theo, also places in the top 25.) The second fastest-growing is Maverick, which might come as a surprise to some. Perhaps not coincidentally, Maverick was the call sign for Tom Cruise’s character in the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun.” It also features in the title of the sequel that will be released later this year. Next up is Liam, which has Irish roots and which has become popular as a shortened version of William.

The fastest-growing girl’s name is Gianna, a diminutive form of the Italian name Giovanna. It means “God is gracious,” so it complements the popular boy’s name Theodore nicely. The second fastest-growing is Luna, which is Latin for moon. Luna Lovegood is also a popular character in the “Harry Potter” books and movies, which may have something to do with it. Plant names are also popular for girls, and not just flowers: our list includes Willow, Ivy, Hazel, and Magnolia.