When it comes to baby boy names, Liam can’t be beat. It has taken the top spot on the list of most popular choices for the past four years, and has been in the top 20 since 2011. (Overall, these are — so far — the most popular baby names of the 21st century.)
What makes Liam so popular? A shortened version of the Germanic name William, which rose in popularity in the English-speaking world after the Norman invasion of England in 1066, perhaps it goes back centuries to its original meaning, signifying strength and protection.
Liam first appeared on boy name charts in the U.S. in 1967, but didn’t become widespread until the mid-1990s. Coincidentally or not, that was around the time that the Irish actor Liam Neeson achieved fame, which could have influenced more parents.
To identify the most popular baby boy names in 2020, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the total number of births for each name with five or more occurrences in 2020 as recorded by the Social Security Administration. (Names with fewer than five occurrences are not tracked by the SSA in order to protect anonymity.)
In addition to Liam, the name William appears high on the list, at No. 5, with Noah, Oliver, and Elijah rounding out the top quintet. One new moniker in the top 50, though only at No. 49, is Maverick. Other comparative rarities include Jaxon, Hudson, and Jayden. At the same time, though, such traditional male names as James, Benjamin, Henry, and Alexander remain strong. (These were the most popular never-before-seen names in 2020.)