America is a melting pot of cultures, making American baby names some of the most diverse. With so much variety and influence, best believe our narrowed-down selection has some stories to tell. And we’re here to listen. Let’s do it.
The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, is also home to a lot of names.
The US of A boasts a population of almost 330 million, so it’s hardly surprising that lists of American baby names are alive with diversity.
There’s inspiration for every motivation, whether you were born in the USA or wish to honor the place in the states where you fell in love.
And let’s not forget that staple diet of quality American TV, movies, books, and music you’ve known and loved since day dot.
From those traditional names with an all-American twist to the Native, historical, and presidential, there’s no shortage of ’Merican monikers for your peanut.
Luckily we’ve narrowed it down to this stellar bunch, so you’re one step closer to sinching that fitting name for your dreamer-to-be.
In this article: 📝
- Popular American girl names
- Popular American baby boy names
- What are some unique American names?
- What is a very American name?
Popular American girl names
According to the official Social Security website, the ten most popular American girls’ names in 2021 are:
- Olivia: From the Latin oliva which means “olive” or “olive tree”, America’s top baby girl name is older than the country itself. That’s right, it’s been in use since the 13th century. And it’s as compelling now as it was all those years ago. Hello, Olivia Wilde, Olivia Munn, and the latest pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo. Mic drop. 🎤
- Emma: German in origin, Emma means “whole” or “universal”. Rather fitting for a little lady who’ll soon be your everything! Notable American Emmas include Emma Stone and Emma Roberts, so yours will be in good company.
- Charlotte: Meaning “free person”, it’s no wonder Charlotte is a top girl’s name in American culture. Even more interesting is the trend for many bearers toward a life of literature, activism, and politics. Special mention to Charlotte E. Ray – the first Black American female lawyer in the states.
- Amelia: Meaning “industriousness”, Amelia pays homage to the enduring ethos of the American Dream. But Amelia doesn’t just talk to the talk. Between Amelia Earhart – the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic – and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Amelia Boynton Robinson, baby has plenty of role models to find her calling.
- Ava: There’s some debate around the origin of Ava. It could be from the Latin avis, which means “bird”, or it could be a shortened version of the Hebrew name Chava, which means “life”. Either way, Ava is as enduring as the Hollywood icon who popularized it – North Carolina’s own Ava Gardner. 🎬
- Sophia: A regular on popular baby name lists from around the globe. Greek in origin and meaning “wisdom”, Sophia has been around since the start of the 4th century.
- Isabella: Given the US’s proud and vibrant Latino community, it’s little surprise to see a name with Spanish and Italian origins crack the top 10. Isabella means “pledged to God” and is a form of the name Elizabeth. It can be shortened to the infinitely adorable Bella.
- Mia: Meaning “mine”, Mia is every inch a name of pride. Its origins are a mixed bag, with possible roots in Hebrew, Egyptian, Spanish, and Slavic languages (phew!).
- Evelyn: Another name of mixed roots, Evelyn has come to mean “desired child”. Cute right? It started its journey as an elegant English surname, though its thought to have come from the French name Aveline. There’s no shortage of impressive women flying the flag for this dignified title, including Evelyn Berezin – the designer of the first computer-driven word processor. The more you know.
- Harper: How fitting that Harper should make the top ten in our rundown of American trailblazers and icons. Though forever intertwined with favorite fictional lawyer Atticus Finch, Harper actually means “harp player”. Feel underwhelmed? Don’t be. In Medieval courts, harp players were highly important figures, given noble status for their creative talents. It fits!
More top American names for girls:
The roll call doesn’t stop there mama-to-be!
There’s no shortage of inspo for American girl names and meanings.
We’re talking Old Hollywood, the Modern Era, and a bevy of female icons blazing trails for the independent women of the future.
Whose footsteps will your daughter surpass?
- Abigail: Meaning “my father’s joy”.
- Aria: As an Italian name, Aria means “melody”. As a Persian name, it means “noble”. We also love the Hebrew translation “lion”. Your roots, your rules mama.
- Avery: Meaning “ruler of elves”.
- Camila: A Portuguese name meaning “ceremonial attendant”.
- Chloe: Meaning “blooming”.
- Eleanor: Meaning “shining light”.
- Elizabeth: Meaning “my God is my oath”.
- Ella: Meaning “her” or “fairy”.
- Emily: Meaning “rival” or “eager”.
- Grace: From the Latin word grâtia, this virtue name means “favor” or “blessing”.
- Layla: Meaning “night”.
- Luna: Meaning “moon”.
- Madison: Meaning “child of Matthew”. Shout out to your partner!
- Mila: A beloved Spanish girl’s name meaning “miracle”.
- Nora: Popular in Irish culture, Nora means “honor” or “shining light”.
- Penelope: Meaning “weaver”.
- Riley: From the Gaelic raghalach meaning “valiant”.
- Scarlett: Meaning “red”.
- Victoria: Meaning “victory”.
- Zoey: Meaning “life”.
Popular American baby boy names
From our trusted Social Security source, here are the ten most popular boys names in America as of 2021:
- Liam: Meaning “guardian” or “protector”. In Ireland, Liam evolved from the Old German name William, which dates back to the 11th century. Fun fact: Liam has been either the second or first most popular boys name in the US since 2013. Talk about staying power!
- Noah: Who wouldn’t want a chilled-out baby? Well, maybe you could nudge him in the right direction by naming him Noah, which means “rest” or “comfort”. Interestingly, this Hebrew boy’s name has a long history with the USA, stretching back to when Noah Webster Jr. taught generations how to read and spell in the late 1700s. 📚
- Oliver: While Olivia takes the top spot in the girl’s list, the male counterpart Oliver has to make do with third. A strong name with a cute nickname (Ollie), Oliver could either be Medieval in origin, meaning “elf warrior” or Norse in origin, meaning “ancestor’s descendant”. Famous American Olivers include the actors Oliver Platt and Oliver Hardy, and the director Oliver Stone.
- Elijah: Perhaps made most famous by everyone’s favorite Hobbit, Elijah Wood, the name Elijah has been a mainstay in the top 10 most popular American baby names since 2016. The English version of the Hebrew name Eliyahu, Elijah can be shortened to “Eli” and means “Yahweh is my God”.
- James: A staple variation of Jacob meaning “supplanter” or “one who takes by the heel” (it’s a long story). James has been a reigning title across baby lists for centuries, thanks in no small part to its status as both a regal and Biblical name. And it’s not just history books and scripture that have left a lasting impression. Between James Dean, James Stewart, and James Earl Jones, this name is no stranger to the spotlight. 🎥
- William: If you want to give your little guy some flexibility growing up, then William has to be in with a shout. You can shorten it to Will, Bill, Billy, Liam – the list goes on. Notable American Williams includes the 42nd President, Bill (William Jefferson) Clinton, and the Oscar-nominated actor, William H. Macy.
- Benjamin: As iconic American names go, Benjamin is definitely up there. And if your first thought was founding father, we’re on the same page. Meaning “son of the right hand”, Benjamin stands out as a title of devoted service. No surprise it’s been borne with pride by everyone from a lawyer and politician to pope and president. Talk about paving the way for baby!
- Lucas: Meaning “bringer of light”, though you may know Lucas as the bringer of two of the most iconic American movie franchises. Star Wars and Indiana Jones are still going strong, capturing imaginations the world over. Plenty of future family movie night possibilities. And hey, if you want a dose of nostalgia early, make sure you explore our list of fan-worthy Star Wars baby names.
- Henry: From the Old German name Haimirich, this highbrow name means “home ruler”. The name itself has all the hallmarks of a leader, but there’s plenty of historic figures that can back it up. And it’s not just British kings. From esteemed author Henry James to American industrialist Henry Ford, this is a name fit for a true game changer.
- Theodore: As presidential names go, Theodore is up there as one of the most beloved. The inspiration for teddy bears, it means “gift of God” and is often shortened to the equally sweet Theo.
More top American names for boys:
There’s no denying it, the states has culture in abundance.
Tracing your lineage and donning it proudly is all part of the parcel of being born state-side.
Something these enduring US names capture beautifully.
Where will your roots guide you?
- Aiden: An Irish boy’s name meaning “fiery one”.
- Alexander: Meaning “defender of men”.
- Daniel: This Biblical boy’s name means “God is my judge”.
- David: Meaning “beloved”.
- Ethan: Meaning “strong” or “firm”.
- Jack: Meaning “God is gracious”.
- Jackson: Meaning “son of Jack”.
- Jacob: Meaning “supplanter”.
- John: Meaning “graced by God”.
- Joseph: Meaning “God will give”.
- Levi: Meaning “joined” – often in harmony.
- Logan: This Scottish name means “little hollow”.
- Mason: Meaning “one who works with stone”.
- Mateo: Meaning “gift from God”.
- Matthew: Meaning “gift of God”.
- Michael: Meaning “he who is like God?”
- Owen: A Welsh boy’ name meaning “well-born” or “warrior”.
- Samuel: Meaning “God has heard”.
- Sebastian: Meaning “venerable” or “revered”.
- Wyatt: Meaning “brave at war”.
What are some unique American names?
Stateside, if you can dream it, you can achieve it.
The same goes for American baby names.
Innovation is at the heart of American culture, so if you want a truly unique US name, you can always invent your own.
You could add a little panache to a cultural classic or merge two names into one cool title that honors both grandparents.
Or how about giving your baby clear direction with a badass adjective like Charisma or Legacy?
Feel free to take your cue from any of these American-made monikers:
- Kylo: Meaning “sky”. Another pick for Star Wars lovers.
- Xzander: As in the Latin boy’s name Alexander, meaning “defender of the people”.
- Aim: Meaning “direct towards target”. Set those sights high! 🏹
- Justice: Speaking of staying on the straight and narrow, this unisex name means “to deliver what is just”.
- Maverick: Meaning “an independent person”. You may think Top Gun but we’re catching major cowboy energy.
- Reign: Can’t get enough of standout adjective names? Neither can we. This one comes tailor-made for a sovereign in the making. 👑
- Dash: Meaning “to move quickly” – though you may love it as a variation of “dashing”. Either way, it’s sure to keep many on their toes.
- Rayshawn: Blending two names into one, this unique moniker means “protecting hands” or “Yahweh is gracious”.
- Kulture: Meaning “arts” or “customs”. It takes a certain energy to pull this name off. You’ll know immediately.
- Vision: Any Marvel fans? It’s a bold choice, but we love this name’s forward-thinking vibe.
- Kenleigh: A fresh take to the British name Kenley. It means “kings meadow”.
- Benjen: So we had Benjamin but what about this slicker version? It still means “son of the right hand”.
- Genesis: A name on the rise stateside. It means “beginning”.
- Bode: Meaning “command” or “order”. Short and to the point.
- Onyx: A striking choice. It means “claw” or “gemstone”.
What is a very American name?
While many popular American names have their origins elsewhere, it’s not uncommon to find homegrown favorites named after cities, states, or historical figures.
Then there’s those other staples that crop up with increasing regularity that look and feel distinctly American.
The likes of:
- Hunter: Meaning “pursuer”.
- Blaze: Meaning “fire”.
- Jaden: Meaning “God has heard”.
- Kasey: Meaning “alert” or “watchful”.
- Cassidy: Meaning “the clever one”.
- Sam Meaning “God hears”.
- Kodey Meaning “helpful”.
- Blair Meaning “field” or “meadow”.
- Kendall: Meaning “valley of the river Kent”.
- Callie: Meaning “beautiful” or “lovely”.
- Peyten: Meaning “the fighting man’s estate”.
- Aster: Meaning “star”.
- Buzz: Speaking of space baby names, this familiar favorite interestingly means “village in the woods”.
- Reese: Meaning “fiery”.
- Kyle: Meaning “slender”.
- Verity: Meaning “truth”.
- Zane: Meaning “beauty” or “grace”.
- Rebekah: Meaning “captivating”.
- Sybil: Meaning “prophetess”.
- Shiloh: Meaning “peace”.
- Tillie: Meaning “mighty in battle”.
If you love names like Savannah and Tennessee, you might also like our 62 Southern baby names
And what about Native American baby names?
It’s always wise to tread lightly when borrowing from other cultures, so if you don’t have any Native American heritage, you might be tempted to steer clear of Native American baby names.
That being said, there are a few names with Native origins that have found their way into the mainstream in recent years.
The likes of Dakota (“friend” or “ally”), Cheyenne (“people of a different language”), Winona (“first daughter”), and Kai (“willow tree”) are as beautiful as they are meaningful.
And that’s it!
114 of the best American names to choose from.
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