Top baby names in the US announced: Why are Liam and Olivia standing the test of time?

Top baby names in the US announced: Why are Liam and Olivia standing the test of time?

What’s in a name? Apparently, quite a lot, if yours is Olivia or Liam. 

These two names are once again the most popular baby girl and baby boy names in America for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) 2023 report released on May 10.

“I was not surprised at all,” Colleen Slagen, a professional baby name consultant based in Boston, Massachusetts, told Fox News Digital. “For one, familiarity breeds likeness. So, the more we hear something like a name, whether consciously or subconsciously, the more we like it.”

Each year, the SSA announces the 1,000 most popular baby names as a Mother’s Day tribute. The full list is available at www.ssa.gov/babynames, where you can type in any name and see where it ranks.

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Liam has topped the boy charts for seven years in a row, while Olivia has outshined other girls’ names for the last five — taking the crown from Emma, which was previously in spot No. 1 for five years straight. For the fifth consecutive year, Noah took the second slot for boys, and Emma for girls.

Slagen, the creative force behind her name consulting brand, Naming Bebe, said she thinks there’s a ripple effect that takes place with popular names. 

“The more people [there are] with a name, the more people you know with that name,” she said. “And the more likely you are to have a positive association with it, versus more uncommon names.”

“So, I think because these names, Liam and Olivia, are more ubiquitous, you hear them more and it allows you to sort of envision it [for] your own child because you’ve seen it in action,” Slagen said.

While Liam and Olivia may have been considered to be unique names in the past, Slagen said the two are now considered trends.

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“People are just loving girl names like Olivia right now,” she said. “Longer, feminine names that are easily nicknamed — like Liv or Livi. People also like the idea of versatility in a name, or even Olive or Ollie for something more gender-neutral. But you still have this more formal, feminine name to fall back on.”

Short, light, vowel-heavy names are on trend for the boys, Slagen said. Previously, Liam was a nickname for William, but today — per SSA records — it is a given name. 

“William is also a top 10 name,” Slagen said. “But I think that’s another reason Liam is probably doing really well because many people having babies right now are of a generation that probably have fathers or grandfathers named William. So, it’s a nice way that they can honor them with a more modern take on William.”

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After Liam, the most common names for boys are: Noah, Oliver, James, Elijah, Mateo, Theodore, Henry, Lucas, and William. And after Olivia, the most common names for girls are: Emma, Charlotte, Amelia, Sophia, Mia, Isabella, Ava, Evelyn and Luna.

Only one new name appeared in the top 10 lists this year, according to the SSA, as Mateo joins the boys for the first time.

“I hear it a lot now,” Slagen said. “I think it’s a fresh take on a more traditional name.”

“Depending on how you spell it, it can be either the Spanish or Italian version of Matthew,” Slagen said, adding that Mateo has nickname options including Matty or Theo.

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The Social Security Administration’s latest data show that 3.58 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2023 — a slight decrease from last year’s 3.66 million babies, which represents an overall decline in the American birth rate. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the SSA for comment on whether popular names and birth rates are related.

“I don’t think you can relate names and birth rates,” Slagen said. “But one thing that is very interesting is that if you look at the No. 1 girl name back in 1990, it was Jessica. There were about 46,000 Jessicas born in 1990. Of course, the data doesn’t account for everybody. They say it’s usually about 70 percent of the population.”

“But the number one girl name this year is Olivia, and there were about 15,300,” she added. “So that is reflective of people using more unique names, and so the popular names aren’t used with the same frequency as they once were.”

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The SSA began compiling the baby names list in 1997, with names dating back to 1880. Each year, both tradition and pop culture show possible effects on how names rise in popularity. 

The fastest rising girl’s name, Kaeli, according to the SSA, went viral in 2023, rising 1,692 spots on the charts, possibly a nod to popular YouTuber Kaeli McEwen. In third place on the boy’s side is Eiden, which could be related to TikToker Wyatt Eiden who has 1.6 billion views and over three million followers, the SSA reported.

“There’s very much a trend towards finding a unique name,” Slagen said, “and I think that’s why baby name consulting has become a business because a lot of people want the exact opposite of Olivia and Liam.”

Slagen said she has been “obsessed” with baby names her entire life and decided to turn it into a business after she had her own three children.

Slagen’s advice for anyone choosing a baby name is simple.

“Try not to overthink,” she said. “And don’t get too caught up with a name’s ranking. Prioritize what is important to you.”

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