Biggest changes in boy name popularity, 2017

Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2016 to 2017? And which ones decreased the most?

There are a few different ways to answer this question. The SSA, for instance, likes to look at ranking differences within the top 1,000. And I like to augment their list by looking at raw number differences across all the data.

So let’s look at increases first…

Boy Names: Biggest Increases, 2016 to 2017


1. Wells, +504 spots
2. Kairo, +423
3. Caspian, +328
4. Nova, +323
5. Colson, +323
6. Kace, +315
7. Kashton, +302
8. Koa, +294
9. Gatlin, +282
10. Bjorn, +276

Wells was influenced by Wells Adams, a contestant from The Bachelorette. Nova may have been influenced by “all those Villanova Wildcats basketball fans naming their sons in celebration of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions.”

Raw Numbers

1. Logan, +2,748 babies
2. Maverick, +1,751
3. Ezekiel, +1,350
4. Mateo, +1,181
5. Lincoln, +1,032
6. Theodore, +1,018
7. Matias, +643
8. Leo, +642
9. Jameson, +639
10. Rowan, +637

Other names that saw raw number increases in the 300+ range included Asher, Santiago, Ezra, Rhett, Waylon, and Legend.

And now let’s check out decreases…

Boy Names: Biggest Decreases, 2016 to 2017


1. Riaan, -421 spots
2. Kylo, -245
3. Kolby, -195
4. Urijah, -189
5. Kamdyn, -189
6. Jamar, -163
7. Giovani, -160
8. Nickolas, -155
9. Chad, -155
10. Jair, -147

The higher they climb, the harder they fall: Riaan was the fastest-rising boy name of 2015, and Kylo was the fastest-rising boy name of 2016, and now they’re both plummeting in 2017.

Raw Numbers

1. Mason, -1,728 babies
2. Michael, -1,478
3. Ethan, -1,417
4. Jacob, -1,373
5. Daniel, -1,281
6. Andrew, -1,161
7. Gabriel, -1,124
8. Anthony, -1,049
9. Matthew, -994
10. Owen, -970

Other names that saw raw number drops in the (negative) 300+ range included Aiden, Jackson, Gavin, Ryder, Jase, Hudson, and Tristan.

Do you have any explanations for the name movement above? If so, please comment!

Sources: Change in Popularity, SSA, Emma and Liam Top Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2017

10 thoughts on “Biggest changes in boy name popularity, 2017

  1. Nancy, there seems to be some bug messing up the data. The 2017 numbers are there, but you have them as 2016.

  2. @Allure – Could you let me know which name you’re looking at?

    The data tables look ok to me (I’ve tried a few different combinations of devices/browsers) but I could be missing something here. Also, there were a few glitches in the upload — you might be looking at one of those particular names that just happens to need fixing this weekend.

  3. @Nancy Man – any name really. For example I look at Liam, it says 2016 – 18,728. But those are 2017’s numbers.

  4. Oh that’s bizarre. Hm. If you don’t mind, could you give me a few details about your setup (device, OS, browser)? The bug could be specific to one of those things.

  5. Ok it seems to be a Chrome issue. I now tried checking out the data with Firefox and its working fine. How weird?

  6. Kairo may be influrenced by Kairo Whitfield, son of Real Housewives of Atlanta star Sheree. Colson maybe by the author Colson Whitehead, who won the National Book Award in 2016. I’m really surprised to see Bjorn. Can’t figure out if there’s any connection to the Vikings character Bjorn Ironside.

    Matias is the son of actors Julián Gil and Marjorie de Sousa, he’s been the subject of an intense child support battle :(.

    Riaan rose a lot a few years ago, I think because it’s the name of the son of Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh. Urijah also surged in popularity a few years ago when MMA fighter Urijah Faber became well-known. I wonder if Chad is falling so quickly because it’s become a byword for obnoxious bros.

  7. @Allure – I’ll be tinkering with the graphs/data tables over the coming week, so hopefully the issue in Chrome will resolve itself soon. Again, thanks for letting me know about it.

    @alex – Thanks for all the info! Very helpful.

  8. Gatlin could be influenced by runner Justin Gatlin, who beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meter 2017 world championships in London. It was a big deal because it was Bolt’s last race, so the name was in the news a lot.

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