Popular, trendy, and noteworthy baby names of 2016 (U.S.)

Baby name timeline 2016

Which baby names were the most popular in the U.S. in 2016?

Which names saw the steepest rises in usage?

And which names appeared for the very first time in the national dataset?

Below you’ll find the answers to all three of these questions, plus some of the other baby names that made gains in 2016. (In parentheses are my guesses about the outside factors influencing certain names.)

Top names

These were the most popular baby names overall in the U.S. in 2016:

Girl names: Most popularBoy names: Most popular
1. Emma1. Noah
2. Olivia2. Liam
3. Ava3. William
4. Sophia4. Mason
5. Isabella5. James

Rising names

These baby names saw the largest increases in usage from 2015 to 2016 in terms of number of babies:

Girl names: Top absolute increasesBoy names: Top absolute increases
1. Adeline1. Mateo (TV character)
2. Charlotte2. Oliver
3. Riley (movie character)3. Bryson (singer)
4. Adaline (movie character)4. Lincoln
5. Amelia5. Benjamin

These baby names saw the largest increases in usage from 2015 to 2016 in terms of percentage of babies:

Girl names: Top relative increasesBoy names: Top relative increases
1. Kehlani (singer)1. Kylo (movie character)
2. Islah (musical album)2. Kion (TV character)
3. Setareh3. Muadh
4. Yamila4. Severus
5. Louna [tie]5. Kaion
6. Ilhan [tie]

And here’s a selection of the other baby names that saw higher usage in 2016:

Girl names: Other increasesBoy names: Other increases
Alessia (singer)Adonis (movie character)
Amberle (TV character)Ajax (movie character)
Annalise (TV character)Arlo (movie character)
Camila (singer)Azrael (TV character)
Doris (movie character)Bernie (politician)
Dory (movie character)Bowie (news: singer)
Dream (celebrity baby)Branch (movie character)
Galilea (TV personality)Canaan (celebrity related)
Gigi (celebrity girlfriend)Chosen (celebrity baby)
Hadassah (TV personality)Creed (movie character)
Halsey (singer)Cyrus (TV character)
Hillary (politician)Deckard (movie character)
Jojo (TV personality)Fox (TV character)
Joy (movie character)Granger (singer)
Junie (celebrity baby)Grey (movie character)
Lyanna (TV character)Hamilton (theater)
Mariahlynn (TV personality)Horus (movie character)
Max (celebrity baby)Kairo (TV personality)
Miesha (MMA fighter)Klay (basketball player)
Onyx (celebrity baby)Kye (TV personality)
Ophelia (song)Lucious (TV character)
Queen (TV show)Mars (singer)
Rio (Olympics)Muhammad (news: athlete)
Saoirse (actress)Muhammadali (news: athlete)
Shannara (TV show)Nyle (TV personality)
Theodosia (theater)Prince (news: singer)
Yurani (TV character)Rio (Olympics)
Zaya (movie character)Saint (celebrity baby)
Wade (movie character)
Yannick (football player)
Yoandri (TV personality)
Zabdiel (TV personality)

(One of the girl names that saw significantly lower usage in 2016 was Caitlyn.)

Debut names

These were the baby names that debuted most impressively in the U.S. baby name data in 2016:

Girl names: Top debutsBoy names: Top debuts
1. Rey (movie character)1. Yuvin
2. Khelani2. Kaulder (movie character)
3. Yurany3. Negan (TV character)
4. Eretria (TV character)4. Anuel (rapper/news)
5. Cirilla [3-way tie] (video game character)5. Noxx
6. Mehlani [3-way tie]
7. Osinachi [3-way tie]

And here’s a selection of the other names that appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2016:

Girl names: Other debutsBoy names: Other debuts
Iselis (TV personality)Shivaay (movie character)
Shivanya (TV character)Dansby (baseball player)
Amei (celebrity baby)Oseias (TV character)
Ellaria (TV character)Bryshere (actor)
Furiosa (movie character)Bronn (TV character)
Lagertha (TV character)Hirving (soccer player)
Mazikeen (TV character)Isco (soccer player)
Sylvanas (video game character)Riggan (movie character)
Lynly (video game character)Rizzo (baseball player)
Iseult (TV character)Griezmann (soccer player)
Versailles (TV show)Johnoliver (TV personality)
Rias (TV character)Safaree (TV personality)
Alduin (video game character)
Hux (movie character)
Mallex (baseball player)
Mendeecees (TV personality)
Ozlo (digital assistant)
Seanix (TV personality)

If you want to check out another year on the timeline, here’s the baby name timeline main page.

Finally, a few reminders about the Social Security Administration’s baby name data:

  • It only includes names given to at least five babies (of one gender or the other) per year.
  • It does contain mistakes such as misspelled names, misgendered names, and placeholder names (e.g., “Babygirl”).
  • It isn’t very accurate from 1880 to the mid-1930s. Why? Because the SSA was established in the mid-1930s, so the names in the dataset from 1880 to the mid-1930s are not the names of babies, but the names (or nicknames) of adults applying for social security numbers. More importantly, adults born during these decades who never applied for a number are simply not accounted for.

Data source: U.S. Social Security Administration

[Latest update: Jul. 2024, using the 2023 SSA dataset]