I'm not an expert at much, but I've got naming baby boys down pat. As the mother to three strapping little guys, my husband and I have spent countless hours over the years scouring baby name lists looking for the perfect monikers for our children. Like us, many parents weigh the pros and cons of unique versus traditional names. Since mine is both difficult to spell and pronounce, we were more inclined to assign our kids names that are easy for people to grasp, but not too common. Plenty of other parents opt for traditional, classic baby names, whereas many select biblical or pop culture-influenced choices.
Fortunately, there are plenty of naming options out there to go with every last name and still suit parents' styles and beliefs. Keep reading to learn more about 10 of the most popular baby boy names in recent years.
Jacob often lands near the top of most popular baby name lists because it can be used in its entirety, as well as in short form (Jake). Religious in nature, Jacob's origin is Hebrew, but plenty of Christians and parents with other beliefs use it now. The name comes from the well-known Bible story of Jacob and his brother Esau. In fact, the name's meanings ("supplanter" or "heel grabber") are directly related to the biblical figure, since Jacob was born holding onto Esau's leg. Jumping forward a couple thousand years to modern times, the name also shows up regularly in popular culture, most recently as one of the main characters of the "Twilight" series of books and films. With more than 21,875 Jacobs born in the United States in 2010 alone, even if you're not a member of Team Jacob, chances are good you know more than one kid bearing the moniker.
Mason exploded in popularity around 2005 and has since hovered near the top of popular names. The trend has undoubtedly been helped along by celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Melissa Joan Hart choosing the title for their babes. In terms of definition, Mason is French in origin, and since a person who is an expert in masonry is a stone worker, so it's not surprising that that's literally what the name means. Also a common last name, Mason occasionally doubles as a name for baby girls, although not nearly as often as with boys.
The name Jackson has seen a significant uptick in popularity in part because of the last-name-as-a-first-name phenomenon (think: Tyler, Taylor, Carson and so on). Many famous people sport the surname, including Michael Jackson, Andrew Jackson and even Civil War general Stonewall Jackson (which might account for some of its popularity in the South). As an added bonus, Jackson is a cinch to spell and goes well with a lot of last names. Another Hebrew favorite, Jackson is similar to Mason in that its meaning is quite literal -- it means "son of Jack."
Another popular moniker of Hebrew origin, meaning "firm" or "strong," Ethan has steadily climbed to the top of the baby name lists in the last few years. Part of the reason for the name's popularity might be that it's an intellectual-sounding moniker, but it doesn't come across as nerdy. Although famous Ethans are harder to come by than some of the other names on our list, droves of parents around the world are selecting it for their tiny tykes, so it'll undoubtedly begin to show up more often on screens and in modern literature.
Much like Jacob, Alexander is one of those names that lends itself well to formality, but also comes with a friendly-sounding, casual nickname (Alex). Greek in origin, Alexander is a very strong, authoritative sounding name; probably thanks to the influence of historic figures like Alexander the Great (he wasn't Alexander the Mediocre, after all). Appropriately, the name means "defender of mankind." This timeless name showed up near the top of American baby name lists beginning around 2000 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The growing popularity of famous actors like Alex Pettyfer and Alexander Skarsgard virtually ensure that TV and film buffs will continue to consider this moniker for their little ones for years to come.
Plenty of parents pick this name because it's classic without sounding old-fashioned. In fact, it's held firm near the top of baby name lists since 1954! A popular biblical choice, Michael is another Hebrew original that stands for "who is like God," which can be quite a lofty expectation for a baby to live up to!
There's no shortage of famous faces with this prestigious moniker. Whether your kid turns out to be into sports (Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps), film (Michael Keaton, Michael Douglas) or music (Michael Jackson), there's someone out there for your little Mikey to model himself after.
William's longevity makes Michael's 60-plus years at the top seem downright paltry. A classic name which lends itself nicely to nicknames (Liam, Billy, Bill, Will or Willie), William has been a perennial favorite since 1900. German and English in origin, William means "protector," which is appropriate, since many men bearing the name have done exactly that throughout history. In fact, there have been too many famous and influential Williams to keep track of. A sampling includes former President Bill Clinton, baseball player Willie Mays and world-renowned playwright William Shakespeare. Let's not also forget the dashing young heir to the British throne, Prince William.
Elijah is another biblical frontrunner that's become significantly more popular in recent years. Often nicknamed "Eli," babies named Elijah have a moniker with a very holy meaning. Elijah means "Lord is my God" in Hebrew.
Another probable side effect of the increase of baby Elijahs is a rise in pop culture characters with the name. The film "Book of Eli" was a blockbuster hit, and television and film characters like Eli Stone (of the television show of the same name) and Eli Gold (major character on the series "The Good Wife") are just a few examples of the growing prevalence of the handle.
A relative newcomer to baby name lists, infants dubbed Noah have enjoyed an uptick since about 2005 or so, when it began to surge in popularity. Another Hebrew favorite, Noah means "peaceful," which is appropriate since it's not overwhelming, but it isn't a wimpy choice, either. Although other famous Noahs have graced our TVs, cinema screens and literature over the years, the best known is undoubtedly the biblical figure of ark, animal and flood fame.
Aidan (or Aiden, depending on personal preference) isn't a new name, but it did seem to explode out of absolutely nowhere in the early 2000s. Since jumping to the top of the baby name charts, Aidan has spawned a handful of other popular rhyming names, such as Caiden, Jaden and Brayden (spelling varies). In fact, celebs like Britney Spears and Will Smith chose the Jayden/Jaden moniker for their own little guys.
Irish in origin, Aidan's meaning is "fiery." Although it's impossible to pinpoint beyond a shadow of a doubt, tiny Aidans started popping up en masse right around the time that the character Aidan Shaw made his debut on the popular television show "Sex and the City." Played by the ever-so-handsome and likeable John Corbett, it's no wonder the name skyrocketed in popularity and resulted in a bunch of copycat names, to boot.
HowStuffWorks reports on ChatterBaby, an app developed by a UCLA scientist and mother to take the guesswork out of a baby's cries.
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