These Baby Names Are More Popular Than You Think

As someone who doesn't have kids myself, my favorite activity related to baby planning is definitely choosing hypothetical baby names. This leads me to wonder: What are the most popular baby names, anyway? Now, when I really get to my baby-related daydreams, I like to give my children feminist baby names. Sometimes I give them '90s inspired baby names; since I was born in 1990 myself, though, this means my actual friends share a lot of those names, which kind of weirds hypothetical mom-me out. Recently, I checked out the most popular baby names of 2015, and was pleasantly surprised: It looks like the names a lovely blast from the past, with names I'd associate with the elegance of classic films and vintage fashion.

Based on data released from Nameberry for the most popular baby names of 2015, USA Today compiled a list separated by gender. I used this compilation as a starting point and cross-checked it with 2014 data from the Social Security Administration to see some exact numbers on births and popularity in the past decade or so. Now, I personally think gender neutral names are awesome, but I have to admit they are not well-represented on this list; in my opinion, though, you shouldn't let gender norms stop you when deciding on the right name for your own child. What is surprising about these names? How retro they are!

Presented in no particular order, here are 10 baby names that are more popular than you might have realized. Honestly, I did not expect to see the names of so many of my grandmother's friends topping the charts — but hey, I guess they are classic for a reason.

1. Charlotte

Originally of French origin, Charlotte means "free man." Now, it's the name of the Princess of Cambridge, which is why I think it's a popular pick. According to the Social Security Administration, a whopping 10,038 Charlottes were born in the United States in 2014, making it the 10th most popular name of the year.

2. Amelia

German in origin, Amelia means "work." The most famous Amelia is likely Amelia Earheart, an amazingly awesome feminist pilot and adventurer. According to the SSA, roughly 8,700 Amelias were born in the United States in 2014, which is also the most popular year the name has ever had.

3. Ava

A Latin name, meaning "life," Ava is a variation of "Eve." The most famous Ava is likely retro film star Ava Gardner, most popular in the 1940s and '50s. As of the SSA's 2014 data, Ava earned a massive 15,586 namings that year. If we include variations on spelling, like Avah and Ayva, the numbers go even higher.

4. Olivia

Also a name of Latin origins, Olivia means "olive tree," which I think is quite lovely. The name Olivia first became popular because of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, where Olivia's character is depicted as of one full of wealth, beauty, and grace. Now, it's definitely associated with awesome feminist Olivia Pope of Scandal. Olivia had most the popularity it's ever experienced in 2014, according to the SSA, when about 19,000 girls were born with the name.

5. Cora

Greek in Origin, Cora translates to "maiden." In Greek mythology, "Cora" is also the euphemistic name for the goddess Persephone, who is associated with fertility. Though just under 3,000 people were given the name Cora in 2014, according to the SSA, that was in the fact the peak of the name's popularity.

6. Ezra

Ezra's popularity arguably goes way back, given that it's a Biblical name: Ezra is Hebrew for "help." According to the SSA, Ezra's name was bestowed upon nearly 4,000 boys in 2014. Interestingly, some people do consider Ezra to be a gender neutral name, which is pretty cool.

7. Asher

Like Ezra, Asher is another Biblical name enjoying a revival in popularity. In Hebrew, Asher translates to "fortunate, blessed one." As of the SSA's data in 2014, about 4,000 boys were named Asher, making it the name's most popular year.

8. Atticus

Atticus is a name with a lot of controversy surrounding it, given To Kill A Mockingbird sequel Go Set A Watchman portrays the once revered Atticus in a possibly racist light. Still, according to the SSA, just over 800 boys born that year were given his name.

9. Declan

Declan is a very popular Irish name, and is gaining steam here in the United States. Interestingly, it's apparently also Elvis' real first name. According to the Social Security Administration, Declan's most popular year in the United States was in 2013 (prior to 2015, where the data hasn't been released by the SSA yet), topping off at 121 babies being given the name.

10. Oliver

Finishing off the list is Oliver, a classic name most of us associate with Oliver Twist, but which has gotten a large revival in the past few years. Like it's "name twin," Olivia, Oliver's name is associated with peace. As of 2014, the Social Security Administration says that just over 9,000 boys were born with the name Oliver in 2014. It's also the second most popular boy's name in the UK this year.

So, there you have it! The most popular names of the last year or two are definitely throwing it way back to previous generations. If you're a data nerd like me, it could be fun to check out to a name age calculator to figure out how "old" your name is, or how old the name you're considering for a potential (or, if you're like me, hypothetical) baby is.

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