Choosing the right name for your baby is a big decision. Not only does their moniker have to pair well with your last name, but it also has to do its best to accurately represent the person your child will become. That's a lot of pressure to put on a few random letters!
An online search will yield thousands of potential names for your little one, not to mention the nicknames attributed to each one, but only one is the perfect match. Perhaps the best place to start is a list of the most popular baby names in 2023. From classic names to modern adaptations, this selection is a good jumping-off point for brainstorming your new child's title.
The name, Olivia comes from the Latin word oliva, which means “olive.” It was a rare name until the 17th century—when William Shakespeare assigned it to his female lead in “The Twelfth Night.”
More recently, the name Olivia has made several appearances in the top 10, with cute nicknames like Ollie, Liv, and Livvy. Famous Olivias include Oscar-winner Olivia Colman and Grammy-winning chart-topper Olivia Rodrigo.
While the name Liam is internationally well-known, few people realize it's a shortened form of Uilliam, the Irish version of William. The name comes from the German words for "will" or "resolution," plus "helmet." Loosely translated, Liam means "protector" or "guardian."
The name didn't go global until the mid-19th century, when over a million Irish people left home to escape famine. Famous Liams include Liam Payne of One Direction and actor Liam Neeson.
Meaning "universal" or "whole," the name Emma embodies such a hefty concept in just four short letters. The history of this title spans centuries. Common among early Germanic tribes, the name Emma spread to England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The moniker saw its popularity rise with the publication of Jane Austen's novel, "Emma," in 1815.
With the name, your baby will share good company with Emmas Stone, Watson, and Roberts.
You may recognize the name Noah from the Bible story, in which the titular figure builds an ark to save his family and animals of every species from the Great Flood. The Hebrew name translates to "rest" or "repose," which Noah likely found time to do on the ark.
Though the name was never historically popular, it trended in the mid-90s thanks to the popularity of E.R. star Noah Wyle and again in 2004, thanks to the character Noah from "The Notebook."
Charlotte, a French interpretation of the name Charles, means "free." Scholars date it as far back as the 14th century, but it didn't become popular in England until the 1700s, when Princess Charlotte married King George III.
The name continues as a royal tradition, with the arrival of Princess Charlotte of Wales in 2015. Charlotte could be a mouthful for youngsters, but the nicknames Charlie, Char, and Lottie are much easier to pronounce.
Oliver is an English name—possibly originating from the French name Olivier—that translates to "olive tree." It was a popular name during the Middle Ages, thanks to a beloved French epic poem that featured a heroic knight named Oliver.
The name became popular again in the 1800s when Charles Dickens published "Oliver Twist." With a solid nickname like Ollie, this classic is tough to beat.
Amelia, an English name that means "work," comes from Hebrew, though the name has Spanish, Italian, and French variations. It became popular in the 18th century with the arrival of Princess Amelia, daughter of King George II. Just over 100 years later, Amelia Earhart made a name for herself by becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic—"work," indeed!
With this name, you or your child will get to choose from solid nicknames like Amy, Emma, Millie, and Mia.
Elijah was a prophet and miracle worker in the Old Testament of the Bible. Originally from Hebrew, the name translates to "My God is Yahweh." Yahweh is the name of the God of the Israelites, which made Elijah a popular title during the Middle Ages and again after the Protestant Reformation.
The name is trending again in the 21st century, possibly due to the notoriety of stars like actor Elijah Wood and producer Elijah Blake.
Ava is a classic name with a Hollywood feel, thanks to the influence of legendary Hollywood actress Ava Gardner. Most likely a variation of Eva or Eve, the name means "to live," and it did just that in the late 1990s. Heather Locklear and Richie Sambora welcomed their daughter Ava in 1997, while Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe introduced their Ava in 1999.
The name has only grown in popularity since, making regular appearances in the top 10.
James is another name that traces its origins to Biblical times. Most notably, it is the name of two of Jesus’ apostles in the New Testament, but it derives from Jacob, another Bible figurehead. The name has remained consistently popular since at least the Middle Ages and hasn’t dropped out of the top 20 baby names in the United States in at least 150 years. Choose from nicknames Jim, Jimmy, or Jamie.
Sophia—or Sofia if you’re feeling rebellious—comes from the Greek word for “wisdom.” Early Christians defined the name as cleverness and skill personified, and they canonized Saint Sophia in the 6th century. More than a thousand years later, Sophia is one of the most prevalent baby names in the United States—a level of popularity not seen since the Middle Ages. Perhaps Sophia Loren, Sofia Vergara, and Sophia Bush are to credit for this resurgence.
The most famous living William in the world currently resides in Windsor near a certain 1,000-year-old castle. It’s a perfect match, given that the name is just as antique. Ever since the name—which means “protector,” became fashionable in the 11th century, it has remained one of the most common English-speaking names in the world.
Other notable Williams include playwright William Shakespeare and American writer William Faulkner. You'll see no shortage of nicknames—some more obvious than others—if you bestow this name on your little one.
Isabella is a variant of the name Isabel, which comes from Elizabeth. What do these names have in common? They all come from the Hebrew name Elisheba, which translates to “God is my Oath.” The name Isabella is a consistent favorite, remaining popular for centuries in Western Europe.
"Isabella" peaked in popularity in the United States in the early 2000s, but a resurgence seems imminent.
The name Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand,” appears in the Old Testament of the Bible. He is the son of Jacob and the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Similar to other biblical names on the list, Benjamin has consistently remained a common given name since the Middle Ages. Shortened nicknames include Ben, Benny, and Benji.
The name Mia is currently popular in the United States, though it first trended there as a given name in the 1960s. Before that, many people only considered Mia as a pet name for longer titles like Maria, Miriam, or Amelia. An online search will yield several definitions for the name, from “of the sea” to “bitter,” but translated from Spanish or Italian, mia means “mine.”
Lucas is the Latin form of the Greek name Loukas and means “bringer of light,” though scholars point out that the name also refers to the ancient Lucani people of Italy. The name was popular in the second half of the 20th century, most likely due to the success of Lucas Films’ Star Wars.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the common nickname for Lucas is Luke, one of the film franchise’s significant characters.
There are several theories about how the English name Evelyn came to be. Some say it comes from the French "Aveline," while others insist it's a former surname. Even more interesting, the name was popular for boys in the early 1900s, but that changed mid-century.
Modern sources define Evelyn as “desired” or “beautiful” and include the nicknames Eve, Evvy, and Lynn.
The name Henry is one with a rich history and versatility. As a given name and a surname—not to mention one hugely popular in European royalty—Henry is a solid choice that means “ruler of the home.” Interestingly, the world’s most famous Henry doesn’t even go by his given name.
You know him as Harry, the Duke of Sussex—another royal with the historic moniker.
Another versatile baby name is Harper, an English moniker that was also popular among the Scottish and Irish. It comes from the Old English word for “harp player” or “minstrel” and was a surname used to identify people who played or made harps.
Later, it grew in popularity as a first name, entering the top ten list of baby names in the late 2010s.
Theodore comes from the Greek name Theodoros, which means “gift of god,” and dates back to the 4th century. Classical Greece canonized several Theodores as saints, which gave the title an honorable status for much of history. The name fell out of fashion during the Middle Ages but regained popularity during the 20th century during the U.S. presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.
The beloved president went by Teddy, but you can also use Ted or Theo.