Name Popularity
Presidential Names for Babies: Who's Winning?
Presidential Names for Babies: Who's Winning?
Apr 19, 2024 4:48 AM

  Presidential baby names – the famous last names and, in a few cases, first names of America’s presidents – are more popular than ever in the US. The presidential connection may be more direct in some cases (Lincoln) than others (Taylor).

  Naming a child for – or, in some cases, despite – a famous political namesake can be a risk, as past presidents' values and legacies are reevaluated with the passage of time, and new scandals uncovered.

  But American parents are still choosing presidential names for both girls and boys in increasing numbers. Here, the most popular presidential baby names today for each gender.


Boy Names



While most presidential first names can hardly be tied directly to their White House bearers, Theodore’s current popularity is not not connected to President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt has cross-party appeal and was also a champion of the environment. Theodore now ranks at an all-time high of #10.



President Andrew Jackson, who held office from 1829 to 1837. Born into poverty in Tennessee, Jackson won fame as a general. But he also was a slaveowner and an anti-abolitionist and enacted the Indian Removal Act which forcibly relocated many Native Americans.

  Luckily Jackson has other merits to recommend it as one of the great American baby names. Currently #14, it’s always ranked in the Top 1000, and when variant spellings are taken into account, it's long been among the top boy names in the US.



While President Jimmy Carter is certainly an upstanding person, we doubt many of the baby Carters were named in honor of him. Carter was propelled up the charts by several popular TV characters and currently ranks at #39.



Honest Abe is the prime reason for this name’s popularity, as well as its fashionable two-syllable, N-ending sound. Though always in the Top 1000, it’s only really taken off since 2000. Now it stands at #45, just shy of its highest point ever.



William Henry Harrison is one of those Presidents who for most people is merely a dim memory from high school history. Harrison’s current standing at a respectable #120 has more to do with Beatle George Harrison or, more recently, royal great-grandson Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.



President John Tyler was briefly President Harrison’s vice president before taking the main office in the 1840s. While he directly influenced the rise of Tyler as a first name, he’s hardly an influence now. Tyler is now trending steadily downwards from its peak in the mid-90s, and currently ranks at #157.



One of the old-school Biblical names that have been getting more attention lately, and this one shortens to cool retro nickname Abe. Abraham is still strongly tied to President Lincoln and is particularly popular in New York with its large Jewish population. It currently ranks at #202.



Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses) had two notable first names, but it's his smart surname that ranks highest at #212, independent of his influence. Grant has always ranked in the Top 400 and these days brings to mind British actor Hugh more strongly than the former president.



Jessica Alba had more to do with propelling this name, which she chose for her son, to its current #229 than did President Rutherford Hayes. But its presidential connection helps ground it.

  Hayes was president when the first Social Security baby name tally was kept in 1880, and undoubtedly was the reason the name Hayes stood at #708 that year and remained in the Top 1000 until the early 1900s. But it’s shot straight uphill since 2010 and now ranks twice as high as ever. Kevin Costner also chose it for his son.



Franklin was the first name of two presidents, Pierce and Roosevelt. It peaked in 1933, the year Roosevelt came to office, but has started inching up the charts again in recent years, now standing at #395.



One of the surprise hottest names of recent years, Ford reentered the US Top 1000 in 2014 and has now climbed to #439, its highest point in well over a century. While most people might relate it to the car or to Indiana Jones actor Harrison, there was also President Gerald Ford in the 1970s.



Pierce Brosnan is almost certainly a bigger influence on the popularity of this name than Franklin Pierce. It's now a sweet spot classic, ranking just below the radar at #499.



Quincy Jones propelled this name to its peak at #273 in 1977, but President John Quincy Adams has to take some of the credit for this name’s current popularity. It now ranks at #631.



This name is so popular in Utah that that state alone propelled it to its highest point ever in 2017, when it broke the Top 500. Now it stands at #695. It’s hard to imagine anyone with a working knowledge of President Richard Nixon naming their baby after him.



This upstanding surname was famously borne by the 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, but being one of the most common last names in the US, there are plenty of other well-known namesakes to recommend it. Wilson has always ranked in the Top 1000 but never in the Top 100. It was at its peak a century ago, giving it a grounded, old-timey charm.



The name of the third president Thomas Jefferson has always stood in the Top 1000, but is sullied today due to Jefferson’s connection to slavery and is losing ground, currently sitting down at #723.



Given its dapper retro appeal and the new popularity of short form Tru(e), we wouldn’t be surprised if the name Truman, as in President Harry S., broke into the Top 1000 in the next year or two. Truman was given to 128 baby boys in the US in 2021. 


Girl Names



Madison is definitely off its peak — it actually reached #2 in the first years of this century — and it was propelled to its heights by the mermaid in Splash and not President James Madison. Still, it’s presidential and continues to rank in the Top 30.



President John F. Kennedy’s surname ranks second only to Riley as the most popular Irish girls’ name in the US. Kennedy peaked as a boys’ name at #516 in 1964, the year after the president’s assassination. It first made the girls’ list in 1994 and is now in decline, currently sitting at #70.



Reagan really took off as a girls’ name in the early 1990s, after Reagan’s presidency and despite numerous scandals during his tenure. It broke the Top 100 in 2015 and 2016 and now lies just below at #126.



Taylor is one of those names that at this point is only tangentially presidential, thanks to President Zachary Taylor aka Old Rough and Ready. It peaked in the 1990s and is now falling rapidly down the charts, despite cool current bearers like Swift and Momsen. It stands at #192.



Carter ranks lower for girls than boys, but still ranks at #500 in the US. It can credit the rise of similar surname names for girls, like Parker and Sawyer, for its success.



While Monroe’s popularity is more thanks to Marilyn and Mariah Carey, who chose it for her daughter in 2001, the presidential connection to Founding Father James Monroe may have invested it with the power to reach its highest point ever at #515.

  While the name has not ranked for boys since the early 1970s, the number of baby boy Monroes has also been increasing in recent years.



McKinley, surname of President William, who was assassinated in 1901, enjoyed a straight upward ride on the girls’ chart form 2005 till 2015. Now slightly past its peak, it stands at #543.


About the Author


Pamela Redmond

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  Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, and the BBC. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

  Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.

  View all of Pamela Redmond's articlesChevron - Right

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