The Most Popular Boys Names of the last 5 Decades

If you’re going to be having a boy soon, no doubt you have already started thinking about names. Naming your child is one of the most important decisions you will make. After all, you don’t want your son to hate you for giving him a silly name, right? Of course not. This post will give you the most popular nicknames chosen by parents over the past five decades.

The names in this post were compiled based on data from the Social Security Administration. They represent the five most commonly-chosen names from the 1970’s until today. Most of these names were in the top five for multiple decades. If you’re looking for a more common name, this list will help. Of course, it will also show you which names to avoid if you want something more unique.



baby archangel michael

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The name Michael carries Hebrew origins. It means “Who is like God?” Of course, according to Jewish tradition, nobody can be like God. Michael is the name of one of the archangels mentioned in Judaic tradition. However, the name also appears in the New Testament in the Book of Revelation. According to scripture, he leads God’s army of angels.

While the name appears in Jewish writings, it later became popular among Christians. The archangel Michael came to be the patron saint of soldiers. Throughout the centuries, several prominent individuals have carried the name. Today, it remains one of the most popular names in the western world.



baby saint Christopher

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Christopher comes from the Greek name Christophoros, which means “bearing Christ.” Christians in the early church used the name to indicate that they bore Christ in their hearts. The name grew in popularity over subsequent centuries. It has had several different variations in different European nations.



Jason - Greek Mythology

Photo credit to Greek Mythology P6

The name Jason also has Greek origins. It comes from the name “Iason,” which is derived from the Greek word meaning “to heal.’ The name became popular in Greek mythology. The leader of the Argonauts, who searched for the Golden Fleece, was named Jason. While the name was popular among ancient Greeks, it also appears in the New Testament as well.




David finds its genesis in the Hebrew scriptures. The name means “beloved.” The most famous person who carried this name is King David, who ruled the land of Israel. He was known as a “man after God’s own heart.” He is most known for slaying the giant Goliath using only a sling and a stone.

The name continued to become more popular, especially in the Christian tradition. It is believed that Jesus Christ descended from King David. Since the days of the Roman Empire, the name was widely used in the Middle Ages and throughout the subsequent centuries. Today, it remains a popular name in Western nations.



saint James the apostle Jesus’ half-brother painting

Photo credit to Moore Perspective


Like many of the other names on this list, James is Greek. It is derived from the name Jacob, which is also one of the most popular names throughout the past five decades. The name appears several times in the New Testament. Two of the apostles, one of which was Jesus’ half-brother, carried the name.

While the name was commonly used in Europe, it was most popular in England. It was more commonly used in Scotland, and several of the United Kingdom’s rulers have had the name. Notably, six U.S. presidents have also had the name as well.



Joshua. Bible Character

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Joshua is a Hebrew name which is most associated with the person who succeeded Moses as the leader of the Israelites after they fled Egypt. The name means “Yahweh is salvation.” Joshua was the leader who led the Israelites into the land of Canaan after Moses died. Interestingly enough, the name is also popular in Christianity, as the name “Jesus” is a Greek version of Joshua.



Jacob Bible Figure

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Jacob is a Hebrew name that is most often associated with the Old Testament. Jacob was one of the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. He was also the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. In Hebrew, the name means “supplanter.” This is because he usurped his brother’s birthrights twice.  Although the name reflected his character, tradition states that he later changed his nature.

While deceiver is the most commonly accepted translation of the name Jacob, others have theorized that it came from a name meaning “may God protect.”

The name James comes from the same source as the name Jacob. While the name was popular in England during the Middle Ages, it was known primarily as a Jewish name. The English typically used the name James instead of Jacob. English is the only language that has two spellings for this name. Several prominent Europeans have held the name throughout history.



Daniel bible figure

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Daniel finds its roots in Judaism. In Hebrew, it means “God is my judge.” The most famous use of the name was in the Old Testament. Daniel was a prophet who was captured by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon along with other captives. Once there, he became the king’s most trusted advisor.

Daniel served under both the Babylonian and Persian empires. In Judaic tradition, Daniel had several close encounters with death, one of which involved being thrown into a den full of hungry lions. As with each attempt on his life, God rescued him. The Book of Daniel also features many prophecies that are used in Christian and Judaic eschatology.

As with other Hebrew names, Daniel became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. However, unlike the other names, its popularity decreased around the 15th century. The name did experience a resurgence in popularity in the 17th century during the Protestant Reformation. Several popular figures held the name.



Noah bible figure

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Noah was the name of a Hebrew prophet in the Old Testament. It means “rest, comfort.” In the book of Genesis, God approached Noah, informing him that the world was going to be flooded as punishment for the wickedness of man. However, God spared Noah and told him to build an ark in which his family, along with several animals would live during the time of the flood.

The name became popular in England, especially during the Protestant Reformation. It was a common name for Puritans. One of the most famous Englishmen with the name was Noah Webster, who helped create the Merriam-Webster dictionary. However, many men in the west have also carried the name.



Mason american german boy name

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Mason is probably one of the most practical names in existence. It comes from an English surname which means “stone worker.” The name has Germanic roots, deriving from the word “machen.”. Like many other names during this time period, it indicated a person’s profession.

This name was not very popular until recently. In the United States, it likely became popular because of its use in pop culture. In 2009, Kourtney Kardashian gave her son the name. In only a few years, it became one of the most popular names given to boys in the United States. It’s an example of how popular culture can influence the naming of children!



Liam boy name

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Liam is another popular name today. While it is most often associated with a man who has a “particular set of skills,” it derives from the name Uilliam, an Irish name. The name means “helmet of will.” It is also used as a shorter version of the name “William.” While the name is popular in the United Kingdom, it has recently become one of the most common boy’s names in the U.S.



prince William boy name

Photo credit to Vanity Fair


Surprisingly, the name William only became one of the most popular names within the last three decades. Its roots are Germanic, coming from the name “Willahelm.” The name’s meaning is a combination of the words “will,” “desire,” and “helm.” It was a common name in England, especially in Scotland.

Several prominent Brits and Scots have had the name, including William Blake, William Wallace, and William Shakespeare. The name has also become commonplace in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sicily, and the United States. Several American presidents have had the name.

Most of the names in this list have their roots in Hebrew and Greek traditions. However, they became prominent throughout Europe during the time of the Roman Empire and have made their way to the United States. While choosing a name for your son might not be easy, it helps to understand the origins and meanings of each name.


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