What Are the Most Popular Names for Girls in the United States?

The most popular names for girls in the United States are Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Isabella and Ava. The top five names are all traditional ones with the youngest of them being Olivia, which was first used in its modern spelling by William Shakespeare in his 1602 play "Twelfth Night."

Emma actually originated as an informal, short form of Germanic names with "ermen" in them, which meant "universal" or "whole." Even older, Sophia traces back to ancient Greece, the name translating as "wisdom." The name became popular with nobility during the Middle Ages. Of still more ancient origins is Isabella, a Latinate form of Isabel which is derived from Elizabeth. Elizabeth can be traced back to the ancient Hebrew name Elisheva, meaning "my God is an oath" or "my God is abundance." Elizabeth initially became popular in Eastern Europe and later appeared in Western Europe under its Occitan form, Isabel. Elizabeth appears in the Old Testament, both as the mother of John the Baptist as well as the wife of Aaron.

Ava is an English variant of Eve which in turn is derived from of an ancient Hebrew word meaning "to breathe" or "to live" and is associated with the Eve mentioned in the Old Testament as the first woman ever created who was subsequently expelled from the Garden of Eden with Adam for eating the forbidden fruit. Despite such negative connotations, the name remains popular. It also has a Germanic origin, though its original meaning has been lost. Finally, there is a Persian root of Ava as well from a word meaning "voice" or "sound."