Every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) releases baby naming data from the previous year giving new parents a glimpse of which baby names are currently most popular among new parents across the US. The data, while huge in scope, is not terribly comprehensive when it comes to a myriad of factors. For Black History Month, we wanted to know specifically which names are moving the needle for African-American newborns. Because the SSA does not incorporate race into their findings, we had to do a little digging.
Thankfully, the folks over at BabyCenter discovered that four states: Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas, Texas, and one very big city, New York City, are the only places in the US that rank baby names by popularity taking into account race. While this is not the very best sample it is a fine metric as these places are diverse and represent different parts of the country except for the West Coast. We dug in to find which baby names for Black girls are trending. Here are the 25 most popular African-American baby names for girls right now!
Aaliyah is the feminine variation of Aali, a masculine Arabic name meaning “high” or “exalted.” There are many further spellings of the name, including Alia, Aliyah, Aleah, and Aleia. In Hebrew, aliyah means “rising,” and points to Jewish immigration to Israel. Thanks to the iconic singer Aaliyah’s the most popular spelling today. Last year, it was the 70th most popular baby name for girls.
Alexis was a top 20 girls’ name from 1994-2010 but has endured a decline in popularity in recent years though now it’s one of the top unisex names. Alexis is the short form of Alexandra, which is equally popular. The name has Greek origins and means “defender.” Alexis Marie “Lexi” Nucklos-Allen is a notable Gospel singer with this classic name.
Alyssa was in the top 20 baby names from 1997-2010 and peaked as the 11th most popular girls’ name in 1998 and 1999 but has become less widespread in recent years. It’s related to the flower alyssum as well as to the classic Alice and variants giving it the meaning “noble.” Alyssa Thomas is an American professional basketball forward for the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA and makes for worthy baby name inspiration.
Many more sightings of earthly Angels of both sexes have been reported recently, with a good proportion of them Latino males. Thins English word name means exactly what you think it does! It’s been a top 1000 pick for baby girls since 1961. Mel B and Eddie Murphy named their daughter Angel Iris Murphy Brown when she was born in 2007.
Aniyah is a clear favorite among African-Americans, and similar to names like Zaniyah, Taniyah, Saniyah and Janiyah. You can spell it with or without the H and both options are in the US top 1000. This modern invented name means “grace.”
Brianna Perry AKA Lil’ Brianna is an American actor and rapper from Miami who become the youngest person ever to be signed by Missy Elliott’s label, The Goldmind Inc. Brianna might sound like an invented name, but it has Irish origins as a form of Brian which means “honorable.” It entered the US popularity list in 1976, rose to the top 100 in 1988, then got as high as number 14 in 1999. It’s still a top 200 pick today!
Chloe appeared in Greek mythology as an alternative name for the goddess of agriculture and fertility, Demeter. She was referred to as Chloe in the spring months, due to the name’s relation to sprouts and growth. Chloe is also mentioned in the New Testament as the name of a Greek Christian woman. The name means “sprout.” American treasure Toni Morrison’s full name is Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison. We could think of no better person to inspire a baby name.
If Destiny is your daughter’s destiny, she likely won’t be the only one in her class. Until 2009, Destiny was in the top 50, with a trio of its alternate spellings in hot pursuit. The name has since slipped a bit in popularity but is still widely used. Destiny Jones, born in 1994, is the daughter of rapper Nas. We also urge you to consider this one as a middle name if you don’t feel it has a place as a first. It’s really wonderful there as well.
Diamond White is an American singer and actress. In 2007, she starred in a Chicago-based production of The Color Purple that toured nationally. Diamond is another D-name like Destiny that as dipped in popularity in recent years, but it is still widely used. This sparkling name means exactly what you think it does.
One celebrity mom that we absolutely respect and admire is Gabrielle Union. It’s been a firm top 500 name since 1978 and its beauty and elegance will keep there for years to come we imagine. Gabrielle is the female form of Gabriel that was invented in France though it comes from Hebrew origins that mean “God is my strength.”
Hailey and the many spelling variants that can come from it is one of America’s most beloved names. The spelling Hailey achieved the most success in 2010 when it cracked the US top 10 list. Hailey has English and Scottish origins and means “Hay’s meadow.” However you decide to spell it, you will have a winner with this name.
Another strong Arabic name, this one is popular throughout the Muslim world, and was chosen for her daughter by actress Jasmine Guy. Imani means “faith.” The name was most popular in the nineties and it rests just outside of the US top 500 today. We hope it does not go far because we really love this appellation.
Isis was best known as the name of the supreme Egyptian goddess of the moon, sky, magic, motherhood and fertility, revived by feminists and others. Her followers stretched far from Egypt’s shores and was worshipped in the Greco-Roman world as well. This gorgeous Egyptian name means “throne.” American reality TV star Christopher “Big Black” Boykin named his daughter Isis Rea Boykin when she was born in 2008.
As cool as the precious green stone said to transmit wisdom, clarity, justice, courage, and modesty, Jade has been rising in popularity since the seventies. The name has Spanish origins and means “stone of the side.” It sits just outside of the US top 100 today.
Jasmine was derived from the Persian word yasmin, referring to the jasmine flower. Scented oil was made from the plant, and it was used as a perfume throughout the Persian Empire. Variants include Jazmin, Yasmin, Yasmine, and Jessamine. The name has been popular in the US since the seventies. It’s now a top 500 baby name for new parents. This one means “gift of God.” Jasmine Guy is an American actress, director, singer and dancer. She named her daughter another name on this list, Imani.
Not quite as unusual as it might seem, Jayla first entered the popularity list in 1995, as an alternative to the very popular Kayla. Today, you will find it firmly in the top 500. It’s a modern spelling of Jaalah, a Hebrew name that means “ascend.” David Darnell Brown, best known by his stage name Young Buck, is an American rapper who chose this baby name for his daughter, Jayla Brown, born in 2003.
Jordan is one of America’s most beloved unisex baby names. It spiked following the international fame of one of the greatest athletes of all time Michael Jordan entered the scene. The Hebrew name refers to the holy river and it means “flowing down.” “Roll, Jordan, Roll” is a spiritual in which “The River Jordan of the song became a coded message for escape, calling to mind the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers, both of which led to the slave, free northern United States and thus freedom.”
Oh, hello to the name we just mentioned. Kayla leapt from relative obscurity due to a soap opera, Days of Our Lives, in the 1980s to become a mega-popular. It’s popularity has faded slightly since it hit the high mark of number 12. In Arabic tradition, this name means “wise child.” In Hebrew, you get “laurel” or “crown.” Former NBA star and currently a commentator, Kenny Smith gave his daughters two names on this list in Kayla Brianna Smith who is an accomplished singer and actor.
Kennedy has emerged as one of the country’s most popular names for baby girls and over the last decade it has enjoyed the height of its popularity. Even though this Irish baby name has a funny meaning, “misshapen head” it is not stopping new parents from flocking to it. Born in 1994, Kennedy LeVon Kirkland is NFL player Levon Kirkland. We think he made an excellent choice!
Kiara is a baby name that can be found in dozens of naming traditions from Italian to traditional Aboriginal origins found in modern-day Australia to Korean. Suffice to say, this name can essentially mean whatever you would like! Kiara has been in the top 1000 since 1988 and while it has slipped since its height in 1999 it’s still a top 500 option today. The name even has Disney credentials as it was the name of Simba’s daughter in The Lion King! Kiara also proves one perfect vehicle to get parents to the adorable nickname KiKi.
Makayla Epps is an American professional women’s basketball player. She last played for the Chicago Sky of the WNBA. Makayla is a girl’s name of Hebrew origin meaning “who is like God.” This name is the perfect female form to honor a relative or loved one named Michael. Last year, the name was the 263rd most popular name for girls. It has been in the top 500 since 1993.
Nevaeh has had phenomenal success since singer Sonny Sandoval introduced the idea of turning Heaven around and using it as a baby name. Especially popular with religious parents, Nevaeh has been in the top 100 for a decade now! Interestingly, a number of professional athletes have chosen this pretty name for their daughters.
Taylor is one of the prime gender-neutral surnames used for girls and has also been a soap opera favorite. Taylor was in the top 10 for the last several years of the twentieth century, so that now it tends to feel a little nineties, but we’re still into it. We also love the charming nickname Tay, a lot!
Tiana gained a lot of popularity after Disney bestowed this pretty name upon its first African-American princess. The name has been in the US top 1000 since 1975 and it peaked in the nineties. While it has dipped slightly it’s still a very favored baby name. The name has Slavic origins and means “fairy queen.”
Trinity bounded up the charts after the release of The Matrix, whose heroine was named Trinity. It’s still a top 200 name. This Latin name means “triad.” But, it could hold religious significance as it relates to the Holy Trinity. Trinity Rodman is the name of Dennis Rodman’s daughter. We absolutely love that parents are still choosing this treasured name.
There you go! We hope you enjoyed these popular baby names for African-American girls. These beloved names will not do you wrong, and they’ll be in very good company. This list is meant to inspire you and we hope you got some ideas for your own little girl. Happy baby name hunting!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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