Each generation has popular names that define it. For The Greatest Generation, it is John and Mary. For Baby Boomers, it is Linda and Gary. And for the Millennial generation, it is Jessica and Michael. Baby name database Nameberry crunched the numbers, tabulating the most popular names for babies born between 1982 and 2004 to uncover the names that dominated over those 20+ years. If you are a Millennial, chances are, your name will appear on this list!
We’ve got the 20 quintessential Millennial baby names for each gender and the total number of babies who received each. Folks with these names have aged into adulthood, making them sound and feel like mom and dad names because they are. Now, let’s take a look back in time to uncover the names that define the generation!
Most Popular Baby Names for Millennial Girls
1. Jessica (757,533)
Jessica is an English name with an unknown meaning. Shakespeare likely invented it for The Merchant of Venice. Jessica was the name to beat for Millennial girls. Of the 1000 most popular baby appellations today, it takes the number 508 spot, a dramatic decline from just a couple of decades ago.
2. Ashley (716,529)
Ashley is a unisex name that has performed much better for girls than boys in the US. Ashley is a name of English origin, meaning “from the ash tree meadow.” Ashley has had more staying power than Jessica. Today, it ranks at number 154.
3. Amanda (522,245)
Amanda is a gorgeous name of Latin origin that means “she must be loved.” It was the third most popular name for Millennial girls. Today, the name pales in comparison, ranking at 463.
4. Sarah (517,780)
Sarah is a name of Hebrew origin that means “princess.” The name was most popular through the Millennial years, but it has been a beloved choice since baby names began being recorded in 1880. The appellation has never dropped below 120. Today, it’s 94.
5. Jennifer (514,385)
Jennifer is the Cornish variation of the Welsh name Guinevere. It means “white shadow” or “white wave.” Jennifer was a popular pick throughout the Millennial years, but it was also a massive hit in the 1970s as well. Today, the name ranks at number 502.
6. Emily (475,353)
Emily is a feminine form of Emil, a name of Latin origin, meaning “rival.” Emily is one of the few names that continued to be popular among Gen-Z babies. The name has been in the top 20 since 1987!
7. Samantha (410,105)
Samantha is a feminine form of Samuel, of Hebrew origin, meaning “told by God.” Samantha first entered the chat in the 1960s before skyrocketing to the top for the Millennial generation. Today, Samantha ranks number 106.
8. Elizabeth (403,989)
Elizabeth is a classic name of Hebrew origin that means “pledged to God.” It is one of America’s most cherished options and has been in the top 25 since 1880. Today, it takes the fifteenth spot.
9. Stephanie (360,574)
Stephanie is the feminine form of Stephen, a name with a Greek root that means “garland.” The name has fallen from favor today but still ranks in the top 500.
10. Lauren (342,725)
Lauren is an English name (from Laura) of Latin origin, meaning “laurel.” Today, Laura is more favored by new parents. Lauren ranks number 327 now.
11. Nicole (341,634)
Nicole was a relative newcomer to the popularity charts before becoming a hit for Millennial babies. The French name comes from a Greek root that means “people of victory.” Today, the name lands at number 322.
12. Brittany (341,515)
One of the names on this list that was popular only for the Millennial generation, Brittany, tanked in the late 2000s and only ranks 848 today. Ouch! Brittany is a name of English, French, and Celtic roots, meaning “from Briton.”
13. Megan (341,174)
As with Brittany, Megan has also fallen very far. Today, it ranks at number 729. Megan is a Welsh, diminutive form of Margaret, meaning “pearl.”
14. Rachel (315,566)
Rachel was a top 200 name from 1880 until 2020. Impressive! Now, it sits at number 244. Rachel comes from a Hebrew root and means “ewe.”
15. Hannah (284,662)
Hannah feels like a timeless classic that’s been popular forever. The numbers tell a different story. In the US, Hannah’s prevalence deeply dipped from the 1940s through the early 1970s. The Millennial generation got this name most, but it is still rather well-used today, ranking at 47.
16. Kayla (267,757)
Kayla went virtually unused in the US until the 1960s. It took off in the eighties, landing on many Millennial girls’ birth certificates. There are plenty of older Gen-Z folks with this name as well. It ranks at number 279 today. Kayla comes from a Semitic root, found in both Arabic and Hebrew, meaning “laurel” and “crown.”
17. Melissa (267,513)
After fading for decades, Melissa began to climb again in the 1930s. It was slow to get up the hill, but by the Millennial years, it was a hit. It now sits at number 377. Melissa is a name of Greek origin that means “honeybee.”
18. Amber (267,392)
Amber is one of the names that has only been popular from the 1980s to the early aughts. Today, it ranks 542. Amber is an English name that refers to fossilized resin.
19. Danielle (247,517)
Danielle was a big hit from the 1960s to the nineties, sitting comfortably in the top 20 for several years. It’s still in the top 500 today, ranking at 477. Danielle is the French diminutive form of Daniel, a name with a Hebrew root that means “God is my judge.”
20. Taylor (241,847)
Taylor came out of nowhere and began landing on birth certificates of little girls in the late seventies. It shot up the popularity charts in the following years, being a top ten name for the nineties. It ranks 217 today. Taylor is an English occupational name meaning… “tailor.”
Most Popular Baby Names for Millennial Boys
1. Michael (1,131,021)
Among Millennial babies, Michael was by far the leader for both sexes, with over 1.1 million boys named Michael in those 20+ years. So many Michaels! The name has been in the top 100 since 1880! It is still incredibly popular today, but not as much as 15 years ago. Michael is a name of Hebrew origin that means “who is like God?”
2. Christopher (925,809)
Christopher has been in the top 400 since 1880. It was the second most given name for Millennial babies. It has slipped in recent years, falling to 56. Christopher comes from a Greek root adopted by the Romans, meaning “bearer of Christ.”
3. Matthew (856,718)
A thing you will notice about baby boy names is that they are more static than those for girls. Names for girls tend to trend and then fade, while appellations for boys stick around. We don’t make the rules; it just is what it is. Save for a couple of years, Matthew has been in the top 200 since 1880. Today, it sits at 39. Matthew is a name of Hebrew origin that means “gift of God.”
4. Joshua (779,372)
After declining for several decades, Joshua took back off in the late forties. From 1973-2019, the name was in the top 50. It fell out of it a couple of years ago and now ranks 54. Joshua comes from a Hebrew root. Are you catching a theme with these Hebrew appellations for boys? The name means “the Lord is my salvation.”
5. Daniel (663,363)
Daniel is a name of Hebrew origin that means “God is my judge.” Daniel is one of America’s favorite names. It has been in the top 50 since records started in 1880, spending most of those years in the top 20. Today, it is only the slightest bit less prevalent than it was for the Millennial generation, ranking at number fourteen.
6. David (649,402)
Historically, David is even more beloved than Daniel. It has been in the top 30 since 1880. For most of those years, it was a top-ten choice. It has been slipping but still sits at 30. David is a name of Hebrew origin, meaning “beloved.”
7. Andrew (629,809)
The Millennial creator of this list you’re reading has this name. Andrew has been in the top 100 since 1880. Millennial baby boys got this name more than any generation, but it was also popular among Boomers and Gen-Z. Andrew is a name of Greek origin, meaning “strong and manly.” It ranks at number 57 today. Andrew is the only name in the top ten for Millennial boys that does not come from a Hebrew root.
8. James (609,005)
James is such an overwhelmingly popular name in the US that its worst years, in terms of popularity, were the Millennial ones, but it still ranked as the sixth most given name for boys! Bananas! James was a top-ten name in the US until 1993, when it fell out, but returned to it in 2014. James is a name of Hebrew origin, meaning “supplanter.”
9. Joseph (607,257)
Joseph was in the top 20 from 1880-2015. A wildly popular option in the US! Today, the name has fallen to the thirtieth spot. Joseph comes from a Hebrew root that means “Jehovah increases.”
10. John (581,023)
John was the most given name for boys in the US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was the name to beat for many decades. John is still popular, but relative to its previous dominance, the sunset years began in the Millennial generation. It fell out of the top ten for the first time since records began in 1987. Since then, it has fallen to the 26 spot today. John is a name of Hebrew origin, meaning “God is gracious.”
11. Nicholas (564,865)
Nicholas is a name of Greek origin, meaning “people of victory.” It has had its ups and downs through the years but has always sat in the top 200. The appellation saw its most popular years during the Millennial generation, ranking as high as sixth in 2000. Today, it ranks at number 98.
12. Ryan (563,706)
Ryan is a name of Irish origin, meaning “little king.” The name ranked in the top 1000 for the first time in 1906 before falling out of it until 1946. Then, it slowly climbed, landing in the top 50 for the first time in 1972. Ryan was a favorite for Millennial babies, but now it ranks at number 74.
13. Jacob (559,709)
Jacob has been in the top 400 since 1880, not ascending to the top 20 until 1989. It was a dominant name for Millennial baby boys. Jacob comes from Latin but is derived from Hebrew, meaning “supplanter.” It ranks 32 today.
14. Brandon (541,039)
Brandon became popular in the US by the 1950s, when it landed in the top 1000 for the first time. It has fallen since the Millennial years, ranking at 211 today. Brandon comes from an English root that means “broom-covered hill.”
15. Justin (530,206)
If you look at a graph of the popularity of Justin, it looks like an EKG. Up and down over and over. Then, the Millennial babies came, and Justin became more established. Its best-performing year was 1988, when it hit number seven. Justin is a name of Latin origin, meaning “justice.”
16. Robert (518,841)
Robert was in the top five from 1907 until 1971. It is one of the most popular names for boys and men in the US and has been for over a century. It fell from the top ten for the very first time in 1990. This name is so popular that despite declining through many of the Millennial years, it still ranked in the top 20! It’s now at 84. Robert is a name of English and German origin, meaning “bright flame.”
17. William (516,650)
William has remained in the top twenty since records started in 1880. It was less popular during the Millennial years than before or after them. The early nineties were an all-time low for the appellation. Today, it ranks sixth. William is a name of German origin, meaning “resolute protector.”
18. Anthony (490,498)
Anthony is a name of Latin origin, meaning “from Antium.” Since 1883, Anthony has been in the top 100. The name dominated during the Boomer and Millennial generations but fizzled out for Gen-Z. Today, it ranks 44.
19. Jonathan (463,631)
Jonathan didn’t crack the top 100 until 1962. But, it was Millennial boys’ parents who made this appellation an established one. Today, it ranks 79. Jonathan comes from a Hebrew root that means “gift of Jehovah.”
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20. Tyler (437,610)
Before the Millennial generation, Tyler was not an established choice. It ranked number 9 for the entirety of the 1990s. Now, it has fallen to 164. Tyler is an English occupational name for a “tile maker.”
There you go! Now, you know the most popular baby names given to the Millennial generation. We hope you enjoyed learning about these appellations and how they helped shape the Millennial identity.
- 1 Most Popular Baby Names for Millennial Girls
- 1.1 1. Jessica (757,533)
- 1.2 2. Ashley (716,529)
- 1.3 3. Amanda (522,245)
- 1.4 4. Sarah (517,780)
- 1.5 5. Jennifer (514,385)
- 1.6 6. Emily (475,353)
- 1.7 7. Samantha (410,105)
- 1.8 8. Elizabeth (403,989)
- 1.9 9. Stephanie (360,574)
- 1.10 10. Lauren (342,725)
- 1.11 11. Nicole (341,634)
- 1.12 12. Brittany (341,515)
- 1.13 13. Megan (341,174)
- 1.14 14. Rachel (315,566)
- 1.15 15. Hannah (284,662)
- 1.16 16. Kayla (267,757)
- 1.17 17. Melissa (267,513)
- 1.18 18. Amber (267,392)
- 1.19 19. Danielle (247,517)
- 1.20 20. Taylor (241,847)
- 2 Most Popular Baby Names for Millennial Boys
- 2.1 1. Michael (1,131,021)
- 2.2 2. Christopher (925,809)
- 2.3 3. Matthew (856,718)
- 2.4 4. Joshua (779,372)
- 2.5 5. Daniel (663,363)
- 2.6 6. David (649,402)
- 2.7 7. Andrew (629,809)
- 2.8 8. James (609,005)
- 2.9 9. Joseph (607,257)
- 2.10 10. John (581,023)
- 2.11 11. Nicholas (564,865)
- 2.12 12. Ryan (563,706)
- 2.13 13. Jacob (559,709)
- 2.14 14. Brandon (541,039)
- 2.15 15. Justin (530,206)
- 2.16 16. Robert (518,841)
- 2.17 17. William (516,650)
- 2.18 18. Anthony (490,498)
- 2.19 19. Jonathan (463,631)
- 2.20 20. Tyler (437,610)
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