Before you pick that trendy moniker, you should know its history.
William (and Liam)
It’s a combination of Germanic words that mean “will, desire” and “helmet, protection,” loosely translated to “strong protector.” William has been popular for centuries, second only to John, with notable Wills from Shakespeare to the current English prince.
Germanic names that began with ermen (sounds glamorous, right?) were shortened into this form — meaning “whole” or “universal.” Though it’s been around since the 11th century, it saw a resurgence in the 19th — thanks to Jane Austen’s 1816 novel, Emma.
Sure, everyone knows the man from the Old Testament story, but the Hebrew moniker means “rest, comfort” — which is hopefully what everyone found on his boat. It’s been common among English speakers since the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe.
Thank William Shakespeare for this one: He’s credited with first using this spelling in the 1602 comedy Twelfth Night. (Oliver and Oliva were names during that time.) The name didn’t catch on in a big way, though, until the latter part of the 20th century. Due, in part, to a character on the 1970s TV show The Waltons.
Well, this one is just what you’d imagine: Mason was originally an English surname meaning “stoneworker.”
The most popular girls’ name in the world right now means “wisdom” in Greek. Its origins can be traced to a Greek Orthodox saint whose three daughters were martyred. Or, the name of the large basilica in Constantinople, Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”). Either way, Sophia was popular among European royalty in the Middle Ages but has had a more recent resurgence thanks to Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.
Over time, the Hebrew name Ya’aqov evolved into this English version. In the Old Testament, Jacob is the father of the 12 founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. He was born holding his twin brother Esau’s heel, which explains its literal translation as “holder of the heel” or “supplanter.” Other theories claim that it is in fact derived from a hypothetical name like Ya’aqov’el, meaning “may God protect”.
This regal name, a Latin form of Isabel, was given to a host of queens and other royalty, from medieval times through the present. It started as the Spanish and Portuguese variation of Elizabeth, which means “pledged to God” or “my God is abundance” in Hebrew.
From the Old Testament, it means “solid, enduring, firm” in Hebrew. The name started to become popular in America because of the Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen — but the credit for its current top 10 status should probably go to Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible character.
It feels like a more modern variant of Eve, but this name has been around for millennia. In Hebrew, Eve means “breath or life.” But there is a version of Ava in Persian, which means “voice, sound,” or in ancient German, which likely meant “desired.” All we know is that it’s one of the most desired girl’s names today.
No surprise: It was originally an English surname that meant “son of Jack.” (Andrew Jackson was one of its most prominent bearers, though today it’s also the first name of a Grey’s Anatomy character.) For parents that really want to find a deeper meaning, Jack was a diminutive of John from the Middle Ages. John came from the Hebrew name Yochanan, meaning “Yahweh is gracious.” So, there you go.
This one crosses cultures, starting as a Scandinavian, Dutch, and German diminutive of Maria (which is often interchangeable with Mary in many countries). It also is the Italian word for “mine.” That’s perhaps the more positive meaning, since Maria, Miryam, and Mary all roughly translate to “bitterness” or “rebelliousness.” An even more upbeat theory? It could have also originated from the ancient Egyptian names Mry or Mr, which mean “beloved” and “love,” respectively.
The name of an archangel in the Bible, Michael is literally a rhetorical question: “Who is like God?” In the Book of Revelation, he leads heaven’s armies, and thus is the patron saint of soldiers. This pick has been one of the top names for awhile, holding the number one spot for the majority of the 20th century.
It’s the English feminine form of the Roman family name, Aemilius (see EMIL), which was derived from the Latin aemulus meaning “rival.” It also has a great literary history, from the British author of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, to American poet Emily Dickinson.
With origins in Greek culture, this powerful boy’s pick means “defending men” and has been bestowed on legendary men from the conqueror Alexander the Great to inventor Alexander Graham Bell.
In the Old Testament, Abigail is one of King David’s wives, and her name means “my father is joy.”
This English name can also trace its origins from the Hebrew name Ya’aqov, so it means the same as Jacob. Fun fact: It’s the most common name for U.S. presidents, with six bearing this moniker.
Originally an English surname, it means, simply, “son of Maud.” It didn’t take off as a feminine name until the 1984 movie Splash, where the heroine names herself after a sign for New York City’s Madison Avenue. (For parents wanting a deeper definition, Maud comes from the German Mahthildis, meaning “strength in battle.”)
The Hebrew prophet Daniel, whose name means “God is my judge,” survived the Old Testament lion’s den and foretold the apocalypse. And inspired millennia of baby names.
All hail the new queen, well, princess of baby names. This French pick came to England in the 17th century — and was given to such notables as Jane Eyre writer Charlotte Bronte. Differing definitions exist, though: The likely theory is that it came from the German name Karl, meaning “man.” But alternative suggests it came from the Germanic element hari, which meant “army, warrior.” We just think it means “adorable British princess!”
There’s no place like home, right? This Greek moniker literally means “from Lucania,” which is a region in southern Italy. Luke, like the New Testament doctor, is also an anglicized version of this name.
The vibrant choice means “life in Greek. But this vibrant choice was also adopted as a translation of Eve by Hellenized Jews. Go figure. Despite sounding uber-trendy, this name has been around since before the 11th century.
Apparently, this surname derives from a Scottish Gaelic name for a place that meant “little hollow.”
Another surname, given to someone who made harps. (Shocking!) Americans all know it because every school-aged kid has to read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
It’s an Anglicized form of the Irish name Aodhan or Áed, which mean “fire.” Kind of like its blazing rise up the baby name charts.
Yes, exactly like the flower. It’s a symbol of purity.