Modern Baby Names for Boys

Filed under: Babies, Baby Names

Is Jacob from "Twilight" the inspiration behind your baby boy's name? Credit: Peter Kramer, AP

Once a popular biblical name, the name Jacob has experienced a renaissance in recent years to become the most popular modern baby name for boys in the past decade.

Though it may be tempting to give a certain teenage werewolf credit for driving the name's wave of popularity (Isabella is the top baby name for girls; both names are characters in the uber-popular "Twilight" saga), Jacob began shooting up the name ladder in the 1970s, long before werewolves and vampires began clashing in digital surround sound.

But, while popular culture does seem to drive many name trends, other modern baby names follow their own rules. Many modern boy names that top today's popularity charts also echo names of the past, and some, including Jacob, are experiencing a revival after falling off the radar for a few decades. While still other names have withstood the test of time and have remained popular throughout last 100 years.

Joseph is a modern baby name with Hebrew origins that has consistently ranked near the top of the baby name charts for the last century. Likewise, William is a perennially popular pick with roots that can be traced to German origins. Popular with saints, presidents and spies, James also has witnessed history from a consistent perch near the top of the baby name popularity charts.

Similar to Jacob, Benjamin and Samuel are both modern boy names that were common in the past and experienced an extended dip in popularity before returning to en vogue status. All three names began their climb back to the top in the 1970s, after steady declines since the late 1800s.

Many names, including Jacob, with Hebrew origins and biblical prominence also have shot up the modern baby name charts. Unlike Jacob, however, some of these names are enjoying a view from the upper echelons of baby boy name popularity for the first time.

Ethan, Joshua and Noah have all joined Jacob in today's top 10 most popular modern baby names for boys. In 2009, those three names ranked second, sixth and ninth, respectively. While these names may have biblical roots, there are plenty of modern pop culture reference points to help their resurgence, as well. Elijah and Gabriel also have recently come into favor as modern boy names after languishing in relative obscurity during the 20th century.

Some of the fastest rising modern baby names for boys include Jax, Cullen, Colt, King and Emmett.

Jax, Cullen and Colt have only recently appeared on the scene. The three names have made some of the most dramatic climbs in the recent rankings after not registering as a blip for most of the last century. Likewise, King and Emmett also have experienced a rapid upward trend, though those names can at least be traced back to minimal to moderate usage in the late 19th Century.

Cullen, of course, is the vampire surname in "Twilight," and Emmett is one of the Cullens. Whether those names live on as long as the vampires who inspired them, well, we'll just have to wait and see.

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