There’s something familiar-sounding about the most popular baby names in Wisconsin. It’s not just that they’re old-fashioned, although many of them are: 19th-century favorites such as Henry, William, James, Evelyn, Emma, and Eleanor are all Top 10 choices for today’s tots in Wisconsin.
It’s also that the top baby names of the past few years have shown some staying power.
Consider Oliver, the No. 1 boys’ name in the Badger State for 2019. Oliver has ranked at the top for boys in four out of the past five years, surrendering the No. 1 position only once, in 2017, when Henry was king (and Oliver was a close second). Other top boys' names in Wisconsin over the past decade include Mason (No. 1 three times) and Liam (No. 1 only once, but in the top five for the past nine years).
Meanwhile, the female counterpart to Oliver – both in popularity and (almost) in spelling – has been Olivia. The No. 1 girls’ name in Wisconsin for 2019, Olivia also topped the statewide list in 2017, 2016, 2014, and 2010. Other first-place names across the decade were Emma (three times), Evelyn, and Sophia. Charlotte and Harper have also landed frequently in the top five among girls’ names in the past few years.
To be sure, the most popular names in Wisconsin are a reflection of nationwide trends. Long gone are the days when German, Norwegian, or other European “old country” names predominated in Wisconsin. (Olafs and Heinrichs are few and far between.) And while Wisconsin, like the rest of the nation, is getting more racially and ethnically diverse, the most common names aren’t. For example, few if any of the top 100 names in Wisconsin are culturally Latino or Latina. Compare that with the list in New Mexico, where you’ll find names such as Mateo and Santiago, or Hawaii, which includes the likes of Kailani and Keanu.
Nationally, the top girls’ name in 2019 was Olivia (the same as in Wisconsin) while the top boys’ name was Liam (Wisconsin’s No. 2 last year). Overall, seven of the top 10 girls’ names nationwide were also top 10 names in Wisconsin (Olivia, Emma, Ava, Charlotte, Amelia, Harper, and Evelyn), while five of the top 10 U.S. boys’ names were also in the top 10 for Wisconsin (Liam, Noah, Oliver, William, and James).
Could Wisconsin ever exhibit a unique trend of its own? It’s possible, but it would take the right inspiration. Consider the case of Brett, a common enough name back in 1969, when a certain future Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer was born. Brett remained a modestly popular name in the ensuing decades. For example, it was Wisconsin’s 67th most-popular boys’ name in 1992, when Brett Favre first wore Green and Gold. In 1997, when Favre hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after leading the Packers to Super Bowl victory, the name had risen to 39th in the state. At the same time, Brett had fallen from the top 100 names nationwide. Coincidence, or Packer pride?
WISCONSIN’S TOP BABY NAMES (2019)
Source: U.S. Social Security Admin. (www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/)