Stop struggling through mediocre baby girl names and check out the best of the best, according to the Social Security Administration.
Why it’s big: Back on top of the Social Security Administration’s most popular names after a few years lower on the list of baby girl names, Emma is timeless yet also feels fresh. It’s steeped in classic literature, such as the Jane Austen character and Madame Bovary (her first name was Emma), and modern day characters like Rachel and Ross’s baby on Friends. With both heroines and movie stars bearing the name, Emma is strong but at the same time feminine.
- Emma Bunton, from the Spice Girls
- Emma Roberts
- Emma Stone (pictured)
- Emma Thompson
Meaning: Olive tree
Why it’s big: Foodies and pacifists aren’t the only ones who love this olive-inspired name. What makes it great is its versatility. Olivia could be a tomboy or princess-obsessed—and her name would be equally fitting. Olivia has quite a history. Its roots trace back far with its “olive tree” meaning and its association with the masculine name Oliver in William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” People with this title are among good company with famous Olivias like TV characters Pope and Benson and actresses Wilde, Munn, Williams and Newton-John.
- Olivia, the children’s book pig
- Olivia Munn (pictured)
- Olivia Newton-John
- Olivia Wilde
Why it’s big: Sophia fell two spots from No. 1 in 2013 to No. 3 last year, but that doesn’t mean this classic name isn’t still uber-popular. Keep in mind that its alternative spelling, “Sofia,” is No. 12 on the list of baby girl names, so you’re still bound to meet plenty of baby Sophias and Sofias. The name sounds sophisticated and worldly, and most of us instantly think of glamorous Sophia Loren when we hear it.
Famous Sophias and Sofias:
- Sophia Bush
- Sofia Coppola (pictured)
- Sophia Loren
- Sofia Vergara
Meaning: God’s oath
Why it’s big: Here’s another name with Old Hollywood flair—Isabella Rossellini is probably the most famous Isabella. Hailing Italian roots, Isabella has European style. Plus, it’s got two very different nicknames your little Isabella could adopt, depending on which best fits her personality: Izzy or Bella.
- Isabella Jane Cruise, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s daughter
- Isabella Damon, daughter of Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso Damon
- Isabella Rossellini (pictured)
- Isabella Swan, a.k.a. Bella from Twilight
Meaning: Form of Eve, which means, “life giving”
Why it’s big: Ava is short and sweet, and it’s a palindrome (a word that’s spelled the same backwards and forward), but those aren’t the biggest reasons it has skyrocketed from No. 25 to No. 5 on the baby name charts in just a decade. Ava is a name that exudes confidence, poise and determination.
- Ava DuVernay, writer, producer and director (pictured)
- Ava Gardner
- Ava Jackman, daughter of Hugh Jackman and Deborra Lee Furness
- Ava Phillippe, daughter of Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon
Why it’s big: Mia is a charming name that’s been steadily climbing the SSA’s baby names list for the past decade-and-a-half. Add it to the list of European names that have been hitting it big. It’s a modern take on the more traditional Maria or Mary and a good choice if you want a less fussy, yet still pretty girl’s name.
- Mia Farrow
- Mia Hamm, professional soccer player
- Mia Kirshner, actress (pictured)
- Mia Sara, actress from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!
- Mia Wasikowska, actress
Why it’s big: Whether you hope to raise an accomplished poet or a drama queen, Emily would be the right fit. Emily is easy to spell and timeless—it will never trip people up and will never go out of style. Emily reigned as the No. 1 girl’s baby name for pretty much all of the 2000s, and it’s gone down slightly in recent years, but we don’t expect it to disappear anytime soon.
- Emily Blunt (pictured)
- Emily Bronte
- Emily Dickinson
- Emily Post
- Emily Watson
Meaning: Father’s joy
Why it’s big: Abigail has held strong on the Top 10 of the SSA list since 2001. It fits right in with the other names on this list that carry a nostalgic feel. In fact, two early 19th century U.S. first ladies had this name. And while Abigail might seem super formal, “Abby” is a casual and current nickname.
- Abigail Adams, former first lady
- Abigail Breslin, actress (pictured)
- Abigail Filmore, another first lady!
- Abigail Spencer
- Abigail Van Buren, Dear Abby columnist
Meaning: Son of Matthew
Why it’s big: Maybe it’s posh Madison Avenue or college town Madison, Wis., parents are naming their babies after. Or maybe it’s the cute nickname Maddie that’s won them over. No matter what the inspiration, Madison originated as a last name or boy’s name, but now it’s much more likely you’ll meet a little girl who goes by it.
- Madison Davenport, actress (pictured)
- Bailee Madison, actress
- Dolley Madison, former first lady
Why it’s big: Remember: This is a list of 2014’s top names according to the Social Security Adminstration, so Charlotte made the list before Prince William and Kate Middleton named their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. While it’s down from No. 7 the previous year, we’re expecting this name to spike back up closer to the top, now that Royal Baby No. 2 has been bestowed it. Charlotte has literary ties (Charlotte Bronte, Charlotte’s Web and more), pop culture influence (Charlotte from Sex and the City comes to mind) and royal roots, so it’s a good fit for a variety of personalities. And if she’s not a girly girl, Charlie makes a fun nickname.
- Charlotte Bronte
- Charlotte Forten, civil rights activist
- Charlotte Hawkins Brown, educator and suffragist
- Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (pictured)
- Charlotte Rae, actress from Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life