Though some baby names, such as Emily, Katherine, and Benjamin, have been popular and common for hundreds of years, many of the most popular names for children in the United States today have gained prominence only in recent years. Many of the current top names feature unique spellings or are gender-neutral, meaning that they can be used for either a boy or a girl.
In the Social Security Administration's list for 2006, many of the names in the top ten were names that had been popular for generations, such as Emma, Emily, Samantha, Michael, Matthew, Anthony, and Christopher. However, farther down on the list of popular names for children, more creative and original names appeared, such as Kaley, which was number 41 for girls; Avery, 66 for girls; Aiden, 49 for boys; and Mason, 42 for boys.
Names of Biblical origin, such as Mary, Jacob, and Joseph, are still among the most popular names for children of both genders, as they have been for hundreds of years. Recently, the name Nevaeh has also become popular among Christian families — the 70th most popular girl's name is a reversal of the word "heaven." The United States' large Latino community is also evident in today's most popular baby names, with common Spanish names like Juan, Angel, and Jose appearing on the most popular boys' name list.
Unusual spellings have also become common, particularly for girls' names. Some of the names on the list include Kaitlyn, Kaylee, and Katelyn. For the top ten boys' names, there were 86 spelling variations. For the most popular girls' names, there were 163 different forms of spelling. Some of the most popular names that can be used for either a boy or girl baby are Taylor, Morgan, and Riley.
Among modern celebrities, it has become a trend to pick extremely unusual names for babies. Actor Nicolas Cage named his son Kal-el, after the birth name of comic book superhero, Superman, while magician Penn Jillette named his daughter Moxie CrimeFighter.