Watch out for 'Jerry' and 'Judith' as 1940s baby names rise in popularity

Some of the most popular baby names of the 1940s are coming back in fashion – but not all of them.

baby with blue towel on head
(Image credit: Alamy)

Some of the most popular baby names of the 1940s could be on their way back with parents today taking inspiration from the decade. 

Choosing the right baby name isn’t always an easy task. Do you go for a unisex baby names, a beautifully-sounding baby name or a name that's a little more unique?  The possibilities are (almost) endless. 

If you’re stuck, why not follow the lead of some other new parents and take a look at some old-fashioned baby names, including ones that were most popular in the 1940s? 

We tend to associate the ‘40s with World War II, as well as some iconic film, music, and literature. And many of the decade's biggest stars would influence the most popular baby names of the time, like Henry Fonda, James Stewart, and Betty Grable. 

James in particular is one of those timeless names that will never truly fade out of popularity. Today reports that James was the most popular baby boy name of the 1940s in the US, according to the Social Security Administration's database. And, it was still in the top five in 2023, coming in at number four. 

And, William – fourth in the ‘40s – remains in the top ten at tenth place eighty years later. Henry, meanwhile, has increased in popularity, jumping from 37th to eighth. 

Not every name from the ‘40s has returned to popularity, however. Ronald, which was at the peak of its popularity in 1943, according to BabyCenter, only just cracks the top 1,000 baby names in 2024, at 961, for example. 

And, interestingly, it tends to be male baby names from the ‘40s that are coming back, or have remained popular. None of the top ten baby girl names from last year were in the top 40, even, in the 1940s. 

So, if you’d like to help set one of the latest baby name trends, why not opt for a 1940s name? We might see some more little Jerrys and Judiths running around the playground in a few years’ time. 

  • Mary
  • Linda
  • Barbara
  • Patricia
  • Carol
  • Sandra
  • Nancy
  • Sharon
  • Judith
  • Susan
  • Betty
  • Carolyn
  • Margaret
  • Shirley
  • Judy
  • Karen
  • Donna
  • Kathleen
  • Joyce
  • Dorothy
  • Janet
  • Diane
  • Janice
  • Joan
  • Elizabeth
  • Brenda
  • Gloria
  • Virginia
  • Marilyn
  • Martha
  • Beverly
  • Helen
  • Bonnie
  • Ruth
  • Frances
  • Jean
  • Ann
  • Phyllis
  • Pamela
  • Jane
  • James
  • Robert
  • John
  • William
  • Richard
  • David
  • Charles
  • Thomas
  • Michael
  • Ronald
  • Larry
  • Donald
  • Joseph
  • Gary
  • George
  • Kenneth
  • Paul
  • Edward
  • Jerry
  • Dennis
  • Frank
  • Daniel
  • Raymond
  • Roger
  • Stephen
  • Gerald
  • Walter
  • Harold
  • Steven
  • Douglas
  • Lawrence
  • Terry
  • Wayne
  • Arthur
  • Jack
  • Carl
  • Henry
  • Willie
  • Bruce
  • Joe

If you’re on the hunt for the right baby name, why not take a look at our baby name generator, or try out this Tinder for baby names app? Or, take a look at these gender-neutral baby names or even the highest-earning baby names

Freelance writer

Adam is an experienced writer who regularly covers the royal family and celebrity news for the likes of Goodto, The List, The Metro, and Entertainment Daily. However, you can also find Adam covering relationships, mental health, pet care, and contributing to titles such as Creative Bloq.