Barbie and Ken baby names have soared in popularity - here's the meaning behind them

Barbie or Ken, are they in your Top 10?

Main image baby with rollers in and drop in of Barbie and Ken dolls
(Image credit: Getty)

Barbie and Ken-inspired baby names are on the rise - after reports of a three-fold increase in searches online but what do they actually mean?

Deciding what to call your baby can be harder than choosing the best cot mattress or best school shoes (when they're ready to hit that milestone). Lining up choices of baby names that are unique or cool baby names to the most popular baby name.

And now there's a new wave of names in the running, inspired by the hit toy doll and movie Barbie, with the original doll itself inspired by creator Ruth Handler's daughter. Not only has the film sparked a surge in the number of 90s-inspired toy baby names but it's also got parents-to-be searching online for the lead star names Barbie and Ken. told entertainment site TMZ, that its site has seen an increase of 300% for Barbie and 200% for Ken in July alone.

The name Barbie has the meaning 'stranger' according to the site. It reads, "Diminutive form of Barbara. Barbie, the famous fashion doll by Mattel. The name Barbie is primarily a female name of American origin that means Stranger."

The baby names site has recorded that people who like the name Barbie are also said to like;  

  • Bella 
  • Bambi 
  • Breanna
  • Hannah
  • Lily
  • Bellatrix
  • Daisy
  • Oliver
  • Ethan
  • Adrian
  • Caleb
  • David
  • Aaron
  • Daniel

According to other names they saved while browsing the site for inspiration. But if Barbie isn't quite right, alternative names that are like Barbie include Barb, Bravo, and Brava.

Barbie style doll in a box

(Image credit: Getty)

Meanwhile Ken, has a Scottish origin and means 'handsome'. The website explains, "Short form of of the name Kenneth. Also a Japanese name meaning "Good Health, Intelligent." And gives a nod to some famous Ken's including, Ken Howard, actor. Ken Kesey, author and "Barbie and Ken" teenage dolls by Mattel.

People who like the name Ken also like;

  • Liam
  • Kenneth
  • Kevin
  • Aiden
  • Ethan
  • Aidan
  • Aaron
  • Lily
  • Eva
  • Charlotte
  • Naomi
  • Lydia
  • Molly
  • Eve

But if Ken's not for your baby, similar alternatives include;

  • Kame/ Kane
  • Kasim
  • Kawena
  • Keagan/Keegan/Keena/Keenan/Keene
  • Kenna/Kennan/Kenny/Kenyi/Kenyon
  • Keon
  • Keyanna
  • Kiana
  • Kim/Kimi/Kimmy
  • Kin/Kina
  • Kione/Koen/Konane
  • Kuma/Kumi
  • Kyna/Kynan
  • Kimani

Close up photo of smiling dark-eyed baby boy in blue t-shirt lying on stomach with his doll and toy on white sheet outdoors in summer day.

(Image credit: Getty)

Barbie was named after the inventor of Barbie, Ruth Handler’s daughter, Barbara, and Ken after her son, Kenneth

And while the names might be experience a resurgence, throughout the early to mid-60s, the baby names were popular with between 70 and 100 babies per million named after the iconic doll, reports Social Security Administration.

Popularity of the names spiked in 1964 for Barbie and in 1963 for Ken.

While it remains to be seen if anyone calls their future children Barbie and Ken, it might make a cute twin baby name choice.

Explore other baby name ideas including Disney baby names for boys and girls, and Bridgerton-inspired baby names to name but a few.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)