MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The South loves traditional baby names.

The state’s list of most popular boys’ names has remained mostly unchanged throughout the decades, showing that certain names are forever classics. When it comes the girls, however, names tend to stick around for a few years, and then disappear. The exception appears to be Emma, which has had a strong showing for almost two decades.

In 2020, William, Noah, James, Liam and Elijah topped the most popular boys in South Carolina, list, while Ava, Olivia, Charlotte, Emma and Amelia were the most popular for girls.

News13 analyzed baby name data from the Social Security Administration to find which names have stayed consistently popular in South Carolina. Lists for 2020, 2028 and 2016 were used, before jumping to examine data between 2010 and 1960 at five-year intervals.

Here are the state’s most historically popular names:


Feel like royalty?

Whether you’re a Will, William or Bill, you have lots of company. William has been South Carolina’s top baby name for boys from 2020 to 1995, and is consistently in the top five since the Social Security Administration began collecting the data in 1960.

The name is of English origin and means “resolute protection,” according to Nameberry. Its popular nickname, Liam, has also been on the list in the last decade.


Marginally less popular than William is James, which has also stayed in the top four since 1960.

The name has a devious background, however. In Hebrew, James means “supplanter” (essentially an usurper) according to Nameberry.


Is this one surprising? The traditional name has been in the top 10 every year that was sampled but has not risen above third place.

The name means “God is gracious” in Hebrew.

Biblical inspiration

Matthew has consistently made the top 10, with Noah, Elijah and Michael also having strong showings.


This Latin girl’s name has outdoorsy roots, meaning life, bird and water island. The short moniker was the top girls’ name for South Carolina in at least 2020, 2018 and 2016, and came in fourth in 2010.


Consistently one of the top baby names in the U.S. for almost two decades.

The German name means “universal.”


Meaning “olive tree” in Latin, Olivia took second place in at least 2020 and 2018, was in third in 2016, was fourth in 2010 and was in sixth place in 2000.

Ends in “A”

Although girls’ names tend to stay popular for a much shorter time than those for boys, South Carolina appears to prefer names that end with an “a.” In 1960, eight of the top 10 girls’ names — Donna, Cynthia, Linda, Brenda, Sandra, Barbara, Debra and Patricia — ended with the letter!

Other popular “a” names on the historical list include Amelia, Isabella, Sophia, Anna, Kayla, Jessica, Amanda, Melissa, Angela, Tonya, Lisa and Pamela. The similar-sounding Sarah and Hannah have also come and gone.

Y” sound

A good portion of the girls’ names either end with a “y” or an “ey.” If you’re looking for inspiration, try out the once-popular Riley, Emily, Destiny, Courtney, Brittany, Ashley, Tiffany, Kimberly, Stephanie, Mary or Amy.