Southern classrooms are about to be filled with these two names.

Melissa Locker
September 19, 2017

Southerners have very specific taste and that extends far beyond insisting on Duke’s mayonnaise in our sandwiches or extra sharp cheddar in our pimiento cheese. The latest survey of the nation’s most popular baby names shows that Southerners have very specific taste when it comes to naming our children, too.

Most states set themselves apart from their neighbors when it comes to choosing baby names. For instance, out West, the states all go their own way with Emma, Olivia, and Mia taking the top spots for girls, while Liam, Oliver, and Noah were the top pick for boys. In the South, though, Southerners from Mississippi to North Carolina all agreed that two names were superior to the others—Ava and William.

 According to the Social Security Administration’s data, in 2016 Ava and William were the most popular boy and girl names in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. While most of the South agreed that kindergarten teachers would have their hands full keeping all the little Avas and tiny Williams straight, some of the Southern states offered a few variations on the theme: Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky all chose William for boys, but Tennessee and Kentucky made Emma the most popular name for little girls while Virginians chose Olivia.

There were a few outliers, of course. The most popular names in Texas were Emma and Noah, while Florida went with Isabella and Liam, and Louisianans named their children Ava and Liam.

The real outlier was West Virginians, though, who named their children Harper and Mason, which just might settle the argument about whether West Virginia is truly a part of the South.