Imagine, if you will, walking through a bustling city. You hear snatches of conversations in passing, friends calling out to each other, parents cooing to their young children. Amidst all the noise and excitement, you’re likely to hear one name repeated more than others.
Let’s embark on a fascinating journey across cultures and continents, through time and tradition, exploring the most popular first names in the world.
Most Popular First Names
1. Mohammed (133,349,300)
It’s the echo across minarets in the morning light, a word deeply ingrained in Islamic culture and history—Mohammed. With a staggering 133 million bearers, Mohammed stands as the most popular first name in the world.
Originating from Arabic, the name means ‘praiseworthy’ and is given in honor of the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. It’s widely used in countries with substantial Muslim populations, like Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran, and Egypt.
2. Maria (61,134,526)
Next, we journey westward to find the second most popular name in the world—Maria. A classic name with over 61 million bearers, Maria resonates with the melodious rhythm of romance languages and the solemn chants of biblical verses.
It has roots in Latin and Hebrew, translating to ‘wished-for child’ or ‘beloved.’ The name Maria is omnipresent, spanning cultures and continents, favored from Europe to the Americas, and points in between.
3. Nushi (55,898,624)
Our adventure brings us next to the East and the intriguing name of Nushi. While perhaps less familiar to Western ears, Nushi is the third most popular first name globally, with approximately 56 million people bearing this unique moniker.
It’s popular in parts of Asia, where names often carry rich, symbolic meanings linked to local culture, philosophy, and the natural world.
4. Jose (29,946,427)
Leaving Asia, we find ourselves amidst the vibrant cultures of Spain and Latin America, where the name Jose reverberates through the air. With nearly 30 million bearers, Jose, the Spanish form of Joseph, meaning ‘God will increase,’ is a staple in these regions.
It’s a name imbued with historical and cultural significance, from revered saints to accomplished artists and athletes.
5. Wei (17,145,807)
Next, we voyage back to the East to the bustling heart of China, where the name Wei is as common as the morning sunrise.
Wei, which roughly translates to ‘power’ or ‘greatness’ in Chinese, is bestowed upon approximately 17 million people. It’s a name that reflects the Chinese tradition of infusing names with aspirational qualities and values.
6. Ahmed (14,916,476)
We then return to the Islamic world, where the name Ahmed, carried by nearly 15 million people, resonates with profound religious significance.
Meaning ‘greatly praised’ or ‘one who praises,’ it’s another name linked to the Prophet Mohammed, adding to its popularity across Muslim-majority countries. It’s a name that reverberates from the lively streets of Cairo to the serene landscapes of Indonesia.
7. Yan (14,793,356)
Our journey takes us again to China, where the name Yan graces over 14 million individuals. It’s a unisex name that carries various meanings depending on the characters used, such as ‘beautiful,’ ‘swallow bird,’ or ‘extend.’
It’s a testament to the richness and fluidity of the Chinese language and its influence on naming traditions.
8. Ali (14,763,733)
Swooping back to the world of Arabic names, we encounter Ali, a name as old as the desert sands and as loved as a timeless tale. With approximately 14.7 million bearers, Ali is derived from Arabic, meaning ‘exalted’ or ‘noble’.
It’s a name deeply embedded in Islamic history, being the name of the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law. Ali resonates from the busy souks of Morocco to the sprawling cityscapes of the Middle East and beyond.
9. John (14,323,797)
Pivoting towards the west, we find the name John, a constant in English-speaking societies and beyond. This classic name, carried by over 14 million people, originates from Hebrew, translating to ‘God is gracious.’
It’s a name steeped in biblical lore, found in the annals of history, literature, and countless biographies of influential figures.
10. David (13,429,576)
Just a few steps behind John, we find David, another name with deep roots in religious and cultural history. This Hebrew name, meaning ‘beloved,’ is worn by over 13 million people.
David is another universally recognized name, thanks to its biblical origins and its adoption across cultures—from the towering statue of David by Michelangelo to the countless Davids contributing to our world today.
11. Li (13,166,162)
Our journey takes us back to Asia, this time encountering Li, a name shared by over 13 million people.
Li is a common Chinese name with numerous meanings, including ‘plum’ or ‘profit,’ depending on the characters chosen. It’s a perfect example of the nuanced and symbolic nature of names in Chinese culture.
12. Abdul (12,163,978)
We return once more to the realm of Arabic names with Abdul, a name steeped in religious significance. With over 12 million bearers, Abdul translates to ‘servant of the’ and is typically combined with one of Allah’s 99 attributes in Islamic tradition.
This timeless name underscores the deep spiritual connection and reverence for God found in many Muslim-majority cultures.
13. Ana (12,091,132)
Traversing continents, we land upon Ana, the Hispanic variant of Anna or Anne. Echoing in the corridors of Europe and Latin America, Ana, carried by over 12 million people, translates to ‘grace’ or ‘gracious.’
It’s a testament to the shared linguistic threads that weave through different cultures and countries.
14. Ying (12,047,080)
Journeying back to the East, we come across Ying, a popular Chinese name shared by over 12 million people.
Ying can have various meanings, such as ‘eagle,’ ‘heroic,’ or ‘clever,’ depending on the Chinese characters used, showcasing the richness of symbolic meanings in Chinese naming traditions.
15. Michael (11,471,765)
Revisiting the Western world, we find the name Michael, a staple across English-speaking and European societies.
With Hebrew roots meaning ‘who is like God,’ Michael is borne by approximately 11.5 million people. From archangels to pop icons, the name Michael has left indelible marks across history and culture.
16. Juan (11,372,603)
Our next stop brings us to Juan, a Spanish form of John, meaning ‘God is gracious.’ With over 11 million people sharing this name, Juan resonates in Spanish-speaking societies worldwide, from the cobblestone streets of Spain to the dynamic cityscapes of Latin America.
17. Anna (11,350,336)
Onward, we encounter the timeless name Anna. This name, shared by over 11 million people, hails from Hebrew, meaning ‘grace.’
While popular globally, it holds a special place in Western and Eastern European societies, contributing to its timeless appeal and universal recognition.
18. Mary (11,303,767)
Next, we find Mary, a name that shines like a beacon across time, language, and culture. With roots in Hebrew and meaning ‘bitter,’ Mary is anything but in terms of popularity.
This name graces over 11 million people and has religious and historical significance, particularly within Christian cultures.
19. Jean (11,024,162)
We then arrive at Jean, a name that sings with a distinctly French flavor. Jean, the French equivalent of John, meaning ‘God is gracious,’ is carried by over 11 million people.
Its popularity isn’t limited to France, as it can be found echoing in parts of Canada, the Caribbean, and other Francophone regions.
20. Robert (10,170,794)
We return to the English-speaking world with Robert, a name steeped in tradition and history. With Old German roots meaning ‘bright fame,’ Robert has been borne by kings, poets, actors, and scientists alike, marking its impact on various fields.
Carried by over 10 million people, this name has a presence from the highlands of Scotland to the diverse cityscape of the United States.
21. Daniel (10,026,181)
Next, we find Daniel, another name with ancient origins and global popularity. This Hebrew name means ‘God is my judge’ and is borne by over 10 million people worldwide. Daniel holds a special place in religious texts and modern cultures alike, thanks to its universal appeal.
22. Luis (9,757,245)
Venturing back to the Hispanic world, we come across Luis. This Spanish variant of Louis, meaning ‘famous warrior,’ has resonated in the lively streets of Spain, the colorful towns of Latin America, and beyond.
With nearly 9.8 million bearers, Luis reflects the richness and vibrancy of Hispanic cultures.
23. Carlos (9,618,779)
Our journey then takes us to Carlos, the Spanish and Portuguese variant of Charles, meaning ‘free man.’ Carlos, carried by over 9.6 million people, is a testament to the enduring influence of Hispanic and Lusophone cultures worldwide.
24. James (8,807,695)
Circling back to the English-speaking world, we meet James. This classic name, derived from the Hebrew name Jacob, means ‘supplanter.’
Worn by over 8.8 million people, James has firmly planted itself within the annals of history and culture—from biblical figures to modern-day influencers.
25. Antonio (8,659,274)
Our journey takes us back to the sun-kissed lands of Spain and Italy and the lively fiestas of Latin America, where Antonio resonates. This name, meaning ‘priceless’ or ‘worthy of praise,’ is a variant of the Roman family name Antonius.
Shared by over 8.6 million people, Antonio continues to charm with its melodious and timeless appeal.
26. Joseph (8,630,833)
Continuing, we meet Joseph, a name that needs little introduction. With Hebrew origins, meaning ‘He will add,’ Joseph is borne by approximately 8.6 million people.
The name has historical and religious significance in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, contributing to its widespread adoption globally.
27. Hui (8,516,339)
Lastly, we find ourselves in the heart of China once more, encountering the name Hui. This unisex name, borne by over 8.5 million people, can have varying meanings, such as ‘intelligent,’ ‘bright,’ or ‘kind,’ depending on the Chinese character used.
The name Hui perfectly encapsulates the harmonious blend of linguistic richness and cultural symbolism in Chinese naming traditions.
The popularity of these first names across the globe highlights the deep cultural ties and shared human experiences that bind us together.
These first names, whether derived from religious texts, historical figures, or aspirational attributes, are an integral part of our individual and collective identities. They represent the diverse and vibrant tapestry of our global community.