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10 of the most influential baby names in history

Published: Monday, Aug. 4 2014 3:40 p.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, Aug. 15 2014 12:51 p.m. MDT

There's a lot of importance in a name. But who has made their name work for them throughout history? Here's a list of the most powerful names from throughout history.

Wavebreakmedia Ltd, Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

What’s in a name?

Actually, quite a lot.

Quartz reported Monday that a person's name has a high impact on his or her future success. Studies have suggested that particular names can actually influence the way people feel about someone and how well a person does in job performances.

So the question, then, is what names in history have been the most powerful? What names have led people to the most success?

Here’s a list of 10 names that have oftentimes been associated with the movers and shakers throughout history:

Alexander

Alexander is a strong first name that means “defender of the people,” and goes all the way back to Alexander the Great, who led many battles across most of Asia and northern Africa. In 2013, the name ranked eighth in popularity among baby boy names, according to the Social Security Administration.

alexander

Napoleon

From the infamous political leader Napoleon Bonaparte to the less historically important yet still culturally relevant fictional Napoleon Dynamite, the name has made waves across cultures old and new in the last 300 or so years. The name has also served as nicknames for U.S. generals Douglas MacArthur and George B. McClellan.

napoleon

George

There have been many Georges throughout history who have contributed to its significance and power. There was George Washington, the first president of the United States, or the many amount of King Georges, none of whom is more significant to American history than King George III. George Harrison was a famous singer and music artist; George Clooney is a popular modern day actor; and George W. Bush was president of the United States before current president Barack Obama. The name, meaning farmer, is currently ranked as the 157th most popular baby name, according to Name Trends.

george

William

There have been so many famous Williams (and Bills, for that matter) over the years that it would be impossible to count them. Meaning “strong-willed warrior,” some of the most important people in history — William Shakespeare, William McKinley, William Henry Harrison — have donned the name and made an impact on society. It’s currently ranked as the 20th most popular baby name of 2013.

william

John

John Adams. John Quincy Adams. Pope John Paul II. John F. Kennedy. John has been a dominant name in the history of the world. It was even popular back in biblical times. John the Apostle was the name of one of Jesus’ 12 apostles. In 2014, it’s the 48th most popular name for boys, according to Baby Center.

john

Noah

Noah’s back. It’s the most popular name for boys, and it also has some historical significance. Not only is it the name of an influential biblical character, but several celebrities over the years have had the name, too.

noah

Mary

Mary may only be the 121st most popular name in 2013, but there have been myriad Marys of cultural and historical significance. From the Virgin Mary to the 1990s celebrity Mary-Kate Olsen, the name has reverberated across the world since the early days of existence. Even the CEO of General Motors — Mary Barra — has the name.

mary

Henry

Can you count the amount of King Henrys there have been throughout history? Many political leaders from across the world have the name. It was also the inspiration for some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, and continues to hold an important place in many baby books across the country, ranking 37th in 2014 for popular boy names, according to the Social Security Administration.

henry

Elizabeth

When you realize the names that Elizabeth has created in its wake, there’s almost no more influential female name in history. Liz, Libby, Beth, Elise and Isabella are all names that have stemmed from the same entomology as Elizabeth. Many a queen have been named Elizabeth, as have modern day actresses like Elizabeth Mitchell and Elisabeth Shue. Elizabeth Taylor was a famous actress and celebrity, too. And who could forget St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first canonized American saint. The name is still popular today, ranking 10th in terms of popularity in both 2013 and 2012, the SSA reported.

elizabeth

Susan

Currently, Susan Wojcicki is running the Susan game, since she’s the CEO of YouTube. But the name has had importance from throughout history, too, with figures like Susan B. Anthony and Susan the dog, the Corgi of Queen Elizabeth II. Susan has dropped off in popularity recently — it was ranked 844th in popularity in 2013 — but its historical significance is everlasting.

susan

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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