Amber is a feminine given name that has been used in English speaking countries for decades, though its popularity has fluctuated over time. When determining if a name is rare or common, onomasticians (those who study names) look at the name’s usage statistics and trends. By analyzing amber’s ranking over the years, we can get a sense of its rarity as a female given name in the United States.
Amber’s Popularity Over Time
The name amber dates back centuries but became popular as an English name in the late 1930s. Amber appeared on the U.S. top 1000 baby names list for the first time in 1937. It rose swiftly in popularity over the next several decades, peaking in 1986 when it was the 22nd most popular girl’s name. It remained in the top 50 through the 1990s.
However, like many trendy names, Amber began a decline in the early 2000s. It fell out of the top 100 names in 2004 and continued sliding down the rankings throughout the 2010s. As of 2020, Amber was ranked 488th in popularity for baby girl names in the U.S. – an over 95% drop from its 1986 heyday.
This table shows Amber’s declining popularity rank as a girl’s name over the past 70 years based on United States Social Security Administration data. As you can see, it was most popular between 1980 and 2000, peaking in 1986. However, it has declined steeply since the early 2000s.
How Common is Amber in 2022?
As of 2022, Amber is not considered a very common name for American baby girls these days. It was ranked #430 in popularity for 2021 births, with just 0.121% of female newborns being given the name that year. For comparison, the #1 girls’ name Olivia was given to 12.935% of baby girls born in 2021.
Not only is Amber not in the top 100 most popular names, it falls outside the top 400 as well. Names are generally considered uncommon in the U.S. if they are lower than top 500, and rare if they are beyond top 1000. So Amber is an uncommon name, though not extremely rare yet.
The downward trend does suggest Amber may continue declining into rarer territory. Between 2020 and 2021 it dropped 58 spots down the rankings. However, it is still given to some babies each year. In 2021, 355 newborn girls were named Amber just in the U.S.
Amber Around the English Speaking World
Looking beyond the United States, Amber appears to be an uncommon name in other English speaking countries as well recently.
In England and Wales, it was ranked #1369 in 2020 with just 35 baby girls named Amber that year. In Australia, it was down to #356 for girls in 2020. In New Zealand, it dropped out of top 100 status in 2013 and does not rank among their top 50 girl’s names currently.
Canada shows a similar pattern to the U.S. – Amber was a top 25 name through the 1980s and 1990s, peaking at #10 in 1987. But it sank in popularity after, going from 51st in 2000 to 224th by 2020. Countries linked by language trends often show similarities in naming patterns.
Based on the statistics, Amber seems to be an out of fashion name in most major English speaking countries now. It exhibits a pattern of being very common a few decades ago before going sharply down in usage.
Amber in Non-English Speaking Countries
The name Amber is strongly associated with the English language, as it derives from the English word for the yellow resin. Not surprisingly, it is quite rare in non-English speaking countries currently.
For instance, Amber does not rank among Spain’s top 300 girl names in 2022. In Mexico, it’s usage is also negligible. Research into name rankings shows little to no usage of Amber for girls in Asian countries like China, Japan, or India either in recent years.
Various European countries that speak languages other than English also show little usage instances of Amber. It is not in the current top 100 girl’s names in France, Russia, Italy, or Germany. This suggests Amber has not been embraced much as a given name outside of English-speaking Western countries.
Amber in Popular Culture
Like many name trends, pop culture can influence the popularity of a name. Amber was likely boosted starting in the 1980s by some high profile fictional characters sporting the name. These include:
- Amber Von Tussle in the 1988 musical movie Hairspray
- Amber Atkins in the 1999 comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous
- Amber Volakis on the TV show House M.D. from 2004-2012
There are not many new famous fictional Ambers in recent years. However, actress Amber Heard maintained relevancy and media attention through the 2010s into the 2020s. Still, the name has greatly declined in usage despite some continued celebrity ties.
Is Amber Still Used for Babies?
While Amber has dropped off dramatically in popularity, it is still being used in the present day. As noted above, over 350 baby girls were named Amber in the United States in 2021. The similar totals in 2020 and the year before show it is still chosen regularly.
Amber may be considered an “old lady name” by some today, as its peak usage was a few generations ago. But this vintage appeal could actually help it get chosen by modern parents interested in unique, antique-sounding names.
Additionally, Amber maintains higher usage among Hispanic Americans versus other ethnic groups. It ranked #164 for Hispanic girls in 2020 while not ranking among the top 100 for other races/ethnicities that year in the U.S.
Thanks to these factors, there are still new little girls being called Amber each year. It is not extinct or “dead” as a name choice in the present day.
In summary, based on its steep decline in popularity over the past few decades, Amber has transitioned from a common name to an uncommon one in the United States and other major English speaking countries. It is now firmly outside the top 500 most popular girls’ names, and continues to fall in rank each year.
However, Amber cannot be considered an extremely rare name either. It is still chosen for hundreds of American babies each year. It also maintains some relevancy due to occasional usage in pop culture and entertainment. But the clear downward trajectory suggests Amber will likely become more rare in the coming years. For now, it sits in uncommon name territory.