The Baby Name Madison

The classic-sounding name is a modern-era phenomenon

Cute baby girl with hat sitting on the grass.
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Though the name Madison has been an overwhelmingly popular name for girls since the mid-1980s the historic meaning is anything but girly. Madison is derived from the Germanic medieval name, Matilda, which means "strength in battle." Talk about girl power, right? So when picking out a name for your future warrior princess or corporate CEO, Madison might be the perfect choice. Something tells me Beyonce would approve of this name, too.

Another theory about the name's roots is that it's a variant of Mathieson, an English surname meaning son of Matthew. Some say that Madison literally means "Son of Mad," with "Mad" often meaning Matthew. Like a lot of historical names, this one would have been pretty practical and described a boy was was literally, the son of someone named Matthew. But hey, that's not necessarily a bad thing, since "Matthew" means "Gift From God." Not too shabby to be the son of the a gift from God, right? Alternatively, Madison is said to have derived from Mathilda, which means "battle mighty." All in all, it sounds like Madison is a pretty strong name for a baby girl.

But most modern Madisons probably owe their name to a 1984 movie about a mermaid in the big city. Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah starred in Ron Howard's romantic comedy Splash. Hannah's mermaid character picks a name for herself by looking to a New York City street sign for inspiration.

Popularity of Madison

Madison did not appear on the girls' name charts until 1985, making her debut appearance at rank 628. She then climbed the charts rapidly, breaking into the top 50 names in 1995, then within the top 10 in 1997. She hit the No. 2 spot in 2001 and 2002, and has remained in the top 10 consistently since 2000.

Madison was the ninth most popular name for baby girls in 2014, followed closely by Charlotte. From 2003 to 2007, Madison stayed firm as the third most popular girls' name in the United States.

However, despite its recent popularity, Madison does not make the list of Top 100 Names of the Past Century for either boys or girls.

Middle Names for Madison

Since Madison is for all intents and purposes, a modern name, it often pairs nicely with more traditional monikers for a middle name. Madison Elizabeth, Madison Rose and Madison Kate are a few possible options. 

Nicknames and Spelling Variations for Madison:

A common nickname for Madison is Maddy or Maddie. There are numerous varied spellings of the name, which at times seem a little unnecessary, since the name is ultimately pronounced the same. But versions such as Maddison, Madasyn, Madisyn, Madason and Madyson are a few of the other ways to spell this popular name.

What to Name Madison's Brother or Sister

Parents looking for a name for a sibling that complements Madison might go for other classic-sounding names that are actually modern reboots. A sister could be Avery, Mia, Mackenzie or Sophia. Names for boys that would pair well with Madison include Cooper, Aiden, Noah and Jacob.

Madison Fits a Few Baby Name Trends

Madison fits in the trend, inspired by Hollywood celebrities, of using what is traditionally a last name as a first name (Cooper, Hunter, Jackson, etc). Madison can also be grouped into the trend of using presidents' names for babies.

Famous People Named Madison

There aren't that many, which is surprising given the name's popularity, but there are some famous people named Madison, including

  • Madison Hedgecock, Football Player
  • Madison Pettis, Actress
  • Madison Riley, Actress

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