The name at its lowest level of popularity since WWII

Michael is facing extinction as a name in the US, with newly released figures showing it was given to that less than 14,000 baby boys last year -  the lowest on record since 1940.

During the 20th Century it topped the list of boys baby names for 43 out of 44 years, the longest reign for males in the 20th century.

But it is thought that parents seeking individual names for their children have led to its decline. 

Michael was the ninth most popular male name in the 1940s, given to 336,556 children. The first was James, with 795,663 for boys, and Mary with 640,012 for girls.

By the 1950s the name was second most popular, and 10 years later Michael took the top spot with 833,343 – holding its position for 30 years.

However in the 1990s the name was dethroned by Jacob and between 2010-2016, only 109,542 baby boys were named Michael.

British Actor Michael Halliday, who’s currently filming The 12, told The Independent that he was surprised to find the name in decline.

“I've found Michael to be a very common name in my life," he said. "Usually there is at least one ‘Michael’ in my school and places of work. Plus loads of pop stars and actors have the name”.

Some have attributed the name's popularity to famous figures, including the late musician and icon Michael Jackson, film star Michael J Fox and legendary basketball player Michael Jordan. 

However, when Michael Shackleford, now 51, worked in America's Social Security Administration, he became annoyed by the popularity of his name.

So when his wife became pregnant in 1996, he used a one per cent sample of Social Security card applications to find out which names were the most popular, so he could avoid them.

The project became the federal rankings used today to tally the 1,000 most popular names in the US.

Mr Shackleford told The Wall Street Journal:  “It was a personal goal of mine to kill (the name Michael). By itself it’s a fine name, but if any name becomes too popular, it just ruins it.”

Those wishing to find out which names are the most common can now use the  Social Security Administration’s annual baby names list

According to Country Living, modern parents want their child to be uniquely named, swapping traditional names in favour of monikers inspired by pop culture. 

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