The biggest baby name news of 2009 was Emma’s rise to the number one spot for girls’ names, becoming only the ninth girls’ name in U.S. history to claim first place.
On the boys’ side, the name that would be number one if the Social Security Administration counted all spelling variations together was AIDEN (and AIDAN and AYDEN, et al), which taken together account for more boys than received longtime number one name JACOB.
The names making the fastest leaps up the popularity ladder showed a strong celebrity influence, especially for girls. The Top Ten Fastest Movers for girls were:
KHLOE – As in reality star Kardashian
MARLEE – And Me….
AUDRINA – The nouveau name of another reality star, Patridge
JASLENE — From America’s Next Top Model.
For boys, the most dramatic movers were:
JACOBY — as in Ellsbury, of the Boston Red Sox
Other trendy names getting a boost from their celebrity associations include, for girls:
RIHANNA – The pop singer
HAYDEN – For girls, after Panettiere, star of Heroes
For boys, other celebrity-inspired hotties include:
Even fictional characters have an influence. One name newly on the baby-namers’ scope is SLOANE for girls, thanks to the character on HBO’s Entourage. For boys’, COHEN entered the mix, via the surname of the popular character on The O.C., along with SILAS, name of the older son on Weeds and DEXTER, Showtime’s lovable mass murderer. And all the Twilight names, from EDWARD to CULLEN to BELLA to ESME, are newly in favor.
Sloane was new to the Top 1000, along with GEMMA, ISLA (as in red-headed star Fisher), MATILDA (daughter of Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger); and for boys, CALLUM, extremely popular throughout Britain but a newcomer to the U.S.
Once a name starts getting more popular, it tends to keep getting more popular, according to one new study that received a lot of attention this year. Todd Gureckis, an assistant professor at NYU, and Robert Goldstone, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana U-Bloomington, concluded that in recent decades, “names have a momentum that pushed changes in popularity in the same direction year after year.”
Other name studies of note this year included one from Shippensburg University that found that boys with unpopular names are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system than those with widely-used monikers. And a Pew Research Study found that second and third generation Hispanic parents in the U.S. are less likely to use typically Latin names….even as distinctly ethnic names received more widespread acceptance.
Name trends around the world diverged widely from those in the U.S., even in English-speaking countries. Names on Britain’s Top Ten for girls that are not among the U.S. Top names are RUBY, SOPHIE (Americans prefer SOPHIA), LILY, AMELIA, EVIE, JESSICA (a number one name in the late 1980s in America, but now dropping fast), and GRACE.
For boys, names on Britain’s Top Ten that are vastly more popular than they are in the U.S. include: JACK (at or near the top of the list in most other English-speaking countries but still rising here), OLIVER, THOMAS, HARRY, ALFIE, and CHARLIE (yes, in their short forms).
A number of names in the UK top 100 don’t appear in the US top 1000 at all! These include, for girls:
And for boys:
On nameberry in 2009, the most popular names were different from those in the general population. The Top Ten Most-Viewed, for girls were (in order of popularity):
And for boys:
Other names that ranked high on nameberry users’ favorites list included, for girls:
And for boys: