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2009 Baby Names: What Was In, Out, Hot, Not This Year

Baby Name Trends

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.

EMMA unseated EMILY, which slipped to number three, after a 12-year-reign.  ISABELLA moved up to number two, but if taken together with sister ISABEL and ISABELLE, would have been the number one name.

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 only new entry to the girls’ Top Ten was CHLOE, replacing Hannah.  The boys’ Top Ten remained the same.

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….

MARELY

AUDRINA – The nouveau name of another reality star, Patridge

MARLEY – The original spelling of the name of both the dog and reggae star Bob.

DANNA

JASLENE — From America’s Next Top Model.

LILAH

PAISLEY

MILEY – Teen star Cyrus

For boys, the most dramatic movers were:

JACOBY — as in Ellsbury, of the Boston Red Sox

KANE

BECKETT

PAXTON

KALE

AUGUST

BRAYLON

RYKER

KINGSTONGwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale’s son.

KOLTON

Other trendy names getting a boost from their celebrity associations include, for girls:

VALENTINA (Salma Hayek’s daughter)

RIHANNA – The pop singer

KIMORALee Simmons, mom of newborn Kenzo.

HAYDEN – For girls, after Panettiere, star of Heroes

MALIA – Inspired by the older Obama daughter

For boys, other celebrity-inspired hotties include:

RIVER – The name of Keri Russell’s son.

MILOLiv Tyler’s choice for her little boy.

JUDE – Actor Law.

KOBE – Basketball star Bryant.

CRUZ – Spanish choice inspired by the youngest son of Victoria and David Beckham.

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:

ESME

FLORENCE

FREYA

HARRIET

HOLLIE

IMOGEN

MAISIE

MILLIE

NIAMH

POPPY

ROSIE

TILLY

And for boys:

ALFIE

ARCHIE

EWAN

FREDDIE

HARVEY

LOUIE

THEO

ZAK

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):

VIOLET

IMOGEN

CHARLOTTE

MAEVE

SCARLETT

RUBY

ISLA

STELLA

HARPER

OLIVIA

And for boys:

FINN

ASHER

JASPER

HENRY

JAMES

KAI

ATTICUS

SAWYER

MILO

JACK

Other names that ranked high on nameberry users’ favorites list included, for girls:

MATILDA

IRIS

LUCY

ADELAIDE

ALICE

CLAIRE and CLARA

AMELIA

CLEMENTINE

ELIZA

BEATRICE

And for boys:

OLIVER

FELIX

OSCAR

JUDE

LEO

LIAM

OWEN

ELI and ELIJAH

BENJAMIN

JACKSON (Michael‘s death, oddly, should propel this one upward)

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