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popular baby names

By Jen Simon

Is there any easier way to judge our fellow parents than by their children’s names? A name is the first thing we learn about a person. It’s how they’re presented to the world. It’s the defining declaration a parent makes when labeling his or her child. Often, parents plan for months — sometimes even years — for the perfect name, and we either approve of it, disapprove of it, or, if we’re judgmental jerks (hand raised), make fun of it.

For anyone with even a passing interest in baby names, there’s no better fodder than the countless name lists, round-ups, and slideshows. Each one serves as an indictment in its own way.

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The New International Names

international baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

There was a time when the top baby name lists of different countries reflected their own distinctive native cultures. When John and Mary headed those of most English-speaking countries, just as Giovanni and Maria and Juan and Maria and Jean and Marie et al were in first place elsewhere.

But that has changed. With the homogenization of culture in general, with an increase in international travel, the spread of the internet and global audiences watching the same TV shows, we are no longer surprised to find the Irish appellation Liam ranking high on the list in Switzerland or the Old Testament Ethan suddenly Number 3 in Monaco. This is a moment when certain names, often in a variety of indigenous forms, are spreading epidemically across the world.

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Noah's Ark - 2002 - 20x28 - Framed

Noah has unseated Jacob to become the new Number 1 name for boys – the first new top boys’ choice of the 21st century.

The boys’ side of the list claims all the hottest news, in a turnaround from the usual pattern in which girls’ names dominate the trend shifts.  Liam leapfrogs up to second place in only his second year on the Top 10, above father name William.  And the boys’ roster includes the only new entrant to the Top 10, longtime favorite Daniel, elbowing aside the trendier Aiden.

The girls’ Top 10 is comparatively stable, with Sophia and Emma maintaining their status of Number 1 and Number 2.  Olivia and Isabella switched places at 3 and 4, while Mia moved up and the traditional Emily and Abigail slid down.

The full Top 1000 baby names list for 2013, is now up on Nameberry here.

The focus on fashion changes for boys’ names with relative stability for girls is evidence of a larger shift in baby name style for both genders.  Boys are less often named for fathers and other family members and more often given names influenced by current styles and culture, while girls’ names are becoming more serious and more deeply rooted in tradition.  The result: Greater gender equality in baby names.

The 2013 US Top 10 baby names, announced exclusively on The Today Show this morning, are:

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The Most Popular Biblical Names for Boys


Biblical names have always been popular for boys, and their influence has only risen in recent years.  The dozen boys’ names here all stand below the Top 20.   Eight derive from the Old Testament, three from the New, with one – Michael – figuring in both.  A half century ago, there were fewer biblical names on the boys’ Top 20 and more of those were from the New Testament.  What hasn’t changed is that all these names are well liked and have deep roots, and will serve any boy well.  The most popular biblical names for boys today, and the figures behind them, are:

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By Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

It’s been a great week for welcoming boys!

Eric Christian Olsen, Kate Levering, Fergie and Josh Duhamel have all brought home new sons.  The parents have something in common besides making headlines.  Their naming style might be called modern classic.

On Friday, Angela wrote about some appealing and underused choices, like Patrick, Lawrence, and Lewis.

This category is different.  These are names that would have been considered unusual – maybe even strange – just a few decades back.  But today, they’re mainstream, go-to appellations.

Call them Goldilocks names.  There are buttoned-down classics like James and George, and daring never-heard-before ones like Pilot and Zuma.  Goldilocks choices are at neither extreme.  They’re just right, falling into the wide middle: very wearable, but probably not your grandpa’s name.  Sure, they might be this generation’s Larry and Jerry, Ronald and Keith.  But they make for great choices in 2013.

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