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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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clairenecklace

Novelist Ann Hood, bestselling author of The Knitting Circle and The Red Threadexplores the interplay between naming children and naming the characters in her newest book, The Obituary Writer

When I chose the name Claire for one of the protagonists of my new novel, The Obituary Writer, I thought I’d found the perfect name for a woman living in 1961. To me, Claire sounded sophisticated without seeming snobby; feminine but not girlish; and although not unusual a name, it was also not common.

So imagine my surprise when I started to read another novel partially set in the early 1960s, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, and found a protagonist named Claire. The feeling was similar to the day I showed up at a Mommy group with my baby son Sam and every other boy there was also named Sam.

After I got over discovering this other literary Claire, I wondered if Jess Walter and I were somehow tapping into a hot new name trend. But no. Claire has been solidly in the Top 100 girl names for a decade, and among the U.S. Top 1000 since they started keeping records in 1880.

Unless, I thought, characters’ names in novels influence baby names, especially if those books are made into movies ala Love Story and its infamous influence on the popularity of Jennifer?

Lots of parents seem to have been influenced by the romantic hero of Nicholas Sparks’ novel-turned-blockbuster-movie The Notebook to name their sons Noah. In the 1980s—two decades before The NotebookNoah’s popularity held steady in the 200s and only made a big leap upward in the late 1990s when the book was first published, jumping again in 2004 after the movie came out.  By 2011, Noah had moved all way up to the fifth most popular boys’ name.

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