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top-ten

by Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

These names could be your middle-aged neighbor or a kid in your child’s class. These names are all familiar. Most are traditional. Most are likable. Most are timeless.

And not one has ever made the top 10 on the Social Security list since 1880.

To me, this seems remarkable.

These names seem like they should have hit the top 10 by now. Take a look at the list and tell me if you agree:

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popular names 2012

The most popular baby names of 2012 are officially here, with Sophia and Jacob holding onto their Number 1 spots.

Jacob remains the most popular name for boys for the 14th year in a row.  An Old Testament name that means “supplanter” and a cousin of JamesJacob has been in the Top Ten for nearly two decades.

Sophia, which took the crown as the Number 1 girls’ name last year, is a Greek name that means “wisdom.”  It entered the Top 10 in 2006.

Arya and Major were the fastest-rising names for 2012.  Arya’s popularity stems from the show and book Game of Thrones, while Major is a military name featured on reality TV show Home by Novogratz.

Second fastest-risers Gael and Perla are widely used by parents of Spanish descent.

The Social Security Administration announced the 2012 Most Popular Baby Names on their website this afternoon.

The complete Top Ten are:

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Popular baby names go through cycles: They rise to the top, but then in a year or a decade, most fall away to be replaced by….

Well, by new names that are often pretty darn similar to the old ones.  In the 80s, Jennifer was number one, until it was replaced by JessicaEmily held the top spot for several years, and then was supplanted by Emma.

The reason for this same-but-different pattern is so simple and logical it hardly bears stating — but we’ll do so anyway.  Popular baby names, by definition, are those that are favored by a wide range of people.  Except once they become too popular for too long, parents don’t want to choose them, no matter how much they may still like them.

So they look for names that are the same, but different.  That have some twist that makes them new, while retaining the appeal of the originals.

Many of the most popular baby names today have close cousins waiting in the wings, ready to move up and replace the well-liked but overused favorites of today.

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