Popular Baby Names: Sophia, Jacob new Number 1s!

May 14, 2012 Pamela Redmond
most popular names

The most popular baby names of 2011 are officially here, with Sophia unseating Isabella to become the the new top girls’ name in the U.S..

Jacob remains the most popular name for boys for the 13th year in a row.  An Old Testament name that means “supplanter” and a cousin of James, Jacob has been in the Top Ten for nearly two decades.

The Social Security Administration announced the 2011 Most Popular Baby Names on The Today Show this morning.

The complete Top Ten are:


  1. Sophia
  2. Isabella
  3. Emma
  4. Olivia
  5. Ava
  6. Emily
  7. Abigail
  8. Madison
  9. Mia
  10. Chloe


  1. Jacob
  2. Mason
  3. William
  4. Jayden
  5. Noah
  6. Michael
  7. Ethan
  8. Alexander
  9. Aiden
  10. Daniel

The overall Top Ten for girls remains the same, with Sophia and Isabella changing places at 1 and 2 from last year and Mia and Chloe trading Numbers 9 and 10. On the boys’ side, Anthony dropped off the list to be replaced by Mason. Aiden and Jayden, if all spellings were taken together, would be Numbers 1 and 2, according to the SSA commissioner.

The celebrity baby name influence is evidenced by two of the hottest names in the news. Mason, a new number two boys’ name, is the name of Kourtney Kardashian’s baby boy.  And Harper, the fastest-rising name for girls, was chosen last year by Victoria and David Beckham for their first daughter.

Mason is also the name of Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby.  And two celebrity-influenced names, Briella from Glam Fairy and Brantley ala country singer Brantley Gilbert, are the fastest rising in the Top 500.  Other fast rising names include Angelique, from Dark Shadows, and the unlikely Iker, name of Spanish soccer star Iker Casillas Fernandez.

An ancient Greek name meaning wisdom, Sophia jumped from last year’s second place to claim the top spot.

Sophia is only the tenth name in history to be the U.S. Number one for girls.  The othrs are, in reverse chronological order, Isabella, Emma, Emily, Jessica, Ashley, Jessica (again), Jennifer, Lisa, Linda, and Mary.

Only six names, including Jacob, have held the top spot for boys.  Counting backwards from Jacob, they are Michael, David (for one year only, 1960), Michael again, Robert, James, Robert (again), and John.

Though Sophia has been on the U.S. Top 1000 every year since the beginning of recorded baby name history in 1880, the year the American government began keeping statistics on infant names, it nearly fell off that list in 1956 before beginning a new ascent.

Sophia entered the Top 100 for the first time in 1997 and hit the Top 10 in 2006.  Evidence of parents’ taste for strong feminine names with significant history for their daughters, Sophia shares much with other top girls’ names Isabella, Olivia, and EmmaSophia is the name of an early saint, royalty, and classic literary characters.

Contemporary namesakes include Sophia LorenSophia Bush, Sofia Vergara, and Sofia Coppolla.  The Latinate Sofia spelling and short form Sophie are also popular, though counted separately by the Social Security Administration.  Sylvester Stallone is the father of a Sophia.

Jacob is an important Biblical patriarch, the youngest son of Isaac and Rebecca and the husband of both Leah and Rachel.  The twelve tribes of Israel evolve from his twelve sons.  Jacob and short form Jake also have a Western flavor stylish today.  Variation Jacoby is also rising through the ranks.

Though Jacob was tops on the list of popular baby names before the advent of the Twilight books and movies, that series has helped keep the name at Number 1.  The most famous real-life contemporary Jacob is actor Jake Gyllenhall.

What names are new to the Top 1000?  Thanks to one of the original friends of Nameberry, Nephele, we have this exclusive list of names that have just jumped into the Top 1000:



Check out the complete new list of the Top 1000 Most Popular Baby Names on Nameberry!

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles


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