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

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!

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47 Responses to “Popular Baby Names: Sophia, Jacob new Number 1s!”

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Saracita00 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 8:44 am

Congratulations on the “scoop” over the weekend on this news! I’d love to go see the full SSA list, but I’m not sure your link above is correct.

isabel_r Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 8:48 am

Jeez! from 12 to 2 for Mason, that’s a huge jump!

kashed22 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 9:00 am

I am shocked by Mason being #2 and Ethan, which I thought had the best chance of unseating Jacob at #1 eventually, falling to #7.

Elisabeth Rae Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 9:11 am

I can’t believe how far Ethan and Michael fell! Michael has been at the top for so long.

Also, just think gow popular Sophia actually is, with the Sofia variation so close behind, in the top 20 now!

Dove14 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 9:50 am

I’d love to see a post about the “true” top ten, taking into consideration spelling variations!

TinaBina Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 9:56 am

Am I the only one who is most surprised that Malaysia is a top 1000 name? Where the heck did that come from haha.

trich323 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:03 am

Juniper (love it!) and Flynn are the only new names to the top 1000 I like at all. The rest are mostly odd spellings of perfectly good names. Maxim is a pretty cool name, but Maksim? And I’m curious to know the origen of some of the other new names, such as Rivka and Vihaan.

I wonder if the TV show Bones is responsible for the resurgance of Temperance? I haven’t heard it anywhere else.

And I’m also very surprized by the big drop for Ethan. It’s a handsome name that I thought would replace Jacob soon.

kyemsma Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:06 am

I am not surprised William moved up 2 spots!

BritishAmerican Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:13 am

Good to hear where the fast rising pop culture names came from – I had no clue about all of those – not even the Packers kicker and I’m in WI.

Dorothy is also new to the top 1000. I looked that one up right away, as that’s one I’ve been watching. It’s at #937 after being absent for 4 years.

adoptimist Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:19 am

I was surprised by a couple things! Mason as #2?! Wow! But then, on the other hand, the girls top 10 didn’t change at all! Some of the top 10 (Emma, Emily, Madison) seem like they’ll never drop in popularity!

As for the newcomers to the top 1000, I was surprised that Flynn wasn’t already there! Temperance surprised me! How cool!

Pansy Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:33 am

I was surprised that Mason is #2 for boys as I haven’t run into any babies names this (Maybe it’s ranked lower in my state?). Also surprised about Juniper and Temperance cracking the Top 1000.

amberdaydream Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:34 am

Nice one, America! 🙂 Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail. There isn’t a single name in the top 7 that doesn’t deserve to be there!

Amalia just entered the top 1000, as well.

katybug Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:52 am

The jump Mason made is amazing, given how much less boys’ names change than girls. When you have a minute, Pam and Linda, I’d love to hear your opinions on the twins’ names lists on SSA’s website. Wow! There are some lovely combos and some cringeworthy ones. An is it just me or do the names seem a little dated?

ellenelle Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:02 am

I saw Temperance and thought Bones must have sparked that, too! And I agree with AmberDayDream: while we can give the Top 10 names some flack for being so popular, these really are a lovely bunch to have in top. 🙂

Nephele Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:05 am

@trich323: Rivka is a feminine Hebrew name, more familiar to the English-speaking world as “Rebecca.” Vihaan is a masculine Sanskrit name (from India) meaning “morning; daybreak.”

I think you’re right about the television series Bones contributing to the popularity of Temperance. And I’m with you about the name “Juniper” – I love it! I love just about all botanical names.

Elisabeth Rae Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:11 am

Yes, I believe the rise of Rivka is part of the increase in popularity of Hebrew names. I.e., Chana is actually in the top 100 in NJ and NY state I believe.

ellenelle Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:15 am

And OH MY GOSH YES, katybug, the twins list is insane!! I mean, so many of these pairs are so close (Ethan and Evan). But my “faves” (by which I mean, “Whyyyy?”):

Paris and London (14 pairs born)
Heaven and Neveah (29 – oy)
Serenity and Trinity (10 – unexpected)
Mia and Mya (10)

Jayda and Jayden (17) plus Jada and Jayden (12) plus Jayden and Jayla (8)
Taylor and Tyler (12)
Landon and London (11)
Oliver and Olivia (11)

Jeremiah and Jeremy (12–what?)
Jayden and Jaylen (26)
Jayden and Kayden (25)
Ayden and Jayden (16)
Chance and Chase (20)

Didn’t mean to get too off topic, but you’re right–WOW.

Elisabeth Rae Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:16 am

Nephele, thanks for compiling that list!

I have to say, I find most of the new entries to me pretty sad. I mean, how many spelling variations do we need?? Kailynn, Kendyl, Aubri (The Aubreys and variants seem to be gaining a huge jump this year), Maksim, and Graysen? They just seem unneccessary. And what on earth is Maxton?

I will say I’m happy to see Kohen, as it seems a simple solution to the Cohen issue.

lorencs3 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:21 am

Does anyone have the link to the file with all the names given to 5+ babies in 2011?

Nephele Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:36 am

@Elisabeth Rae: Glad you enjoyed. As for spelling variations, I don’t really mind them, so long as they don’t get too crazy. Spelling variations in names gives more flexibility to anagrammatists like me. 🙂

@lorencs3: When you go to the SSA names site at http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames click on the link that says “Background Information.” On the next page, click on the link that says: “Beyond the top 1000 names.” You’ll see the links for downloading zipped files, for both national and state-specific data.

kgcg31 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 11:56 am

Cute as a button Hattie, also broke the top 1000 at 993.

notsoclevername Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I was pretty close with my guesses for the top 10 girls but I was WAAAAAY off for boys. And, ellenelle, you’re right. those combos for twins are just awful! I’m generally ok with slightly matching names but some of them are just too close for comfort.

skizzo Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Wow some of the boy twin names are so boring and unimaginative. John & James? Joshua and James? Christopher and Christian? Daniel and Gabriel? Puke.

Nephele Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

@kgcg31 Sorry, but Hattie has been on the Top 1,000 Girls Name lists before — from 1880 through 1968. It went out of style for a long time, and now it’s back on the Top 1,000 List in 2011.

But I agree with you that it’s a cute name!

CountryLizB Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Pearl made a big leap from 960 in 2010 to 814 in 2011.

Names4real Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

According to my calculations,

This is the True Top Ten (spelling combined)


Sophia (same)
Isabella (same)
Olivia (up 1)
Emma (down 1)
Emily (up 1)
Chloe (up 4)
Ava (down 1)
Madison (same)
Abigail (down 2)
Zoey (up 18)


Aiden (up 8)
Jayden (up 2)
Jacob (down 2)
Jackson (up 19)
Mason (down 3)
William (down 3)
Michael (down 1)
Ethan (down 1)
Noah (down 4)
Caden (up 126)!!!

pam Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for this, Names4Real. So hard to know if one is truly counting all the spellings! But it does feel closer to reality and definitely a cautionary tale for all parents considering names than end with the -aden sound.

And on the Twin Names issue, yikes is right. Is there something about having twins that brings out particularly cutesy impulses? Paris and London, Jayden and Kayden….. oh nooooooo.

We’ll be bringing you more stories and insights and further lists over the coming days and weeks.

KAshley Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for compiling that list of true names!! There is a website “name nerds” or something that usually does a list with all spelling variations… so interesting to see in that light. When choosing a name if popularity (or lack of popularity), is important to you it would seem like a good idea to see how your name stacks all variations considered

MollyKat78 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 4:01 pm


Saracita00 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I should have come back and checked here before I went calculating! Indeed, combining all the spelling variations of Aidan easily obliterates the two variations for Jacob.

Here are the numbers:
Aiden 15,389
Ayden 6,085
Aidan 3,685
Aden 1,193
Adan 900
Aidyn 363
Aydin 355
Aydan 342
Total: 28,312

Jacob 20,153
Jakob 899
Total: 21,052

Would love to see a blog on the “true” top ten! And yes the twin names were real doozies. 29 pairs of Heaven/Nevaeh girls, oh help!

milasmama Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Hahaha. As someone who has lived in Malaysia for a couple of years I really can’t get behind that name!

I find “Arian” very unsettling. It looks to me like “aryan”.

AngeliaRose Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I cried a little inside seeing that Hendrix has cracked the list :'[ lol That was one of my “secret” names.

PrincessNoriBori Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I’m pretty sad that Sophia is number one … I’ve always LOVED that name, and even when it was in the top ten I thought I could deal with it. Now that it’s number one, I’m officially not allowed to use it anymore. 😉 I’m not even remotely surprised, though, Sophia is such a beautiful name!

rachelmarie Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Seeing Liv in the Top 1000 genuinely worries me… It has been off of the list for forever, and I am only hoping it doesn’t continue to rise in popularity. Give me 10 more years or so, America! Just wait 10 years to use that name, then you can have it!

pam Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 7:49 pm

PrincessNoriBori — I agree! It’s definitely a gorgeous name and even at Number 1 a tempting choice. It has so much going for it!

esrever88 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Yay, I’m a runner-up!

I’m pretty shocked that Mason rose all the way to #2 – I had predicted #10 to be on the safe side but wouldn’t have been surprised if it was somewhere around #6 or #7, since I’ve heard it a TON lately.

Mark it down – I’m predicting the #1 names of 2020 in advance: Elijah and Lily. I’ll bet money that I’m right! Hehe.

ebenezer.scrouge Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Lily when combined with Lilly is already number on in Australia and Sophie is more popular than Sophia. The spelling Maddison is more popular here than Madison.

auroradawn Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Well, I was right about Sophia replacing Isabella while Jacob stayed on top, but I missed most of the others. Though I see that, taking all the spellings together, I was right about Jackson cracking the Top Ten! I agree it’s pretty amazing that Mason leaped so far.
I taught an art class the other day that included Amelia, Emily, Olivia and Sophie–all lovely names, which is why they’re so popular! I just get a wee bit bored hearing them so often.
And I might as well vent, too–why would anyone on Earth name twin girls Heaven and Nevaeh??

Mcdonak1 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

There were 135 girls named Beatrix born last year, including mine. Also 140 girls named Beatriz and 387 named Beatrice. I can live with 662 of them, although it kind of sucks to have the least popular variant of a name. Everyone always thinks that I am saying Beatrice when I tell them her name. But oh, well. Beatrice made a decent jump to #707. Go, Team Beatri(ce/z/x)!

nate_evie Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Glad that I convinced my DH that Sophie and Sophia were too popular for our 2010 baby (though our daughter’s name was up 46 slots in 2011).

Also, haven’t seen mention here of nameberry favorite Charlotte: up 19 slots to #27–I think it is officially popular. We’ll see if that black-mark (popularity) knocks it down in 2012, as seemed to happen with Isabella. This may have an especially strong effect since Charlotte tends to be favored among those for whom name-popularity is seen as a particularly bad thing. It would be interesting to see the naming trends for Isabella for the first half of 2011 vs. after the SSA announcement that it crushed the competition in 2010.

alibaba Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 12:20 am

I was happy that my daughter’s name- Eliza- fell 15 spots from 2010. I know it’s popular on this site but doesn’t seem to be in the general public.

pam Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 6:27 am

Nate_Evie, you bring up an interesting topic: Names that are popular among people who don’t like popular names. Charlotte definitely qualifies!

And Mcdonak1, I like the way you zero in on something I think many of us do, not wanting the name we chose to get megapopular, but feeling kind of insulted at the same time when it doesn’t!

Alibaba, Eliza is a personal favorite of mine so I’m also happy to see it’s slipping a little (though ever so slightly insulted too– it’s so deserves mass adoration!).

Jwilson Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 6:29 am

Does anyone know when the state specific data will be posted by the SSA? Thanks!

Elisabeth Rae Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 10:09 am

Jwilson, they said on the site it will be the 18th.

trich323 Says:

May 16th, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thanks for responding about the backgrounds of the names, Nephele.

Alibaba, I have an Eliza too was happy to see it drop slightly. I was beginning to worry it was going to skyrocket like some of my other favorites have recently. I’m very comfortable with Eliza being in the 200’s–very recognizable but not terribly common!

bbeth47 Says:

May 19th, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I am so sad that William moved up! In Wisconsin it went from 10 to 3! I dont know a single William (that is a baby or toddler).

it’s not unique… it’s just spelled wrong. « adventuresofandiepants Says:

May 26th, 2012 at 12:36 pm

[…] Anyway, I’ve been what i call a “name nerd” for most of my life. I love names, I love discovering the meaning behind names, I love watching the trends of certain names and how they rise and fall. and watching this trend of inventing a name, or changing the spelling so that it’s “unique” (ITS NOT… ITS JUST SPELLED WRONG… AND REFLECTS POORLY ON YOU AS A PARENT), just hurts me in my name loving soul. Now! I need to clarify that just because a name has ascended wildly in popularity and become “the name of the times” does not necessarily bother me. This happens with every generation. Look at the name Mary in the 30′s and 40′s, Linda in the 50′s and 60′s, Jennifer and Amanda in the 80′s. All what i would consider “good” names who shot up in popularity during the respective decades. The following names were taken from the Social Security Administration top 10 list for 2011. check out the full list here: http://nameberry.com/blog/popular-baby-names-sophia-jacob-new-number-1s […]

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