Popular Names 2012: The new top baby names!
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 complete Top Ten are:
For the full Top 1000, see our popular names 2012 page.
Liam is the upset entry to the Top 10, climbing to the top echelons of the list for the first time. An Irish short form of William, Liam only entered the US Top 1000 in 1967 and was Number 15 in 2011. Its popularity has been spurred by celebrity Liam Neeson. Liam replaces Daniel in the Top 10 and ranks right behind William.
Elizabeth climbed back onto the girls’ Top 10, unseating Chloe.
Classic Emma, once Number 1, climbed higher on the list to the Number 2 spot, while Kardashian-inspired Mason held onto the Number 2 ranking for boys it claimed last year.
The fastest rising names for 2012 were Arya and Major. Arya is a character on Game of Thrones, while Major is the name of the youngest son of reality TV’s Novogratz family.
The second fastest rising names were Gael and Perla, popular with families of Spanish descent.
Other fastest-rising names include Catalina, Elisa, Raelynn (and Raelyn), Rosalie, Haven, and Briella (2011’s fastest-rising) for girls; Jase, Messiah, Brantley, Iker, King, and Rory for boys.
Notably, both Messiah and King were on the recent list of names banned in New Zealand.
In the Top 20, names making significant rises include, for girls:
—Avery, at Number 13 up from 18
—Aubrey, at Number 15 up from 20
—Charlotte. at Number 19 up from 27
—Zoey, at Number 20 up from 28
Notable increases on the boys’ side were seen by:
—Ethan, at Number 3, up from Number 7
—James, at Number 14 up from 17
—Benjamin, at Number 16 up from 19
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 Emma. Sophia is the name of an early saint, royalty, and classic literary characters.
Contemporary namesakes include Sophia Loren, Sophia 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.
WE HAVE A CONTEST WINNER!!!
Congratulations to Cristinamariane who came closest to predicting the most names in the most correct order and will be receiving the beautiful charm necklace. Runner-up is Skizzo, who wins an advance copy of our forthcoming eBook. The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Names, which will soon be available in our store.
Thanks so much to all who entered–and hats off especially to those whose lists came so close!
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on May 9th, 2013 at 12:48 pm
And in other news, my cousin Madeleine delivered her daughter Emma Kaylan this morning, lol.
on May 9th, 2013 at 1:04 pm
The top 10 seem so repetitive. We need new blood at the top. I tend to enjoy the names at the bottom of the 1000. Even if the spelling get super crazy and over complicated.
on May 9th, 2013 at 2:18 pm
I’m glad to see the beautiful, classic Elizabeth back in the top 10! Interestingly, it overtook Chloe at #10 by a single birth: 9,596 vs 9,595.
on May 9th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
Ooh Elizabeth is back! That makes me happy! And why oh why do people spell Zoe with a y?
on May 9th, 2013 at 3:29 pm
Zoey is probably a take on Zooey. which is a character from Catcher in the Rye.
on May 9th, 2013 at 3:30 pm
Well, I was right about Elizabeth! I predicted her rise to 10th place. But I hoped she’d replace Madison, not Chloe…and I guess I was wrong about the fall of Emma and Emily. Emma rose, while Emily remained the same.
And I correctly predicted Noah’s rise to #4, but other than that I didn’t do so well on the boys’ list. Live and learn…
on May 9th, 2013 at 3:51 pm
No real surprises, apart from Liam I guess.
Did anyone look the number of births stats, to see how close Mason was to usurping Jacob? In 2011, Jacob was used a little under 800 times more, but in 2012 it was only used 43 times more. That’s what I call close. 2013 might be the year that Mason does climb to the top.
on May 9th, 2013 at 3:56 pm
I’m glad Elizabeth is back!
According to SSA, Elizabeth stole #10 from Chloe by a single birth :
on May 9th, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Just wanted to point out that rapper T.I. has had a reality show on vh1 about his family since 2011. Three of his son’s names are Messiah, King and Major. That might explain the rise there, especially considering some of my non-name nerd friends have had conversations about the names.
on May 9th, 2013 at 4:21 pm
Yay, for Elizabeth cracking the Top 10 (one more consonant-ending girl’s name to join Madison/Abigail and mix it up) and for Jayden/Aiden (and their bazillion alternate spellings) and Michael starting to lose steam!
I prefer the Zoe spelling to Zoey, but I’m glad to see it rise all the same. Harper and Amelia, both of which climbed quite a bit, Aubrey, Charlotte, and Avery (happy to see it still rising with boys as well) are nice as well.
All in all, I really like the Top 10 for girls and don’t mind the stability – it seems a little silly to always be racing away from the “popular” names, when said names are not even remotely as ubiquitous as the most popular ones used to be. You don’t give your kids uniqueness by using “creatively” spelled/made-up names, you just give them hassle when they constantly have to spell it out because people will assume it’s the more established spelling. I can understand if the alternate spelling has some sort of special meaning to you or your family, but otherwise…oh well, just my two cents.
I’m not really a fan of any of the fast-rising boys’ names. I don’t agree with banning baby names unless the names are overtly malicious, but names like ‘King’ ‘Messiah’ and ‘Major’ (or really any of those macho, militaristic, gun-centric names) are not my cup of tea at all.
on May 9th, 2013 at 4:38 pm
I was wondering, where can you find the number of births for a name?
Emily, Abigail and Madison feel a little dated to me, ready to see those go!
And I can’t believe Liam made all the way into the top 10, what pop culture can do…
on May 9th, 2013 at 4:54 pm
Why do so many people hate the name Madison on here? That’s my name! I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s saddens me to know that nobody likes my name.
on May 9th, 2013 at 5:20 pm
I am surprised to see Mia and Madison on there and not Grace or some form of play on Grace (Grayson etc) and Charlotte. I bet there has been a jump for Scarlett and Avery too, I am hearing or seeing those names more often. I like Catalina and Rosalie! I think Amelia is more popular in Australia that name would definitely hit out top ten or twenty.
My eldest little girl is a Sophie too similiar to no. 1 on the list but with a twist, Sophira (pronounced Saphira). We have to correct a few people but that’s not a big deal. The kids at childcare love her name.
Our next baby is due in 3 1/2 weeks another subtle twist on one of the top ten names. I probably will still visit this site regularly, big name fan!
on May 9th, 2013 at 6:16 pm
@mge28: I think most people like the name Madison – it’s a classic surname name with bearers such as James Madison that add to its heritage. The minority that don’t take to it are vocal, that’s all; often they’re hung up over the -son suffix and believe in strict gender segregation for names, even though names like Allison have been associated with females for over half a century, and surnames have been given as first names to girls in the U.S. for much longer…but regardless of whether or not they like it, the -son suffix is no longer exclusive to males, just like what happened with the Mac-/Mc- prefixes (which have the same etymological meaning for the Irish).
on May 9th, 2013 at 6:39 pm
Zooey is not in The Catcher in the Rye, Zoeey is in Franny and Zooey. Two different books, same author.
on May 9th, 2013 at 7:11 pm
I just KNEW Liam would make it in the top 10 this year! Looking at the new names in the top 100, there weren’t any huge surprises apart from Skylar (f). Understandably I think some Berries might be upset by Violet and Annabelle now being top 100 names.
It’s shocking that Madison is still in the top 10, not that I dislike it, but because it seems dated now. It’s mainly a teenager name, and you sure don’t hear about it in the naming community anymore. It seems like it would be in the lower top 100 or early 100’s.
on May 9th, 2013 at 7:26 pm
@Gretel Thanks. 🙂 I really hope I didn’t sound bratty or anything.
on May 9th, 2013 at 7:29 pm
Ooh, yes, I tipped Liam to enter the Top 10! I think when you spend so much time on nameberry, you grow tired of popular names very quickly. I’m surprised that Emma has climbed ever higher when, to me, it seems so ‘over’. However, I guess the majority of the population don’t spend their every waking moment on nameberry like I do, lol! There are so many amazing names out there, I’m always surprised when people continue choosing such popular names.
on May 9th, 2013 at 7:35 pm
I’ve just been looking at Australia’s top ten and it’s interesting to note the similarities and differences. Biblical names have never been as popular here as they are in the US. And I’m happy (and unjustifiably proud) to report that Mason, Jayden and Madison are yet to besmirch our top ten, which reads as follows:
1 Jack 1 Charlotte
2 William 2 Ruby
3 Noah 3 Olivia
4 Ethan 4 Chloe
5 Oliver 5 Sophie
6 Thomas 6 Emily
7 Lucas 7 Mia
8 James 8 Amelia
9 Cooper 9 Ava
10 Lachlan 10 Isabella
on May 9th, 2013 at 8:35 pm
Ooooh I almost put Elizabeth at number 10!! Ugh!! And I put Liam at number 10 for the boys, but he jumped up even more than I predicted! But I got a lot of the names in the right spots on the girls, and all of the names right on the boys but not the order.
It’s getting old to see the same names over and over! We need some new blood in there. I’m so sick of Emma, Emily (which are the exact same name to me), Ava, Madison and Isabella. Despite its popularity, I have yet to meet an Olivia irl, so it still seems fresh to me. Meanwhile, I’ve met two Amelias in the last month!
on May 9th, 2013 at 8:45 pm
My daughters name is Isabella. I still think its gorgeous despite the popularity. I loved it since reading about queen Isabella in fifth grade. I was young when I got pregnant with her and checking its popularity didn’t even occur to me. I guess I thought “gee I don’t know any Isabella’s must be pretty uncommon” boy was I wrong. She is 6 now. Joined by brothers Sawyrr and Holden
on May 9th, 2013 at 8:47 pm
I forgot the boys, oops.
I think we’re all sick of Jacob, after 14 years. I know I am. You’d think parents would be too, especially if they’re on their second or third child and are around other kids. But, with the exception of Jayden (ugh) and Michael (personal pet peeve), the rest of the top ten for boys are all really great, appealing names.
What’s interesting about the boys’ list is that there were nearly 2,000 fewer Jacobs in 2012 than there were in 2011, and only 43 babies separated Jacob from Mason. Next year could break the streak! I think this just points toward the trend of parents wanting more individualistic names for their kids, which is great. However, there were more Sophias in 2012 than in 2011, which is historically unusual for girls, who tend to be more swayed by trends.
on May 9th, 2013 at 9:35 pm
I think Liam maybe even more popular than suggested. I think some parents probably named their child William with the intention of using Liam (Wil/Liam) as a nickname. With so many Liams running around those children may go back to Bill or Will etc. I myself know a little Liam born 2013. I think his parents thought well it’s not top 10!
I also know a little Elizabeth born 2012. It’s fascinating to think she could be the one baby who changed the top ten.
How do you see the exact number of births?
I am surprised Emma is back up. I knew several Emmas the same age as me (in their twenties). Emma seems like a name that’s been used for so long.
Anyway not too surprising….
on May 9th, 2013 at 10:00 pm
To see the number of births: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/ Click on “Popular names by birth year,” choose the year you want, then under “Name rankings may include,” select “Number of births” and click Go! You can also choose to see the names by percentages of births.
on May 10th, 2013 at 1:05 am
Thank you Gretel!
on May 10th, 2013 at 1:34 am
Looking at the charts I was so sad to see my favorite names rising even higher….
on May 10th, 2013 at 2:34 am
I blame 1D.
on May 10th, 2013 at 3:20 am
I did a quick comparison with Flanders, where I live:
The number between brackets is the rank in the other country. I can unfortunately only see the top 100 for Flanders.
1. Sophia (-, Sofia 81)
2. Emma (1)
3. Isabella (-)
4. Olivia (23)
5. Ava (-)
6. Emily (97)
7. Abigail (-)
8. Mia (-)
9. Madison (- ,1 birth!!)
1. Jacob (-)
4. Noah (9)
5. William (-)
6. Liam (3)
7. Jayden (50)
8. Michael (-)
9. Alexander (15)
10. Aiden (-)
1. Emma (2)
2. Marie (576)
3. Elise (151)
4. Louise (-)
5. Julie (385)
6. Noor (-)
7. Lotte (-)
8. Fien (-)
9. Nina (291)
10. Lore (-)
1. Lucas (27)
2. Louis (312)
3. Liam (6)
4. Wout (-)
5. Lars (-)
6. Mathis (-)
7. Vince (-)
8. Kobe (506)
9. Noah (4)
10. Arthur (355)
I Just think it is so fascinating that certain names are popular in countries that are thousands of miles apart, and others are unheard of in the other country.. Language differences certainly account for that, but still!
Very surprised to see that neither Louise nor Vince is in the U.S. top 1000! I wonder how a name like Vince makes it into our top 10 if it’s not being used in the States… It’s definitely thought of as an English name!
on May 10th, 2013 at 3:21 am
Forgot to add that I’m very happy Sophia and Ava are not in our top 100, two of my favorites! 🙂
on May 10th, 2013 at 8:33 am
Amelia WILL be in the top 10 by next year or the following year
on May 10th, 2013 at 8:35 am
I’m surprised to see Liam in the top 10… I would think Lucas would be in his spot by now. I feel like I see Lucas more than Liam.
on May 11th, 2013 at 2:35 pm
It’s interesting that all of the boy names individually don’t even make up one percent of births. The top ten boys make up about 5.5983% of births and the top 20 make up 12.0979% of births. (my math might be wrong)
on May 11th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Nope, my math was right. More babies were more with 11th-20th ranked names than 1st-10th with 6.4996% of births. Now THAT’S interesting.
on May 11th, 2013 at 8:39 pm
@annabelle: While ‘Vince’ is not in the Top 1000, Vincent is ranked at #104.
I was surprised Louise or Louisa didn’t crack the Top 1000 as well (I was also expecting Agnes or Agatha to make an appearance), but I think they (or at least one of them) will show up eventually. ‘Louis’ is at #312 and rising.
on May 11th, 2013 at 9:03 pm
Has anyone totalled the different spellings yet? My brief count has Aiden/Aidan/etc. versions outnumbering Jacob, by a large margin, which it (they?) also did last year.
on May 12th, 2013 at 5:54 am
Nameberry’s popularity tally and the final numbers in this article were discussed on mommyish at http://www.mommyish.com/2013/05/10/top-baby-names-2012/. Thought you might like to know!
on May 12th, 2013 at 1:03 pm
Ah this seems so predictable, excluding Liam (thanks to 1D obviously) and Elizabeth, the rest feel really boring. Yes some of the names are lovely like for instance Jacob and Emily but how does the name feel fresh?! I also shocked ( same as Gretel) that names like Louisa and Louise haven’t entered the top 1000 especially as Louis is rising so quickly. I love Louisa she’s really growing on me the name is so fresh and elegant.
on May 12th, 2013 at 10:06 pm
I was just wondering if someone could make a list of all the names that are new to the top 1000 this year. Or if someone has already??
on May 12th, 2013 at 11:23 pm
Never mind. I found a source and made the list… it’s in the forum!
on May 13th, 2013 at 4:29 pm
My niece is Zoey. Her Mom wanted it spelled Zoie (which we all hate), but the hospital nurses thought she spelled it wrong, so they put “Zoey” on her birth certificate.
Doesn’t quite seem right, but I think Zoey will be happier this way.
This list is repetitive… for a reason. People keep picking these names.
I won’t. but others will, especially if they have unusual last names compared to my all-to-common last name.
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