Category: most popular baby names
For a second year, I present the “real” Top 50 by combining the different spellings of each name. Because when you hear “Jacob!” on the playground, you have no idea how his name is spelled, but you know you hear the name a lot. Where does it really rank compared to other names?
Note: These are the combined spellings of the names in the Top 1000 only. The main name listed is the spelling given to the most babies in 2013 (SSA Rank is in parentheses). The others are in alphabetical order. Opinions vary on how different spellings are pronounced. I went with my best judgment.
You should know that your mother and I spent the better part of both her pregnancies agonizing over your names. We did the bookstore thing. Surfed Nameberry til we fell asleep. Many nights. Had wayyy too much fun on NameVoyager and Nymbler. Talked to friends, made mental notes of names we heard shouted at playgrounds and malls.
We tested out hundreds of candidates to see how each sounded with our last name, what possible nicknames there were, teasing likelihood for each, whether we enjoyed alliterative names or hated them. And in the end, we happily selected Jacob and Sophia — or Jake and Sophie depending on whether or not you’re in trouble. And for that, we’re sorry.
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:
Linda and I have spent a lot of time over the years tracking the ups and downs of baby names and making sense of the movements. Often, it’s possible to divine trends in the popularity lists: Girls’ names that end in a are marching up the ladder in seeming unison, for instance, while New Testament names for boys are moving down.
But sometimes, the patterns are not so easy to discern. Sometimes, in fact, the shifts seem downright contradictory, undercutting any attempt to identify a trend.
Sure, sometimes you can credit a celebrity for a name’s rise or blame a slide on the fact that a name has been around so long that people have gotten tired of it and are turning to a new flavor. We do get, for instance, that Britain‘s newest royal is responsible for the predominance of Kate over Katherine, and that Oliver is simply a fresher name than the long-popular Christopher.
Still, even with those examples, the rise of one name at the same time another, very similar name drops can be amusing. Some notable pairings from this year’s list:
There was a time when we thought—rightly or wrongly– of regional names in terms of stereotypes—prim and proper appellations in New England, sweetly feminissima Southern belles, Tex-Mex cowboys out west. Now, though, it sometimes seems that baby names have become more and more homogeneous across the United States, but if we really peruse the popularity figures for states’ local baby names we do find some regional differences and state eccentricities.
First, a look at which names were in first place and where they ruled:
Ava—Louisiana, South Dakota
Emma—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Wyoming