Noah Beat Jacob and Sophia Still Tops Baby Names

Baby Names

Sophia is still tops on U.S. baby names charts and Noah beat all boys, having ended the 14-year reign of Jacob. The Social Security Administration unveiled the most popular names given American children in 2013 with Sophia and Noah topping all others.

Sophia has been the number one girl’s name for three years after supplanting Emma, which is now number two. They are followed by Olivia, Isabella and Ava. The next group is Mia, Emily, Abigail and Madison, followed by Elizabeth, Charlotte and Avery.

While is Sophia beat all and is still tops in popularity, the top baby names for American boys, following Noah, are Liam, Jacob, Mason and then William. The next seven are Ethan, Michael (which was number one for more than 40 years but has not been since 1999), Alexander, Jayden, Daniel, Elijah and Aiden.

Naming a baby is serious business. The popularity, spelling and oddity can impact (positively and negatively) for life. The child will encounter years of teasing about a moniker that is different, have to spell out an unusually spelled name everywhere, or have a name called at Starbucks with multiple people responding. Blue Ivy and Apple may seem odd, but Beyoncé and Gwyneth clearly knew a little about unusual names.

Babies are being given a wider variety of names reflecting ethnic diversity. In many cases, however, it is a wider variety of spellings creating differences (Sophia and Sofia are both in the top 20, Zoey and Zoe are each pretty high up).

Girls names overall show more variety and shift annually than boys. For example, while the order may have shifted, only one boy name joined the top 20 last year (Logan replaced Joshua). In 2013 girl names, Harper, Amelia and Evelyn replaced Lily, Natalie and Zoey from the prior year.

Television, movies and celebrities have long influenced baby naming. Sawyer, for example, was 952 in popularity for 1991, but the television show Lost, with a main character named Sawyer, boosted the name’s usage. It was number 120 in 2013. There is also a notable increase in Game of Thrones names being given. However, the fastest rising boy’s name last year was Jayceon, which rose 845 spots, to number 206; this presumably reflects the popularity of two hip hop artists: one simply goes by Jayceon and the other goes by The Game, but is really Jayceon Terrell Taylor.

For those worried about giving a child a very popular name, take heart that the frequency of most names has dropped significantly. The most common names are not nearly as common as years ago. The most popular name in 1950, Linda, was given to over 80,000 girls. The top girl name in 2013, Sophia, was given to about 21,000 babies. The same is true for boy names, where there were 86,000 dubbed James in 1950 versus only 18,000 new Noahs born last year.

The Social Security Administration Web site has lists going back decades of the top baby names. The lists can be sorted by year and even by state (which reflects popularity of ethnic names in some areas and the names likely to encounter in the area in the future). The search engine allows someone to put in a name and see whether it has been in the top 1,000 over several years. (Similar lists are available elsewhere online for ethnic groups and different countries.) So, Noah, Jacob and Sophia can see names that beat theirs in the past and parents to be can if the baby names they have in mind tops any charts.

By Dyanne Weiss

Sources:
Social Security Administration
TIME
CNN
Washington Post

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