Find out the top 20 baby names in 2011.
Depending on your view of the world, the name Jacob either makes you think of the third patriarch of the Hebrew people, ancestor of the tribes of Israel, or it makes you think of a certain sexy werewolf.
But one thing is clear: the name Jacob is on a lot of minds. It is, in fact, the most popular name for boys in the US – and has been for 13 years running, so says the Social Security Administration.
Sophia is now the top name for baby girls, according to the annual list of popular baby names released by the administration on Monday. Isabella had topped the girls’ list for two years before being bumped.
So it might be time to move on from Jacob as well. Fortunately, there is a young upstart on the list: Mason surged in the baby name polls to the second most popular spot.
Mason is a solid name: it evokes strength, sturdiness, a quiet fortitude. It also evokes the Kardashian family.
The moniker, which knocked Michael out of the top five for the first time in 63 years, owes its rising popularity to the fact that Kourtney Kardashian named her son Mason Dash Disick in 2009.
Kourtney, of course, is famous because she is on TV. And she is on TV because her older sister Kim once appeared in a sex tape and is now dating Kanye West.
(Full disclosure: Mason is also the name of this reporter’s nephew, who was born days after the Kardashian spawn, though my brother swears they had decided on the name months prior. He emailed me today: “I clearly underestimated the power of the Kardashians. Damn it.”)
Mason may have leapt to the number two spot on the list, but it still isn’t the fastest rising name in popularity. That honor goes to Brantley, which debuted on the list this year at the 320th spot, according to Laura Wattenburg, creator of the Baby Name Wizard website.
“That is an amazing repeat of last year, when the hottest name was Bentley, which landed at 75 from absolutely nowhere,” Wattenburg told the Guardian. Both are also the names of popular country music stars: Dierks Bently and Brantley Gilbert.
“Both are formerly preppy names that have become good ol’ boy Southern names. We are seeing a generation of preppy cowboys.”
The fastest rising name for girls? Briella, which climbed 394 spots to 497. As it happens, Briella Calafiore is the name of the hair stylist star of the reality shows Jerseylicious and Glam Fairy.
Other celebrity influencers include Amy Adams, who named her daughter Aviana. Two different spellings of the name were fast risers. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees named his son Bowen, another name that grew in popularity last year.
“What we all have in common is that we don’t want to be just like each other, but people don’t want their kids’ names to be weird,” said Wattenburg, who declined to tell the Guardian the names she chose for her daughters.
But we’re not just sheep either, blindly following celebrities, hence perennially popular names like William, Emma and Olivia.
“We like names that are not common in our generation, or even our parents’ generation, but go at least three or five generations back. That way it feels fresher.”
Indeed, Old Testament names like Noah, Elijah and, well, Jacob, are more popular these days than New Testament classics like John and Mary.
My own daughters’ names are Freya, a more popular name across the pond than in the US, and Calla, which last trended as a baby name in 1880. Although the week Freya was born we learned of two other baby Freyas in our Brooklyn neighborhood. And a former colleague also had a little girl named Calla. So these things are in the ether somehow.
“The names we choose for our babies are very revealing,” Wattenburg told me, “a very honest indicator of parents hopes and dreams and obsessions”.
Maybe we should have settled on Oprah.
The top 10 boys and girls names for 2011
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