What's in a Name
Jacob and Sophia topped the SSA list of most popular baby names of 2011, from which there’s plenty to be gleaned
Every year, when the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) issues its list of “Top Baby Names,” reader reactions are mixed. We nod at the predictable outcomes (Emma and William always hover towards the top) and squint at the puzzlingly unexpected (Brooklyn is more popular than Hannah? Serenity trumps Maria?).
We all know about the cyclical nature of trends, and nomenclature is no exception. Names ebb, flow, and are influenced largely by pop culture and celebs. Case in point: Jayden (of Will Smith family glory) is now higher than Michael, thus halting the latter’s 63-year run in the top five. According to the SSA, Briella (a name made popular by reality TV show Jerseylicious) is the fastest growing name in the girls’ list, having jumped 394 slots in the past year.
Cultural influence aside, it’s hard not to cross-check the SSA results against the tots in our own lives, as we try to place family names and personal favorites within the larger scheme of things. And where biased is concerned, we’re also glad to see that Elizabeth—popular since the late nineteenth century—is still making the cut! —Lucie Alig
Top 10 Boys Names: Jacob, Mason, William, Jayden, Noah, Michael, Ethan, Alexander, Aiden, Daniel
Top 10 Girls Names: Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Madison, Mia, Chloe
See the 2011 full list here.