What's in a name? 10 fun facts
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The Name Game1 of 11
The current anything-goes approach to baby-naming makes choosing just the right moniker all the more difficult when you're expecting. (Pilot or Ryder? Bronx or Brooklyn? Finn or Phinley?) To help you narrow down your list, find out which names are up-and-coming, which are on their way out, and how you can avoid making a baby name blunder.
Then & Now2 of 11
In the 1950s, the top 25 most common boys' names (including James, Robert and, the royal baby's new name, George) and the top 50 girls' names (including Mary, Linda and Barbara) accounted for half of babies born, according to research by Laura Watternberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard. But with today's trend towards more distinctive names, you'd have to include well over 100 of the most popular boys' and over 300 of the most popular girls' names to cover half of all babies born every year.
Popularity Contest3 of 11
Before the 1990s, Sophia didn't even rank in the top 100 of most popular baby names for girls, trailing far behind more familiar names like Jessica, Jennifer and Emily. Since then it has steadily climbed the list, reaching the number one spot in 2011, according to the most recent data from the Social Security Administration. The name, which comes from the Greek word for wisdom, has a timeless appeal (thanks in part to Sophia Loren), but still feels more interesting than its predecessors.
Oh, Boy!4 of 11
While Sophia managed to rise to the top of the girls' list, boys' names have remained more traditional and constant: Jacob has held the number one position in the U.S. since 1999, followed most recently by Mason and William. One boy's name that has lost its standing? Michael. The name was number one from '61 to '98, but didn't make the top five in 2011.
Twice as Nice5 of 11
Despite the emphasis on unique names, parents are still choosing strangely similar names for twins. The most popular name for twin girls in 2011? Olivia and Sophia (note the -ia rhyme), followed by Gabriella and Isabella, Ella and Emma, Faith and Hope, Makayla and Mackenzie. Popular twin boys' names started with the same letter, but were slightly more distinct, with Daniel and David topping the list, just ahead of Jacob and Joshua.
What Goes Up6 of 11
While certain popular names are classics, other more trendy ones can come and go, depending on the decade. Take, for example, Brittany: In 1980, it was ranked 190; by 1990, it skyrocketed to number three, but today it's back on the bottom at 419. Other names that have followed similar trajectories? Miley, Taylor and Tiffany, for girls, and Brett and Braden, for boys.
Rhymes With...7 of 11
There's often a pattern to popular names, with names that rhyme coming into vogue one after the next. To wit: Aiden, Jayden, Brayden, Kayden, Zayden. For girls, there's the Ella, Bella, Stella phenomenon.
Doggone It8 of 11
Forget Fido. The current most popular name for dogs is Bella, followed by Max and Buddy. Bad news if you're thinking about naming your offspring Lucy, Coco or Charlie. Those names were also in the top ten.
Half & Half9 of 11
Can't come up with a name? Invent one. While certain hybrid names, like Gracelyn, Braylee and even Kimye, have a nice ring to them, other ones (like, say, Renesmee) just sound silly.
Location, Location, Location10 of 11
The trend of cities as names isn't slowing down. Recently, Shakira named her son Milan, and Jemima Kirke (Jessa on Girls) named hers Memphis. Other popular urban-inspired monikers? Bronx, Brooklyn, London, Paris and Cheyenne.
Novel Idea11 of 11
For every baby named Holden, there's probably a mother or father who loved Catcher in the Rye. More recently, Twi-hard fans have opted for the name Bella, as well as Cullen (as in Edward Cullen). And now it appears that 50 Shades of Grey has inspired the name Grey, which saw a bump in popularity over the past year.