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Most popular baby names of 2012

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The results are in! The Social Security Administration just released its list of the most popular baby boy and baby girl names for 2012. Find out where your favorites rank.

Popular baby boy names


The popularity of baby boy names is generally more consistent than that of girls.

  • Jacob remains the most popular name for a baby boy – an honor it's held since 1999.
  • Mason soared to the #2 spot in 2011 and remains there for 2012. The most famous Mason in current pop culture is, of course, the adorable son of Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick.
  • Ethan, #3, has been in the top 5 every year since 2000 except for 2011, when it was #7.
  • Noah, #4, soared into the top 100 in 1995. The name finally made the top 10 list 2009 and has continued to gain popularity every year since.
  • At #5 is William. This classic has been in the top 20 since the Social Security Administration began tracking this data back in 1880. With so many nickname possibilities, it's no wonder the name is such a long-time favorite.
  • Moving up nine spots to #6, Liam enjoyed the biggest gain among the top 20 names for boys.
  • Jayden fell from #4 to the #7 spot, and its spelling variations – Jaden, Jaeden, Jaiden – lost ground as well.
  • Like William, Michael (#8) is a true classic. With the exception of just one year (1960), Michael held the # 1 spot from 1954 through 1998. Does Jacob have the same staying power?

Rounding out the top 20 are Benjamin, James and Joseph (up from 2011), Matthew and Elijah (holding steady at #12 and #13), Alexander, Aiden, Andrew, Anthony, Daniel, David andJoshua (each down slightly from 2011).

Several trending boy names broke into the top 500 in 2012, some for the very first time:

  • Ahmed first hit the charts in 1974 but didn't break the 500 mark until 2012.
  • Ari soared from #508 in 2011 to #435 in 2012.
  • Arjun, which currently sits at #489, was not ranked at all prior to 2002.
  • Armani, introduced in 1994, first made the top 500 in 2010 but fell out of favor in 2011. Now it's back at #432.
  • Cason would be ranked higher than #465 if alternate spellings, such as Casen, Cayson, Kasen, Kason and Kayson, were included.
  • Gianni, #449, has been around since 1997, but 2012 is the first time it hit the top 500.
  • Jase, just one decade old, shot from #967 in 2002 to #304 in 2012.
  • Kendrick has been around since 1964, enjoyed its best years in the late 1980s and finally found its way back into the top 500 in 2012.
  • Major can be traced back to 1880, but it completely fell off the charts from 1972 through 2009. Between 2011 and 2012, Major skyrocketed from #988 to #483.
  • Messiah, #387, first hit the charts in 2005 and has improved its rank every year since.

Names that fell out of the top 500 since 2011 include Braeden, Cullen, Eddie, Ernesto, Gary, Jacoby, Joe, Kieran, Kobe, Maurice, Mekhi, Niko and Yahir.

Popular baby girl names


Measuring the popularity of baby girl names is challenging because their spellings are subjective to the whims of creative parents.

  • In the late 1800s, Sophia was a fairly popular name, but it lost favor during the 1920s. Nearly a century later, the name dominates the charts. Sophia is #1 baby girl name for the second year in a row, and similar names – Sofia, Sophie and Sofie are enjoying a good run as well.
  • Emma, #2, has been in one of the top three spots every year since 2003 – an honor it hasn't experienced since 1886.
  • The remaining top 10 baby girl names – Isabella, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Mia, Madison and Elizabeth – are the same as those in 2011, just in a slightly different order.

Trending names that made the top 500 in 2012 but not in 2011 include:

  • Arya debuted at #942 in 2010, jumped to #711 in 2011 and made an impressive leap to #413 in 2012.
  • Brinley, #496, is enjoying its best rank since its 2009 introduction. Brynlee, #323, has been around for a bit longer.
  • Cataleya makes an impressive debut at #479.
  • Catalina, #477, broke the top 500 for the first time since it first landed on the charts in 1920. Its sister, Katalina, is currently ranked at #1,000.
  • Haven has been trying to make the top 500 since 1996 and finally made the impressive leap from #572 in 2011 to #432 in 2012.
  • Jaylah, #459, is a relatively new name which first hit the charts in 2006.
  • Rosalie peaked at #66 in 1938. Since then it's been on and off (mostly off) the charts… until the Twilight saga resurrected it. Now the name is enjoying a rank of #406.
  • Sloane, # 480, first hit the charts in 2009 (at #883).
  • Vera, #500, was a common name in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It fell off the charts from 1984 to 2008 and finally rejoined the top 500.

The biggest movers in the top 500 baby girl names were Raelynn, Briella, Hanna (without the second h), Ayla, Arabella and Paisley, followed closely by Adalynn, Elsie, Eloise, Myla and Skyler.

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