Tops in tags: Noah, Sophia are favorite baby names

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm •  Published: May 9, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — When it comes to baby names, blending in is out, and standing out is in.

Noah and Sophia top the Social Security Administration's list of most popular American baby names for 2013, but they don't begin to approach the popularity of past generation favorites like John and Mary.

Noah sailed past Jacob to claim the top spot for boys, ending Jacob's 14-year reign. Sophia was No. 1 for the third straight year in the list released Friday.

Noah was followed by Liam, Jacob, Mason and William. Sophia was followed by Emma, Olivia, Isabella and Ava.

But none of these names is nearly as popular as the top names were a generation ago. Why? Because more and more parents are looking to give their children names that will set them apart, instead of worrying about whether they will fit in.

"Names have more widely become seen as a personal brand, a statement of individual style and personality, and so people are looking for a name that's different from what other people have," said Pamela Redmond Satran, co-founder of Nameberry.com. "In the 1950s, everybody was looking to blend in."

Last year, a little more than 18,000 newborns were named Noah. Twenty years ago, almost 50,000 newborns were named Michael, the top name that year. In 1950, when James was No. 1, there were more than 86,000 newborns with that name.

It's the same story for the girls.

About 21,000 newborns were named Sophia last year. Twenty years ago, 35,000 babies were named Jessica. In 1950, more than 80,000 were named Linda, the top name for girls that year.

"In the past, most parents were picking from a pretty well-defined set of names," said Laura Wattenberg, creator of Babynamewizard.com. "Literally for hundreds of years, the English royal names dominated. You had John and Mary and James and Elizabeth."

"Today," she said, "we get names everywhere."

Jacob first rose to No. 1 in 1999. In the 45 years before that, Michael was king for all but one.

There has been more variety among the girls. Mary dominated the first half of the 20th century. But in the past two decades, Emily, Emma, Isabella and Jessica have all spent time at the top.

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