Photo credit: RichardBowen

It’s Christmas in May!  The Social Security Administration has released the data on last year’s most popular baby names.  As usual, there are a few surprises and a couple of anticipated moves.

  • I was officially wrong – Jacob held on to the #1 ranking for boys in the US.  I expected Mason to take over the top spot.  And yet, as Rui pointed out, the difference between Jacob and Mason was a mere 40 births …
  • Harper and Aria made big leaps for girls – no shockers there.  But how ’bout Cataleya?  More girls’ names on the rise in 2012: Piper, Hadley, Willow, Ivy, Hazel, Iris, Londyn, Lyric, Journey, Paris, Fiona, Luna, Phoebe, Selenda, Isla, Ruth, Helen, Edith, Rosemary, Rosalie, Ada, Vera, Fernanda, Jazlyn, June, Sloane.  And many more.
  • Excited to see Arlo up for boys!  And look at that big jump in the number of babies named Liam.  Other boy names making gains: Flynn and Finn, of course.  But also Greyson, Cruz, Judah, Silas, Declan, Ezra, Beckett, Kai, Jax, August, Davis, Archer, Orion, Paxton.  To name just a few.
  • Sawyer is rising for boys and girls.  I continue to wonder if we’re early days into an era when baby names can truly be gender neutral.
  • There’s an interesting thing happening with the -aiden names.  While mainstream choices like Aiden, Jayden, and Brayden are all slipping, a new wave of names is gaining: Rayden, Zayden, Zaiden, Raiden are catching on, even as the original Aidan falters.
  • Huxley and Wren remain outside the US Top 1000.  So does Cordelia!
  • Place names are big, and we’re always embracing new ones.  Malaysia made a big jump for the girls, and Aspen gained, too.
  • Jessa and Josie were both up.  Duggar much?  Of course, there’s also the Jessa character on Girls.  And Jinger remains off the radar, so maybe it isn’t about the super-sized reality family at all.

What are your favorite finds from the 2012 baby name data so far?

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Of course my first thought was took look at the rankings for the boy and girl name we have picked out for our little one due in November. Thankfully our boy name is not listed and our girl name is no where near the top.

    My SO did suggest Raiden early on after a Mortal Combat character but I quickly shot that down. I wonder if the other Raiden/Rayden’s were inspired by the same character.

  2. Maria’s birth-name is one of the “big” risers you mentioned, I still don’t care for the name with our surname and it’s usually a boy’s name… but seeing it’s gain in popularity makes me wonder if someday she’ll prefer to be called ****** or if she’ll like her classic name that just slipped to #101?

    Peter has also fallen to #205 -8 , so it’s falling firmly into familiar but not popular territory. Yay!

    Other names we considered for Peter:
    Henry #43 +6
    Harry #718 -10
    Franklin #528 -24
    Frederick #536 +6
    Oscar #177 -15
    Roland #744 +5
    Conrad #738 +60!
    Raphael #626 +41!
    Truman #928 +111!
    #2000 or higher — Torsten, Henning, Henley (#1307 for girls!)

  3. I’m happy – and a bit surprised, given the current love of gods & goddesses – to see Atlas has not entered the top 1000! I see that Apollo entered for the very first time at 993!

    And I’m SHOCKED to see Azalea broke the top 1000 also for the first time, at 906! She’s one of my current name crushes and I didn’t think she’d gain in popularity at all – in 2011 she was in the 1400’s. That’s a huge leap!

    Pippa still has not entered! Does that surprise anyone?

  4. I think Josie might be up because Josephine is up. Lots of parents are choosing nicknames as names so…

  5. “I continue to wonder if we’re early days into an era when baby names can truly be gender neutral.”

    I hope so!

    Major is apparently the boys’ name that rose the most places. What’s up with that?

    I’m surprised that Wren hasn’t broken the top 1000 yet. I think I was surprised when it didn’t last year, too.

    I went to school with a Jessa (I think she was actually a Jessamyn or a Jessamine), and I’ve always been surprised it wasn’t more popular, especially since Jessica was #1 for a while around the time I was born. The Duggar and Girls references are interesting because I’d imagine they’d influence completely different demographics. I wonder if people naming their daughters Jessa who were inspired by the Girls character are even aware of the Duggar daughter, and vice-versa.

  6. As much as I love the fact that some of the more old fashioned names are getting some love I’m also a bit sad. It means a lot of my favorites are becoming very popular.

  7. Makes me wish I’d gone with Cordelia for one of my girls – it’s been a long time favorite and continues to defy the popularity trend. Instead, the girls names are both in the top 100.

  8. Christmas in May indeed! I admit to getting little done yesterday 🙂 My saint of a husband let me read through the top 100 list out loud. And then he gave his thoughts. I love that man 🙂 I’m afraid I won’t be jumping on the Jazlyn, Zayden and Raiden trains anytime soon, but all interesting data for us cataloging-types to sift through!

  9. Some of my favorite finds:

    — Emory appeared in the top 1,000 for the first time, for both boys & girls. It actually came in higher for girls than boys.

    — Two surname-y choices that appeared for the first time were Briggs, for a boy, and Collins on the girl side.

    — along with Malaysia, “Alaysia” also appeared, at #946.

    — three old-fashioned feminine “E” choices popped up: Evalyn (last ranked in 1941), Emmaline (last ranked in 1915; Emmalyn also appeared for the first time) and Estelle (last ranked in 1963)