May 9, 2013

Messiah, King: Popular baby names suggest high hopes

Jacob is still the most popular name for boys and Sophia tops the list for girls for the second year in a row.

The Associated Press

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Talk about high expectations for a newborn: King and Messiah are among the fastest-rising baby names for American boys. Above, luggage tags bearing children's names from a 2008 file photo.

AP

Jase Robertson is a character on the reality TV show "Duck Dynasty," about a family that runs a business making duck calls and other duck hunting gear. Gael García Bernal is a Mexican film actor and director.

Among the other boys' names gaining in popularity: Maverick, Armani and King, which jumped 133 spots, to No. 256.

Among the rising girls' names, Arya jumped 298 spots, to No. 413, followed by Perla, Catalina, Elisa and Raelynn. And Raelyn with one 'n' was eighth.

Arya Stark is a character in the TV show, "Game of Thrones."

Among the girls' names that are losing popularity, Dulce dropped the most, 159 spots, to No. 574. Next were Mikaela, Estrella, Danna and Audrina.

Among the boys' names that dropped, Braeden fell 105 spots, to No. 581. Next were Yahir, Kieran, Cullen and Brayan.

The popularity of Cullen was fleeting. In 2010, it was the fastest rising name for boys. Edward Cullen is a vampire in the "Twilight" books and movies.

The list shows that top names for boys have been more stable over the years than names for girls. William, for example, has been a popular boy's name for more than 100 years, never falling out of the top 20. Mason is an exception, entering the top 100 for the first time in 1997.

Today's top names aren't nearly as popular as the top names were a generation ago.

For example, 18,899 babies were named Jacob last year. Two decades ago, that wasn't good enough to crack the top 25. In 1992, Michael was the top name for boys, with more than 54,000 boys getting the name.

"We're seeing a total revolution in terms of the diversity of naming," Wattenberg said. "Parents are really focused on choosing a distinctive name that will make their child stand out."

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