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Most Popular Baby Names of 2011

Although it’s always fun to see which baby names the celebs are choosing, the yearly release of the top 10 boy and girl names from Social Security is the ultimate authority on baby naming, because it shows what parents are actually naming their kids. So which names topped the charts in 2011?

For boys, Jacob still reigns supreme—and has since 1999, when it hit the number one spot. Sure, the Twilight craze may have contributed to its enduring popularity, but it’s also a strong, easy name for boys, with Jake as a cute nickname option. Stay tuned for 2012, though: the name Mason may usurp Jacob next year for the top spot, probably thanks to Kourtney Kardashian, who chose it for her son. Mason, which ranked 12th in 2010, zoomed onto the top 10 list in 2011, and is currently the second most popular boy name.

Another boy name on the upswing: the slightly formal but classic William, now in third place, up from fifth in 2010. Aside from its historical popularity, William also lends itself to the cute Liam as a nickname. Plus, Prince William’s much-watched wedding last year could have something to do with the name’s boost in popularity. 

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In 2011, the girl names list had a surprising upset: Sophia overtook the two-year champ Isabella for the most popular girl’s name. Feminine names have been trending since 2002, when the sweet, smart Emma came in at fifth place. Since then, other elegant names like Isabella, Sophia, Emma, Ava and Olivia have ruled the top five.

One anomaly among the super-feminine names in the top 10: Abigail, which ranks at number seven, and has hovered in the top 10 since 2001. It has vintage appeal that makes it classic, but not boring; Abi or Abby are sweet nickname variations.

Two perennially popular girls’ names are still safely ensconced in the top 10: Emily, at number six, and Madison, at number 8 (both maintained their 2010 rank). These girl names are just so popular (you probably know at least one of each name) that they’ll likely remain in the top 10 for a few more years.

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So which names could crack the top 10 next year? According to Social Security, the two names that had the highest surge in popularity were Briella for a girl, and Brantley for a boy. Briella jumped almost 400 spots, from 891 in 2010 to 497 in 2011. While that’s still far from the top 10, if people keep watching Jerseylicious (which features a Briella), it could be a top contender next year. For boys, Brantley had a similar jump in popularity, checking in the 320th spot this year, up 416 spots from rank 736 in 2012. Social Security hypothesizes that Brantley could have gained steam from the surname of popular University of Florida quarterback John Brantley, or from the country singer Brantley Gilbert. Wherever it came from, this last-name-as-a-first-name has unique southern gentleman appeal that could keep it around for a few years yet.

Finally, one notable name made its way back into the top 1000: Elvis! In 2010 it didn’t rank at all, but now it’s back in the building at 904.

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Here’s the top 10 list of names for both boys and girls:

Boys: 

  1. Jacob
  2. Mason
  3. William
  4. Jayden
  5. Noah
  6. Michael
  7. Ethan
  8. Alexander
  9. Aiden
  10. Daniel

Girls: 

  1. Sophia
  2. Isabella
  3. Emma
  4. Olivia
  5. Ava
  6. Emily
  7. Abigail
  8. Madison
  9. Mia
  10. Chloe

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