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Top Baby Names of 2012
We reveal the most popular girl and boy baby names of 2011 and the baby name trends we think will be big in 2012.
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- Jade Albert
Top Picks of 2011
For girls, Isabella (Italian, God's oath) and Sookie (American, unknown) took the top spots in 2011, while parents favored Jacob (Hebrew, supplanter) and Max (Latin, short for Maximillian, Maxwell) for boys. This could be a carry-over of the vampire mania we’ve seen for the past two years thanks to pop culture hits Twilight and True Blood. Isabella and Jacob were also the top two names in the Social Security Administration in 2011, making these all-around popular choices.
- LGEPR/Wikimedia Commons
What the Celebs Chose
Celebrities are known for their crazy name choices, but this year they kept to the straight and narrow. For girls, Tori Spelling named her new daughter Hattie (variation of Harriet, Henrietta); Ivanka Trump went with the feminine Arabella (Latin, beautiful altar) for her firstborn; and Victoria Beckham chose Harper (English, harpist), which last year we predicted would be a top girl’s name.
In the boy zone, Maya Rudolph picked the tried-and-true Jack (American, nickname for John or Jacob) for her son, while Alyssa Milano went with the slightly-offbeat but still classic Milo (German, variation of Miles, soldier).
A few celebs didn’t let us down in the quirky category, though. Kate Hudson, who named her first son Ryder (English, horseman), veered away from the norm and named her new son Bing (German, pot-shaped hollow). Jessica Alba, who favored a nontraditional name in calling her firstborn daughter Honor (Latin, honor), picked the unusual but lovely Haven (English, place of safety) for her second.
2012 Trend: New Girls in Town
While super-feminine names topped the charts in 2011, there’s a slight wrinkle to that trend with these elegantly old-school names for girls. Ann was the fourth most-searched name for girls, joined by Betty (English, short for Elizabeth), Haddie (English, short for Hadden, heather-filled valley) and Blythe (English, happy, free spirit) all in the top 50. We love that parents are giving modern popularity to these vintage names.
This also illuminates another emerging 2012 Trend: one-syllable names. Our list of short and sweet names was the second most-searched baby name list in 2011.
2012 Trend: Great Kate
Who didn’t see this trend coming? Although the Royal Wedding bonanza is long gone, the new Duchess’ nickname Kate (English, short for Katherine, pure) has skyrocketed in popularity. It ranked 14th this year, up from spot 33 last year. While her formal name Catherine (Greek, pure) wasn’t in the top 50, readers have also expressed interest in Kate’s sister Pippa’s (English, short for Philippa) name, which claimed the 21st spot this year.
William (English, German, protector) has also risen in popularity, ranking 31st for boys up from 91 last year. Liam (Irish, short for William), a shortened version of William, is still flying high at number 5. English classics like James (English, derived from Jacob, supplanter), John (Hebrew, God is gracious) and Henry (German, ruler of the household) are all ranking in the top 50 for boys as well, while the regal Elizabeth (Hebrew, God's oath) took the 11th spot for girls.
- Jade Albert
2012 Trend: Feminine Names
Although readers are beginning to favor short and sweet names for girls, the widespread appeal of ethereal, ultra-fem names has kept them in vogue. Favorites like Emma (German, universal), Charlotte (English, strong), Grace (Latin, graceful), Olivia (Latin, olive tree) and Amelia (Latin, variation of Emily) will all stick around for 2012 and beyond.
2012 Trend: New Boys on the Block
Last year gender benders like Riley (Irish, valiant), Rory (Irish, famous brilliance) and Aiden (Irish, fiery) were all the rage. This is a trend on its way out; while Aiden held on to spot four, Rory and Riley didn’t rank in the top 50 for boys this year.
So what’s new for boys’ names? Readers still like a slightly offbeat slant mixed with some classic appeal, which is why boy names including Alexander (Greek, defender of mankind), Owen (Irish, young warrior), Connor (Scottish, wise), Benjamin (Hebrew, son of my right hand), Gavin (Welsh, white hawk) and Nicholas (Greek, victorious people) all peppered the top 50 list. They’re a bit quirkier than straight-up classics, but still have a strong, solid resonance.
2012 Trend: Tried and True
Like a blue jeans and apple pie, some things never go out of style. That goes for baby names, too. Whether it’s a backlash against super out-there celeb names or the out-unconventional unisex names we saw last year, some people prefer to stick with the oldies but goodies. Timeless classics were in the top 50 list for boys and girls, including Matthew (Hebrew, gift of God), Michael (Hebrew, who is like God?) and Andrew (Greek, strong and manly), along with nickname Andy, and Jennifer (Welsh, white wave), Sarah (Hebrew, princess), Rachel (Hebrew, female sheep) and Emily (Latin, industrious). There’s a reason these names are so popular: they’ve all been past Social Security Administration list toppers. Our list of Names That Never Go Out of Style was also one of the top ten most-searched this year.
2012 Trend: Grandparents' Names That Are Cool Again
Everything old is new again with baby names in 2012. Names we’d expect for grandparents are now making a comeback; think Max (Latin, short for Maximillian, Maxwell), Ted (Greek, short for Theodore, Edward), Frank (English, short for Francis), Gus (Latin, short for Augustus, Gustave, Angus) and Bertie for boys, and Ellie (English, short for Eleanor, Elaine, Ellen) and Millie (short for Millicent, Amelia, Camilla, Mildred) for girls—all names ranked in the top 50 lists. Celebs might even be picking up on this trend; actress Jennifer Connelly gave birth to her daughter Agnes (Greek, pure) this year, and Tina Fey chose Penelope (Greek, weaver) for her second daughter.
2012 Trend: Place Names
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we know you look to celebs for baby name inspiration: our list of celebrity baby names was the most-searched for in 2011. Last year they helped set the uber-feminine name trend for girls; for 2012, they just might start a wave of naming kids after countries. Alicia Keys named her son Egypt, and Mariah Carey picked Moroccan for one of her twins. We predict geographically-inspired names will be seen again in 2012.
Top-Searched Baby Boy Names in 2011
- Jacob (Hebrew, supplanter)
- Max (Latin, short for Maximillian, Maxwell)
- Aiden (Irish, fiery)
- Liam (Irish, short for William)
- Jayden (Hebrew, God has heard)
- Ethan (Hebrew, strong, firm)
- Jack (American, nickname for John, Jacob)
- Lucas (German, Irish, Danish, Dutch, bringer of light)
- Ted (Greek, short for Theodore, Edward)
- James (English, derived from Jacob, supplanter)
Top-Searched Baby Girl Names in 2011
- Isabella (Italian, God's oath)
- Sookie (American, unknown)
- Ella (English, beautiful fairy)
- Emma (German, universal)
- Charlotte (English, strong)
- Genevieve (French, German, white wave)
- Millie (English, short for Millicent, Amelia, Camilla and Mildred)
- Grace (Latin, graceful)
- Ellie (English, short for Eleanor, Ellen, Elaine)