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Popular Baby Names 2011: Sophia, Jacob New Number One Names

 |  Posted: Updated: 05/14/2012 11:22 pm

Most Popular Baby Names

Written by Pamela Redmond Satran

Sophia is the new top girls’ name in the U.S., unseating Isabella after a two-year reign, according to the Social Security Administration’s announcement of 2011’s popular baby names.

Jacob remains the most popular name for boys for the 13th year in a row. An Old Testament name that means “supplanter” and a cousin of James, Jacob has been in the Top Ten for nearly two decades.

The celebrity baby name influence is evidenced by two names leaping up the ranks. Mason, the new number two boys’ name, is the name of Kourtney Kardashian’s baby boy. And Harper, the fastest-rising name for girls, was chosen last year by Victoria and David Beckham for their first daughter.

An ancient Greek name meaning wisdom, Sophia jumped from last year’s second place to claim the top spot.

Sophia is only the tenth name in history to be the U.S. Number one for girls. The others are, in reverse chronological order, Isabella, Emma, Emily, Jessica, Ashley, Jessica (again), Jennifer, Lisa, Linda, and Mary.

Only six names, including Jacob, have held the top spot for boys. Counting backwards from Jacob, they are Michael, David (for one year only, 1960), Michael again, Robert, James, Robert (again), and John.

Though Sophia has been on the U.S. Top 1000 every year since the beginning of recorded baby name history in 1880, the year the American government began keeping statistics on infant names, it nearly fell off that list in 1956 before beginning a new ascent.

Sophia entered the Top 100 for the first time in 1997 and hit the Top 10 in 2006. Evidence of parents’ taste for strong feminine names with significant history for their daughters, Sophia shares much with other top girls’ names Isabella, Olivia, and Emma. Sophia is the name of an early saint, royalty, and classic literary characters.

Contemporary namesakes include Sophia Vergara, Sophia Loren, Sophia Bush, and Sofia Coppolla. The Latinate Sofia spelling and short form Sophie are also popular, though counted separately by the Social Security Administration. Sylvester Stallone is the father of a Sophia.

Jacob is an important Biblical patriarch, the youngest son of Isaac and Rebecca and the husband of both Leah and Rachel. The twelve tribes of Israel evolve from his twelve sons. Jacob and short form Jake also have a Western flavor stylish today. Variation Jacoby is also rising through the ranks.

Though Jacob was popular before the advent of the Twilight books and movies, that series has helped keep the name at Number 1. The most famous real-life contemporary Jacob is actor Jake Gyllenhall.

For the top 10 girls' and boys' names of 2011, click through the slideshow below and visit Nameberry for the complete list of the 1000 most popular baby names in the U.S.

Nameberry is a million-visitor baby name website based on ten bestselling name books, including "The Baby Name Bible" and "Cool Names for Babies," by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz.

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  • 1. Sophia

    Pictured: Italian actress Sophia Loren poses during the photo call of the animated movie "Cars 2", where she dubs the voice of the character of Mama Topolino, in Rome, June 15, 2011. (Virginia Farneti, LaPresse/AP)

  • 2. Isabella

    Pictured: Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan from "Twilight."

  • 3. Emma

    Pictured: Emma Watson attends the "My Week With Marilyn" European Premiere at Cineworld Haymarket on November 20, 2011 in London, England. (Photo: Stuart Wilson, Getty Images)

  • 4. Olivia

    Pictured: Actress Olivia Munn arrives at Mercedes-Benz Transmission LA: AV CLUB Curated by Mike D at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on April 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: John Sciulli, Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)

  • 5. Ava

    Pictured: Actress Ava Gardner (1922-1990).

  • 6. Emily

    Pictured: Emily Blunt, a cast member in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles, Monday, March 5, 2012. (Photo: Chris Pizzello, AP)

  • 7. Abigail

    Pictured: Actress Abigail Breslin attends the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2012 fashion show for TRESemme during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2012 at New York's Lincoln Center Theater on February 10, 2012. (Photo: Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images for TRESemme)

  • 8. Madison

    Pictured: Madison Avenue and 42nd St. in New York City.

  • 9. Mia

    Pictured: Actress Mia Wasikowska attends the "Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo: Larry Busacca, Getty Images)

  • 10. Chloe

    Photo: Actress Chloe Sevigny attends the after party for the Cinema Society with Town & Country and Brooks Brothers screening of "Damsels in Distress" at the Soho Grand Hotel on April 2, 2012 in New York City. (Photo: Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images)

  • 1. Jacob

    Pictured: Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black from "Twilight."

  • 2. Mason

    <br>Kourtney Kardashian's son, Mason, was born in 2009.</br> <br>Pictured: Kourtney Kardashian arrives at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party in West Hollywood, Calif. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. (Photo: Dan Steinberg, AP)</br>

  • 3. William

    Pictured: Prince William speaks at the Royal Albert Hall for a British Olympic Team GB gala event in London, Friday, May 11, 2012. (Photo: Alastair Grant, AP)

  • 4. Jayden

    <br>Britney Spears's son, Jayden, was born in 2006.</br> <br>Pictured: Britney Spears attends her UK Tour Launch Party at Sanctum Soho on September 16, 2011 in London, England. (Photo: Danny Martindale, Getty Images)</br>

  • 5. Noah

    Pictured: A replica of Noah's Ark built by Greenpeace on Mount Ararat, in Turkey, in order to protest global warming.

  • 6. Michael

    Pictured: Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan attends the 11th annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational gala at the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter March 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images for MJCI)

  • 7. Ethan

    Pictured: U.S. actor Ethan Hawke poses on the red carpet to present the movie "La femme du cinquieme" ("The woman in the fifth") at the 6th edition of the Rome International Film Festival in Rome, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (Photo: Riccardo De Luca, AP)

  • 8. Alexander

    Pictured: Equestrian Statue of Alexander the Great at Thessaloniki, Greece.

  • 9. Aiden

    <br>Rod Stewart's son, Aiden, <a href=",,20466349,00.html" target="_hplink">was born in 2011</a>.</br> <br>Pictured: Recording artist Rod Stewart performs during the launch of his two-year residency "Rod Stewart: The Hits" at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace August 24, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)</br>

  • 10. Daniel

    Pictured: Daniel Radcliffe, star of the supernatural thriller "The Woman in Black," is interviewed at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. (Photo: Chris Pizzello, AP)