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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The 2011 baby names almanac / by Emily Larson.
1. Names, Personal—Dictionaries. I. Title.
Printed and bound in Canada.
WC 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Inside the Popularity Charts
What’s Hot (or Not) Today (And What Will—and Won’t!—Be Tomorrow)
So, you’ve got a baby to name.
As if preparing for the arrival of the baby isn’t enough, you’re dealing with all the pressure of
figuring out what, exactly, to call the little bundle of joy. It can be stressful to find a name that will do
justice to the hope you have for your child.
After all, names influence first impressions. They can trigger great—or unpleasant—nicknames.
They can affect your child’s self-esteem. They can be a tangible, lasting link to a family legacy.
But let’s not forget that they can be fun. And that’s what this book is all about.
Remember The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which comes out annually as a guide to each year’s
trends, forecasts, and hot spots? Aimed at farmers, of course, the book provides a way to put the year
into context, to navigate the shifting seasons, and to understand all the factors swirling in the
The 2011 Baby Names Almanac aims to be a similar lifeline for parents. With a finger on the
pulse of pop culture and an ear to the ground of what’s hip, new, and relevant, this book offers you an
instant, idiosyncratic snapshot of how the world today is shaping what you may want to name your
Jam-packed with information and ideas, plus thousands of names to browse, this book analyzes
the most recent trends and fads in baby naming, offering up forecasts and predictions. You’ll find our
take on questions like these (and much more!):
• Which cutting-edge names are on the rise?
• Which popular names are on the decline?
• What influence do celebrities have on names?
- Names in music: Has Miley peaked? Is Taylor now exclusively a girl’s name?
- Names in movies: Could you name a kid Pandora?
- Names in sports: Is Peyton over? Will Rooney surge? And what’s so great about Jacoby?
• How many babies get the most popular name, anyway?
• Which letter do most girls’ names start with? How about boys’ names?
• What are the most popular “gender-neutral” names today—and which gender uses each name
more often? (If you name your daughter Harley, will she find herself playing with lots of
other little girls named Harley—or little boys instead?)
• How can you take a trend and turn it into a name you love?
We understand that sometimes this information on trends and popularity is hard to digest, so we’ve
created some easy-to-visualize graphics. Turn to page 4, for example, to see a map of the United
States showing where Isabella reigns and where little Jayden is king.
And what baby name book would be complete without the names? Flip to page 59 to begin
browsing through more than 20,000 names, including entries for the most popular names for girls and
boys as reported by the Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames).
A little bit of a mishmash and a screenshot of the world today, The 2011 Baby Names Almanac is
like no other book out there. Stuffed with ideas on what’s hip and hot and how you can take a trend
and turn it into a name you love, this book is your all-in-one guide to baby names now.
Inside the Popularity Charts
The Top 10
Let’s start with the most popular names in the country. Ranked by the Social Security Administration
(SSA), these names are released around Mother’s Day each year. (The top 10 names get the most
attention, but you may also hear about the top 100. The total number of names widely reported is
1,000.) In 2009 the top 10 names were similar—but not identical to—the top 10 for 2008. Emma slid
from first to second, unseated by the mighty Isabella. (We’re pretty sure that has more than a little bit
to do with the Twilight series!) And you know Jayden hasn’t peaked yet, because it climbed into the
top 10 for the first time in 2009 (in 2000, it was way down at 194). Here’s a quick comparison of
2009 and 2008.
Just How Many Isabellas Are There, Anyway?
Sure, these names are popular, but what does that mean? Well, it seems that new parents are
increasingly looking for off-the-beaten-path names for their little ones, and it shows. According to the
SSA, the top 1,000 names represent 73.09 percent of all babies born and named in the United States
in 2009—a significant drop from the 77.84 percent recorded in 2000.
Although parents of either gender have always been looking beyond the top 1,000, parents of boys
are more likely to pick a name in that mix—79.03 percent of boys’ names are represented on the top
1,000 list, while only 66.86 percent of girls’ names are.
Plus, although it may seem like you know a zillion people with daughters named Madison or Ava,
the most popular names are actually bestowed upon a relatively small number of babies each year.
For example, in 2009 only 1 percent of all male babies born in the United States (that’s 20,858 little
guys total) got the most popular name, Jacob. There are slightly more girls (22,067 total) with the
most popular name, Isabella, but even that’s only 1.12 percent of all girls born. Only a fifth of the
Jacob total—4,134 babies—were given the 100th most popular name, Kyle. The number of babies
with the number 1 name is dropping swiftly—back in 1999, the first year Jacob hit number 1, more
than 35,000 boys got that name, “’ which is more than 15,000 additional babies compared to 2009.
And back in 1965, 4.28 percent of all male babies (a staggering 81,041 tots) were named Michael,
the most popular name of that year. So if you’ve got your heart set on naming your son Ethan but
you’re worried that he’ll be surrounded by Ethans wherever he goes, take heart!
Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
Mary has been the most frequent number 1 girls’ name over the past 100 years,
appearing in the top spot 46 times. For boys? It’s Michael, topping the charts 44
What’s Popular in My State?
It’s interesting to see how some names are more popular in certain states than in others. For example,
Landon ranks 36th nationally for boys, but in Louisiana it’s the third most popular name. Likewise,
Angel ranks third among California’s baby boys, but only 37th in the nation.
The following chart lists the top five names for girls and boys for each of the 50 states, and it also
shows the actual number of births for each of those names in each state. Check out how many girl
babies got the number 1 name in Wyoming (Isabella, 36) compared to the number of girl babies with
the same name in California (3,127)
Top Five Names by State
What Joined—and Dropped Off—the Hot 100 in 2009?
One of the easiest ways to spot name trends is to watch what joins the hot 100 and what drops off.
For the (young) ladies, several new names joined in 2009: Serenity, Mya, Molly, Khloe
(Kardashian, we bet! This name jumped the most places in 2008 and has now cracked the hot 100),
Eva, and Bella (of course, Twilight!).
Another bunch dropped off the list: Sara, Megan, Mary (the girls’ name that has been number 1
more often than any other name in the past 100 years, a total of 46 times!), Jennifer (another hugely
popular name from yesteryear), Isabel (so close to Isabella, this year’s number 1!), and Gracie. For
the boys, Parker, Oliver, Miguel, and Le vi joined the list, and here’s a real shocker: the very
similar-sounding names Kaden, Jaden, a nd Caden, plus Brady, fell off. Perhaps those “-aden”
names got a little bit too popular for some people in 2009?
New To The Hot 100
Off the Hot 100
New to the Top 1,000 This Year
These names are fresh faces in the top 1,000 list this year. Some of them have appeared on the list in
years past, but after falling off the charts, they’re making a comeback. Odds are they’ll keep moving
The boys’ name Eden has appeared at number 902 for two years in a row.
Biggest Jumper: Analia
Perhaps due in part to the Telemundo show El Rostro de Analia, Analia zoomed
onto the list this year. Not even on the top 1,000 in the last 20 years, it leaped at
least 67 percent and more than 675 places to debut at 329.
How Do You Spell Aydin?
When you take into account that the name Jayden has ten spelling variations in the top 1,000 (see the
list that follows), that means that this one name actually shows up on the list ten different times! We
broke down the top 1,000 names for boys and girls this way, counting all the different spelling
variations as one name, and we got some surprising results. Looking from that perspective, there
aren’t 1,000 unique names at all! We counted roughly 639 unique girls’ names, and approximately
747 unique boys’ names. The girls have fewer unique names, spelled in more ways, whereas parents
of boys reach into a bigger pool of names. Let’s take a look at some of the names with the most (or
most interesting!) variations in the top 1,000.
Note: some of these names could be pronounced slightly differently from one another, but if they
could also be pronounced the same as the main name on the list, we included them.
It’s no surprise that the “-ayden” names (such as Aiden, Jayden, Brayden, and Kaden) offer lots of
spelling variety, but the changes in Tristan and Kason struck us as a little more unusual.
Top 643 Names, Not Top 1,000
Only 64 percent of the top 1,000 girls’ names are unique names. Only 75 percent of
the top 1,000 boys’ names are unique names. The rest of the names are spelling
variations of those names. Here are the three names with the most spelling
3. Kaelyn, Hailey, Madelyn
Some of these seemed more obvious—Kaitlyn, for one—but others, like Carly, surprised us with
their robust variety.
What Do the Most Popular Names Start With?
You may find it surprising, but only three of the names in the top 1,000 girl baby names for 2009 start
with a W: Wendy, Whitney, and Willow. At the same time, you probably won’t find it surprising that
the most popular letter that girls’ names start with is A (162 of the top 1,000), with M as a close
second with 106 names. Among the boys’ names, 118 start with J, and A names comprise 90 of the
total 1,000 names. In 2008 there were no U names for girls in the top 1,000 (sorry, Uma). What a
difference a year makes—in 2009 every single letter in the alphabet has at least one popular boy and
girl name, as Unique hopped back onto the chart (at 929) for the first time in four years.
Lots of names are popular for both boys and girls, but they’re generally more popular for one gender
than the other. Here’s a list of names that appeared on both the boys’ top 1,000 and the girls’ top
1,000, plus how they ranked in 2009 for each gender. Some interesting trends here—despite the
popularity of NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, Payton/Peyton are both more popular for girls! And
two names are roughly given to equal numbers of boys and girls: Hayden and Dakota.
If you’re going to choose…
Skyler/Skylar: Skylar is the more popular choice for girls, Skyler for boys
Jayden, etc: Jayden is the most popular choice for boys. Jaden, Jadyn, Jaiden, and Jaidyn are all
more popular for girls.
Casey/Kasey: Casey is the winner for boys, Kasey for girls
Reese/Reece: Reese is more popular for girls, Reece for boys
More Popular for Girls