The Most Popular Baby Names in America for 2011

May 14th 2012

The Social Security Administration has released the official rankings of the most popular baby names in America for 2011. The new top 10:

1  Jacob  Sophia
2  Mason  Isabella
3  William  Emma
4  Jayden  Olivia
5  Noah  Ava
6  Michael  Emily
7  Ethan  Abigail
8  Alexander  Madison
9  Aiden  Mia
10  Daniel  Chloe

The big news is the continuing change at the top of the girls' chart. The rise of Sophia itself isn't a surprise. (Back in January, Time Magazine ran a piece called "Hello. My Name is Sophia" based on my prediction of Sophia as the top name of this year.) But looking more broadly, we've now seen four different #1 names in a five-year period: Isabella (2009-10), Emma (2008) and Emily (2007, the end of a multi-year run.)

That rate of turnover is completely unprecedented for boys or girls. It's another signal that the "fear of Jennifer" -- the worry that a popular name will make your child one of five in her class -- doesn't match today's reality. Jennifer was #1 for 15 years, with a peak popularity more than three times Isabella's. #1 just isn't what it used to be.

On the boy's side, Mason makes one of the biggest jumps to the top in recent memory, all the way from #12 to #2. A tip of the cap to readers, who made Mason the most-guessed boy's name in the Baby Name Pool.

You'll doubtless hear lots of reports crediting the rise of Mason to the youngest member of the Kardashian clan. My guess is that celebrity influence is overstated. Yes, having a little Mason on tabloid covers in every supermarket in the country makes a difference. But the critical spur to Mason's rise happened 25 years earlier, when the name first appeared in the soap opera "Santa Barbara." The national Mason rate rose ten-fold during the soap's run, and it's been climbing ever since.

And today...take a look at the top boys' names. Three of the top four, Jacob, Mason and Jayden, have the exact same vowel pattern. Then consider that Maci was the fastest-rising girl's name of last year. Boy, was America ever ready for Mason.

I'll continue to analyze the new name data throughout the days to come, here and on Twitter -- follow @BabyNameWizard!


May 14, 2012 9:27 AM

I'm always fascinated by the names out of the top 1000 for the first time ever.  Theresa is gone this year but Ann hangs on by a thread.

By joye (not verified)
May 14, 2012 9:49 AM

No Philippa or Pippa in the top 1000! I am thrilled. I don't like popularity spikes. Makes a name seem more dated, and we picked it because we like unusual classics.

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 10:00 AM

Harper went from 118 to 54.  Quite a climb!

By Guest-2011 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 10:22 AM

To my big surprise there is Iker in the boy's list on place 379 with 769 births. What makes this basque name so popular in the USA? In europe, where everyone loves football (i.e., soccer for americans) the relation to Iker Casillas, goalie of the spanish world champion team, is obvious. But in the USA? Is it particularly popular among hispanics?

Ah, and Xavi is on place 806. Another football world champion ...


By Guest111 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 10:39 AM

Another Teen Mom name is a big jumper this year.


Aubree (Chelsea Houska's daughter's name) jumped from 223 to 99.

By sharalynsh (not verified)
May 14, 2012 10:41 AM

Whew! While Evangeline moved up (334 to 286), she's still not in the top 250 names, and less than 1100 girls in the nation have the name. :-) Our other choices (that were serious choices) were all in the top 100, so I'm kind of excited!

The year my son was born (family name, so I didn't care about popularity) his was #20. He's been in the top 10 for the last 5 years now. I'm kinda glad we named him when we did! 

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 10:59 AM

The jumps (collectively) on the girl's side of Charleigh, Charli, Charley, and Charlee are surprising. All jumped over 100 spots, and Charleigh over 200.  Even Charlie jumped 87 spots.  Has this name officially "crossed-over" or is androgynous now?


Adele was a fast riser, too. Second to only Briella.  Didn't SSN say Angelique was #2 on fast risers?  I think Adele is ...

May 14, 2012 11:11 AM

@Guest111...thanks for the Aubree explanation. I was wondering what the deal was there. Aubri and Aubrianna are also new names in the top 1000.

By knp
May 14, 2012 11:13 AM

risers (looking only by rank): Harper, Scarlett, Mila, Aria (game of thrones?),Gia, Luna, Nyla, Nylah, June (!), all sorts of El- names, Briella.  And I'm going to stop there.

Miley continues to drop

Aubrey & Aubree & Aubrie all made increases--  so maybe not so much teen mom...


Liam & William rising, and Nolan, Greyson (not surprising, I think Grey is very attractive), Bryson, Jaxon

and the baby is up... later


By meemawX3 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 11:13 AM

3 grandchildren and only one in the top 80 the other two didn't even show in the 1000 names.  LOL.  They are the one and only. 

May 14, 2012 11:19 AM

I hadn't read Laura's prediction that Sophia would be #1 this year, but had the same expectation. What's interesting about both Sophia and Isabella is that each has a Top 1000 alternative spelling, plus several more beyond the top 1000, and yet enough parents are sticking with the classic English language spellings to keep these names at the top of the charts.

#1 Sophia - given to 21, 695 baby girls (also in the Top 20, #19 Sofia: 7285 baby girls)

#2 Isabella - 19,745 girls (also in the Top 150, #140 Izabella: 2186 girls -- and the Spanish language Isabela: #660; 426 girls)

#3 Emma, with only one spelling, held onto her place thanks to the diverse spellings of some of the names following her, like Olivia/Alivia and others.

(I have granddaughters Sophia, born 1995, and Emma, born 1989, whose names were chosen ahead of the current huge popularity of these names.)



By sharalynsh (not verified)
May 14, 2012 11:20 AM

Wow--Michael has been in the top 5 since 1949, and he's out now! 

May 14, 2012 11:33 AM

Our family prefers classic, traditional names so all 12 grandsons' names are in the top 60, and 3 of our five granddaughters' names are in the top 40. Another is in the top 200. Only our second granddaughter's name Catrina is beyond the top 1000, but it too has traditional ties to her mother's name Catherine (#161). On the otherhand, I have a nephew whose young children's names were beyond the the top 1000 when they were born, but in 2011 the girl's name Esme made the top 1000 at # 981. Not surprising as it's a top 100 name in England/Wales.

By senalishia (not verified)
May 14, 2012 11:39 AM

I keep expecting my #1 choice for a boy, Edward, to start climbing the charts, but it persists in hanging out in the 100th-150th zone--right where I want it!

May 14, 2012 11:39 AM

Dorothy (last appearance 2006) and Geraldine (1990!) are back in the top 1000. Geraldine really surprises me, I have to admit.

May 14, 2012 11:59 AM

Looks like Kate Middleton might have helped Catherine and Katherine as both of their numbers were up.

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
May 14, 2012 12:12 PM

@guest-2011 - I'm not really sure why but I noticed that too. Xavi might have to do with the whole "x" name trends, like Xander? Kind of love it though, plus excited for Euro 2012 viva la roja :) !!

I love looking at the names that had no rank the previous year. Not sure if anyone noticed but Nixon came in at 901 this year! tied with Brenton, Brysen, Tyrell, and Aditya (225 babies each) Wow.

As a hockey fan couldn't help but notice "Crosby" entered the top 1000 at 747 trailing only Raylan and Bowen as the three highest without a ranking in last year's 1000.

May 14, 2012 12:35 PM

Another Laura - I agree - and Kate all alone is up as well.

The rise of all the Aubreys (especially Aubree!) is the biggest surprise to me.  Aubri is new to the top 1000.  Also I can't help but feel a jolt at Michael's fall!

By Stephanie R (not verified)
May 14, 2012 12:43 PM

My daughter's name (born in 2007) Aviana jumped from being nowhere in the top 1000 to 762.  Sigh.  There were only 362 of them born in the country but still- my other daughter's name hasn't made it to the top 1000 yet.  I have a friend who is going to name her son Wyatt when he is born, that seems to be picking up steam.  Interesting to see what the national trends are, for sure. 

By Angela Dawn (not verified)
May 14, 2012 12:55 PM

Even before the 2011 stats came out I saw Harper rising fast. The name has already risen dramatically. 

I'm a little thrilled that my daughter's name, Fiona, went down just slightly. Does that make me weird? Yes. 

I'm not surprised my son's name, Paul went down, just slightly. I delibertly picked a name I knew was not in vogue. That sounds obserd - doesn't it?

I can see how "the fear of Jennifer" has caused strange rational among my generation of parents. 

I agree that Kardashian's influence on Mason is exaggerated. The name has been trending upwards for years. I suspected Mason would hit the top 10 this year, but never imagined it would reach #2 and surpase Aiden. 

I'm also pleasantly surprised my current #1 girl and #2 boy names: Cecily and Linus, have still not hit the top 1000. My #1 boy name, Hugh has gone up slightly to #951. 



May 14, 2012 1:02 PM

I have a (not necessarily perfect) list of the new girls' name and newly-gone girls' names posted in the celeb names and name sightings forum (here). Some interesting newbies: Geraldine, Dorothy, Hattie, and Renata for the revivals; some entirely new ones- Temperance, Juniper, Malaysia, and Blakely; and some crossovers with one standout...Bentley- also Elliot, Blake, Blair, and Rory.

By sharalynsh (not verified)
May 14, 2012 1:28 PM

I'm fascinated at how the drops offs in numbers go. There are over 1500 more girls named the #1 than the #1 boys, BUT, girls drop below 10,000 at the number 11 spot while the boys don't drop below until the #32 spot.

I must admit that while I never cared about popularity with my son's name--it just was his name from very early on, I'm more than pleased that even though I loved the boy name we picked, we had a girl. Our boy name was #3 with the nn we picked as #15 as a given name. 

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
May 14, 2012 1:30 PM

Elisabeth Rae - I was also sad to see Michael drop out of the top 5! I actually really love the name Michael and I love how its endured for so long.


Something I noticed on the girls side: Bentley entered the top 1000 for girls... I honestly didn't expect that, Bentley is so masculine to me.

By Andre (not verified)
May 14, 2012 1:34 PM

I think you forgot to mention Jacob is #1 for the 13th straight week! The turnover is definitely uber slow for boys, and a Jacob is very likely to encounter several others along the way.

Finally Michael is out of the top5. I can't stand overused "classics".

Oakley almost top1000 :D I love it.

By Evie, nli (not verified)
May 14, 2012 1:41 PM

OMG, Laura & everyone, have you seen that the SSA is providing STATE SPECIFIC Beyond-the-Top-1000 data now??? That is, state-by-state numbers down to 5 occurrances—*way* more than the top-100 they used to give us. They don't seem to have included the 2011 data yet but still. Wow.

It's here, along with the regular Beyond-the-Top-1000, which does have 2011 included:

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 1:49 PM

The list of "entered the top 1000 this year" is really interesting.

For girls (in order of popularity): Bryn, Renata, Aviana, Samiyah, Braylee, Milania, Blake, Kensley, Avianna, Saanvi, Nahla, Aubriana, Jacey, Elliot, Nova, Sloan, Alaya, Kailynn, Rory, Karis, Bentley, Aubri, Tia, Laurel, Audrianna, Blakely, Dorothy, Julieta, Kyndal, Temperance, Ashtyn, Miya, Cambria, Liv, Geraldine, Izabelle, Samiya, Abrielle, Annabell, Leigha, Juniper, Malaysia, Blair, Rivka, Alianna, Gwyneth, Kendyl, Sky, Sariyah, Kamille, Amalia, Hattie, Galilea, Milana, Yuliana.


For boys:

Raylan, Bowen, Crosby, Rylen, Amos, Harvey, Cassius, Callan, Brenton, Brysen, Nixon, Elvis, Arlo, Braylin, Turner, Arian, Miller, Mustafa, Otto, Vihaan, Enoch, Benton, Graysen, Reuben, Flynn, Maxton, Mariano, Brecken, Eliseo, Zeke, Maksim, Coen, Cristiano, Hendrix, Princeton, Dimitri, Kyan, Corban, Yehuda, Cayson, Kamren, Kohen

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 2:05 PM

The biggest losers within the top 100 is an interesting story:  Diego, Juan, Jose, Luis, and Angel all lost 10 or more spots within the top 100.

By poppin (not verified)
May 14, 2012 2:10 PM

Yay!  Beatrix has yet to crack the Top 1000.  Ainsley rose slightly.  My son's name (Caleb) has been hovering in the 30's since he was born, but I still don't run into many Calebs.

Fear of the Jennifer was definitely a factor with us, being children of the 70's and both of us with very common names. 

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 2:43 PM

Can someone explain where this list of trenders (bottom of article) is from?


I can't figure it out ... it's not rank, it's not sheer number of babies born ...

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 14, 2012 2:44 PM

Greatest increase in sheer number of babies born with the name goes to Harper.

By Manda (not verified)
May 14, 2012 4:17 PM

My daughter's name made it into the top 1000 last year, and fell pretty dramatically this year- almost off the list:  Willa.

By J&H's mom (not verified)
May 14, 2012 6:00 PM

I understand the fear of Jennifer, but it doesn't make sense to me as an explanation for the shuffling in the girls' names.

Surely, someone who decided the number one name was too popular wouldn't choose number two or three instead, would she?

I'll say I know far more Sophies than Isabelles. You trip on one every time your turn around, seems like.


By Julica Ipswich (not verified)
May 14, 2012 6:36 PM

Sigh...looks like Clara and Claire are off my list for now.  At least I'm having a boy this time.

May 14, 2012 7:54 PM

So much data to look at, how long will my baby sleep for today :) ?

I am not surprised about Mason shooting up. It seems very popular at the moment. I am kind of glad I didn't have a baby 10 years ago as Mason was a hot contender for a boys name. Dodged a bullet with that one.

Interestingly I haven't come across too many baby Sophias in the last couple of years. The are obviously out there but I know far more Isabelle/as and Olivias.



May 14, 2012 8:07 PM

Re: Geraldine

Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1984 Geraldine Ferraro died in March 2011.  Not only is the first woman to run in a presidential race on a major party ticket a good namesake to have, Geraldine hits that style mark of old-fashioned, girly, and flowy with lots of vowel sounds, while still being familiar and easy to spell/pronounce.

On the boys' side, I love that Flynn cracked the top 1000!  Yay for Disney movies!

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 15, 2012 9:58 AM

Flynn is also one of the characters in Skylanders.  Not that it's more influential than Disney, but it's certainly being heard in households more often from both sources. :)

May 16, 2012 1:14 AM

Glad to see that my youngest's name has dropped, if only slightly and that my eldest's name is holding steady. All my top picks for a girl have gone up a bit, but still outside the top 100 (though, for the girls, it's less of a problem).

By Amt123 (not verified)
May 17, 2012 6:42 PM

What about amelia

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