Top baby names of 2011: Sophia, Jacob and... Briella?

The top baby names of 2011 are out, thanks to the US Social Security Administration. 'Sophia' has knocked 'Isabella' out of first place for girls and 'Jacob' leads the baby names list for boys. 'Briella', as in "Jerseylicious" star Briella Calafiore, made the biggest jump in popularity.

Vadim Ghirda/AP
The top baby names of 2011 are out, thanks to the US Social Security Administration. Sophia has knocked Isabella out of first place for girls and Jacob leads the list for boys. Briella, as in "Jerseylicious" star Briella Calafiore, made the biggest jump in popularity.

The results are in, and the new reigning champion for America’s most popular baby name is....  Sophia. 

And Jacob (again).

Take that Isabella.

Yes, parents-to-be desperately seeking guidance can breathe a sigh of relief: today the US Social Security Administration released its much awaited 2011 list of most popular baby names.

Isabella, which was the most popular girls name in 2009 and 2010, has dropped back down to number two. Emma, Olivia, and Ava make up the rest of the top five, closely tailed by Emily, Abigail, Madison, Mia, and Chloe.

On the boys’ side, Jacob, Mason, William, Jayden and Noah lead the pack, with Michael, Ethan, Alexander, Aiden and Daniel not far behind.

Most of these names have been lingering toward the top of the list for a while now. Jacob was No. 1 last year too. Mason, however, is a an upstart. He hadn’t even cracked the top 25 until 2010, when he sat at number 12.

The annual Social Security names list can also be seen as a kind of quiz on how well you know American pop culture.

In its press release about the most popular baby names (the best government press release I’ve seen in ages) the Social Security Administration acknowledges that some attribute Mason’s rapid rise to reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian’s son of the same name. But it also has some other explanations.

“We note, moreover, that Mason has been a regular top-five name in Wisconsin for many years, undoubtedly a tribute to strong-legged Green Bay Packer kicker Mason Crosby,” it says.

Pop culture definitely seems to be on minds of expectant parents. How else to attribute the huge jump in popularity this year of the girl's name Briella, to No. 497 in 2011 from 891 in 2010? (Think Briella Calafiore, the reality star hairdresser from “Jerseylicious.”)  Or, on the boys side, the rapid rise of the name Brantley?

From the Social Security Administration:

“There could be some controversy over Brantley – depending on whether you are a fan of college football or country music. Arguments could be made that the popularity of the name comes from John Brantley, the quarterback for perennial powerhouse The University of Florida, or from Brantley Gilbert the singer with the number one country hit ‘Country Must be Country Wide.’ If you like both football and country music, you’re a winner either way!”

You can find all of this info – and much, much more – through the searchable online Social Security Administration database of American baby names. (This, by the way, is an excellent site for endless procrastination.)

A mom or dad-to-be looking for inspiration can see how a name has changed in popularity (Carol, for instance, crept up to No. 4 in 1941 and has been dropping ever since), or check the most popular names for any given year or decade. (Hello, Jessica, Jennifer, and Amanda. That’s the 1980s, if you hadn’t guessed.) 

The agency’s website has lists of baby names going back as far as 1880, when Mary, Anna, Emily, Elizabeth and Minnie were the most popular girls’ names, and John, William, James, Charles and George led the boys.

As for the rumors that "Pippa" might soon be a top girls name, thanks to American moms' fascination with the little sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge? It doesn’t show up in the top 1,000. Neither does the full name, Philippa.

Kate, however, is No. 175.

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