Emma, Jacob Are Top U.S. Baby Names

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babiesEmma ousted Emily as America’s favorite name for a baby girl, according to just-released government data, while Jacob held on to the top spot for baby boy names for the 10th year in a row. But tradition did not completely hold sway: Each gender got a new addition to its Top 10 list. Alexander joined the boys’ club, coming in at No. 6. Chloe arrived at No. 10 in the girls’ rankings.Emma shot to the top after coming in at No. 3 the previous year. The name is based on the German word “ermen,” which can mean “strong,” but is usually defined as “whole” or “complete.”

The No. 1 ranking represents something of a comeback for Emma. While very popular in the late 1800s, the name dipped in the 1970s and fell out of the Top 300.

But Emma came roaring back in the past seven years, always finishing in the Top 5. Emily had been the most popular baby girl name since 1996.

Every year the Social Security Administration compiles the rankings based on the names of babies applying for Social Security numbers. (Most children receive their numbers at birth.)

More than 4.2 million births were registered in 2008. The rankings are based strictly on spelling, not how the name sounds. That’s why the names Kaitlin, Kaitlyn, Kaitlynn, Katelin, Katelyn, Katelynn and Katlyn are considered separate entries. (In 2007, Kaitlin ranked Number 421.)

The latest Top 10 names for baby girls, based on 2008 statistics:

Emma
Isabella
Emily
Madison
Ava
Olivia
Sophia
Abigail
Elizabeth
Chloe

The Top 10 names for baby boys:

Jacob
Michael
Ethan
Joshua
Daniel
Alexander
Anthony
William
Christopher
Matthew

The popularity of the name Jacob continues a trend of naming children after Biblical figures.

The 2008 list varies significantly from the Social Security data 50 years prior, in 1958. Back then, the Top 10 girls’ names were:

Mary
Susan
Linda
Karen
Patricia
Debra
Deborah
Cynthia
Barbara
Donna

The Top 10 boys’ names in 1958 were:

Michael
David
James
Robert
John
William
Mark
Richard
Thomas
Steven

Among interesting facts unveiled in the 2008 survey: First lady Michelle Obama can count her first name as the 103rd most popular among baby girls last year. The names of first daughters Malia (345) and Sasha (363) were fairly popular, too. The family name Obama, however, did not make the Top 1,000 as a first name for boys or girls.

On the other side of the political spectrum, former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin may have had some influence; the name Sarah ranked 20th in baby name popularity last year. But Bristol, her daughter’s name, did not rank in the Top 1,000.

For the record, those names just making the cut at No. 1,000 were Yurem for boys and Elianna for girls.

The Social Security Administration limits the list to 1,000 names out of a concern for privacy, not wishing to single out children who may be the only ones in the nation with a particular name. Their list of most popular baby names dates back to 1880, even though the agency was not created until 1935. Earlier name rankings are based on the Social Security applications of older people registering for the first time in the 1930s.

{MSNBC Interactive/Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}

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