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Most parents eschew out-there names for more traditional picks, with some gradual influence from pop culture events. In general, the same names appear on the annual Social Security Administration list year after year, with just a few newcomers cracking the top 10 each year. In 2012, the latest data we have available, biblical and Twilight-inspired Jacob (#1 for boys for 14 years now) reigned, while timeless Sophia claimed the top spot for girls.
Here, we explain the meanings of the top 10 baby names for each gender.
Top American Baby Names for Boys
Jacob: The top name has its roots in Hebrew, and means “one who grasps by the heel or supplanter.”
Mason: Rising in popularity due to Kourtney Kardashian choosing it for her son, Mason is an English name that means “one who works with stone.”
Ethan: A Hebrew name, this moniker means “constancy.”
Noah: It’s biblical connotation looms large, but this cute, short name also means “small.”
William: This princely name may enjoy increased popularity in coming years, thanks to royal fever. An ancient Germanic name, it means “determined protector.”
Liam: Tori Spelling chose this for her oldest son; a shortened version of William, it also means “determined protector.”
Jayden: Will Smith and Britney Spears gave this name prominence by choosing it for their sons. It means “the precious stone.”
Michael: Uber-traditional, this name means “who resembles God.”
Alexander: Rooted in Greek, this name means “protector of men.”
Aiden: A gaelic name, it means “flame.”
Top American Baby Names for Girls
Sophia: A chic name that calls to mind screen legend Sophia Loren, Sophia is a Greek name that means “wisdom.”
Emma: A choice with literary cred thanks to Jane Austen’s novel of the same name as well as main character in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Emma means “universal.”
Isabella: More Twilight influence? This elegant name, often shorted to Izzy or Bella, means “God’s promise.”
Olivia: A Latin name meaning “olive,” this name could be on the rise due to the popularity of the soapy TV series “Scandal,” centered a character named Olivia Pope.
Ava: A Hebrew name meaning “life,” Ava calls to mind Hollywood screen legend Ava Gardner.
Emily: This sweet Latin name, which brings to mind poet Emily Dickinson, means “eager.”
Mia: Synonymous with pixie-cut cuteness thanks to Mia Farrow, this choice means “wished-for child.”
Madison: This name, wish means “person from Magdala” (a region in France) ruled the early 2000s but has fallen off in recent years.
Elizabeth: Like William, this royal name, which means “God’s promise,” will likely get a boost from royal mania.