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I have tons of friends having their 2nd wave of babies in the next few months. What’s the topic of conversation? Baby names – what is cool, not cool and what would be cute! Here are the top baby names of 2011 and their meanings. Seems like the film Twilight had quite the effect!


The list is put out by the Social Security Administration (who has to have something fun to do with all those birth records), and they have a feature which shows the change in the popularity for names, giving some limelight to those who did well for themselves without making it into the Top 10. The two with the biggest jumps were Maci and Bentley, just like the young mother and young son featured on Teen Mom, following their stint on 16 and Pregnant. Another fast-riser was Knox, the name of one of those seemingly thousands of kids in Brangelina’s family entourage. Tiana, the name of the princess in The Princess and the Frog, saw a surge, as did Kellan, a name shared by Kellan Lutz, another actor from Twilight.

Boys

  1. Jacob: Has come in and out of vogue for over 100 years. Landed at No. 1 for the first time in 1999, knocking Michael off the top after 38 years. In the Old Testament, Jacob was born holding his twin brother Esau’s heel. Namesake Jacob Grimm, the German linguist and writer, was the author of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” with his brother Wilhelm. Jacobus is the Latin form of the name.
  2. Ethan: Biblical name of the third king of Judah who reigned for 41 years. Popular among the Puritans in the 17th century. More common in the U.S. prior to the turn of the 20th century. A favorite Jewish name.
  3. Michael: Extended form of Micha, meaning “Who is like God?”. Numerous namesakes found in the Bible. The most notable is a minor prophet who predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah. A book in the Old Testament bears his name. Late-comer to the charts in 1959, but becoming a prevalent name because of its strong Hebrew connection.
  4. Jayden: A combination of the names Jay and Aiden that’s seen a sudden burst of popularity during the past 10 years. The son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who appeared with his dad in the 2006 film, “The Pursuit of Happyness.” A unisex name.
  5. William: Used as a royal name in Great Britain for nearly one thousand years starting with William the Conqueror. Had seen a steady decline until 1982 when Prince Charles and Princess Diana named their first son William. In the U.S., William has remained among the top 10 for the past 125 years. Namesakes include four United States presidents. Actor Willem Dafoe uses the Dutch form of the name.
  6. Alexander: This fun surname evokes a playful, widely liked bon vivant — he might be equally comfortable pursuing quiet, bookish activities and joking around with his pals. Shortens easily to the cute nickname Sandy.
  7. Noah: A biblical name for one of the Apostles who was also called Bartholomew. Listed among the top 100 in 1978, peaking at No. 61 in 2000 and 2001.
  8. Daniel: A form of the Hebrew name, Kohen. A new addition to the popular chart. A favorite among Jewish families.
  9. Aiden: A form of the name Aodan which  means “Fire”. Used by several early Irish saints. Irish American actor Aidan Quinn has brought attention to the name.
  10. Anthony: Derived from the old Roman family name Antonius. Associated with early saints and an Egyptian hermit who founded the monasticism. Listed among the top 100 names since 1881 and the top 50 since 1936. Influenced by the long career of Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins. Puerto Rican-American singer Marc Anthony is a famous bearer of the surname.

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Girls

  1. Isabella: The Portuguese and Spanish form of Elizabeth. A literary name for the heroine in the Henry James novel “Portrait of a Lady” published in 1881 and adapted into a film in 1996. The name has been in popular use since before the turn of the 20th century and hit its peak in 2003 at No. 83.
  2. Sophia: Derived from the Greek word that grew in popularity during the 17th and 18th century in England, most likely influenced by the heroine in Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel “Tom Jones.” Italian actress and academy award winner, Sophia Loren, brought attention to the name during the 1960s. Sophie is the French form of the name.
  3. Emma: Possibly the Latin feminine form of Aemilius or a combination of Emelia and Amalia. The name has been used for the title character in the novel “Amelia” by Henry Fielding and for a character in the book “Vanity Fair.” Associated with Amelia Bloomer a 19th century women’s rights and temperance advocate and famed aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
  4. Olivia: Lavinia may mean a “woman of Rome” but the name carries the alluring, exotic beauty of an Eastern European supermodel. She’s also a gentle but tragic character in Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.” With a similar sonance, this name could be an alternative to uber-popular Olivia.
  5. Ava: Of uncertain origin, its possibly a variation of the medieval names Avis or Aveline, a phonetic variation of Eva and Evelyn, or a form of the Hebrew Chava. Actress Ava Gardner whose film career started in 1941 largely influenced the name. Numerous celebrities have chosen this name for their daughters, including Reese Witherspoon, Heather Locklear, Kevin Dillon, Jason Priestley, and Mia Hamm.
  6. Emily: The feminine form of Aemilius that’s sometimes confused with the similar sounding Amelia. The name has been in popular use for over a century and is currently among the top 500.
  7. Abigail: The name of the third wife of King David in the Old Testament who referred to herself as David’s “handmaid” which paved the way for its use in literature for a lady’s servant. The name has steadily climbed in popularity since the 1940s, breaking into the top 100 in 1989. First lady and wife of former president John Adams is a namesake. Known today as the pen name for advice columnist Abigail Van Buren.
  8. Madison: The name was derived from an English surname associated with former president James Madison and his wife Dolley. It was influenced by actress Daryl Hannah in the 1984 film, “Splash,” whose character adopted the name after seeing a street sign for Madison Avenue in New York. It debuted on the popularity chart in 1985.
  9. Chloe: A variation of Channah which is the Hebrew form of Hannah favored among Jewish families; The feminine form of Chayim derived from the Hebrew word “chai” that carries a prophetic meaning for a newborn child.
  10. Mia: Associated with the Roman goddess of spring who gave her name to the fifth calendar month of the year. In Greek mythology she was the mother of the god Hermes. Popular use of the name began in 1996.

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