Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 9, 2014

Baby names: Noah ends Jacob's 14-year run at top

WASHINGTON (AP) — Noah sailed past Jacob to become the most popular baby name for boys in 2013, ending Jacob's 14-year run at the top. Sophia was the most popular baby name for girls for the third straight year.

The Social Security Administration announced the most popular baby names Friday. Noah was followed by Liam, Jacob, Mason and William. Sophia was followed by Emma, Olivia, Isabella and Ava.

The rise of Noah and Liam highlights a trend toward more smooth-sounding baby names, said Laura Wattenberg, creator of Babynamewizard.com.

"You compare Jacob with all its hard, punchy consonants, versus Noah and Liam, you can really see where style is heading," Wattenberg said.

She also noted that the most popular baby names aren't nearly as popular as they used to be. For example, a little more than 18,000 babies born last year were named Noah. In 1950, when James was No. 1, there were more than 86,000 newborns with that name.

About 21,000 newborns were named Sophia last year. In 1950, more than 80,000 were named Linda, the top name for girls that year.

"In the past, most parents were picking from a pretty well-defined set of names," Wattenberg said. "Literally for hundreds of years, the English royal names dominated. You had John and Mary and James and Elizabeth."

"Today," she said, "we get names everywhere."

Jacob first rose to No. 1 in 1999. In the 45 years before that, Michael was king for all but one.

There has been a lot more variety among the girls. Mary dominated the first half of the 20th century. But in the past two decades, Emily, Emma, Isabella and Jessica have all spent time at the top.

The Social Security Administration's website provides lists of the top 1,000 baby names for each year, dating to 1880. The top baby names that year were John and Mary. John is now No. 27 and Mary has fallen to No. 121.

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