Sophia dethroned: Here are the top baby names of 2021
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The list of most popular baby names for 2021 is out and Sophia has be dethroned after an 11-year reign. Olivia is now the top baby name for girls and Sophia has slid to 5th place, according to BabyCenter. Liam is the number one name for boys this year, just like last year.
The parenting website analyzed the names of more than 550,000 babies born in 2020 to create its most popular name list. This year for the first time ever, the site decided not to combine name spellings, so names like “Sophia” and “Sofia” have separate placements, determined by their individual popularity. Sofia is currently the 22nd most popular name.
For the list of boy names, two new ones broke into the top 10 this year – Levi and Asher.
The site also surveyed parents to determine naming trends. They found that 40% of parents decided to skip a traditional spelling when choosing their baby’s name.
Some of this year’s fastest-rising baby girl names are: Raya, up 53%; Alora, up 32%; and Ariya, up 27%. For boys, Onyx (up 44%), Koda (up 38%), and Finnegan (up 35%) saw the biggest jumps
BabyCenter saw these names climbing mid-year during their summer report. They also saw what they call “short and sweet” names like Jack, Leo, Isla and Ayla trending up.
Also trending are unisex names like Finley and Tatum, nature-inspired names like Willow, Ivy and Sage and pop culture-inspired names like Chadwick (like actor Chadwick Boseman, who passed away earlier this year). Finally, they found names that “channel strength, optimism, and resilience” are more popular, which they suspect is a testament to being born in the middle of a pandemic.
Experts say name trends are often inspired by current events – even ones perceived as negative. “When a really damaging, dangerous hurricane hits, initially, the name of the hurricane goes up in popularity,” Laura Wattenberg, founder of Namerology.com and author of The Baby Name Wizard blog, told CBS News. “We saw that with Hurricane Katrina. And in fact, the name of a hurricane rises fastest in the places affected by the hurricane.”
However, some events and societal changes do affect names. “In the 1990s, Monica had started to rise in popularity” because of Monica from the sitcom “Friends,” Jennifer Moss, founder and CEO of BabyNames.com told CBS News. “And then, the Clinton scandal hit and it completely dropped off of the charts.”
A celebrity name is usually only as popular as long as the person is popular. “One of the best examples of that is Shaquille. I mean, Shaquille had an an incredible up and down in the early ’90s,” Cleveland K. Evans of the American Name Society told CBS News. “So, you end up with this big wad of guys, who are now between the ages of 28 and 24, named Shaquille, when there’s almost no Shaquilles on either side of them.”
Classic names usually stay classic – and often follow the “100 year rule” of popularity. “Once it becomes their great-grandparents’ generation and they probably didn’t know the people of that generation themselves, then [a name] can start to sound cool and retro to them because they don’t associate it necessarily with gray hair and wrinkles,” Evans said of parents choosing baby names.
“The most resilient, the most resistant names are names that have been classic and popular and familiar for hundreds of years. So, a William or a Katherine really can’t be poisoned by any particular celebrity or event,” Wattenberg said.