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No one can beat Emma when it comes to baby names in America. This week the Social Security Administration announced its annual list of the most popular baby names in America and Emma has the top spot on the girls’ side for the fifth year in a row. On the boys’ side Liam took the top spot for a second consecutive year.
According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 baby names in America in 2018:
Girls: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper and Evelyn
Boys: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason and Owen
How do those top 10 lists compare to the top baby names of 2017? Well, the girls’ list is nearly the same except that Mia and Charlotte switched spots, and Harper (a name that fell out of the top ten the previous year) is back and has ousted Abigail. On the boys’ side, Lucas kicked Jacob out of the top 10.
The real changes happened lower down in the data. Let’s take a look at the popular baby names that were trending hard in 2018:
The return of Meghan
In the 1990s the name Meghan (or Megan) was a common sound in the halls of elementary schools, but until very recently the name had sunk just like other names of the era (hi to all the Heathers, Jessicas and Jennifers out there).
As Pamela Redmond Satran, a co-founder of Nameberry, told The Atlantic, “Meghan is one of the 1980s and 1990s names that are becoming mom names, rather than baby names.”
But thanks to the Duchess of Sussex, the name Meghan is now back in a big way.
As The Atlantic reports, this name surged from being the 1,404th most popular name for baby girls in 2017 to the 703rd most popular in 2018. The name’s dramatic rise in popularity mirrors that of the woman who shares it.
“Meghan Markle’s influence is obviously strong enough to give the name a big boost,” says Satran.
The influence of Game of Thrones
The # of U.S. children born in 2018 who have Game of Thrones character names, per new @SocialSecurity data:— Joe Murphy (@joemurph) May 10, 2019
As NBC data journalist Joe Murphy first reported, Arya is the most popular Game of Thrones inspired name in America (and these babies were born and named before our girl met the Night King), but plenty of GoT graced birth certificates in 2018.
“Excluding the Jons and Jaimes, more than 4,500 children were given such names in 2018, up from the 3,800-plus in 2017 and the more than 3,200 in 2016,” Murphy explains.
Arya is in the lead with 2,545 babies sharing the name, and Khaleesi comes in second place with 560 baby girls taking that one. Alternative spellings of the Dothraki title also made the cut. There are 19 girls called Caleesi and 5 little Khaleesies whose parents gave her an extra ‘e’.
How Amazon sunk Alexa
In 2015 6,052 babies were dubbed Alexa, but thanks to Amazon the name now has the distinction of having the swiftest change in popularity. Last year, only 3,053 babies were named Alexa.
As Philip N. Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, once wrote, when Amazon decided to give this name to its virtual assistant, “Alexa essentially ended as a (human) name”.
And as Bloomberg noted last year, it’s not uncommon for tech companies and start-ups to take over names that were once used for babies. Casper is now synonymous with mattresses and Cora (a name that has been steadily rising in popularity for more than a decade) is the name of a tampon company.
Check out the full top 100 list below:
[A version of this post was first published May 11, 2018. It has been updated.]