'Noah' meets 'Sophia' atop list of popular baby names

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When naming a baby boy, many American parents are keeping it biblical -- but for the first time in more than 50 years, the name isn't "Jacob" or "Michael."

For the first time ever, the name "Noah" won first place as the most popular boy's name in 2013, knocking "Jacob" to third place, according to the Social Security Administration, which began compiling the popularity lists in 1997 with names dating to 1880. "Liam" took second place this year, while "Michael" fell to seventh place and "Daniel" made the top 10 for the first time, and was the only new name on the top 10 list for last year, according to data the administration released Friday.

Among the girls, "Sophia" was the most popular name, followed by "Emma" and "Olivia," according to the Social Security list.

In Pittsburgh, "Noah" also made the list compiled by the West Penn Allegheny Health system, but only rose as high as fourth place in 2013, according to hospital system spokeswoman Jennifer Davis. And while there's plenty of overlap with the Social Security list -- among the boys, "Liam," "Mason" and "Michael" also made both lists, while "Sophia," "Olivia," "Mia," "Ava," "Emily," "Emma" and "Isabella" shared spots in the girls' aisle of both lists -- West Penn's list showed that many parents like to experiment to make their babies' names all their own, she said.

"We did notice there were a lot of names that were unique, with no duplicates of them, and that they were not necessarily names you'd find in a book," Ms. Davis said. "People really do try to take a traditional name and make it more modern by changing the spelling."

Hospital administrators, she said, noticed several variants of "Jackson," the most popular boy's name among West Penn Allegheny parents, as well as various versions of Caylee, Riley and many other names. Hundreds of names had no duplicates, she said.

Administrators at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC could not be reached for comment about what baby names are most popular there.

Each year, pop culture's influence shows itself on the baby names list, according to Social Security Administration officials. The name "Noah" has been moving steadily up the popularity chart since 2009, the administration's data shows, but then again the movie "Noah" also was scheduled for release this spring, making for a timely coincidence.

Most of the names rising quickly in popularity, however, show more influence from reality television than from the Old Testament, according to administration officials.

This year's winners for biggest jump in popularity in the top 1,000 names are "Jayceon" for boys and "Daleyza" for girls, they said. "Jayceon" is the name of a rapper and father of three children who stars in the VH1 cable reality series, "Marrying the Game," which premiered in late 2012.

Among the girls, the administration said, the popularity of "Daleyza" might have been influenced by a Spanish-language cable television series called "Larrymania," in which Daleyza is the name of the young daughter of Larry Hernandez, an American regional Mexican singer and reality television star. The name increased by more than 3,000 spots in 2013, officials said.

The second-fastest risers were Milan for boys and Marjorie for girls, they said.

Since 1914, the five most popular boys' names have been "James," "John," "Michael," "Robert" and "William," according to Social Security records, while the five most popular girls' names have been "Mary," "Patricia," "Jennifer," "Elizabeth" and "Linda."

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.

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