The world's most popular baby name is classic and beautiful

Nov 9, 2015 at 6:19 a.m. ET
Image: Imagesbybarbara/iStock/Getty Images

A baby-naming expert has announced that the most popular baby name in the world is Sophia (or Sofia). And we reckon Laura Wattenberg is pretty qualified to make that assertion, as she analysed baby-name statistics from 49 different countries before reaching her conclusion.

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Wattenberg’s research revealed that Sophia/Sofia is the number one girl's name in nine countries, including Italy, Slovakia, Mexico, Estonia, Chile and Russia. “It just blew me away that so many different languages and cultures would arrive at the same sound at the same time,” she said.

While Wattenberg admits she "can't say definitively that Sofia is the world's most common girl's name in terms of number of babies born," simply because name data isn't available from many countries (such as Brazil, China and India), she claims the name is "the most widely popular," taking the number one spot from the traditional Maria/Mary in many countries.

Interestingly, unlike Maria (and Mohamed, which is the top global boy's name), Sofia's popularity "is a phenomenon of fashion, not faith", says Wattenberg.

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So just what is it about the name Sophia?

"Most of the forces behind other global fashion trends, like clothing or music, don't apply here," says Wattenberg. "There are no commercial influences on baby names, no marketing or advertising campaigns. Nor is this a celebrity-driven phenomenon. While there are famous Sofias and Sophies today, they don't approach the global fame that Sophia Loren achieved fifty years ago."

Fiona, 38, named her 4-year-old daughter Sophia but says there was "no great thought" involved: she saw the name in a magazine when waiting to be induced and liked it. For 36-year-old Pamela there were a few reasons for choosing Sofia for her now 17-month-old daughter. It has the same "ia" ending as big sister Olivia and spelling it with an "f" made it look less like Sophie, the name of her best friend's baby girl. There was also something of a commercial influence, insofar as the Disney cartoon Sofia the First was Olivia's favourite.

According to Nameberry, Sophia means "wisdom" and first became famous thanks to St. Sophia, who is revered in the Greek Orthodox church and was the mother of three daughters named Faith, Hope and Love. It began to be used in England in the seventeenth century and was the name of George I's mother and wife.

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