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Popular baby names on the rise

Every year, the Social Security Administration releases the most popular names in the United States. And every year we can see how a particular name changes in popularity — from huge jumps to massive falls. What baby names for boys and girls had the biggest leaps, and which names dropped on down? Which names held steady two years in a row, or only moved a spot or two? Read on to check out the changes in popularity for both boys and girls!

Newborn baby

Baby names biggest movers: Cullen & Maliyah

The Twilight books and films have taken American pop culture by the horns, and its influence is not only seen in fashion and merchandise but also in baby names.

quotation mark open Thanks to the popular Twilight movies, Cullen is the fastest rising boys’ name, while Maliyah moved up 342 spots as the fastest rising girls’ name. quotation mark close

Can you guess what the baby boy name is with the largest climb on the Social Security Administration’s popular baby name list? Cullen, the surname of the hauntingly gorgeous vampire family. Hands down, this boy name made its case by rocketing up the chart and moving 297 spots from 782 in 2008 to 485 in 2009. It’s doubtful that it is a simple coincidence that the franchise’s popularity has inspired parents all over the US to name their newborn boys Cullen.

For girls, the name Maliyah made an enormous jump — it flew up 342 spots from 638 to 296. Keep in mind that President Obama’s elder daughter’s name is Malia, which is another version of our top-moving name. Its popularity climb supercedes the top climber on the boy chart, Cullen, which jumped up 297 spots. Maliyah is followed directly by the beautiful name Isla. Pronounced eye-lah, this name moved up 273 spots from 619 to 346.

More buzzworth baby names

The other boy names that had the most movement were:

  • Jax, which soared up 266 spots from 692 to 426
  • King, which moved up 248 spots from 710 to 462
  • Emmett, which cruised 215 spots from 547 to 332
  • Colt, which moved up 164 spots from 534 to 370
  • Braylen, which climbed 162 spots from 574 to 412.
  • Declan (up 38 spots from 346 to 308)
  • Silas (up 56 spots from 310 to 254)
  • Beckett (up 66 spots from 479 to 413)
  • Jude (up 41 spots from 223 to 182).

A few names that leaped into the top 50 were:

  • Liam (up 26 spots from 75 to 49)
  • Carter (up 15 spots from 65 to 50)
  • Levi (up 28 spots from 116 to 88)
  • Oliver (up 20 spots from 118 to 98).

The next top movers on the girl chart are:

  • Caylee (up 251 spots from 514 to 263)
  • Kinley (up 214 spots from 665 to 451)
  • Arabella (up 209 spots from 656 to 447)
  • Adelyn (up 180 spots from 585 to 405).
  • The similar name Adalyn was also a big climber — it flew up 162 spots from 531 to 369.

For girls, there are even more names that moved up, just not so far. Some notable examples are:

  • Alice (up 69 spots from 327 to 258)
  • Eliza (up 48 spots from 326 to 278)
  • Sage (up 62 spots from 485 to 396) 
  • Eleanor (up 37 spots from 255 to 218).

Baby names holding steady

The top boy baby name in 2009 was Jacob (incidentally also the name of another popular Twilight character) and it continues to dominate the top spot — in fact, it’s retained its hold on #1 for 10 solid years running.

The other boy names that didn’t change rank from 2008 to 2009 were:

  • Brenden
  • Christian
  • David
  • Khalil
  • Lukas
  • Myles
  • Samuel
  • Tyler
  • Vincent
  • Zane

Some girl names retained their holds on their ranks from last year as well, including:

  • Ava is one name enjoying its high rank — number 5 — two years in a row
  • Sofia held on to the 36 spot
  • Rylee stayed at 116.

Some boy names moved either up or down in popularity, but not by much — Alexander climbed 2 spots from 6 to 4, Ethan popped up 1 spot from 3 to 2 and Elijah went from 21 to 22. Michael dropped from 3 to 2, James went from 17 to 18 and Joshua went from 6 from 4.

Slight movers on the girl side are Chloe, which stepped up one spot from 10 to 9; Jade, which bumped up from 130 to 129 and Isabella, which gained the top spot in 2009 by skipping up from 2 to 1. Alivia, an alternate spelling of the traditional name Olivia, moved up 3 spots as did the traditional name Juliana. Some girl names with a slight drop in popularity are Emma, which traded places with Isabella and dropped from 1 to 2; Brianna, which fell from 23 to 24 and Madison, which dropped from 6 to the 7 spot.

Baby names free falling

Just as several boy names took huge jumps, quite a few dropped in the opposite direction, including:

  • Alvin lands in the bottom spot in 2009 in this category, diving from 437 on the list to 570 — a drop of 133 spots.
  • Marc fell 106 spots from 454 to 560.
  • Despite the rampant popularity of the Jonas Brothers, the boy name Jonas took the third biggest drop, falling 105 spots to 379 from 254.
  • Isiah (down 91 spots from 443 to 534)
  • Brett (down 80 spots from 311 to 391)
  • Terry (down 77 spots from 477 to 554)
  • Brodie (down 69 spots from 421 to 490).

As with the biggest movers, the biggest “name drop” on the girl chart outdropped the one on the boy chart — this time by a wide margin.

  • Marely, which in 2008 was at the 334 spot, comes in at 851 in 2009 — a drop of 517!
  • Mylee (a drop of 420 from 433 to 853)
  • Jaslene (down 294 from 376 to 670)
  • Allisson (down 197 from 418 to 615)
  • Haylie (down 145 from 499 to 644)
  • Lindsay (down 143 from 381 to 524).

Some of the other falling boy names are Cory (down 41 spots from 459 to 500), Dayton (down 35 spots from 486 to 512), Dillon (down 28 spots from 264 to 292), Mitchell (down 24 spots from 335 to 359) and Drew (down 28 spots from 244 to 272). Plenty of other female baby names also dropped, although the plunge wasn’t quite as dramatic. Heather, for example, which clocked in at 485 in 2008 fell 73 spots to 558. Other examples are Casey (down 60 spots from 468 to 528), Danice (down 43 spot from 336 to 379) and Kyra (down 33 spots from 238 to 271).

Check out the Social Security Administration’s entire list of Top 100 baby names.

Spotting the name trends

When you break down the popularity chart for both boys and girls and determine which names jumped and which dropped it can be easy to spot trends as well as those names that are classics and never fall too far out of favor with new parents.

It’s apparent that for the most part, the biggest movers on the girl chart are names that are different spellings of more common names. Girl baby names are commonly spelled differently in an attempt to make them more unique and special and that is certainly reflected in 2009’s changes in popularity for girl names. It’s fun to see how your favorite names stack up each year and can inspire you to name your own baby.

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