Jacob, Sophia Most Popular Baby Names In 2011

The Social Security Administration is out with it’s list of the most popular baby names in 2011 and, once again, the list is full of  names that would have been considered non-traditional just a couple decades ago:

It’s official — we’re all keeping up with the Kardashians now. Even when it comes to baby names.

The Social Security Administration released its top 1,000 baby name list for 2011 on Monday morning. This is the mother of all baby-name lists, eagerly awaited by name nerds and anxious parents (most of whom are praying that their kids’ names don’t see a sudden jump in popularity).

Mason is the big story of 2011, jumping to No. 2 and bumping Anthony from the top 10 — it’s the only new name to crack the top 10 for either boys or girls. The name has been in the top 100 for a while, but experts credit its sudden surge in popularity to Kourtney Kardashian, who named her son Mason in 2009

There was a time when people selected the names of Saints as names for their children. Now apparently, they select the names of the children of the Kardashian sister.

Anyway here’s the top ten lists:


1. Jacob
2. Mason
3. William
4. Jayden
5. Noah
6. Michael
7. Ethan
8. Alexander
9. Aiden
10. Daniel


1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Emma
4. Olivia
5. Ava
6. Emily
7. Abigail
8. Madison
9. Mia
10. Chloe

Let’s do a little comparison to see how this list has changed over time (you can get full historical data at the SSA’s website):

  • In the 1960’s, the top boys name was Michael, for girls it was Lisa;
  • In the 1970’s, the top boys name was still Michael, for girls it was Jennifer (Lisa had fallen to No. 6)
  • In the 1980’s, the top boys name was once again Michael, for girls it was Jessica (Jennifer fell to No. 2, Lisa all the way down to No. 31)
  • In the 1990’s, the top boys name was still Michael, and Jessica was at the top of the girl’s list (Jennifer was now at No. 16, Lisa at No. 118)
  • In the 2000’s, the top boys name was Jacob (Michael fell to No. 2 after five decades), the top girls name was Emily (Jessica fell to No. 23, Jennifer to No. 39, and Lisa was not even in the top 200)

My name, incidentally, is at No. 513 this year, substantially below its No. 274 ranking just 11 years ago.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    When naming our girls, my late wife and I consulted these lists both for ideas and to ensure not naming them something trendy. We wound up with Katharine (Katie) and Elizabeth (Ellie), which are both traditional enough not to seem weird–they’d have been at home in any decade–and yet unpopular enough that their wouldn’t be three other girls in their class with the same name.

    Kim and I both had the latter problem. Indeed, it seemed like every other girl I went to school with was named Kim or Lisa.

  2. @James Joyner:

    Yea Kim and Lisa were popular girls names in my neck of the woods too. Although the prevalence of Italian and Irish families in New Jersey also meant the classroom would likely have multiple Peter’s, Paul’s, Patrick’s and Mary’s

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I would guess that at this point in my writing career I’ve named something like five hundred characters, so I’ve spent a lot of time with these lists. The shocking thing to me is the fall of Michael. Michael ruled the boy lists since forever. Now it’s behind Jayden? Jake I’m fine with since that’s my son’s name, but Mason? Please.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    In selecting names for our daughters we were mindful of the fact that my last name is ethnic central-eastern European and it was obvious that traditional names sounded best – e.g. Catherine, Marie, Madeleine, Claire, Jeanne, Joan, Elizabeth, Anne.

  5. @michael reynolds:

    The possibility that Mason moved up the list because of a Kardashian is even more disturbing, I think.

  6. Franklin says:

    Mason, like Gunner or Colt, is almost guaranteed to be a douche when he grows up. Unless, of course, he ends up being an actual mason which is kind of cool.

  7. @Franklin:

    Mason the Mason.

    Kind of like Major Major.

    or, for those who remember the old Bob Newhart Show — Norman Boreman, the Mormon Doorman

  8. PD Shaw says:

    One the boy’s names I’ve noticed become more popular is Carter. Its not in the top 1,000 names in 1979, and now its in the top 50. As a political junkie, I have to think the connection with the former president has declined. But it also looks like its one of these traditional last names that has made the just to popular first name in the last ten years.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    just = jump

  10. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Don’t forget Howard’s brother, Game Warden Gordon Borden.

  11. Herb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Now it’s behind Jayden?”

    I agree….Jayden shouldn’t even be on the list.

    The trendy names of today are the old people names of tomorrow. Ethel and Mildred were pretty popular at one time….until they started being short hand for “old lady.” Hailey and Britney will suffer the same fate once the millennials become octogenarians.

  12. Franklin says:

    @PD Shaw: I knew someone with Carter as a middle name growing up in the 80s, and my recollection was that it was indeed a grandfather’s first name (not, for example, just the mother’s maiden name being honored).

  13. Franklin says:

    @Herb: I basically agree with your theory.

  14. Tillman says:

    I find it interesting that Mason being the result of a Kardashian sister’s preference is the top story, not the fact that the top boys’ name happens to have been the name of a central character on Lost, a show watched by some twenty million and ridiculed by some other forty million.

    Also, my name seems to have gotten steadily less popular since my birth.