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05.07.10

The Top 20 Baby Names of 2009

Baby-naming expert Pamela Redmond Satran—coauthor of Beyond Ava & Aiden—explains who’s up (Isabella, Cullen, and Maliyah) and who’s down (Marley and Jonas) in fresh government rankings, out Friday.

Baby-naming expert Pamela Redmond Satran—coauthor of Beyond Ava & Aiden—explains who’s up (Isabella, Cullen, and Maliyah) and who’s down (Marley and Jonas) in fresh government rankings, out Friday. Plus, Nicole LaPorte on how the new movie Babies made her want shoes and alcohol.

Isabella unseated Emma after just one year as the No. 1 girls’ baby name, according to the new Most Popular Baby Names of 2009 list released by the Social Security Administration Friday morning.

Jacob retains the top spot for boys for its 11th year, with Ethan moving up to No. 2.

Newcomers to the Top 10 List are Mia for girls and Jayden and Noah for boys, with Elizabeth, Christopher, and Matthew falling off.

The fastest rising boys’ name was Cullen, surname of the Twilight hero Edward Cullen.

satran-baby-names---malia
Malia Obama (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

The complete Top Ten for 2009:

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

Boys:
1. Jacob
2. Ethan
3. Michael
4. Alexander
5. William
6. Joshua
7. Daniel
8. Jayden
9. Noah
10. Anthony

Nicole LaPorte: Babies Made Me Want Shoes and AlcoholFastest riser for girls was Maliyah, inspired by first daughter Malia Obama (the Malia spelling also leapt up), with Isla, the Scottish name of actress Isla Fisher, making the second-biggest jump for girls. The fastest-rising boys’ name was Cullen, surname of the Twilight hero Edward Cullen.

There was a pop culture element to the fastest-falling names too, with Marley (as in Bob, as well as the dog from Marley & Me), Miley, Lindsay, Brett (as in football great Favre), and Jonas (as in Brothers) all sliding down the list.

Isabella’s popularity can be attributed to its cross-cultural appeal. It’s favored by Hispanic parents and Wasp-y ones, by families across the economic spectrum, by fans of Twilight’s Bella and the powerful Spanish queen of history. Factoring in other popular variations of the name—from Isabel to Bella to Izabelle—the name is even more widespread than its No. 1 status suggests.

Emma enjoyed only one year in the spotlight before sliding down to No. 2, with longtime No. 1 name Emily sliding all the way to seventh place this year. Other downward-moving girls’ names are Madison and Abigail, while Olivia and Sophia—names that have a similar appeal as Isabella—moved up.

On the boys’ side, longtime top name Michael slipped to No. 3. Also downwardly-mobile: Joshua, Daniel, and Anthony, while Alexander and William leapt up along with second-place Ethan.

In the overall Top 1,000, other names making the biggest leaps upward for girls include Arabella and Annabella, Kinley and Kinsley, Juliet and Juliette, Paisley and Presley.

For boys, fast movers include Jax and Jett, King and Colt, the militaristic Kason and Gunner along with the genteel Emmett, Jasper, and Brooks.

Pamela Redmond Satran is a developer of the baby-naming site nameberry.com and the coauthor of 10 books on names, including Beyond Ava & Aiden, due out next month.