Maybe it was the baby in "Friends." Or perhaps it was a thirst for comforting words that sound like "mama."
Whatever the cause, the name “Emma” has climbed to the top of the cultural heap, transplanting the powerhouse “Emily” as the most popular name for baby girls in America. The Social Security Administration released its annual list of most popular baby names Friday, ahead of the Mother’s Day weekend. Topping the boys list for 2008 is the heavyweight “Jacob,” which has been the number one male moniker for 10 years. Not a single name in the boys’ top five changed positions: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua and Daniel all kept their places from 2007. Rounding out the masculine top 10 for 2008 are: Alexander, Anthony, William, Christopher and Matthew. Pam Satran, co-author of the “The Baby Name Bible” and contributor to baby name site nameberry.com, sees a parental pattern among the top boys names.
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“The biggest trend is two syllable names that end in ‘n,’ ” she told CNN Radio. “We see names moving up like “Owen” and “Logan.” The name “Aaden” is also soaring up the charts. But the bigger story may be the fall of a girls name titan. After 12 years as name champion, “Emily” slipped to number three, outpaced by the surging “Emma” and “Isabella.” “The girls names we see moving up most quickly tend to be quite feminine,” Satran said, “names starting with a vowel and ending in ‘a.’ ” The most popular 10 names for baby daughters, in order, are: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison, Ava, Olivia, Sophia, Abigail, Elizabeth and Chloe. If history holds, “Emma” could rule the name world for years. Satran points out that only 13 names in recorded history have held the top spot for either boys or girls, that the favorites do not change often. “Once a name gets popular enough to get to that top spot it tends to hold onto it for dear life,” she said. Chloe had a breakthrough year, cracking the top 10 for the first time with the common spelling of the name, while an alternate spelling “Khloe” made the largest leap of any name in the top 1,000. The “K” version of the name took a rocket ride from 667 to 196 last year. In a statement, the Social Security Administration mused that reality TV star Khloe Kardashian was the reason for the Khloe climb. Disney star Miley Cyrus similarly saw her moniker rise dramatically in popularity, with “Miley” moving up more than 100 spots to number 127. But Cyrus’ alter-ego Hannah Montana slipped somewhat, with “Hannah” falling out of the top 10 and landing at number 17. The fastest rising boy name in the top 1,000 was “Jacoby,” moving up hundreds of spots to become the 423rd most popular name in the United States last year. Barack Obama’s name may been everywhere in the last year, but it did not make the top 1,000 most popular picks for babies. But it’s picking up ground fast. Social Security officials believe “Barack” set a record, soaring more than 10,000 spots in a single year, jumping from the 12,535th most popular name to become the 2,409th most popular. To see how your name did or what the most popular names are in your state, go to this Social Security Administration page.