Top Baby Names of 2010 (and What's Ahead in 2011)

by the Circle of Moms Editors

What's in a name? As it turns out, quite a lot. From sitcom characters to great uncles to whiskey brands (yes, we're looking at you, Pink), an incredibly diverse set of references inspire us when we name our newbies. As the year comes to a close, we've rounded up and analyzed hundreds of thousands of baby names given by Circle of Moms members to their babies born in 2010. Read on for 2010's top ten boy and girl names, plus our thoughts on the trends that drove them, and what's in store for baby names in 2011.

This year's contenders may have the ring of the familiar. That's because most of them have been popular for some time. There were some notable changes since 2009 however, especially on the boys' list: Liam jumped to fifth place (from ninth), and Mason entered the top ten (it ranked fifteenth in 2009), displacing the tried-and-true Jack, which tumbled five spots to number twelve. Landon and Elijah both crept closer to the top 10, with Landon jumping seven spots to number fifteen, and Elijah leaping 13 spots to number 17. Among girls, Sophia showed new popularity by climbing from tenth place to fifth, while Chloe knocked Emma down a peg to fourth, and Emily drifted three spots down to tenth.

Top Baby Name Trends for 2010


Since the top ten names have been so consistent for the last two years, we looked further down the list to identify trends. And among the top 100, we really begin to see the clear ones: the influence of pop culture, the persistence of tradition for boy names (biblical names), untraditional girl names, and unique spellings for all.

  • The Tabloid Effect: Khloe, Maddox, Jayden, Jake
    An overwhelming number of our top 10, top 100, and rapidly rising names have counterparts in pop culture. Maddox - which grabs headlines in supermarket checkout aisles thanks to the Jolie-Pitts - was the favorite boy name in the Circle of Moms Best Baby Names Contest, and Jayden (the name of Britney Spears' son and a close variation on Jaden, the name of Will Smith's son) held onto its top 10 ranking. The Kardashian clan, also paparrazi darlings, saw several of their family names jump in popularity. Most notably, Khloe, which holds the #50 spot for 2010, soared over 30% in popularity from #97 in 2009 - the biggest percent increase among girl's names. The name of Khloe's nephew, Mason, also jumped in popularity (from spot #15 to #10) as did Kendal, a variation on her step-sister Kendall's name. Step-brother Brody, however, saw his name fall 18 places to #61...perhaps moms weren't enamored of his 2009 performance in Bromance. Similarly, moms may be shying away from Jake (which fell 15 spots to #62) after Jake Pavelka of The Bachelor fame revealed his temper in mid-year interviews.

  • Sitcom Stars and Blockbuster Characters: Lily, Quinn, Bentley
    Did you fall in love with the name Emma (#4) watching the season of Glee? Or Lily (#9) from Gossip Girl or Modern Family? You're probably not alone. Nearly all the top 10 boys names and girls names have counterparts in popular culture, from TV and movie characters to the celebrities that play them. Logan (#1) appears both in The X-Men and Gilmore Girls, Aiden (#6) shows the perpetual appeal of Carrie's old love in Sex and the City, while Jacob (#2) and Bella (#33) are likely getting boosts from Twilight fever. In addition to Emma (which also belongs to the Harry Potter movies' Emma Watson), Glee character names include very popular Noah (#5) and the fast-rising Quinn, which jumped from #429 to #275 in 2010. Jumping into our top 100 at #86, Bentley may have received a boost from Teen Mom.

  • Biblical Boy Names: Noah, Jeremiah, Levi
    In addition to the tabloids, parents looked to the Bible for baby boy names in 2010. Jacob, Joshua, and Noah all reached the top 10, with Noah (#5) enjoying an all-time high in popularity. We also noticed less common biblical names dramatically jumping in popularity. Jeremiah made a bold entrance into our top 100, landing at #69, while Levi climbed 28 spots to #43 and Eli 24 spots to #53. Micah, Malachi, Elijah, Isaiah, Isaac and Gabriel all showed gains too, so we fully expect the biblical trend to continue for boys names in 2011.

  • Untraditional Faith-based Girl Names: Trinity, Nevaeh, Serenity
    In contrast to the biblical boy names trend, parents are choosing less traditional faith-based names for girls. Trinity climbed 10 spots to #72, Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) hopped up 12 places to #48, and Serenity made the top 100 at #82. Meanwhile, Faith tumbled 26 places to #90, Gracie fell 21 spots to #86, and Hannah (#18), Grace (#19), Sarah (#49), and Eva (#84) all inched downwards.

  • Places Names for Girls: Brooklyn/Brooklynn, London
    Other increasingly popular girl names reflected geographical influences. While Brooklyn broke into pop culture as a boy's name in 1999 when Posh and David Beckham christened their firstborn, it is now gaining steam as a girl's name too, rising five spots in 2010 to #29. The variation of Brooklynn also reached the top 100 this year, climbing from #114 to #92. And while other lists have analyzed whether Irish and British names are rising or falling, we're finding it interesting that London itself is nearing the top 100 (leaping 56 places to #116) and Ireland, though still quite uncommon at #603, saw a full 251-place change in rank.

  • Spelling Variations Becoming Less Original: Sofia, Jaxon
    While parents may intend to use non-traditional spellings to distinguish their child's name from the masses, many spelling variations are themselves becoming popular. While Sophia ranked #5 in 2010, Sophie inched up from #15 to #13, and Sofia leapt from #88 to #61. While other rankings see Jackson in the top 10 (and we have Jack and Jackson at #12 and #13, respectively), our rankings also show Jaxon hopping up 16 spots to #58.

  • 2011 Top Baby Name Predictions: Lillian, Makayla, Arianna, Elijah, Levi, Grayson
    In addition to Khloe, which jumped 47 places to #50 in 2010, Makayla/Mikalya and Lillian/Lilliana are seriously on the rise. Makalya leapt 21 spots to #30 (Mikayla also made the top 100, at #79), while Lillian moved up 11 spots to #21 (Liliana and Lilanna both jumped too). Meanwhile, Arianna soared 18 places to #52, and was voted one of the top 10 girl's names in the Circle of Moms Best Baby Names Contest. Other top 100 girl names that bounced up more than 15 spots include Zoey (#36), Audrey (#37), Claire (#51), Aayliah (#57), and Scarlett (#66). On the boy's list, Elijah (#17) moved up 13 spots from 2009, while Levi (#44) climbed 26 places. Other boy names quickly moving up our list include Grayson - which jumped 42 spots to #96 - and Damien/Damian, both of which vaulted over 50 spots to reach #122 and #168.

Looking for more information on baby names? Curious what other moms have chosen?

Whether you want to toss around ideas or discuss how hard it can be to find a unique one, Circle of Moms' Baby Names community and other baby name conversations are the perfect places to talk baby names with fellow moms!

Photo Credit: Flickr member Limitz licensed via Creative Commons