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The Most Popular Baby Names of 2009: The Triumph of Isabella

The U.S. government has announced the nation's most popular baby names. America, here's your Top 10:

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

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

The big news is Isabella, ending a 13-year run of Em- names -- Emily and Emma -- at the top of the girls' charts. It's not a surprising development. Isabella has ranked in the top 10 since 2004, with countless other -bella names trailing in its wake. The Twilight phenomenon can't hurt, either. (Team Edward can't be pleased seeing Jacob and Isabella as king and queen of the baby name prom.) And Isabella has been one of the hottest names for Hollywood babies, too.

So the name itself isn't a surprise. The amazing part is the way it took the crown: with a huge surge up to 22,000 babies born, thousands more than the year before. As a rule, mega-hit names just don't do that. For decades, the popularity of the top names has been dropping, as modern parents try to make their kids' names stand out. Even more amazing, Isabella beat out Jacob to become America's true #1 name. That makes it the first female champion since Linda edged James all the way back in 1940. You go, girl.


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May 7, 2010 10:52 AM
By Larksong (not verified)

(Team Edward can't be pleased seeing Jacob and Isabella as king and queen of the baby name prom.)

That's funny !

I actually really like Isabella & have for years. When I was around 11 , I actually wrote a poem called 'My Isabella Child'. This was long before the Twilight series was written. The international popularity of the name is just too much for me, though.

I'm glad Emma/Emily have been dethroned. I wonder what names in Europe will eventually dethrone them.....

What Isabella has achieved is incredible impressive, though

May 7, 2010 1:15 PM
By Christiana (not verified)

I've liked the name Isabella for a good long while, myself (along with, apparently, most of America) and the only reason it wasn't on my personal list for my daughter's name was it's popularity. But even then, I'd often give it a second look. I first noticed the name (technically Isabelle, but I prefer the -a ending) while watching a short-lived TV show in the 90's called Relativity. Then I followed some soap opera storylines featuring an Isabella-called-Belle character and was hooked. But I think I'm over the Em-names, so it was rather nice to have Isabella win out this year!

May 7, 2010 2:41 PM
By Alex (not verified)

And my favorite Linda was born in 1941! What do you know. . .

May 7, 2010 3:25 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

What's really remarkable is that Isabella didn't appear on the top 1000 list until the 1990s!

Isabella is a name that will seem extremely dated one day. I think it's the "Lisa" or "Jennifer" of the new generation. A name that skyrocketed from obscurity to the top of the chart.

May 7, 2010 3:38 PM
By Lisa (not verified)

I think of Isabella as an aspirational name. Some of the first Isabellas I met had parents who quickly told me that there was a QUEEN with that name.

May 8, 2010 10:55 AM
By Lor662 (not verified)

Ooooo! I bet I know what happened! (with regards to "with a huge surge up to 22,000 babies born, thousands more than the year before. As a rule, mega-hit names just don't do that. For decades, the popularity of the top names has been dropping, as modern parents try to make their kids' names stand out.")

I bet all those parents thought they were picking slightly-less-than-the-#1-popular-name by picking NOT Emma/Emily. And that's how it became not only #1, but #1 by a landslide.

May 9, 2010 3:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think Isabella is already above Emily and Emma in Britain atleast, I don't know about the whole of Europe. Ruby being number 1 rings a bell but that might be Wales or something. Thet don't publicise them anymore :(

May 10, 2010 2:42 PM
By elleireland (not verified)

@Lisa....the aspirational angle makes me smile. My friend named her only daughter Isabel, after her maternal grandmother. The original Isabel was a large woman. They have a photograph of her, bundled against the chill of Lake Superior, hunched at the end of a dock, wearing men's shoes (size 10) and smoking a pipe.

But it's a gorgeous name. The new little Isabel wears it well.

May 25, 2010 4:09 PM
By Jack Mogul (not verified)

I wanted very much to nam our daughter Isadora Belle Hughes. Wife put the kybash on that b;c it was too cute. Is Adorable Get it? But Belle was my great great grandmother's name and I thought it was cool. I love what we came up with thouh, Theodora Lusia!

May 25, 2010 5:07 PM
By Tiana (not verified)

It really bothers me that the SSC does not combine alternate spellings in their list. The fact of the matter is, a name is how it's pronounced, not how it's spelled, so Isabella, Isobela, Izzibela, etc are all the same name...

That being said, Aidan, Aiden, Aeden, Aidon, Aydyn, Aidyn, et al. is actually the #1 boys name. I don't even think Jacob holds a candle to it. Isabella, et al. probably still holds the #1 girl's name spot, though.

P.s. I really wish people would just spell the name how they're supposed to be spelled. And lose the superfluous Y's while you're at it. Thanks.

May 25, 2010 5:08 PM
By Tiana (not verified)

the SSA, not the SSC, sorry. I guess I should take my own advice on spelling. Blush.

June 8, 2010 8:03 PM
By Becca (not verified)

Isabella is my grandmother's name, and even I've always wanted to use it if I have a daughter. However, I've never been one for trendy names, and I'm rather disappointed that it's no longer a unique name.

June 16, 2011 7:14 PM
By Ray (not verified)

I agree with what you say about Jacob and Isabella, it's really funny.

June 30, 2011 1:28 AM
By baby photo books (not verified)

Thanks for this update on the most popular names for baby girls. Keep me updated at all times.

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July 19, 2011 10:11 AM
By Stephan (not verified)

I guess I am more common than expected. Ah well, I am only human. Love the list by the way.

July 19, 2011 11:01 AM
By rowing machine (not verified)

I think it's the "Lisa" or "Jennifer" of the new generation.

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I'm glad Emma/Emily have been dethroned. I wonder what names in Europe will eventually dethrone them.....

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