What is in a name? Some prefer to have unique, one-off names that will allow her to be a standout among her peers. Others will go for the popular, the name most commonly used at that particular date and time. You just wonder how many Mary Lous were used as given names after Mary Lou Retton’s perfect vault in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Or how many parents used the name Brandi for their daughters after Brandi Chastain’s penalty shootout winner against China in the 1999 World Cup of football for women. Maybe Kate would go up the list when Kate Middleton becomes queen.
Some names have just been downright popular over the years. Emily has been one of the most used names for the past one hundred years, consistently landing in the top five. But that century of dominance has taken a slight hiccup, as the name has dropped out of the top ten completely this year. It is, however, still lurking just below at number 11.
So which names for girls have been the most popular? The following is a list of the top ten most popular names for girls in 2012. Those with multiple spellings were combined. Thus, the use of the name Sofia has been merged with Sophia.
Sophia has been on top of the list for three years running now. It has Greek, French and English origins, though it was originally derived from the French Sophie. It has been a popular name for much of the Western world ever since. The name means wisdom, and those named Sophia are thought to be personifications of wisdom. Religious buffs also know the name as that of an early Christian martyr.
Emma has Germanic roots, and it literally means universal or whole. It was the name of an 11th century saint from Austria. In England, it was the name of the wife of King Ethelred II and mother of Edward the Confessor. It then became common in England after the Norman conquest. While it fell out of popularity in the first decade of the 2000s, it has regained its luster recently. Maybe Emma Watson has something to do with that; she plays Hermione in the popular Harry Potter movie series.
William Shakespeare first used the name Olivia for a character in the Twelfth Night. The name probably had a Latin origin that means a tree of heaven. Literary experts also think that Shakespeare intended its use as a female version of the name Oliver.
The name Isabella has a Hebrew origin that means My God is a vow. It has been a popular name not only in the English-speaking world, but also in Spanish and Italian-speaking nations. Isabella is also widely associated with royalty. Monarchs from Spain, France and Denmark have all used the name.
Ava is a name that has its origin in Persia. It means to emit a pleasant sound, usually associated with music. Before it became popular in the U.S., Ava was already being widely used as a name in both Iran and Tajikistan. In the U.S., the name started becoming more common because of Hollywood and its offsprings. Ava Gardner was a popular actress back in the 1950s. In the 1990s, the daughter of rockstar Richie Sambora and actress Heather Locklear was named Ava. So was the daughter of award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon with her then husband Ryan Philippe.
Some parents name their daughter as Rose. Others decide to choose a different flower to name their daughters. Thus, Lily was born. It has steadily grown in popularity as a given name since the latter part of the 20th century. In pop culture, everyone knows about Lily, the adopted daughter of the gay couple in the hit TV comedy show Modern Family.
Zoe traces its root to the ancient Greeks. It literally means life, though it may also refer to a means of living, or subsistence, property or goods. Fans of the children’s show Sesame Street may recall that one of the muppets go by that name. It was also the name used by a number of empresses from the Byzantine Empire.
Chloe has a Greek origin and it means a young green shoot. It was also one of the many names used by Demeter, the Greek goddess of harvest who presided over the grains and fertility of the earth. She also was the goddess who protected the sanctity of marriage, the sacred law and the cycle of life and death. The name also appeared in the Bible in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
Mia is a name of Slavic origin. The word means dear, or endearing, or darling. It may also be referred to as darling girl. While Mia is often mistaken as a short form of the name Maria, the two names actually have different roots. In modern times however, Mia has indeed been used as one of the pet names for Maria. Some people also mistake Mia as having Latin roots. The Latin word mia, however, is not a valid given name as it is a possessive form of word. The name is widely used in countries like the United States, the Philippines, England and Germany.
The name Madison actually took off from Mathieson, a family name used in England that means son of Matthew. Some also think that it has its roots from the name Maddy, a pet form of Maud. Regardless, the original spelling of the name was Maddison, a family name common in Northeastern England. How it became a given name is the stuff of Hollywood. Madison was not even used before 1985. At that time, however, Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah released a movie called Splash. Hannah played a mermaid who had to invent a name after she got her human form. After seeing a street sign, she decided to call herself Madison, after Madison Avenue.