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Image: Eclipse
Kimberley French  /  Summit Entertainment
Has the "Twilight" series influenced baby naming in the U.S.? "Jacob" has been the top boy name since before the first "Twilight" book was even published, but "Bella" is now climbing the charts, along with names of other characters.
By
TODAY.com
updated 11/2/2011 9:18:05 AM ET 2011-11-02T13:18:05

Have you noticed an increase in girls named Bella on playgrounds and in preschools? Met any boys named Jasper or Emmett recently? "Twilight" may be the reason.

Yes, not everyone who's given such a name to their child is a movie fan. My grandmother, who bestowed the name "Edward" on my dad, died 30 years before Stephenie Meyer chose it for a certain sparkling vampire. But certainly in some cases there's an influence, much in the way that 1965's "Doctor Zhivago" inspired parents to choose "Lara" for girls, or 1970's "Love Story" gave the name "Jennifer" a boost.

The name "Bella" may be benefiting the most from the books and movies. In 2000, Bella ranked 749th on the Social Security name index. It's been climbing ever since, and in 2010, was the 48th most popular girl's name. Alice and Rosalie, fellow "Twilight" characters, are also climbing the charts, and even Esme, the name of Edward's adopted mother, cracked the top 1000 in 2010.

Story: 'Old-fashioned' Edward carries Bella over threshold

"Edward" has always been a solid name, and "Twilight" doesn't seem to have done much for it either way. It was No. 108 on the list in 2000 and it's actually gone down a little and is now at No. 136. "Jacob," the name of the hunky shape-shifting wolf who competes for Bella's affections, doesn't need any help. It was the most popular boy's name in 2000 and has remained there, never dropping out of the top spot.

A rising tide doesn't lift all "Twilight" names. "Carlisle," Edward's adopted dad, hasn't cracked the top 1000. But vampire Emmett's name is on the rise and so is Jasper. And even "Cullen," the clan's last name, is slowly rising as a first-name choice.

Story: Edward and Bella spent hot honeymoon in Brazil

A fun slideshow on iVillage Canada looks at "Twilight" baby names, and another at "Harry Potter" names. Apparently American parents aren't as wild about "Harry" names as parents are in other countries. iVillage points out that despite the popularity of both "Harry Potter" and Prince Harry, as a baby name, Harry charts far higher in the U.K. than in the U.S.

The new "Twilight" movie, "Breaking Dawn Part 1," hits theaters Nov. 18. The movie will see the birth of Edward and Bella's daughter, Renesmee, whose name is derived from Bella's mother's name, Renee, and the name of Edward's mother Esme. (Her middle name, "Carlie," combines her grandfathers' names, Charlie and Carlisle.) Now if that name starts being seen on birth certificates and personalized lunchboxes, we'll know the "Twilight" names have really arrived.

Know any baby Bellas or Cullens? What's your favorite baby name trend? What's going to be the "Jennifer" or "Lisa" of the future, the name every kid has? Tell us on Facebook.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is TODAY.com's movies editor.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: November movies

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  1. 'A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas'

    John Cho and Kal Penn return as the two goofy friends in the third "Harold and Kumar" film. In "A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas," Harold is married and the pals are estranged. When Kumar burns down Harold's father-in-law's Christmas tree, the two set off on more adventures, with Neil Patrick Harris showing up once again. (Nov. 4) (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 'Tower Heist'

    Can "Tower Heist" be the star-studded success that "Ocean's Eleven" was? Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena and Casey Affleck are among the big names teaming up to find out. Ripped off in a Ponzi scheme, the group sets off to steal back their money from the man (Alan Alda) who ran the scheme (Nov. 4) (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'Immortals'

    Greek mythology is always ripe for a new movie. "Immortals" stars Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, and Mickey Rourke in a 3-D adventure about a war between the ancient gods. (Opens Nov. 11) (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 'Jack and Jill'

    Adam Sandler plays both title characters in "Jack and Jill," portraying both a male ad executive and his needy twin sister. When they get together for Thanksgiving, his life is turned upside down. Katie Holmes plays Sandler's wife. (Nov. 11) (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1'

    "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1" begins to tackle the final book in the vampire romance series. Bella and Edward finally marry, but her unexpected pregnancy with their half-vampire, half-human daughter threatens her life. (Nov. 18) (Andre Cooper / Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 'Happy Feet Two'

    The goofy penguins return in "Happy Feet Two." In this 3-D adventure, Mumble's son Erik, who doesn't like dancing, meets a puffin who thinks he is a penguin who can fly. We're sure it makes more sense in 3-D. (Nov. 18) (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

    "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is an adaptation of the bestselling John le Carre novel. Gary Oldman plays le Carre's legendary spy George Smiley, with Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Ciaran Hinds and John Hurt backing him up. The film already led the British box office for three consecutive weeks. (Nov. 18) (Focus Features) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 'Carnage'

    How can a children's fight turn into such a huge ordeal? Roman Polanski directs "Carnage," in which two sets of parents find out. Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz star as the parents, and Paris stars as Brooklyn due to Polanski's inability to travel legally to the U.S. (Nov. 18) (Sony Pictures Classics) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'Hugo'

    Martin Scorsese directs "Hugo," a 3-D adventure about an orphan boy (Asa Butterfield) living hidden in a Paris train station. His adventures begin when he meets eccentric Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) and a broken automaton. (Nov. 25) (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 'The Muppets'

    Jim Henson's beloved furry friends return in "The Muppets," in which Kermit, Fozzie and the gang must save the Muppet Theater from an oilman who wants to tear it down and drill. Their human friends, Jason Segel and Amy Adams, help them on the way, as does a new Muppet named Walter. (Nov. 25) (Scott Garfield / Disney Enterprises) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. 'The Descendants'

    George Clooney, a landowner in Hawaii, tries to reconnect with his daughters after his wife falls into a coma in "The Descendants." While she's unable to communicate, he learns a devastating secret about their marriage. (Nov. 18) (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 'Arthur Christmas'

    James McAvoy provides the voice for "Arthur Christmas," the son of Santa and Mrs. Claus, in this 3-D animated adventure. When a present is missed, Arthur must leap into action and take an old sled to make the delivery before Christmas morning. (Nov. 25) (Aardman Animations For Sony Pict / Sony Pictures Animation) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Warner Bros.
    Above: Slideshow (12) November movies
  2. Summit Entertainment
    Slideshow (53) ‘Twilight’ stars light up Hollywood

Video: Watch the 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Pt. 1' trailer

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