The most popular baby names of 2011, revealed

The baby names are out! BabyCenter revealed on TODAY its most popular names for 2011 – a list eagerly anticipated each year by name nerds and parents. (If you are both, like me, even better!)

This year it’s all about two letters: A and N. For girls, the top five names all end with –a: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia and Ava. On the boys’ side, the –n ending ruled five of the top eight: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Jayden and Ethan. 

Top Baby Names of 2011

Girls                                       Boys

Sophia                                    Aiden

Emma                                    Jackson

Isabella                                  Mason  

Olivia                                     Liam  

Ava                                        Jacob

Lily                                        Jayden

Chloe                                    Ethan

Madison                               Noah

BabyCenter Editor-in-Chief Linda Murray pointed to celebrity influence on expectant parents, noting that Mason – the name of Kourtney Kardashian’s two-year-old son – rose eight spots in the rankings. Of course, it helps that he has the trendy –n ending. His K-named relatives did not fare as well, with Kourtney, Khloe, Kylie and Kristin all dropping in popularity.

Related: What should the Duggars name their next baby?

On the girl’s side, the name Pippa soared 45 percent in popularity, though it’s still a rare choice. Again, there’s that –a ending!

Baby name expert Laura Wattenberg at spotted the -n trend back in 2007 (see her post here), and it certainly seems to be going strong. You can see some fascinating graphical representations of the popularity of different name endings, from -tie (think Hattie, Lottie) in the 1900s to the -any/anies (Stephanie, Tiffany) of the 1980s, in her post here

Related: Baby names for 2012 are fierce, heroic

Of course, the TODAY crew really wanted to know how their own names did in the ranking. Amazingly, the name Matt Lauer rose 98 percent! Just kidding. But Matt did increase a respectable 24 percent in popularity in the BabyCenter rankings. Savannah rose 17 percent, Natalie is up 14 percent, Al rose by 3 percent; and poor Ann is down 4 percent. (If only she was Anna, she’d fit the trend!) No one at BabyCenter named their child Kathie Lee this year, but there were two Hodas -- up from none the year before, so go Hoda-woman!

Jonathan Dube / Today
Hmmm, does he look like a West or a Cyrus?

Related: Should you let siblings name the new baby?

BabyCenter’s data comes from the names of 300,000 babies whose births were registered on the website in 2011. Just as interesting is their Baby Names Survey, which looks into how moms and dads choose their child’s name. Among their findings: 2 out of 5 moms share their baby’s name on a social networking site within minutes or hours of giving birth. (That probably includes the eager sharers who tweet the baby’s name along with the first ultrasound pictures!)

Of course, name lists mean different things to different parents. Some will be happy to see their kids’ name in the top ten, while others aim for monikers that will never crack the top 100. How did you choose your child’s name? Are you happy with how popular it is now? Would you choose differently if you had to do it over again?

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