Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) gathers the names of the country's newborn babies to compile their top 10 list, and every year, I'm thrilled. It's like the Oscars of onomastics — the scholarly study of names, which, nerdily, I'm totally into. But I defy anyone to read
the top baby names of the year, released by the SSA earlier today, and not dream of future babies and what you'd name them. It's one pastime that never gets old.
This year, Emma and Liam took gold as the most popular baby names. Emma seems to have a death-grip on that top slot — this is the fourth year in a row she's been voted the
most popular name in the U.S., according to The Associated Press. In 2017, boy's name Noah fell from first to second place, making way for champion Liam.
In other name-based news, Michael dropped from the top 10 for the first time
since the Second World War, reported The Mercury News, and so did Emily, a girl's mainstay since 1990. And Evelyn is the surprising, vaguely-Victorian sounding newcomer. According to the SSA, it's the first time Evelyn has appeared in the top 10 since 1915. Get it, girl.
If you're looking for more ways to procrastinate, be sure to check out some of the SSA's
other amazing lists. They track popular names by state and decade, and you can look up any baby name to see where it ranks, and how its popularity has risen or fallen over time. 1 Emma & Liam
According to Behind the Name, the chart-topping
girl's name Emma derives from the same root as the word "element," referring to what's whole, basic, and universal. Few names sound so sweet.
Interestingly, Liam is the
"Irish short form of William," reported Behind The Name. I imagine the dashing actor Liam Neeson is very much responsible for its rise to the top, but have no real knowledge to that effect. 2 Olivia & Noah
According to The Huffington Post,
Olivia first appeared in English in Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare's great comedies. The name was never seen in print before then, and Shakespeare may even have invented it himself, The Huffington Post reported. Is it any wonder it's so popular, lo these many centuries later?
Noah was the most popular boy's name last year. With its Biblical history and charming vowel sounds, I bet 2016 won't be the last time Noah takes the cake.
3 Ava & William
Nameberry reported that
girl's name Ava first saw its star rise after Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman gave their daughters the name, which is related to Eve and avem, the Latin word for bird.
According to Baby Name Wizard, the ever-popular William was originally a Norman name, introduced to England by William the Conqueror. It means
"resolute protector." I'm here for it. 4 Isabella & James
What do you call an Isabella for short? Izza? Issa? Bella? Whatever you choose, it won't diminish this regal-sounding girl's name.
Meanwhile, James is number four for boys, and staying classy.
6 Mia & Benjamin
As Nameberry reported, Mia became popular after the celebrity of
actress Mia Farrow, who was actually born Maria. Its vowel sounds are mild, soothing, and feminine, the site noted. Boy's name Benjamin, on the other hand, is Biblical and popular since forever, wrote Nameberry — in fact, number six on 2017's list goes all the way back to the Book of Genesis. 7 Charlotte & Mason
Ah, royalty. If you choose number seven on 2017's girl's list, you'll be following in the footsteps of William and Kate, who named
their daughter Charlotte. Princess Charlotte, that is.
At number seven, Mason is a quintessentially solid boy's name. According to SheKnows, it means
"worker in stone." 8 Amelia & Elijah
According to Oh Baby Names, Amelia comes from a word
meaning "to work." But it's not just a workaday name. For me, Amelia also calls up meadows and flowers — or maybe I'm just thinking of that book, . Amelia Bedelia
Elijah is yet another
Biblical boy's name, reported Oh Baby Names, and it means "Yahweh is God." It's also extremely fun to say, and has a unique sound pattern on this list. 9 Evelyn & Oliver
Hello, Evelyn! I'm excited to see you here. It's the first time the classy name has cracked
the list since 1915, according to the SSA. But will parents just shorten it to Eve?
And you, Oliver, of please-sir-I-want-some-more fame. I truly can't think of a more charming boy's name.
10 Abigail & Jacob
Apparently, Melania got a big boost on the list of the top thousand names thanks to
the current first lady, reported the Orlando Sentinel. But why not name your baby after a first lady from days gone by, instead? Abigail Adams was the wife of President John Adams.
As for Jacob, this Hebrew name was the
most popular boy's name for many years before Noah knocked it down a peg, reported Today. Don't worry. It hasn't lost any of its classic appeal.