The U.S. Social Security Administration released its annual listing of popular baby names Thursday. "Jacob" was the most popular name for boys for the twelfth year in a row in 2012, and "Sophia" was the most popular name for girls for the second year in a row.
A press statement accompanying the release notes that "Arya," the name of an independent-minded young character in the novel-inspired HBO TV series "Games of Thrones," was the fastest-rising girl's name, jumping from 711 in 2011 to 413 in 2012.
Pop culture seems to have influenced boys names too. "Liam," the first name of actor Liam Neeson, broke into the top ten for the first time in 2012. It was the sixth most popular name for boys. Its rise has been somewhat meteoric, jumping steadily from 113 in 2002, to 15 in 2011.
The agency has been compiling the baby name lists since 1997 with data taken from Social Security number applications filed by parents. Data for the previous year typically is released the week before Mother's Day. The website offers annual lists dating back to 1880.
Some names have minor spelling variations causing an undercount. Boys named after Islam's purported prophet, for example, were named "Mohamed," "Mohammad," "Mohammed" and "Muhammad," which were the 439th, 595th, 555th and 467th most popular names. "Sophie" is ranked at 52, while "Sofie" is at 996. And "Jayden" is listed at seven, while "Jaidyn" is ranked 976.
Several common Spanish-language boys' names declined in popularity in 2012, including "Juan," "Jorge," "Jesus," "Enrique" and "Miguel" – all of which were less popular in 2012 than in any other year since 2000. "Mateo," "Gael" and "Gabriel," however, increased in popularity.
These are the top 20 baby names for boys and girls in 2012: