Celebrities now big factor in baby names

Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:21pm EDT
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By Bernd Debusmann Jr.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jacob, Ethan and Michael were the top boy names in 2010, while Isabella, Sophia and Emma were favorites for girls but celebrities are exerting a big influence on what American parents choose to name their newborns.

An analysis of 23 million page views of individual baby name pages on a baby names website shows that celebrities have a big impact on name selections.

"Five years ago, I might have said that the biggest overarching factor was personal meaning, now the biggest factor is celebrities," said Pam Satran, the developer of the nameberry.com website.

She added that the number of searches for a particular baby name is a good indicator of how people will behave when the time comes to actually name their child, as opposed to data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, which tracks the numbers of babies with a particular name.

The name Pippa, which is not well known in the United States, came to sudden prominence after Pippa Middleton caught the world's attention when she was the maid of honor at the wedding of her sister Kate to Britain's Prince William in April.

"She seems to have the power of celebrity propelling her name and style," Satran added.

Other unusual names also seem to have a celebrity link.

Elula, the name of the daughter of actress Isla Fisher and British actor-comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, was not in the database in 2010 but is the 38th most searched for name in 2011 so far, largely because the couple chose to not publicize the name until well after the child's birth, according to Satran.   Continued...

<p>Pippa Middleton waves as she leaves The Goring hotel, in central London April 30, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>