And the Most Popular Baby Names of 2012 Are…

In parenting website BabyCenter's annual list, the same two names occupied the top spots for the third year in a row.

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It’s been a weird year for baby names. Uma Thurman and her husband crammed 7 names onto their daughter’s birth certificate, while another Twitter-obsessed couple has apparently named their daughter Hashtag. Thankfully, neither of these made it onto BabyCenter’s list of top 100 names for 2012 — although that’s not to say that pop culture names didn’t have an impact.

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BabyCenter, a popular pregnancy and parenting website, released its annual rankings of baby names today, compiled from the parents who’ve registered with their site. Aiden and Sophia were the most frequently-bestowed boy and girl names, respectively, for the third year in a row.

While many of the top names were traditional—Noah and Jacob made it into the boys’ top 10 and Emma and Lily remained feminine favorites—BabyCenter attributed a part of their ubiquity to external influences. For example, they expect that Prince William’s prominence help move that name up to 15th place, while the launch of the Curiosity Rover and a fad for all things space may have attracted parents to the name Stella (#60).

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Both of Babycenter’s top names had qualities in common with other popular names. Nearly 40% of the top 100 boys’ names ended with “n” while 40% of girls’ names ended in an “a” or an “a” sound.

Many of the female monikers (Chloe, Peyton, Riley) sound ripped out of a Pottery Barn Kids catalog. Meanwhile, the boys held up some presidential traditions (Jackson, Lincoln, Harrison). The general similarities among names are hardly a coincidence, name researcher Jonah Berger told USA Today. “The fact that we want to be different leads some people to avoid the most popular name, but it leads us to like similar-sounding names and pick other names with the same sound that are less popular.”

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“They don’t want their child to be a cookie cutter. They want their kid to have a unique identity,” concurred BabyCenter’s Linda Murray. Which means that when teachers open their roll call to a list of rhyming names–Aiden, Jayden, Brayden, Hayden, et al–they should’t be surprised.

BabyCenter’s list is not to be confused with the annual one compiled by the Social Security. BabyCenter’s is comprised of top names for the 450,000 babies born in 2012 to moms who registered with the site.

Click here to see the full list.

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