Liam, Olivia are top 2020 newborns’ names in state The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Liam, Olivia are top 2020 newborns’ names in state

December 27th, 2020 Mesa Tribune Staff
Liam, Olivia are top 2020 newborns’ names in state

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

If you’re having a baby boy next year, don’t name him Liam or Noah unless you want him to just be another Tom, Dick or Harry.

Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those names, old or new.

It’s just that for yet another year Liam and Noah remain at the top of the chart for all baby boys born in Arizona in 2020.

Sure, there were some Toms born in Arizona in 2020 – but just 91 of them, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, which keeps track of such things.

And there weren’t even enough Richards or Harrys to make the agency’s Top 100.

By contrast, there were 442 children named Liam. That means that more than one out of every 100 baby boys born this year in Arizona was named Liam.

The same more-than-one-in-100 situation exists for girls, with Olivia standing out among names for newborns for yet another year. That is followed by Emma, Sophia and Mia.

So, what’s with the popularity of Liam, an Irish variant on William?

A decade ago, it didn’t even crack the Top 20.

It could be the effect of movie and pop stars like Liam Neeson, Liam Hemsworth or even Liam Gallagher.

And names beyond that?

Well, perhaps it’s just a sign of the COVID-19 times. But parents of newborn boys in Arizona are turning increasingly to the Bible when looking for names.

How much?

This past year, more than half of the top 30 names for boys can be found in the Bible.

That starts with No. 2 Noah, which a decade ago was 10th most popular name but nowhere in the top 20 for decades before that.

But this year there’s also Mateo – which is a Latin version of Matthew – as well as Benjamin, Elijah, James, Daniel, Ezekiel and David in the top 20. Samuel, Luke, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are among in the next 10.

For girls, the picture is quite different.

There’s a certain volatility over the decades among what parents name their daughters, perhaps affected by everything from literature to film.

Consider Jessica, Ashley and Amanda: the top names for girls born in Arizona in 1990. Nowhere are they on the top 100 this year.

Oh, and spelling counts.

The way the health department records the list is how the parents list it on a birth certificate.

So, for example, Sophia comes in just third with 344 girls with that name in 2020. But add another 146 Sofias and 63 Sophies and you now have the No. 1 name for girls.

There are other signs of volatility among names for girls.

Consider Nevaeh.

It’s “heaven’’ spelled backwards. And it appears to have taken off after Sonny Sandoval, frontman for the Christian rock group P.O.D. (Payable on Death) chose that name for his newborn daughter and took her on MTV in 2000.

By 2007 it made it into Arizona’s top 20.

And now? No better than 70th.

It’s been even worse with other names that used to be popular, like Heather and Jessica and Stephanie, all in the top 20 three decades ago and not even cracking the top 100 this year.

Conversely, there are some names that are popular now that were pretty rare even a year ago.

Gianna was just No. 51 for 2019. And Mila wasn’t even among the 100 most popular last year.

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