May 5th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

Call me Jacob (again): Hebrew baby names still tops in 2010

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

A few months ago, I wrote about the predominance of Hebraic names for babies born in the United States in 2009.  Today the Social Security Administration released new data for babies born in the U.S. in 2010, and it still looks very much like a Jewish nation, at least in our pediatric wards.

The top 10 list for newborn boys begins with Jacob, of “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” fame, who has held this top slot for 11 years running. But it also includes five other names of Hebraic origin:  Ethan (No. 2), Michael (No. 3), Jayden (No. 4), Noah (No. 6), Daniel (No. 7).

Rounding out the top 10 boys' names in 2010 were William (from the Old German), Alexander (Greek), Aiden (Gaelic) and Anthony (Latin).

The top 10 names for girls mirrored those of 2009, though a few of these names switched places. Isabella, also a Hebrew name, finished first. It means “God’s promise,” or “pledged to God.” Only one other Hebrew name — Abigail — made the top 10 for girls.

Still, this is an astonishing showing for a religious tradition that claims only 1-2% of the American population.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Judaism • United States

soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. namea

    We had triplets in June 2009. Two boys and a girl.
    Named them Truth, Justice and American Way

    May 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Fiona

      Better than Houghie, Dewie, and Louie.

      May 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  2. Anmarie

    My son is Caleb....had to promise my mother a Biblical name.....

    May 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  3. Cate

    My daughter is named Anna. It is Hebrew, but I did not choose it for that reason. I just thought it wa pretty, Her middle name is Claire.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  4. Lila

    LOL!!!! You can thank the Mormon author of Twilight, Jacob and Isabella are two of the main characters.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  5. adam

    I'm a scientist and I picked my children's names from the periodic table of elements.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • T


      May 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • DWT

      Magnesium! Boron! Time for dinner!

      May 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  6. VA_Jill

    How is Jayden a Hebraic name? It sounds more like its made-up cousins Braden and Caden, just to rhyme with Aidan. My kids names are Benjamin, Samuel, Adam, and Elizabeth. Those names will still sound good when they're 50.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  7. Brian

    While the "Hebrew" in the sense that they were names of jews from the old testament, it's also a Christian tradition to name kids after those names as well.
    Unless we start getting a lot of Solomon's, Mordacai's or Moses, I"m really just going to consider it Biblical

    May 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  8. Sorbet

    Even though I was pretty religious back in those child-naming days, I stayed away from those types of names. My first two sons have names from the Knights of the Round Table, 3rd son has a strong name which unfortunately a few popes used, and my daughter's name is that of a pretty tropical flower.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • marishka

      Lancelot, Gallahad, Benedict and Dahlia?

      May 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Sorbet

      Good guesses, marishka! Actually, Guy (Sir Guy (Kay)), Gavin (Sir Gawain)... couldn't quite bring myself to go for Gareth and Guinevere though, so - Gregory and Carissa.

      May 5, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  9. Romulus and Remis

    I named my son in the traditional Roman style. He is henceforth called Biggus Dickus. Sort of just rolls off the tongue when you say it, eh ladies?

    May 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Michael Miller

      I named my son Wodwick.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Michael Miller

      And I named my daugher Incontinentia Buttocks.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  10. Seenen

    Jews may be < 2% of the US population but they are about 98% of tv actors (only a slight exaggeration) and I'm guessing people name their children after celebrities they like. Michael is, and has always been, a common Christian name (are there are a lot of Irish Jews?). My comments are as worthless as the article.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • mauiguy

      actually they are 3 to 4 % of the population not including a super majority iof Israeli's have dual citizenship.
      the days of trying to make there numbers artifically low is inaccurate.

      May 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  11. Joe

    Hebrew names just sound cool... I'm an atheist but I still named my sons Isaac and Caleb. I was tempted to call them Dawkins and Hitchens though.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  12. patti Hollander

    When my first son was born in 1999, we named him Jacob because I have always loved the name. I had no idea it would end up being the most popular boys name every year.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  13. Burbank

    And so what were the other 8 girl's names??? Even the non Hebrew names were mentioned for boys. Why the chauvinism? Don't the girls count? Shame on the author! Shame! Shame!

    May 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • adam

      Of course girls don't count; haven't you seen their math scores?

      May 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • T

      You are slaying it Adam! I cannot stop laughing!

      May 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Fiona

      Let me guess...Natalie, Sophia, Olivia...three syllables all. I'm hoping the last-name-as-first-name thing for girls is over (Taylor, Stanley, Cameron, Elliot, etc.), even if certain celebrities haven't gotten the memo.

      May 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  14. Jessica

    I named my daughter Abigail!!

    May 5, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  15. kate

    Although these are technically Hebrew names, don't you think the reason they're so popular is because they are Biblical names? That's where the vast majority of names have come from since Biblical times...so I don't really consider it very surprising.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  16. Wisdom4u2

    I love the Hebrew names, I even named my son one and everybody says it's a very powerful name!!
    He's so proud of his name, and that's a rarity in this day and age!

    May 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Kate

      I also love Hebrew names!!!

      May 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • adam

      One is an unusual name for a boy.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • T

      LOL Adam!

      May 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  17. Denese

    I like names that cna adapt to a person's age, like Elizabeth. It can be Beth, Liz and then later Elizabeth or Betty.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  18. JohnR

    I'm guessing that this guy is paid per article spewed forth ...

    May 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Rogue

      I am surprised at the number of articles he is posting. The bullshlt business must be slow at the university I guess...

      May 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Sorbet

      It's okay by me. Something light once in a while is nice - to clear our palates between our heavy, meat & potatoes courses on these boards.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Burbank

      Did you also notice that the girls didn't count enough to this chauvinistic man to have the other top names mentioned? Only the boys were mentioned on all 10, whether Hebrew or not.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  19. James

    HA. I don't think the names were chosen for that reason. I think woman are naming their kids after the Twilight characters...

    May 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • T

      Hahahahahaha you are SO right!!

      May 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • M

      No. I prefer to name my children after emotional vampires. Not fictional ones...

      May 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  20. Mary

    Don't forget that the Christian Tradition also names their children after Biblical names, therefor Hebrew names. So it's really a lot more than 1-2%. I named my son, Jude. A very Hebrew name (from Judah, after all).

    May 5, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • SadieSadie

      I agree. I am Christian and most of my favorite boys names are from the old testament. They are classics with great sounds and a ready line of historically significant people to boost the appeal as opposed to newly created names.

      May 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      Just because it's an old testament name does not make it a hebrew name. The old testament was written in hebrew does not mean everyone and every name is hebrew... The new testament is written in greek does that make everyone and everyname greek? come on people THINK for your self!

      May 5, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.