The names King and Messiah may be banned in New Zealand, but in the United States they are gaining popularity.

The top baby names of 2012 were released by the Social Security Administration on Thursday. Jacob and Sophia take first place. It’s Jacob’s 14th straight year on top and Sophia’s second.

Elizabeth and Liam are new to the list and take 10th and sixth place respectively. It’s Liam’s first time in the top 10, and may be attributable to actor Liam Neeson’s recent roles in “Battleship,” “Taken” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”


  1. Boys
  2. 1. Jacob
  3. 2. Mason
  4. 3. Ethan
  5. 4. Noah
  6. 5. William
  7. 6. Liam
  8. 7. Jayden
  9. 8. Michael
  10. 9. Alexander
  11. 10. Aiden


  1. Girls
  2. 1. Sophia
  3. 2. Emma
  4. 3. Isabella
  5. 4. Olivia
  6. 5. Ava
  7. 6. Emily
  8. 7. Abigail
  9. 8. Mia
  10. 9. Madison
  11. 10. Elizabeth

A few unusual names such as Major and Arya had the greatest change in popularity this year. Major ranked 505 places higher than it did in 2011.

“I have no doubt Major’s rising popularity as a boy’s name is in tribute to the brave members of the U.S. military, and maybe we’ll see more boys named General in the future,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said in a statement.

Arya’s rise may be influenced by the popular TV show “Game of Thrones.” The character Arya is the leader of one of the Seven Kingdoms and is a skilled sword fighter.   

Baby-naming experts say unusual names are on the rise.

"We're seeing a total revolution in terms of the diversity of naming," Laura Wattenberg, author of "The Baby Name Wizard" and founder of, told Fox News. "Parents are really focused on choosing a distinctive name that will make their child stand out."

Boy's names such as Messiah, Iker, and Gael jumped more than 100 places in the past year. Girl's names like Perla, Catalina and Elisa did as well.

The SSA says the growing Spanish-speaking population may be behind the popularity of certain names, but experts say the Internet holds major influence.  

"Every new technology presents people with possibilities," Cleveland Evans, a member of the American Name Society, a nonprofit that promotes the study of names and naming practices, told USA Today. "People are naming their kids after characters in video games."