If you don’t already know somebody named Mason or Sophia, there is a good chance that could change.
In 2012, Mason was the most popular baby name for boys in Ohio, and Sophia was the most popular name for girls, according to recently released data from the Social Security Administration.
Mason won the baby-name popularity contest for the second straight year. Sophia has been one of the most popular names for girls born in the state for years, but it never took the top spot. Emma was the most popular girls name in 2011. For the top spot in the country, Jacob edged out Mason for boys, while Sophia and Emma were the top two for girls.
Mason Smith was born on March 23, 2012.
His mother, Brittany Smith, said she never met anyone named Mason, and she loved the name.
“I just thought it sounded like a good, strong name,” said Smith, 27, of Dayton.
Smith said her husband, Chad, liked the name Jameson, but she did not want people to think her son was named after an Irish whisky, especially since she is a bartender.
Smith is eight months pregnant, and she expects to name her second son William, and then call him Liam.
Liam was the second most popular name for boys born in Ohio in 2012. William was the third most popular.
Smith said she did not deliberately choose names that are popular. But exotic names with odd spellings do not appeal to her.
“My name is Brittany, and there are like 10 different spellings for it,” she said. “I didn’t want to pick something weird for the sake of being weird or different.”
But nontraditional names are increasingly popular. So are traditional names with unusual spellings.
For girls, Ava was the third most popular baby name last year, Olivia was fourth and Isabella fifth.
Nevaeh (heaven spelled backward) was the 36th most popular name, Chloe ranked 14th and Khloe ranked 71st. Sofia ranked 60th, Peyton was 31st and Payton was 67th.
For boys, Colton was the 25th most popular name, Jayden was 27th, Bentley was 32nd, Levi was 54th and Grayson was 81st.
Names reflect the times, and people today favor individuality.
“In our studies on names, we’ve found that modern parents are more interested in giving their children unique names, probably because our culture emphasizes the individual more now than in the past,” said Jean Twenge, author of the “Generation Me” and the “Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant.”
Fewer parents are naming their children after family members, and parents have moved away from names that indicate group or family ties, she said.
Many popular names also sound good in both English and Spanish, which indicates the growing influence of Latino culture in America, she said.
Some traditional names are growing in popularity because they are viewed as uncommon, Twenge said.
“Once parents know they’ve become popular again, the names will drop down the list,” she said. “One study found that names are cycling in and out of fashion faster than they used to.”
Popular culture also influences name selections. Mason is the name of the son of reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian. Sophia Vergara is a Colombian actress on the popular TV comedy “Modern Family.”
Biblical names still remain very popular. In Ohio, Noah was the fourth most popular boys name, Michael was fifth and Jacob was sixth.
But even the most popular names today do not rival the popular names of years past.
Until the mid-2oth century, half of girls received one of the top 50 most popular names, according to research by Twenge, who is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.
That has fallen to about one-quarter of girls today.
Last year, about 847 boys in Ohio were named Mason, and 830 girls were named Sophia.
In 1960, 5,288 boys born in Ohio were named David and 2,904 girls were named Mary.
James and Mary are the top names for boys and girls born in the United States between 1913 and 2012, according to the Social Security Administration.