What’s in a name? A linguistics expert explains why some baby names dominate the charts year after year

What do names like Noah, James, Mateo, Mia, Evelyn and Luna all have in common?

They’re not only some of the top baby names in the United States, but they also seem to flow off the tongue. And that’s exactly why parents love them.

On May 10, the Social Security Administration released a list of the top baby names in the United States in 2023. Liam and Olivia maintained the number one spot in their respective categories for the fifth consecutive year while Noah and Emma also retained second place.

There’s a lot that goes into selecting a name for a baby. But looking at the overall list, Adam Cooper, a teaching professor and director of the Linguistics Program at Northeastern University, said many parents are picking names that avoid “hard stops” and instead flow off the tongue.

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