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Oh baby: Mason, Emma top names for newest Pennsylvanians

SEAN PHILIP COTTER
YorkDispatch

It's unclear whether Pennsylvania has developed a sudden fascination with stoneworkers or what, but for the fourth year in a row the most popular name for male babies is Mason, according to Social Security data.

That did not come as any kind of shock to York's Melissa Jones.

"He has a whole bunch of Masons in his class," she said of her son, Kayden, 6.

She also has two daughters: Kayleigh, 9, and Kaylynne, 2. The trend of giving all of their kids monikers that started with "Kay" wasn't intentional. At first, they just liked "Kayleigh."

"It just kind of fit with her," the mom said, and then they liked the opening syllable enough to name their other kids in the same fashion. For their second child, Jones and her husband considered the name Cayden, but then decided they wanted to be "a little different" — so they went with the K.

The most popular girls' name both in the state and around the country in 2014 was Emma, according to the Social Security Administration's website. In Pennsylvania, that's followed by Olivia, Ava, Sophia and Isabella, according to the site.

For Pennsylvania boys, the names that follow Mason are Liam, Noah, Michael and Jacob, the site says.

Meanings: Biblical names such as Noah, Matthew and Gabriel remain popular, as they have for many years. But while those come from — as many have put it — the greatest story ever told, some from much more recent stories have ascended quite quickly.

One good example of that is Khaleesi, like the name of a character in HBO's "Game of Thrones." Among real-life American girls, it's increased in rank by 265 since the previous year, up to the still-fairly-low 755, according to Social Security.

Of course, sometimes there's no deeper meaning; it's just what sounds right to the parents. Michelle Burton, who named her baby London, falls into this category.

"I just liked it," she said of the name.

Nationally, Noah is tops for boys, followed by Liam, Mason, Jacob and William. For girls, the top five are the same as in Pennsylvania, except Ava drops down to fifth.

Of interest: It's worth noting that different spellings of what people might think of as the same name are counted differently.

For example, Jackson is 15th for boys, Jaxon is 49th and Jaxson comes in at 81st, according to the site. If one were to combine those three, there'd be significantly more variations of names pronounced "Jackson" than "Mason," which has no spelling variations on the list.

Similarly, adding all the Sophias to the Sofias — the 44th most common name for Pennsylvania girls — comes very close to dethroning Emma from the top spot. The same's the case with adding Eva — 85th — to the very popular Ava.

York Day Nursery executive director Catherine Repman said she's definitely seen plenty children of that name pass through her day care.

"Ava seems like it's really been popular," she said.

— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.