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More newborns anointed as King or Messiah

WASHINGTON -- Talk about high expectations for a newborn: King and Messiah are among the fastest-rising baby names for American boys.

They're just a little behind Major, the boy's name that jumped the most spots on the Social Security Administration's annual list of popular baby names.

Jacob is the most popular for boys -- again -- and Sophia is the top name for girls, according to the list released yesterday. It was Jacob's 14th straight year at the top and Sophia's second year in a row at the top for girls.

But what about those rising boys' names? Americans have long given their children "aggrandizing names," said Laura Wattenberg, author of "The Baby Name Wizard." She noted that Noble and General were on the list of popular boys' names for much of the 20th century.

"We've pretty much run out of presidential names, all the Jeffersons and Jacksons and Madisons, so we're moving on to the aristocracy, I guess, or to the military."

Jennifer Moss, author and founder of Babynames.com, says she discourages parents from giving children "expectation names, like Justice and Chastity." "We feel that it kind of puts an undue pressure on the child when you use those kinds of grandiose or purity names," Moss said.

The Social Security Administration's website lists the top 1,000 baby names for each year. It also shows which names are gaining popularity. Among the boys, Major jumped 505 spots, to No. 483. Messiah gained 246 spots, to No. 387. -- AP

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