updated 5/10/2008 2:17:54 PM ET 2008-05-10T18:17:54

Emily again topped the list of most popular baby girl names last year, registering as No. 1 for the 12th straight time. Jacob led among names for boys for the ninth year in a row.

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New parents didn't stray far from past habits in 2007 when naming their babies. Only one name — Elizabeth — is new to the top-10 list, returning after a two-year absence. Samantha, which previously ranked 10th, dropped to No. 12, according to the latest list released Saturday by the Social Security Administration.

Biblical names continued to dominate the boys' list. Besides Jacob, other top picks for boys were Michael, Joshua and Matthew.

For girls, Isabella, Emma and Ava came after Emily, which has been the most popular female name since 1996.

Rounding out the top 10 for girls, in order, were Madison, Sophia, Olivia, Abigail, Hannah and Elizabeth.

The list for boys also includes Ethan, Daniel, Christopher, Anthony, William and Andrew.

Name experts have said the staying power of the top names may have something to do with appealing to multiple ethnic or religious groups and having no widespread negative connotations. Emily also has literary associations, including Emily Dickinson, evoking images of a woman who is both beautiful and smart, professors say.

Twin picks
For male twins, parents were most likely to combine Jacob with Joshua, Matthew with Michael and Daniel with David. The most popular combination for female twins was Ella and Emma.

Also popular in 2007 were names for girls that were based on spiritual and philosophical concepts. Rising to No. 31 was Nevaeh, or "heaven" spelled backwards; it previously ranked 43rd. Also represented in 2007 were Destiny at 41; Trinity at 72; Serenity at 126; Harmony at 315 and Miracle at 461. Cutting against the trend was Armani at 971.

Parents were less likely to name their sons based on spiritual concepts, although the 2007 list includes Sincere at 622 and Messiah at 723.

Social Security began compiling the name lists in 1997.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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