Popular Baby Names 2012: Why Zoe Saldana and ‘Duck Dynasty’ Were Influential

Zoe Saldana in 'Colombiana' (Magali Bragard/TriStar Pictures)The Social Security Administration unveiled its list of 2012's most popular baby names on Thursday, and while clear favorites Emma and Jacob still top the list, some of the biggest jumpers in popularity are ones entrenched in pop culture.

The breakout name this year is Cataleya, which is the name of the sexy, violent heroine -- played by Zoe Saldana -- in the 2011 French-American action film "Colombiana."

"Cataleya is the hottest name of the year so far, rising from nowhere -- there were like 28 babies with that name born the previous year -- to 636 in 2012," name expert and author Laura Wattenberg from BabyNameWizard.com tells omg!. "Now it's a Top 500 name for girls across America."

What is it about Cataleya that makes it a hit with new parents?

"It has a lot going for it," says Wattenberg. "It's a flower. It has a pretty feminine sound as well as meaning, but yet you have this movie character. Now I don't think anyone points to 'Colombiana' as one of the big cultural happenings of the year, but the name was brand-new and yet fit the rhythms, sounds, and meaning that parents are looking for. And, potentially, as an action movie, it would have appealed to both moms and dads, which is a plus."

It didn't hurt to have Saldana's face attached to the name.

"Honestly, having Zoe Saldana embody your name can never be a bad thing," laughs Wattenberg.

TV was also an inspiration for names. Arya, a character from the HBO series "Game of Thrones," was right behind Cataleya in the fastest-rising female names, shooting from No. 711 to No. 431 on the popular-names list. Similarly, Aria, which is the name of Lucy Hale's character on "Pretty Little Liars," moved from No. 157 to No. 91.

"That name would have been at the top, but it's not because it's split between the two spellings," explains Wattenberg. "They're both pretty hot, especially Aria, which cracked the Top 100 for the first time."

Maisie Williams as Arya in 'GOT' (HBO) Lucy Hale as Aria in 'Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family)

A&E's cult hit "Duck Dynasty" --  a reality show that follows a family that owns a duck call-making business -- was also an influencer, believe it or not. Jase is the third-fastest-rising name for boys, and Silas isn't far behind.

[Related: How Did the 'Duck Dynasty' Couples Meet?]

"Jase has had peaks before," Wattenberg says. "Whenever someone named Jason comes along on TV who goes by Jase, which is the case on 'Duck Dynasty' with Jase Robertson, there is a spike. For example, a few years ago there was a big brother character named Jase Wirey – it went up that year too." But it's currently at an all-time high in popularity, likely because it has a fresh sound. "If you think about it, you take this name Jason, which people always like but maybe they're a little bored with, and make it sound like Chase and it suddenly sounds new again."

Jase Robertson (A&E)Silas 'Si' Robertson (A&E)

One last on-the-rise name is Gael. The most famous person with the name currently is Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, who helped the name shoot from No. 407 to No. 146.

"Gael is still hot," Wattenberg says. "You always see Latina names rising fast. They are very trend sensitive, which actually could also help with Cataleya, too."

Gael García Bernal (Getty Images)

Was your name -- or name you gave -- influenced by a celebrity or character? Let us know below.

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