Sophia the First

Sophia tops the list of most popular baby names for 2014. A new study by naming expert Laura Wattenberg shows that Sophia, and variations on that name, is the most popular baby name in the world. Wattenberg says the name, which means "wisdom", wins its top ranking because it transcends borders.

Wattenberg collected name statistics from 49 countries and Sophia topped lists in nine of those, including Italy, Slovakia, Russia and Mexico. Even with different local spellings it was one of the top 25 baby names in two-thirds of the countries surveyed.

In New Zealand, Sophie ranked fifth on the list last year, with 211 Kiwi baby girls joining the popular club, while 198 Sophia's came in at number nine.

Wattenberg doesn't think the name will remain in the top spot for long.

"Just the fact of tracking what the top 100 baby names are makes people competitive," she explained. "Everyone is trying to avoid the number-one name, because they think that's too ordinary, so names rise and fall faster than they used to," she told Live Science.

Sophie is the French version of the name, while Sofia is the usual spelling in Italy and parts of Eastern Europe. Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. Italian film legend Sophia Loren (pictured above) was originally Sofia, while Jane Austen chose the name Sophia for her heroine in Persuasion.

Check out OHbaby!'s tips for naming your baby!

Top Kiwi girls' names for 2014

1. Charlotte 255
2. Olivia 243
3. Isla 226
4. Emily 221
5. Sophie 211
6. Amelia 210
7. Ella 206
8. Harper 204
9. Sophia 198
10. Ruby 180

(Figures: The Department of Internal Affairs)

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