Thea and Jonas most popular in 2006
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Thea and Jonas most popular in 2006

Thea has been one of the most popular girl's names since 1999, and finally made it to the top in 2006. Jonas has been among the top ten since 1996. They are both old names that have been revived.

The official list of babies' names for 2006 shows that it's all change for the boys. Markus, which topped the list in 2005, fell seven places. The biblical names Elias and Lukas leaped 12 and 17 places to number five and 14, while Sebastian rose nine places to number seven. Mathias continued to be the second most popular boy's name, while Alexander and Andreas joined the top five at number three and four.

10.5 per cent of boys have names ending in -as, compared with less than 0.5 per cent sixty years ago. Jonas is Greek and means dove. Until 1978, the name of the prophet who was "eaten by a whale" was written like this in the Norwegian version of the Bible, but the Bible now uses the Hebrew form Jona.

Leap for Leah

There are only small changes in this year's list of girl's names. Thea swapped places with Emma to take the number one spot, followed by Sara, Julie and Ida. Leah made a leap from number 28 to number 14. In older days, births in the royal family used to have a strong impact on babies' names. Although this is only partly true today, the names of the latest newborns in the royal family, Leah, Angelica and Sverre, have risen in popularity. Ingrid also climbs a few places.

Names ending with -a or -ah are still the most popular girl's names. For the third consecutive year, 35.5 per cent of all girl's names have this ending, compared with less than 10 per cent in 1950.

What's in a name?

47 per cent of all children are given a middle name, usually to include both parents' family name. The Name Act of 2003 made it possible to combine two family names with a hyphen, an option which is now used by 5.7 per cent.

With the popularity of two family names, it may not come as a surprise that only 21 per cent of boys are given more than one first name. The most popular second first names are Alexander/Aleksander with 444 registrations, followed by André with 397 registrations. The most popular combinations are William Alexsander/Aleksander, Kevin André and Emil Alexander/Aleksander.

A slightly higher number of girls are given more than one first name, i.e. 25.6 per cent. The explanation may be that many girls have a short first name. The most common second first name is Marie with 616 registrations, followed by Sofie with 396 and Elise with 211. The most popular combinations are Ida Marie, Emma Sofie and Thea Emilie.

Fewer last names ending in -sen

Slightly more than one million Norwegians have a surname ending in -sen, although it is gradually becoming less common. In 2000, 24.9 of Norwegians had such a name, compared with 23.3 at the end of 2006. It is unlikely that this is due to name changes, a more plausible explanation is that people choose not to include such names when they marry or have children. The most common -sen names have had the strongest decline. Hansen is still the most common, but Johansen has pushed Olsen down to third.