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Celebs are latest buzz in baby names

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Actress Mila Kunis is behind one of the most popular baby names of the year.

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Celebrity names from Ava Gardner to Angelina Jolie, Miles Davis to Michael Jordan have influenced the names of real live babies over recent years.

But now there's a brand new generation of stars whose names are proving inspirational to parents.  From the worlds of music, sports, reality TV and films, these celebrity names are showing major gains on the new popularity lists in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Many of these new celebrity names are unusual, exotic, and were rarely heard before their famous bearers brought them to our attention.  Their current popularity can be attributed directly to the stars who made them shine.

The newest, hottest celebrity names today are:

Mila – Natalie Portman may have won the Oscar for Black Swan, but Mila Kunis takes the prize for most influential name.  This Eastern European diminutive – the Ukraine-born actress’s real name is Milena – is the fourth highest jumper the most recent popularity list, up nearly 200 places.  Mila is pronounced with a long e sound, making it a logical successor to the Top 10 Mia.

Harry – You might be forgiven for guessing that the ginger-haired Prince propelled the name Harry to the new Number 1 spot in Britain, but the real inspiration is Harry Styles, Britain’s answer to Justin Bieber and a member of the boy band One Direction.

Bristol – While Palin has been heard as a baby name, Bristol has emerged as the hottest name out of the former Vice Presidential candidate’s family.  The place name, which debuted on the Top 1000 in 2009, moved up over 100 places last year, to Number 434.

Iker – Iker?  Really??  The unlikely Basque name, pronounced ee-keer, is the second fastest-rising boys’ name in the U.S., up 267 places thanks to World Cup-winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Amelia – Amelia has risen to Number 30 on the US charts on the heels of former first place sister names Emma and Emily, but in Britain it’s exploded at Number 1 this year thanks to X Factor contestant turned hit singer Amelia Lily Oliver.

Kellan – Kellan Lutz has propelled not only his own unusual name but both those of his Twilight character Emmett Cullen up the popularity charts.  The Irish Kellan, spelled Kellen in its native land and meaning slender, is now Number 363 in the U.S.

Audrina – Audrina Partridge of The Hills launched her name onto the Top 1000 in 2007.  It’s now leapt up 365 places.  Audrina is an elaboration of the ancient saint’s name Audrey, which has also been enjoying greater popularity.

Jenson – While Jenson has not yet cracked the Top 1000 in the U.S., it’s the Number 69 name in Great Britain, where Jenson Button is a champion race car driver.  This surname name means “son of Jens,” the Scandinavian form of John – though some parents have been known to use it to honor an ancestral Jenny or Jennifer.

Adele – Singing sensation Adele has turned her old French name, which had disappeared from view for over 40 years, into a fresh new hit.  Originally a short form of Adelaide, Adele jumped more than 250 places in the most recent popularity count.

Logan – Logan has been a Top 100 name for two decades now, but Percy Jackson star Logan Lerman, along with the mutant Logan character played by Hugh Jackman in Wolverine, are working together to keep the name Logan in the limelight.

Elle – There have been attractive film characters named Elle, in Legally Blonde and Kill Bill, along with supermodel Elle Macpherson, but young actress Elle Fanning is the one who made this French word for “she” – one of the most feminine of names -- into a baby-worthy star.

Niall – Irishman Niall Horan joins fellow One Direction band member Harry Styles in having a name sure to influence a new generation of babies.  The ancient Irish Niall, name of a mythological hero, is pronounced by Horan like the River Nile.

What's your favorite celebrity-inspired baby name? Tell us on our TODAY Moms Facebook page.

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