The Age of Aidans
Looking at the most popular American baby names of 2004, one name leaps out at me....or rather, one sound. A whopping 33 different names rhyming with Aidan made the boys' top 1000 list. (And that doesn't even count the near misses, like Dayton-Payton-Layton-Clayton-Treyton.) That number is up from 28 Aidan-esque names in 2003, and just one 20 years ago.
Such an overwhelmingly fashionable name sound is unprecedented. Now before you start dwelling on all the little Kristens, Kristas and Christines you knew in the '70s, I should make it clear: the remarkable part of the Aidan phenomenon is that we're talking about boys' names.
Traditionally, male names have been much less subject to the whims of fashion than female names. Parents were always more conservative in naming boys, and less likely to view their name choice as a style statement. Styles would change, but relatively slowly. Mary, Lisa, Jennifer, Jessica, Ashley and Emily all spent time as America's #1 girl's name during Michael's long reign as the top choice for boys. Yet last year, the majority of the new names debuting in the top 1000 lists were male names. And in a clear nod to fashion, two thirds of those new names ended with the letter N. In fact, more than a third of all the names on the boys' 1000 now end in N.
I've said before that androgynous names are a one-way street: parents like boyish names for girls, not girlish names for boys. But even as we choose more and more traditionally masculine names for girls, the way we approach naming our boys is moving toward the traditionally "feminine." Today, parents are extremely fashion-conscious with their sons' names as well as their daughters -- a first glimpse, perhaps, at how this generation will be raised.
For the curious or incredulous, here is the full 2004 Aidan-esque honor roll (boys only):
Aden Aidan Aiden Aydan Ayden Aydin
Braden Bradyn Braeden Braedon Braiden Brayden Braydon
Caden Caiden Cayden Kaden Kadin Kaeden Kaiden Kayden
Haden Haiden Hayden
Jaden Jadon Jadyn Jaeden Jaiden Jaidyn Jayden Jaydin Jaydon