A Name Divided: Spotting the Stealth Hits
Most names have multiple spellings. That's just a fact of modern name life. It's true of traditional names as well as modern inventions -- Abigail has its Abigayles, Alexander its Alexzanders. In most cases, the variants don't have a major effect on the name's overall popularity. Cameron's rank as the #59 boy's name gives you a solid sense of that name, despite the many Kamerons and Camerens out there.
But what if there is no standard spelling? Occasionally, a name will divide its popularity so evenly among two or more spellings that it flies under the radar altogether. Take Audriana/Audrianna. Last year those names ranked #1252 and #1332 in America, a virtual dead heat. They're rising fast, but they divide the territory so neatly that you won't find either one in the NameVoyager.
For parents seeking the unusual, names like these are hidden traps on the popularity charts. They can be tricky to spot, too. Parents considering Kaylin might not think to look up Kaelyn and vice versa. And parents thinking about Jordan for a girl may have no idea that the "alternate" spelling Jordyn is now the more popular.
I've created a master list of all the stealth hit names, where the most common spelling ranks in the top 1500 for boys or girls and the second spelling is at least two-thirds as popular as the first. (If you value your sanity, do not try this at home.) You'll see some themes emerging. For instance, if you dream up a smooth, feminine name ending in -iya, count on the -iyah form being equally common.
If your favorite name isn't listed, you can feel confident that its ranking is a pretty fair indicator of its place in the name landscape. The girls' list is below, boys follow tomorrow.