The Fastest-Falling Baby Names of 2011
Fast-rising and fast-falling names are not just two sides of the same coin. They have fundamentally different characters.
Names tend to rise in a burst of glory, and fall in a slow, quiet drift. The hottest names may shoot up by 500%, but the fastest fallers seldom lose more than a quarter of their popularity in a year. In terms of storytelling, too, the drama tends to be on the rising side. (Check out this year's hottest names for boys and girls.) The falling names list often feels more wistful than dramatic, with a nostalgia for past glory days.
The fastest-falling names of 2011:
Brisa: OK, this one's a stumper. Brisa is Spanish for breeze, and with the wildly trendy "bree" sound should be a strong option for non-Spanish speakers, too. It was especially popular in 2009 & 2010, but tumbled in 2011. Why? Readers, can you help? UPDATE: Many thanks to reader Hwar, who tracked the brief rise of Brisa to the 2009 telenovela Verano de Amor. I missed it in my annual telenovela name sweep because the Brisa in question wasn't one of the lead characters, but rather a baby born in the show!
Isabella: That big fall is just from #1 to #2, in a year without a lot of "Twilight" action. In fact, Isabella is still more popular at #2 today than Emma was at #1 a few years ago.
Tyler, Joshua, Alexis, Makayla, Brianna et al: A whole generation of names is starting to turn the corner. For the next edition of the Baby Name Wizard book, I'm creating a new demographic category -- the sound of the 1990s & 2000s.
Miley: Here's my rule of thumb on negative publicity and baby names. A celebrity's press will seldom seldom torpedo their name...unless it was that celebrity who inspired the name's publicity to begin with. The sharp drop in Mileys can be directly attributed to the shifting public image of Miley Cyrus, given that alternate spellings like Mylee barely fell at all.
Braden & Jaden: Is the end of the Age of Aidans nigh? Maybe, but it's not as dramatic as it seems. Both of those names are settling in on "y" spellings (Brayden, Jayden) as standard.
Brett: Quarterback Brett Favre retired in 2011. It appears he took his name with him.