The Fastest-Falling Names of 2012: The ENNNd of an Era Ahead?

May 10th 2013

For the past decade, America has had an unprecedented love affair with the letter N. Over a third of American boys receive a name ending in that stylish letter. The N-thusiasm continues in the most recent name popularity stats, with -n names accounting for 36% of newborn boys. But the wave may be cresting. Take a look at the fastest-falling boys names of 2012:

1. Jaden
2. Hayden
3. Justin
4. Ashton
5. Rylan

Each name has its own story. Jaden, for instance, has given way as parents have standardized on the spelling Jayden. Justin is finally feeling its age after a 40+ year run as our national cute-boy name. (And in more bad news for incumbent cute-boy Justin Bieber, the names of all five members of the new cute-boy band One Direction rose in popularity). But as a group, this falling list gives a first hint that the age of N may have reached its limits.

On the girls' side, the fastest-falling names:

1. Alexis
2. Dulce
3. Audrina
4. Danna
5. Alyssa

Dulce, Audrina and Danna are all coming back to earth after sharp popularity spikes associated with celebrities (Dulce María, Audrina Partridge, and Danna Paola). Alexis and Alyssa, though, show bigger changes afoot. Both names are part of a new style category I added to the just-released edition the Baby Name Wizard book: the "Turn of the 21st Century" names. Alexis, Alyssa and cohorts are still very popular, but...

"Just as Shawn, Kristie, and Chad spell '1970s' now, these names will be the sound of the turn of the 21st century to coming generations."


May 10, 2013 5:40 PM

Oh, thank goodness. I am sick to death of that construction for boy names, and it's caused me to seriously dislike a lot of names that fit that criteria that I'd previously adored. Maybe once this fad has cooled off over the next decade or so, the charm can return.

May 10, 2013 6:00 PM

Awesome. I did terribly in this year's pool, but I'm very proud of myself for choosing Alyssa as one of the fastest-falling names. Darn Ethan — I expected it to share in the fate of its -n brothers and then it went and rose on me! Next year, I may stick to girls' names only.

May 10, 2013 9:03 PM

There are some names, for example Alyssa, Samantha, Al(l)ison, and Ashley, that are so strongly 1980s to me that I'm always shocked to see them so high up the list. I know so many girls with those names born between 1980 and 1985 that I can't imagine being excited by any of them. It seems right to me that Alyssa is falling, as it feels way beyond due.

May 12, 2013 10:44 AM

My son, born in the mid-nineties, once mentioned to me how many girls he knows, his age or close, who are named Alyssa.  No surprise it has had its time in the limelight and is now beginning to fade away.  It's still a pretty name.

May 13, 2013 3:55 PM

Is Rylan a mashup of Riley & Ryan or a name in its own right?

May 14, 2013 8:37 PM

For some ancedata - I have 2 boys, one born in 2007, and another in 2011. My first boy was a rising (top 100 but not top 20) -en, my 2nd boy was a far less common -er. I have 2 friends who also have first boys with more popular -en names, and then second boys with -er names that are lower on the chart. I know Laura did a story on the tradesman/last name names, (Cooper, Carter, Connor etc) but I wasn't able to find it in a quick browse. I wonder if -er/-or names are rising as fast as -en s are falling, or if -en are holding steady and -er/-or names are pulling from other letters.