The Name of the Decade, and other thoughts on the 2000s

May 13th 2010

Insights from crunching through the 2,500 most popular baby names of the decade:

The fastest rising names of the decade were celebrity-heavy, including Hollywood babies, movie and recording stars, and reality tv personalities -- plus two of the defining fashion phenomena of the decade, Nevaeh and Aiden.

The names that rose the fastest from 2000 to 2009 (calculated, as always, with the Baby Name Wizard "Hotness Formula"):

1. Kaydence ("American Pie," see more info below)
2. Miley ("Hannah Montana" Miley Cyrus)
3. Nevaeh (Heaven backwards)
4. Rihanna (Music star Rihanna)
5. Khloe (Khloe Kardashian, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians")
1. Aaden ("Jon & Kate Plus 8")
2. Maddox (Son of actress Angelina Jolie)
3. Gael (Actor Gael García Bernal)
4. Aiden
5. Kingston (Son of musicians Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale)

The fastest falling names were all 1980s and '90s favorites, as parents were on the lookout for the new and different:

1. Hannah
2. Jessica
3. Megan
4. Amanda
5. Lauren
1. Nicholas
2. Zachary
3. Kyle
4. Jared
5. Brandon

And the top fresh face of the decade, the most popular name of the decade that was unknown in the year 2000, was Kaydence, by a huge margin. The #2 fresh face was...wait for it...Caydence. Incredibly, seven different spellings of the name rank among the top 25 new names of the 2000s, and even those seven just scratch the surface of the name's many popular variants.

Kaydence. It's a celebrity name (as Cadence) that has outpaced its celebrity origin; a word name that has left its word origins in the dust; a creative spelling explosion. It went from nowhere to everywhere during the past decade. And it has "aiden" inside it.

Whether you love those qualities or loathe them, they make the top new name of the 2000s an emblem of the decade's sound and style. And that makes Kaydence my nominee for Name of the Decade, an encapsulation of the naming times.


The Official Most Popular Baby Names of the Decade

May 9th 2010

With the 2009 data in we can close the book on the naming decade of the 2000s. The Social Security Administration plans to release their list on the 14th, but who can wait? The official data's in hand, so I've run the numbers myself.

In December, I told you in advance who the decade's champions would be: Emily and Jacob, with 2nd place honors to Madison and Michael. Those races weren't even close enough for the 2009 data to matter. (It's worth looking at that old blog to see why Madison, which only ranked in the top 2 for 2 years, trounced Emma, which had 6 top-2 showings.)

Beyond the top 2, though, there are plenty of stories. Take a look at the top 10 regardless of sex:

1. Jacob
2. Michael
3. Joshua
4. Emily
5. Matthew
6. Daniel
7. Christopher
8. Andrew
9. Ethan
10. Joseph

Just 1 girl's name makes the cut. That really drives home how remarkable it was that Isabella was America's #1 name by a large margin last year. Until the 1930s, Mary and John routinely ran neck-and-neck for the overall title. But it's been 60 years since a girl's name was #1.

Explore the decade yourself: I've posted the top 2,500 names for boys and girls. Going that deep lets you see the dramatic shape of modern style, with more girls named Skyy and Alexzandria than Marcia.



2009's Hottest and Nottest Baby Names, Part 2: The Fallen

May 7th 2010

Falling names are devilishly hard to predict. The question "what do I keep hearing about" is so much more natural than "what do I keep NOT hearing about?" This year, though, we all had a fighting chance. In fact, we had a crib sheet: the fastest rising names of 2007 and 2008. For girls' names in particular, this was a year of easy come, easy go. Counting down the top 5 fastest falling names of the year:

#5 Hillary
OK, this name doesn't quite fit the theme. Hillary traveled a classic 40-year fashion arc, appearing in 1963, rising high in the '70s-'90s, then disappearing in 2003. But Hillary Clinton's growing political clout gave the name a brief second wind that has now passed.

#4 Miley
Now we're talking. The top riser of 2007, and top-10 again in 2008, Miley hit the wall in 2009.

#3 Jaslene
Remember Jaslene Gonzalez, who powered the 5th hottest name of 2007? If not, that would explain this year's tumble.

#2 Mylee
The 3rd hottest name of 2007 walks hand in hand with her twin Miley.

#1 Marely
A top-10 riser last year, thanks to a hot telenovela.

Ah, fickle fame. The boys' fastest falling names are a bit more varied lot:

#5 Sean
Still a top-100 name (barely), Sean has finally hit the steep part of the inevitable fashion slide.

#4 Cordell
The real story here is that Cordell made the top 1000 the year before at all. Check out the NameVoyager graph: any ideas what that was about?

#3 Brady
The continuing name fallout from the injury that put Patriots quarterback Tom Brady out of commission for the 2008-2009 season.

#2 Jonas

Call it the male version of the Miley phenomenon.

#1 Aidan
Nope, this doesn't mean the "Age of Aidans" is over. The more common spelling Aiden actually rose in 2009. I suspect that the specific decline of this one, most traditional spelling means that the parents who thought of Aidan as an old Irish saint's name are giving up on it because of the flood of Aidyns, Aydens, Aedans et al.