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.

NameVoyager Updated with 2009 Data

May 7th 2010

The new data's up, have fun exploring in the NameVoyager!

If you've visited the NameVoyager recently, you might have to clear your browser cache to make sure you see the updated version. A simple test: if the name Knox appears (as a vertical blue sliver on the right), you're looking at the new data.

Maximiliano: The Social Security Adminstration Cranks It Up To 11

May 7th 2010

In the fastest-rising names post earlier today, I named Maximiliano the #1 fastest-rising boy's name. But it seemed weird. It turns out it was weird. Check this out. According to the official Baby Name Wizard Hotness Formula, the fastest rising boy's name in America was Maximiliano...and the fastest falling boy's name was Maximilian! Unlikely, eh?

Clearly, something is afoot. The name Maximiliano never cracked the top 1000 list until this year. This year, it checks in at #460. And miraculously, it now also appears on every top 1000 chart for the past decade! Meanwhile the popular favorite Maximilian has been downgraded for that same time period.

See the pattern? Yep, it seems that until now, the SSA didn't look past the first 10 letters of the name.

For a long time Christopher was the only name that ran afoul of that rule. Indeed, when I first started crunching SSA data, some years showed incredible spikes for the name "Christophe." They fixed up Chris, but somewhere in the data-processing funnel, the fundamental problem remained. So to all of the Maximilianos out there: welcome to the fashion mainstream, where you belong.