The Age of Aidans

May 12th 2005

Looking at the most popular American baby names of 2004, one name leaps out at me....or rather, one sound. A whopping 33 different names rhyming with Aidan made the boys' top 1000 list. (And that doesn't even count the near misses, like Dayton-Payton-Layton-Clayton-Treyton.) That number is up from 28 Aidan-esque names in 2003, and just one 20 years ago.

Such an overwhelmingly fashionable name sound is unprecedented. Now before you start dwelling on all the little Kristens, Kristas and Christines you knew in the '70s, I should make it clear: the remarkable part of the Aidan phenomenon is that we're talking about boys' names.

Traditionally, male names have been much less subject to the whims of fashion than female names. Parents were always more conservative in naming boys, and less likely to view their name choice as a style statement. Styles would change, but relatively slowly. Mary, Lisa, Jennifer, Jessica, Ashley and Emily all spent time as America's #1 girl's name during Michael's long reign as the top choice for boys. Yet last year, the majority of the new names debuting in the top 1000 lists were male names. And in a clear nod to fashion, two thirds of those new names ended with the letter N. In fact, more than a third of all the names on the boys' 1000 now end in N.

I've said before that androgynous names are a one-way street: parents like boyish names for girls, not girlish names for boys. But even as we choose more and more traditionally masculine names for girls, the way we approach naming our boys is moving toward the traditionally "feminine." Today, parents are extremely fashion-conscious with their sons' names as well as their daughters -- a first glimpse, perhaps, at how this generation will be raised.

For the curious or incredulous, here is the full 2004 Aidan-esque honor roll (boys only):

Aden Aidan Aiden Aydan Ayden Aydin
Braden Bradyn Braeden Braedon Braiden Brayden Braydon
Caden Caiden Cayden Kaden Kadin Kaeden Kaiden Kayden
Haden Haiden Hayden
Jaden Jadon Jadyn Jaeden Jaiden Jaidyn Jayden Jaydin Jaydon


By Anonymous (not verified)
May 13, 2005 1:12 PM

I think it's refreshing that some parents are breaking away from the conservative mold. I wonder if gender equality has anything to do with it?But, my fear is that this will be a VERY short lived trend. In my community, most boys are still given traditional names. Boys with non-traditional names stand out. I can already imagine the mean nicknames some of these boys might suffer.I doubt any of these names will become "timeless" classics. When these boys are older, I suspect that these names will date them as the "2000" names much like the "70's/80's" names do today.

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 14, 2005 6:10 PM

I have to agree with the other anonymous, "Aiden" is the new "Jason"

By daisy (not verified)
May 15, 2005 1:13 AM

I was interested today in looking up the popularity of the name Anneliese but it doesn't seem to be included in NameVoyager. Why not?

By Sarah (not verified)
May 15, 2005 7:18 PM

daisy, when you type in a name that is not in the Voyager it notes "No names starting with ... were in the top 1000 in any decade." That name has never been popular enough in the US to appear.

By daisy (not verified)
May 15, 2005 7:43 PM

*Rolls eyes* Why did I not catch on to that?! I feel very dim. Ah well. Thanks Sarah!

By Amy Rae (not verified)
May 16, 2005 12:55 PM

As interesting as it is to see parents choosing names other than Jacob/Michael/William/Robert and so on, it's less heartening to see that they're not going out on much of a limb. For all those thirty-three different spellings, there's still only five new names there. (After all, Jaden and Jaydon aren't going to sound much different on the playground, unless Jaydon was named for Uncles Jay and Don.)I third the idea that Aidan-Jaden-Caden-Hayden-Braden will be the new Jason. The -aden sound is going to be about as fresh as a stale Starbucks biscotti once those boys have grown up.

By Karla (not verified)
May 16, 2005 3:17 PM

Hey!I love this site!Any chance you could do a post about the popularity of K vs C names? My name is Karla and I've gone through life as "Karla with a K". I'm sick of spelling my name out for people. "Karla., K! Karla with a K! K! K-A-R-L-A".

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 17, 2005 2:31 AM

Alas, the naming fate of any future son of ours is sealed . . .. We have wanted to use Braden for *years* (I'm talking a decade or so) as it's a significant surname in our family. But, I just can't do it to a son with how trendy it (and it's counterparts) has become.Now I just *know* I'll have a boy and have a naming dilemma on my hands!

By Kristin (not verified)
May 17, 2005 8:53 PM

I think in 15 years we'll see a book called Beyond Madison and Aidan. I wonder why this happens ... my boss's son is named Caden, which they named him just before this trend began. It's weird how everybody gets the same idea at the same time.

By Rebekah (not verified)
May 17, 2005 10:11 PM

Guess who named her son Aidan? LOL ... I SWEAR we found it on the Internet (this was almost 4 years ago) and just liked it! Oh well ...

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 18, 2005 5:35 PM

Love the site & the book! Keep up the good work.The part about so many names ending in N was interesting. I was looking on the SSA site at the top names from the 40's & noticed that there were a ton of boys' names from then that ended in -y or an equivalent sound like -ie. Now, -y names for boys are few & far between (Zachary, Timothy, and Cody were the only ones I noticed on the top 100.) I guess that kind of ties in with your post about more formal names being used socially.

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 18, 2005 6:17 PM

Hayden Frye, football coach from the earlier half of this century.Hayden Fox, football coach on TV in the early 90s.Our Hayden. Born in anominity and destined to be one of the masses. So much for using a name you always planned on.Can we change it to Ezekial?

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 18, 2005 6:32 PM

I hope everyone can agree that these parents took the "aden" trend a little too far.

By pregnancyweekly (not verified)
May 18, 2005 7:34 PM

Yup, I know many Aidens which are boys. And I know many girls with traditionally boys names. Now it seems as many names are crossing both genders. It does seem however that there is perhaps more names for girls than boys. So maybe we should give them back some names. :)

By mr. mooshoo (not verified)
May 18, 2005 10:57 PM

we plan on naming our next son aidan (he's due any day now), but we've liked that name for quite some time. maybe we'll at least be a bit ahead of the curve. my niece is named madison, and within a couple years of her birth, it seemed every girl that came into the world was named madison as well. at least "aidan" is more of a timeless name. we also have some good freinds that just had a baby boy. i had misheard his name and thought it was "cade." well, a week later, i learned that sure enough, it's a nickname for cayden. so, i'm assuming aidan and cayden will be partners in crime.

By Kristin (not verified)
May 19, 2005 6:42 PM

The baby boy named Maiden cracked me up! :)

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 20, 2005 1:11 AM

Poor boy named Maiden, I like their attempt at something different but I think they overlooked that a maiden is an unmarried young woman.

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 21, 2005 4:40 PM

My yes, there are some interesting baby names there in North Dakota with Maiden. McCoy? "Pacen" for a girl? And two boys named Braxton - makes one wonder if their mothers had Braxton-Hicks contractions!

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 22, 2005 2:50 AM

I think "Maiden" must be a girl, considering the middle name is "Jo."

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 22, 2005 1:03 PM

Considering it says "It's a boy" and baby is totally swathed in blue, I'd say it's likely that little Maiden Jo is male. Good luck, little guy.

By CNB (not verified)
May 26, 2005 4:36 PM

As to the "feminine" qualities of Aidan, I guess you've lost me, in that it is a Gaelic name meaning "fire." I never thought my son's name sounded feminine (not that there is anything wrong with that). Is this a comment on WASPy or Irish names versus Germanic or Eastern European names?On the popularity issue, I have some perspective. Being a Brian, I have made it through okay with an overly popular name, so I don't worry that my son Aidan (who, at 4 1/2, barely beat the recent upswing) will suffer too much. Actually, I think his problems will be caused by the parents who employ "creative" spellings, or those determined to make Aidan a unisex name (particularly due to my aformentioned opinion that it isn't a feminine name).

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 26, 2005 5:31 PM

To the Brian who posted above, I don't think the article meant that Aidan is a feminine name at all. Just that the way styles are changing for boys is like the way girls names used to change, if that makes sense. I've certainly never met a girl Aidan!

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 27, 2005 4:05 PM

i went to college with a guy named Caiden - born in the late 70s - and we all thought it was such a weird name. and now it's so popular. his parents were way ahead of their time. also, i know a 50-something lady named jennifer. her older sister is mary - i guess their parents were aiming for a more original name with their second girl, and ended up with another #1 name!

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 30, 2005 12:09 AM

I added up the 25 variants of these nams I could find. 54,054 boys were named variants of Aiden, Cayden, Jayden, or Braydon in 2004. This far eclipses the number one boys name of Jacob, which comes in at 27,480.

By Cherry (not verified)
May 30, 2005 5:16 PM

My son was born Oct 2004. I picked the name Caden out of an old baby book and we loved it. We were so proud of the name and then about 2 months after his birth my mother found out that Caden was #17 for boys names in 2004... talk about ticked off! I had never heard the name before my own son and as a preschool teacher I figured I was safe. I have no idea how this happened and though I still love his name and wouldn't change it, I hate knowing he may be one of several in school...

By Cherry (not verified)
May 30, 2005 5:16 PM

This post has been removed by the author.

By Cherry (not verified)
May 30, 2005 5:17 PM

This post has been removed by the author.

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 31, 2005 6:53 PM

It probably also depends on how familiar you are with the name. I know several Aidens, all female. So when I heard that it could be a male name as well, I was very surprised.

By Anonymous (not verified)
May 31, 2005 10:59 PM

Laura wrote:"Today, parents are extremely fashion-conscious with their sons' names as well as their daughters -- a first glimpse, perhaps, at how this generation will be raised."Sad (poor Maiden!), but it's already been going on for decades. Naming trends don't predict the cultural norm; they reflect it. Men--not just adult male humans but men of character (which is evidenced by humility and self-control)--are already rare. Feminine names were the first to go--a trend made acceptable perhaps by the widespread feminist idea that masculinity and femininity are primarily a physical distinction. Now, as men's places are increasingly taken over by aggressive women and manhood too loses its identity, people are beginning to think it's cool to attach a girl's name to a boy. I'm not against unique names; I think Ransom--surname of the hero of C.S. Lewis's space trilogy--would be a very cool (middle) name for a boy, as would Elliot or Arthur. But those are distinctly masculine. Likewise, Ebony and Aurelia and Galadriel are unique (!), but feminine. Why don't we just let boys and girls be different, and raise them to be men and women of character rather than trying to squish them all into the politically-correct identity-void of gender neutrality? I don't have a problem with Aidan, but Maiden is going WAY too far.Nice site, by the way.

By suz (not verified)
June 4, 2005 12:51 AM

Over on LiveJournal, I'm part of a few communities that keep track of people who fake stuff. And among women who fake pregnancies, variations on "Aidan" are THE MOST common. It's uncanny. Now it's a running joke for us...

By Anonymous (not verified)
June 5, 2005 10:46 PM

You think Maiden is bad.....a few years ago, when I lived in Washington DC, there was a very sad case of child neglect or murder or soemthing. Don't quite remember the details of the very sad case, other than it was extensively covered in the press and the mother's name was......Latrina. What were her parents thinking???? and why didn't someone stop them?????

By Anonymous (not verified)
June 12, 2005 2:02 PM

I think this new trend towards more unusual and creative names for boys is a good one. I like the fact that parents of boys are starting to break away from names that, in my opinion, have been way overused for a long time.

By Anonymous (not verified)
June 20, 2005 5:13 PM

The Aidan, -eaden, aydin, etc. phenomenon is not new. I did some research on the Name Voyager and found a very interesting pattern that answered a few questions about my own name and about the women I've encountered who have variations on that name. This case study begins with Carl/Karl and may or may not include Charles. The popularity of Carl/Karl in the early twentieth century spawned a generation of feminine variations, most notably Carla. If we look not only at raw numbers but at how names peak, it gets very interesting. Carlenes, Karlenes, Carleens and Charlenes peak in the 1940s or thereabouts. The rhyming tendency that makes certain sounds popular in a given time opened the door for sibling variations such as Sharlene, Darlene, Darleen and the odd cousin such as Kathleen. All of these names just dropped off in popularity in the fifties. Enter the sixties, and now Carla, Karla, Darla, Marla, Sharla, Charla and Starla are on the scene, no doubt updated namesakes. I happen to be one of those Carlas, btw. Now the Carl/Karl phenomenon has wrought us the very cutsie and currently popular Carlie, Carly, Carley, Carlee, Karlie, Karli etc. names (2000+/per million), no doubt with siblings in toe: Marly, Starlee, and Sharlie will peak in the next several years.Someone asked about the C/K options with these names. I have to say I've had the opposite experience. My name is spelled with a "C" and everyone assumed that until the mid-eighties. Now, even when I travel to Spanish speaking countries (where "K" is not a part of the alphabet) people assume it's with a "K." My name is no longer "Carla." It's become "Carla with a 'C'" For some reason, the letter "K" is really popular now. I feel like we're all on sesame street, this decade was brought to us by the letters "K" and "Y."

By Anonymous (not verified)
June 23, 2005 5:53 PM

I think that this is hilarious! I have a very old name that means something horrible. My name is Delores, which means "pain" in Spanish. I've always hated my name. So when I found out I was pregnant with my son, I chose a name that I thought sounded great and that my son would not hate me later for it. I proudly chose Aidan. I heard it back in the 80's (actor Aidan Quinn), but my love for the name solidified when I was watching Sex and the City and one of the characters was named Aidan. At that point, I told myself that would chose that name for my future son. I didn't know that it was so popular when I chose it, but so what? It's a great name and I love it. You should be able to name your children what you want without people looking down at you. By the way, Aidan was the name of a Celtic monk who loved animals, the water and was chased by women. So this name has been around for a very long time, not just from the past year. Long live all Aidans and long live my handsome son.

By Justine Case (not verified)
June 29, 2005 10:25 AM

The "Aidans" are definitely going to be a name of this generation. The proof? Just as I can't picture the name "Herman" on anybody below 65, I can't picture the name "Aidan" on anybody above the age of five. Cute name, of course. I can understand why it's so popular. I've liked it from the first time I heard it. I just wouldn't name my son Aidan (or Jaden, or Hayden, or Xaden, etc...)

By Anonymous (not verified)
June 30, 2005 12:53 PM

My psychology professor in 1981 had a daughter named Cayden. I loved the name and changed the spelling to Caiden for my foster-adopt son last year 2004. I'm like most people--thought I had picked a really unique name and now am surprised at the trend.

By Anonymous (not verified)
July 6, 2005 2:41 PM

I had to laugh at "Anonymous"' post about the rhyming names such as Charlene/Carlene etc. On "Designing Women", I think Carlene, the character from Arkansas, had several sisters whose names rhymed with hers, but that was fiction. In Tennessee, I went to high school with a girl named Charlene whose sisters were Arlene, Marlene, Carlene and Darlene! Their three brothers were Boyd, Floyd and Lloyd. No, I am not kidding!Susan

By Anonymous (not verified)
July 8, 2005 4:50 PM

I am now expecting baby #2, but baby #1 was almost an Aidan 2 years ago. I quickly changed my mind, once I found out about the onslaught of Aidans/Cadens/Bradens littering the local hospital postings. I still like Aidan, but grew up with several same-named peers and vowed not to inflict the same on my children. We settled on Grantham (Grant) instead.

By Anonymous (not verified)
July 16, 2005 7:52 PM

my Aidan is 18; does that mean he's "safe" from this generation, or did he just catch the tail end of the craze? by the way, the only Aidan I knew back in 1987 was Aidan, my son says that his name is a good conversation starter, especially with the females!

By Aidan (not verified)
July 20, 2005 7:48 PM

I've been an Aidan since 1985 (when i was born). I always liked the individuality it gave me, and the fact that girls love the name. I am currently working at a rec center and having moms constantly yelling my name at kids kinda throws me off. also, i now have lost all care in ever naming a future child Aidan. But it happens. and it's all sex and the city's fault.

By Betty (not verified)
July 23, 2005 2:38 AM

I named my DAUGHTER Aidan after the character on Sex and the City. mmmmm John Corbett!

By coopnwhitsmommy (not verified)
July 24, 2005 9:46 PM

Hee hee hee. My Kids won't have the problem of a name that's TOO common. When our second son arrived there were 6 other new babes on the floor 4 of them were boys... 1 was Aiden, 1 Was Brayden, 1 was Jalen, and 1 was Whittaker...guess which one is mine :-)

By Anonymous (not verified)
July 28, 2005 9:25 PM

We named our daughter Hayden in 2001 and had never heard the name before. Now she goes to preschool with a Jayden and (one for your list) Shaedon!

By Anonymous (not verified)
August 9, 2005 4:10 AM

My husband and I "invented" the name Cayden when we started dating in 1992. We took the first three letters of his name (Cayce) and the first three of mine (Denise) and we thought we had the perfect name. We were thinking of using it for our daughter in 2000, but didn't to save for our next child born in 2002. I would've never guessed there would be a total of three Cayden/Caden's in his library storytime class. We're bummed although he will always know that the same is special for him.

By Stephanie in TX (not verified)
August 30, 2005 5:42 PM

We named our son Aidan in 1998. At the time we had never heard of anyone else with an Aidan. We wanted an Irish name with a strong meaning. Our one goal in naming our kids was that the names not be trendy. Go figure.I think we'll have better success (not being trendy) with our Lachlan.

By Anonymous (not verified)
September 11, 2005 5:52 PM

Hi- I'm a bit late to this post, but in preparing to name a baby I found it fascinating. I'm 32 and expecting my first child any day. Aidan is a name I came across when I was 13 years old and decided then and there to name my firstborn son Aidan. I mentioned this to a friend and she told me to look here, as well as do some reconaissance with a JK teacher. Needless to say, the baby won't be an Aidan. Alas. If it's a boy, he'll be Euan. According to results from a google image search, these aidan homonyms are in use:Aidan, Braiden, Caiden, Dayden, Grayden, Hayden, Jaiden, Kaiden, Maiden(?!), Paden, Raiden, Tayden, Vaiden, Zayden. Frankly I was surprised not to find any Craidens, Waydons, Thaydens, Treydens...etc-Mum of either Euan or Isla

By Anonymous (not verified)
September 14, 2005 6:56 PM

So sad. Like a recent poster, I've had Aidan picked out as a name since around 13... or for as long as I knew of Aidan Quinn the actor. Way before this trend. Why, now when I'm having my babies, does this name grow in popularity! I am actually having a girl... but still considering the name Aidan. Silly if I'm worried about to many boys with the same names and rhymed names?

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 28, 2005 11:25 PM

I'm pretty sure that my daughter was the first Madison of the late 80's, It's funny to me how everyone use's the same story on how I came upon the name. Everywhere we travel it's the same story.

By Liam (not verified)
November 14, 2005 1:33 AM

My name is Liam and has been since i was born in 1972, back then there wasn't a famous movie star with whom I shared this name or even a handful of kids at school who had it, yet now the name Liam is also considered trendy. People Please!!!! Trend-Shmend!!! Name your child what you want, dont be influenced by others. If the name happens to be be it. If not, big deal. Kids will always make fun of other kids and there will always be someone who thinks your name is is not the name that makes the person, but rather the person that makes the name. (cliche but true.)

By Anonymous (not verified)
November 19, 2005 5:12 PM

All the variants of Aiden "work" but I have a friend who got one of the popular names of 35 years ago: "Brian." However, his mother misspelled it on the birth certificate and his legal name is "Brain"!