The fastest rising baby names of the year

May 9th 2008

Looking for a hot baby name? Look for a hot babe -- preferably one who sings. The top five fastest rising baby names of 2007 were all inspired by attractive female celebrities, the top four of them singers. According the the official Baby Name Wizard Hotness Formula, the hottest rising names in America are:

#1: Miley
Unranked last year, Miley made an extraordinary debut at #278. It's no secret why: 2007 was the Year of Miley, as young Miley Cyrus and her Hannah Montana alter ego swept the nation. The outpouring of namesakes won't surprise regular readers of this blog, who made Miley their top pick as a hot name in the Baby Name Pool. Take a bow, gentle readers! That's two years in a row you've hit the bullseye on the #1 hottest name.

#2: Kingston
Celebrity baby names attract a lot of attention, but not so many namesakes. (It's usually the celebs themselves who do that.) Kingston is an exception. Singer Gwen Stefani's son was born in 2006 and squeaked onto the name charts that year, but in his first full year in the world his name truly took hold. The ingredients of Kingston's appeal: a place name, ending in the uber-popular letter n, with the ultimate power nickname of King. If Stefani would just have a few more kids, she might give Angelina Jolie a run for her money as America's queen of baby name style.

#3: Mylee
...and Mylie ranked #24 on the hot list. You get the picture.

#4: Jordin
At age 17, Jordin Sparks became the youngest ever champion of American Idol. A big part of her appeal was being just plain nice. It must have been easy for expectant parents to say "yeah, I'd like a daughter like that!" But there's another secret to her name's appeal. Sparks established her name as a feminine spelling of the androgynous Jordan. In fact, while the young singer sent Jordin soaring, Jordan-with-an-a declined as a girl's name--and rose for boys. Ah, the power of reality tv. Which brings us to #5:

#5. Jaslene
Ladies and gentlemen, another champion! Jaslene Gonzalez was the popular winner of America's Next Top Model, and has been gracing billboards and magazine covers ever since. As the first Puerto Rican winner of the contest, she surely inspired many Puerto Rican namesakes. But watch out, Jaslenes. Unusual names sparked by reality tv may rise fast, but they fall fast you'll see when I introduce the top falling names of the year.


By Patricia (not verified)
May 9, 2008 7:59 PM

I wonder how many parents of a little Mylie or Mylee know that Miley Cyrus' name started out as a cute baby nickname for a "Smiley" (Smiley, Miley...) little girl named Destiny? I can't help but hear "(s)Miley" when I think of that name.

By Amy3 (not verified)
May 9, 2008 9:02 PM

Jaslene? Wow, I can't really get behind that one. It makes me think of Vaseline, although I realize the pronunciation is different. It just has a product-y sound to it IMO.

By Tirzah (not verified)
May 9, 2008 9:14 PM

I noticed Giselle, the name from the Disney movie Enchanted, jumped from #168 to #134. Considering that Enchanted was released in November 2007, I bet there will be an even bigger jump next year!

By Tirzah (not verified)
May 9, 2008 9:35 PM

Ooo, remember when we were talking about Olive as being a retro hipster name? Olive has debuted at 999 for the first time since the 1940's!

By Blythe (not verified)
May 9, 2008 9:43 PM

Addison and Jayden both had MASSIVE jumps, too, from #28 to #11 for Addison and from #49 to #18 for Jayden. Does Britney really have that much positive influence left?!

By Patricia (not verified)
May 9, 2008 10:01 PM

As I just posted under Laura's previous post (The top names of 2007): ... when all 10 ways Aidan is spelled are combined, Aidan/Aiden was the most popular boys' name in the USA in 2007.

I combined a few other top names too, and it looks like Jayden, also in 10 forms, is number 2.

Will Jayden be the #1 'spoken' name for 2008?

May 9, 2008 10:03 PM

psst...the NameVoyager has been updated...

By Harriet (not verified)
May 9, 2008 10:35 PM

Wow, what an amazing reflection of today's pop culture! Can't wait for further analysis.

Weird, I think of Jordin as a boy's spelling...I guess it's just my personal experience, though.

And Mylee? Ew....

By Amber (not verified)
May 9, 2008 10:49 PM

A small request for next year- can we break out top risers and fallers by gender for the baby name pool (3 risers and fallers for each girls and boys- 6 total picks)? We all know that girls names fluctuate much more than boys. I'd love to know what the hottest boys names are.

By Harriet (not verified)
May 9, 2008 10:56 PM

And hey--John rose from 20 to 19! Jack, on the other hand, fell from 35 to 38. I wonder how many Johns will be called Jack? I also find it interesting that Zoe fell while Zoey rose. Zayden shot up too, Hillary actually rose from 982 to 960--I had been expecting it to fall, at least because it's just so charged now. Barack isn't on the list, but Brock rose from 261 to 259...related? Hm. Any theories?

Thanks, Ms. Wattenberg, for updating the NameVoyager! Although I can totally see myself spending most of this weekend playing with it instead of studying for my AP test....

By Patricia (not verified)
May 9, 2008 11:08 PM

Harriet, I meant to look for Barack too but hadn't done so yet. I thought Barack would make the list, but then again, I don't think Sen. Obama was all that well known until he won the Iowa caucus in Jan. of 2008. I'm betting Barack will be in the top 1000 for 2008.

By Patricia (not verified)
May 10, 2008 12:11 AM

I just noticed that Sophie made a really big jump -- from 124 to 82, up 42 places. One of my granddaughters is called Sophie, given name Sophia (sometimes called Sophia too). I love the name!

By JN (not verified)
May 10, 2008 12:26 AM

It looks like the -ew ending for boys dropped in popularity (Andrew, Matthew). Probably because of the rise of the all-powerful -en?

For girls, I wonder if Matt Damon's good year rubbed off here. I think he named his daughter Isabella.

As a parent who prefers less popular/trendy names, I just can't understand why parents would choose Mylie or Shiloh. It just seems so... obvious... so wannabe pop culture (not sure what word I'm looking for here).

I did terribly in the contest because I was so distracted by names *I* liked, I convinced myself that surely they would be risers. :)

By Jessica (not verified)
May 10, 2008 12:46 AM

Miley was so obvious that it feels anti-climatic. O well...

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
May 10, 2008 6:55 AM

My kids have private nicknames within the family. I would never want them to become famous and be known by those names! Well, I actually never want them to become famous, and will discourage them from becoming performers for that reason--is that too terrible? But Eo, if your son were to become famous, I can see Banks inspiring other parents to honor their children with his name.

By Blythe (not verified)
May 10, 2008 10:06 AM

half an hour with Excel on this beautiful saturday are the new names/names back in the top 1000 this year. If I made mistakes, sorry!

Zaniya, Zaniyah, Yamilet, Sky, Shirley, Shiloh, Olive, Mylie, Mylee, Miley, Maryjane, Marlen, Maren, Marely, Madilynn, Londyn, Lillianna, Kylah, Kelis, Joseline, Jordin, Jocelynn, Jazlynn, Jaylen, Jaslene, Jailyn, Jaeda, Ireland, Hayleigh, Graciela, Giuliana, Giada, Evie, Emmy, Diya, Dixie, Devyn, Delia, Celine, Azul, Azaria, Audrina, Antonia, Anabel, Alyvia, Allyssa, Aliana, Alannah, Adelyn, Adalyn.

Yurem, Yael, Vince, Turner, Tegan, Slade, Ronin, Rishi, Reilly, Rayan, Raiden, Nikolai, Nery, Mariano, Madden, Lyric, Kingston, Killian, Kelton, Kellan, Kelan, Jayvon, Jayvion, Jaydan, Jax, Jarvis, Jaren, Jaidyn, Jagger, Isaak, Immanuel, Fisher, Fletcher, Emery, Elvin, Eliseo, Eliezer, Dimitri, Dereon, Dax, Daxton, Bentley, Amos, Amarion and Adin.

Now I have to go google all the ones I really don't get- Azaria (as in Hank?!), Diya, Yamilet, Zaniya, Nery, Madden (as in, what a teenager does to his parents?), Elvin and Dax...what the heck!

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
May 10, 2008 10:41 AM

The bottom of the list does strike me as being a sci fi writer's treasure trove. Dax makes me think of "Deep Space Nine".

Raiden? That's an interesting addition to the Aidan/Jayden names, isn't it?

Yamilet is a name Hispanic families use. I've heard it more than once, so while I don't think it's common in Spanish-speaking countries, it's not weird either.

By Kimberly (not verified)
May 10, 2008 11:26 AM

Raiden, Johnny Cage, Scorpion, Sub-Zero! Mortal Kombat! Okay, little kids might not immediately think that, but sheesh!

Actually, the one that surprised me was Eliezer.

By Valerie (not verified)
May 10, 2008 11:57 AM

Thanks so much, Blythe! I have to say "Uuuurgh" to most of those!! Particularly Jazlynn, Londyn... pretty well all those with y's. I actually think the girls' list is worse than the boys'. Of the girls' names, the ones I prefer are Sky, and then Graciela and Azul, but I probably wouldn't use the latter two unless I were Hispanic.

Yes, Yamilet is Hispanic- I had a darling little Kindergartener with that name this year, so I have a fondness, at least for her, if not the name- too much like omelette for me.

Of the boys' names, I like the ones with a real pedigree, i.e. used historically in a non- Anglo culture- Yael, Nikolai, Mariano, Isaak, Immanuel, etc. Not keen on Jax, Dax, Raiden, Jayvon (they sound like fly killers or detergents). I wonder how many kids were called Jayvon for it to hit the top 1000....

By Jennifer (not verified)
May 10, 2008 11:58 AM

I put the list into Excel and sorted alphabetically. The J and K section were so bad they made my eyes water. What are we doing to our children?

Top 20, modified for spelling but not sound:

1 29371 Aiden
2 26148 Jayden
3 24980 Jacob
4 22261 Michael
5 21303 Christopher
6 20992 Ethan
7 20254 Joshua
8 19869 Daniel
9 19332 Matthew
10 19316 Anthony
11 18595 William
12 18486 Nicholas
13 18246 Alexander
14 18157 Andrew
15 17429 Caden
16 17268 Christian
17 17182 David
18 17018 Joseph
19 16796 Jonathan
20 16373 Noah

1 22778 Sophia
2 22152 Emily
3 20974 Isabella
4 20326 Madison
5 18233 Olivia
6 18127 Emma
7 17865 Ava
8 17619 Hailey
9 16841 Abigail
10 15379 Kaitlyn
11 14979 Brianna
12 14529 Addison
13 14466 Hannah
14 14060 Jasmine
15 13761 Sarah
16 13440 Elizabeth
17 12786 Ashley
18 12440 Natalie
19 12407 Alyssa
20 12159 Madeline

By Valerie (not verified)
May 10, 2008 11:59 AM

BTW, Yamilet has an older sister Lizet and a baby sister Miriam. Cute sib set.... or maybe I just love those kids!

By Susan (not verified)
May 10, 2008 2:27 PM

Blythe--fascinating list. Thanks!

BTW--Dax Shepard is a comedian/actor, who was on MTV's Punk'd for awhile; I saw him in gossip mags all the time last year--he was dating Kate Hudson at one point.

Madden is probably inspired by Joel and Benji Madden, twin brothers in the band Good Charlotte. One of them is the father of Nicole Richman's baby (Harlow Winter Kate Madden, if I remember correctly); the other brother was dating Paris Hilton last I heard, but that's probably over by now.

Jennifer--thanks for the excel list; I always prefer to see the ranks when spellings are combined--it gives a more accurate picture of how many kids with the same spoken name will be in classroom.

By Susan (not verified)
May 10, 2008 2:27 PM

oops--I meant Nicole Ritchie's baby
(not Richman)

By Jill C. (not verified)
May 10, 2008 5:18 PM

Didn't Zayden debut in 2006? Now Raiden in 2007...Any guesses for what will jump on the list for 2008? Paydon? Spaden? I really am surprised that Graydon isn't on the list, especially when Grady and Grayson (2 spellings!) are.

Ok, back to my spreadsheet!

By Blythe (not verified)
May 10, 2008 5:28 PM

Well, I've duly done my googling (I feel like that's actually a line from a TV show?), and am significantly more enlightened when it comes to both Hispanic culture and the entertainment industry.

One that struck me on the boys' list of newbies is Killian- yes, it's Gaelic, but why that one? Around here I'm more likely to hear a little Ewan/Ewen or Seamus/Hamish than a Killian/Cillian.

On the girl's side, the presence of Jaslene and Audrina made me wonder if we're seeing the very beginning of a revival of the -lene/ene and -ina suffix.

...and I totally, totally lost that Ava bet. Bother.

By Blythe (not verified)
May 10, 2008 5:48 PM

And, I PROMISE this is my last excel- generated comment, but: I just added together the "aidan" rhyming names in the top 100 alone- Aidan, Aiden, Kaden, Caden, Hayden, Brayden, Jaden and Jayden...and got a grand total of 65 242. Almost thrice the number of Jacobs.

Add that to the myriad below the top 100 and we've got to be close to the proportions named "John" each year in the first half of the century...the american SSA should definitely start ranking things differently!

By Jill C. (not verified)
May 10, 2008 6:29 PM

OK, could this be right? I added ALL of the names that rhyme with Aidan on the list (including the newest, Raiden), and got 93,315 baby boys. Yikes.

By Blythe (not verified)
May 10, 2008 7:10 PM

*eats words*

Jill C.- I got the same number. That's slightly higher than proportion called John in 1920! 5.34% vs 5.17%.

By Sushila O'Malley (not really) (not verified)
May 10, 2008 7:59 PM

Oooh, Diya! I know a second-grader named Diya. She was given the name because she was born during Diwali, the Indian festival of lights--a "diya" is the traditional oil-lamp that's often seen during that holiday. So think of it as the Indian equivalent of "Lucy" (light) or "Helen" (light). It's also easy enough for most Westerners to say and spell, and rhymes with familiar names like Mia and Lea--so it's a comfortable choice for Indian girls growing up in Anglo places. Especially if they're born during Diwali!

BUT--there's also a Bollywood star and former beauty queen named Diya (or Dia) Mirza--which is another source of its current popularity, I suspect:

By Harriet (not verified)
May 10, 2008 8:44 PM

Wow...let's all email the SSA telling them to change (or expand) their ranking system. Seriously, here's the link:

It probably won't do anything, but hey, it can't hurt to try, and who knows?

By Patricia (not verified)
May 10, 2008 9:38 PM

Thanks for the list of newcomers/returners to the top 1000. It would be interesting to know where new names are coming from and what percent from each source. Can someone group them into categories such as 1. retro names (Shirley, Dixie...); 2. names from Hispanic and other non-English speaking cultures; 3. surnames/trade names (Kingston, Fisher...); 4. non-standard spellings; 5. pop culture; 6. source unfathomable, etc.?

As for the rhyming names -- Aidan, Jayden, Hayden, Kaden, Braden, etc., I don't think they can be counted together and said to outnumber John in it's centuries 'reign' as the #1 male name. The rhyming names are separate name groups (the Aidans, the Jaydens, etc.) even though they rhyme, just as Don, Lon, Ron rhyme with John/Jon but are not counted as one name.

It would be interesting to check the order in which the rhyming 'aidan' names entered the top 1000: which group was represented first, second, third and fourth, etc. -- the Haydens, Bradens, Aidans, Jaydens, etc? Has anyone been following this? (When a friend named her son Braden in the early 1980s I had never heard the name before. I knew of one Hayden -- popular university football coach, but had no inkling of Aidan, Jayden, Kaden etc. at that time.)

Finally, you suggested that "the american SSA should definitely start ranking things differently." I like the way SSA ranks baby names because the names are ranked objectively, with the opportunity for others to redefine the data in whatever ways they want -- like combining names by sound -- thanks to the SSA not only ranking the names but giving the total number of instances for each name found in their data. Also, most names *do have* a preferred English spelling -- sometimes more than one, particularly if an old name influenced by other languages (Ann/French Anne; Katherine/French Catherine...). For me those traditional spellings are part of my perception of any name, e.g., Elizabeth - yes; Continental Elisabeth - yes; non-standard spelling Alizabeth -- no: sounds like Elizabeth, but does not *look* the way the historic name Elizabeth should.

It has occurred to me that were the SSA to group names by pronunciation, not spelling, some of us on the board would be busy going the other way with the data, trying to discern which identical names -- same sound *and* spelling -- are the most popular. :)

By Miriam (not verified)
May 10, 2008 9:54 PM

Re Yael (see Blythe's list of "new" names):

I am only familiar with that name as the feminine biblical name. Does anyone know what to what culture/language a masculine Yael belongs? Or are we seeing this Hebrew biblical name make an unusual change from feminine to masculine?

By Patricia (not verified)
May 10, 2008 10:35 PM

Jennifer, Thanks for combining various spellings and giving us an alternate list of the 20 most popular names. Last evening I combined the top boys' names -- by hand and with a calculator -- to find the top 10 by pronunciation. I came up with the same results as you for 1-8, but had Matthew and Anthony reversed: I must have missed a Matthew spelling. The names of 9 of our 10 young grandsons (6 3/4 years old down to 1 month) are in the SSA top 25 names, and I wanted to determine the ranking of the missing name -- Aidan -- when spellings are combined. I wasn't surprised that Aidan is, yet again, the number 1 boys' name. Now 9 of the names are on your combined spellings top 20, but James is missing. (I'm guessing James is in the next 5???)

I've been wondering both *why* (especially why) and how parents come up with ever increasing ways to spell a popular name. When my grandson Aidan was born in 2001, there were 'only' 4 ways to spell Aidan in the top 1000: Aidan, Aiden, Ayden, Adan (in that order), for a total of 7,157 baby boys named Aidan that year. By 2007 there were *10* forms of Aidan -- now more frequently Aiden -- in the top 1000, for a total of 29,371 baby boys answering to the spoken name Aidan. So far top 1000 ways to spell Aidan (the standard spelling according to every name book I've seen) are Aidan, Aiden, Aidyn; Ayden, Aydan, Aydin; Adan, Aden, Adin; Aedan. I can think of lots more possibilities and combinations: first syllable Ai, Ay, A, Ae, with d_n -- put in any of the 5 vowels or y; plus one could throw in an extra 'd' or 'n', making limitless ways to try to make one's own baby Aidan different from all the rest (or something???). Oxford says of Aidan (as the name is listed), "Anglicized form of the ancient Gaelic name Aedan" and gives Aedan and Aiden as variants. Wouldn't three spellings of the name be enough? Apparently not!

By Patricia (not verified)
May 10, 2008 11:21 PM

Further thoughts about SSA changing or expanding their ranking system to include groupings of names that sound alike but are spelled differently: I don't think that can be done objectively. Some names may seem to be the same as another name, but actually are pronounced differently at least by some of the parents who bestowed the name. Adan is an example: Cleveland Kent Evans says in his Great Big Book of Baby Names: "As the Spanish form of Adam, Adan (pronounced: ah-DAHN) has been found on the lower half of the SSA list since the 1940s. But its recent sharp increase probably means that many non-Hispanic parents are using it as another spelling of Aidan." Thus, we have no way of knowing if boys named Adan are called "ah-DAHN" or exactly the same sound as Aidan.

The list of combined spellings of the 2006 SSA top 1000 names on the name nerds website is interesting and helpful, but I noticed two girls names that are particularly confusing: Mia/Maya and Ciara/Keira/Sierra. In that compiling Mia has no alternate spellings, while Maya has several -- some of which may actually be called "Mia" at least by some parents who chose those spellings: Miah in particular. Oxford gives the name Ciara as a "modern Irish coinage" with the anglicized forms Kiara(h) and Kiera. Thus, Ciara is not correctly pronounced the same as Sierra, yet some American parents do so. In the name nerds combined list, #74 is Keira, Kyra, Kira; 88 is Sierra, Ciara, Cierra; and 116 is Kiara, Kiera, Kierra. Oxford says Ciara is the same as Kiera, which I've read was the birth spelling of actress Keira Knightley's name, which she changed so it would be pronounced correctly as KEER-a. I find it very helpful that name nerds gives all forms and the name and number of them for each name ranking -- eg. "Sophia (13313), Sofia (5008)" -- so that other "name nerds" can recalculate the list according to their own perceptions of which spellings are the same name and which are not.

I'm glad the SSA data is objective. It does have some grouping of spellings when you search for a particular name, e.g., searching for Sophia brings up the "similar female name Sofia".

By Valerie (not verified)
May 11, 2008 2:21 AM

Miriam- the only Yael I've met was a Jewish boy.

By Jennifer (not verified)
May 11, 2008 2:24 AM

Patricia, that dilemma comes into play with 2 other names that I can think of. One, there's Layla/Laila/Leila/Lila. I grouped them all together, even though I would pronounce the first 2 as lay-la and the last 2 as lie-la. Second, there's Ciara. Some parents would pronounce this the Gaelic way - KEER-a, while what I think is the majority would say Sierra. I grouped it with the Sierras.

As a second thought, I do believe that the Kadens/Jaydens of this generation are fundamentally different from the Lons and Dons of the past. Then, all of those rhyming nicknames stemmed from unique, known first names - Leonard, Donald, Ronald. Now, they all stem from Aidan+add a consonant, with the exception of Hayden. We see the same phenomenon among the girls. In the past, it was all endings - Kathleen (Katherine), Doreen (Dora or Dorothy), Marlene (Mary), Pauline (Paula). Now, they all stem from Caitlin: Kaylin, Kayla, Kyla, Kylie, Kaylie, etc, and those have slowly morphed into Hailey, Bailey, Brylee, Jaylin, etc. with the same trends among the boys ultimately coming from that bellwether Caitlin.

Third, James is #21, followed by Ryan, Logan, Jackson, Caleb, Dylan, John, Tyler, Nathan and Samuel (#30). Brayden is #32 and Hayden is #77.

When I combined the names, I did not combine them as Sophie Sofia and Sophia as the same name. I left Sophie separate. Same thing with Isabel/la, Anabel/Annabella and Lillian/Lilliana. I made a separate sheet where I combined the families together, and the top 10 didn't change that much, although 11-30 sure did. Let's just say I won't be naming my next daughter Lillian, Lily or Lila any time soon.

By AJ (not verified)
May 11, 2008 7:03 AM

Don't forget the twins!
Apparently, if you have twin girls, you must name one Madison.

Well, Cordelia isn't there yet, but I think it's safe to say the "Buffy" fans are mating as Xander keeps holding on after its 2003 peak. I wish I knew how many of the Alexanders are Xanders by nn. The full name wasw the character's birth name, too, BTW. As mom of a Xavier, I see the Xander parents just trying to horn in on our cool X action. ;-P
I wonder if Xavier, now up to #68, is still as "black" as the Freakonomics guys claimed in their book? I chose it in part to signify our part African-American heritage, but think the X factor is making it hotter for others. I can't believe more than 6000 were born last year, way more than Javier, even though Javiers are geographically concentrated enough to show up on some states' Top 100 lists. I think Xavier will get an anglophone boost in Canada after the Oct 18 birth of Xavier Trudeau. (It's mainly a francophone name, #15 in Quebec.)
No Xayden cracking the Top 1000...yet.

You know, I know we've identified Ms. Witherspoon's daughter Ava as part of the trend, not the start of it, but I still think she has a huge naming influence. Her son's name, Deacon, has had a huge jump (perhaps bigger if you only look at the South), and Reese as a girl's name (#150)? Gotta be her. I think she nudged Ava a bit further along.

I googled Zaniya(h) and found it to be both a traditional African name and Lakota for healthy.

A few months ago some here discussed which "Battlestar Galactica" names might break out, but Kara fell again in 2007. I do wonder if Cally's recently revealed full name Calandra might appeal to some?

By Sarah (not verified)
May 11, 2008 7:12 AM

Killian - I love this name. You find it across Celtic cultures - my Breton friend who is due next month is likely to choose this if it's a boy. I would guess it's becoming popular now in America for two reasons. One: Cillian Murphy, the pretty Irish actor, although it's been spelled with the K so you don't have to spend your life saying 'hard c!' (Cian/Kian is another alternative off the top of my head.)
The second, and more likely? Killian's Irish Red. A newer addition to the Coors stable of beers.
When you consider that a character named Chardonnay on British TV inspired several hundred namesakes, it could be so much worse!!

By Patricia (not verified)
May 11, 2008 8:26 AM


I see your point that John, Ron, Don, Lon of the past are fundamentally different from Aidan, Jayden, Caden etc. of today. Still, I don't see how any group of rhyming names can be counted together and compared to any single name, like John.

It seems to me that to be as accurate as possible about how the Aidan, etc. phenomenon came about, one would have to do some research to find out when and why the various similar sounding forms became popular.

Here's when and in what form Aidan etc. first made the top 1000 (and stayed in the top 1000):

1974 Braden
1986 Hayden
1990 Aidan
1992 Caden
1994 Jayden/Jaden

To look at where these names originated, I turned to "The Great Big Book of Baby Names" by Cleveland Kent Evans, Ph.D.:

Braden (1974) - "Irish Gaelic...rapidly growing popularity as parents discovered it as an alternative for Brandon and Brian... it has been overtaken by its own alernatives, Aidan, Jayden, and Caden."

Hayden (1986) - "Old English place name or Irish Gaelic.. came out of nowhere in 1990... must have been inspired by the character of the TV series 'Coach'..."

Aidan (1990) - "Gaelic... St. Aidan... Though this name was well known to church historians and Episcopal priests, hardly any American boys were named Aidan before 1990... Aidan then exploded... Aidan combines the popular sounds parents are looking for along with an ancient Celtic past that legitimized it for those who wouldn't think of using a recent invention like Jayden... But the sound is more important, which is shown by Aiden, Aden, Aydan, Ayden and Aydin all separately among the top 1,000 names of 2004..."

Caden (1992) - "form of 'McAdiain,' "son of Adam," Irish and Scottish surname... a formerly rare name that exploded in popularity because it blends the sounds of other popular names like Caleb and Hayden..."

Jayden (1994) - "A man named barely mentioned in the [Bible], but as the biblical spelling started to advance after Jaden and Jayden were already popular, it's unlikely to be the real source of the modern name. Rather, Jayden is an example of a name invented from other popular sounds, probably by blending Jason and Braden..."

The huge popularity of the rhyming Braden/Hayden/Aidan, etc. names have played off each other and inspired even more names in this group by changing the spelling or adding a letter (Zayden, Raiden), but still they seem very different to me when one looks at both sound *and* their etymology. I think they can be grouped as a sound pattern, but I question the validity of comparing the popularity of any *group* of names to that of any single sound name like John/Jon.

I find your groupings interesting. I think it's helpful when anyone combines and ranks names by sound to know what names were considered to belong to each group. Deciding which names are pronounced the same is often subjective, sometimes regional, and could even be a matter of who one knows with a name of that spelling.

I'm glad the folks at SSA rank the names by spelling only. I think everyone can agree that Kate is always Kate, but may disagree on whether Kiera, Keira, Kira and Kyra are pronounced exactly the same.

By AJ (not verified)
May 11, 2008 8:41 AM

For fun comparisons, you can try the updated 2007 name list for Quebec
Click on "Banque de prenoms"
You can search and get numbers for a name, but most fun is to get the entire listing. 7900 boys names and 8900 girls names. They give separate listings for compound names, so there's Marc and then 127 Marc-Antoines. The real fun is when you skip to the end and can see the many names that were given to one and only one baby in 2007, listed alphabetically. My fave so far? KEANU-KIEFER. Someone needs to step away from the celeb mags. ;-) (Both of those stars have ties to Canada, BTW.) There's a Condoleezza, too.
The latter part of the list also shows the diversity in Quebec, too, with Chinese, South Asian, Latino, Inuit, and African names making appearances.
Some other Canuck provinces might offer full listings like this, but I think Quebec is the most fun because of the compound names listed separately and because the lists for anglophone provinces often look like the US list minus the Latino names and with the Irish names all bumped up 20 spaces. ;-) (As in, I know three Canadian Declans, all under age 3, but have yet to meet an American one, even though the name is rising in the US.)
You can also see all the official misspellings (meaning I tihnk the person recording the name erred, not the parents, as in the case of Ms. Winfrey being named Orpah but being recorded Oprah), like "Oiivier" for "Olivier."
What name horrors might we find in the SSA list if we could see the singletons?

Going back to the SSA, I think Benjamin & Jacob are my favorite twin pair on the list. Related, by not cheezy (Hope & Faith) or starting with the same letter (90% of the list). Even the nicks, Ben & Jake, sound good together.

By Patricia (not verified)
May 11, 2008 9:15 AM

Current Newsweek article on naming:

Nicked Names: How popularity lists are changing the way parents pick names for their kids.

Laura Wattenberg was interviewed for the article.

The [Vancouver, BC] Sun launches online baby database

By Jennifer (not verified)
May 11, 2008 10:53 AM

I'm sorry. I didn't make myself clear last night. While I know Jadon is Biblical and Aidan is Gaelic and I met a 60+yo the other day named Braden, I was really trying to get at the bellwether aspect of these names' popularity, not their origins.

If you look at NameVoyager, Caitlin spawned it all. It appeared in the 1970s and spiked in the 80's. Katelyn and Kaitlyn appeared in the 80's and spiked in the early 90's. Kayla, Kylie, McKenna, etc all did not exist until AFTER the Kaitlyn spike. By the mid-90's, it seems people had latched onto the bell-tones, particularly the -AY sound, and while Ashley and Courtney and Brittany started to fall, that -ee ending sound hung on. Thus, we started seeing the Kaylies in the mid-90's. Just like Caitlin, but new! and different! From there, we see a strong surge of similar sound-alikes. Bailey (ca 200) Hailey (ca 2003) and now Jaylee. Also, the sounds start including other letters - Braleigh, Brylie and Kayla - Jayla - Ayla and now Layla for girls, plus things like Jaylin. No surprise that the boys would follow the same trends. First Aidan (2003), then Brayden (2005), then Kaden (2006) and now Jayden (2007). Not to mention the creative folks choosing things such as Raiden, Mayden, Zayden and Sladen, all of which NEVER would have appeared prior to 2004.

By Amy3 (not verified)
May 11, 2008 11:03 AM

Getting back to Yael, I've only ever known this as a name for girls.

By Amy3 (not verified)
May 11, 2008 11:17 AM

The statistical analysis many of you bring to bear on this discussion is amazing! I'm glad someone else has the inclination to do this. I love hearing about it, but I'd never have the patience to actually *do* it.

By Eo (not verified)
May 11, 2008 12:00 PM

Golly, do you think so, Elizabeth T.? That's nice of you! I'm with you in not wanting my child to be famous, unless it's for discovering cures for things or writing high-minded books, like theological tomes!

I can't think of that many people whose nickname achieves fame, although there are many-- "Ali" (Alice) McGraw is one. I kind of like it when people use their initials only, like "P.D. James".
Banks has a lot of them, but I think it would sound nice, if unwieldy: B.H.P.O. Lastname!

By Megan W. (not verified)
May 11, 2008 12:13 PM

Thanks to the many for the great analysis. I'm enjoying it tremendously.

I have to laugh everytime I hear Aidan. It is uber-popular in my neighborhood, causing me to dislike it, even though otherwise it is a fine name.

I mentioned this to my mom, who said "What a funny name to be popular. In my day, nobody named their kid Aidan because the only Aidans were FOB (fresh off the boat). And NOBODY wants to be named like that."

Likewise, she never felt Patrick was an appropriate name because the stereotypical Irish Paddy was too stong an association for her.

By Susan (not verified)
May 11, 2008 12:28 PM

Regarding the grouping of rhyming names, Patricia said:
"but I question the validity of comparing the popularity of any *group* of names to that of any single sound name like John/Jon."

From a personal perspective, I find that info really useful when I'm trying to pick out future names, because, as a substitute teacher, I'm typically faced with a class of kids named Aiden, Jaden, etc. and I find it very difficult to keep them straight--I call Aiden Braden and I call Jaden Caden...And then there will also be Lily, Lila, Layla, and Liliana, or Mia, Maya, and Mina--and even though they are each disctinctive, lovely names in their own right, when they're grouped together in a classroom, they run the risk of starting to all run together and become a tongue-tying mess. All of which has made me decide that I would prefer to name my kids a name that didn't fall into a popular rhyming group or "similarly spelled" group.

For people who aren't exposed to large groups of kids on a daily basis, this probably isn't a factor in their name-choosing, but it is for me, so I'm happy when someone does the work of grouping these "families", subjective as they are.

I think it's kind of sad, though, that I'm depriving myself of many wonderful names by knocking out any rhyming/similar spellings names--my pool of possible names is getting so small! (I guess that makes the ultimate decision easier, though).

By RobynT (not verified)
May 11, 2008 12:31 PM

Madden could also be influenced by John Madden, the guy that the football video game is named after. I guess he's a player. Or even Steve Madden, the trendy women's shoe brand. Okay that is less likely I think.

By RobynT (not verified)
May 11, 2008 12:42 PM

One of my friend's who is expecting is considering Peyton, as in Manning. Similar to the -den trend.

I agree that Killian could also be (at least somewhat) inspired by the beer. (fortunately/unfortunately) I think that is a category of baby naming: Margarita, Chivas, Alize, I'm sure there are more just can't think of them now.

As for the -lene/-leen/-line ending, I feel like it is so old-fashioned sounding. -lena/-lina are cute, but without the -a sounds very much like a diner waitress. But I think the thing that comes back is always the thing that seemed the most far-fetched just a little while ago.

By Patricia (not verified)
May 11, 2008 12:56 PM

Today's NY Times' short article about 2007 SSA baby names includes the observation:

"Also popular in 2007 were names for girls that were based on spiritual and philosophical concepts. Rising to No. 31 was Nevaeh, or ''heaven'' spelled backwards; it previously ranked 43rd. Also represented in 2007 were Destiny (No. 41); Trinity (No. 72); Serenity (No. 126); Harmony (No. 315) and Miracle (No. 461). Cutting against the trend was Armani (No. 971).

Parents were less likely to name their sons based on spiritual concepts, although the 2007 list includes Sincere (No. 622) and Messiah (No. 723)."