The Fastest-Falling Baby Names of 2011

May 14th 2012

Fast-rising and fast-falling names are not just two sides of the same coin. They have fundamentally different characters.

Names tend to rise in a burst of glory, and fall in a slow, quiet drift. The hottest names may shoot up by 500%, but the fastest fallers seldom lose more than a quarter of their popularity in a year. In terms of storytelling, too, the drama tends to be on the rising side. (Check out this year's hottest names for boys and girls.) The falling names list often feels more wistful than dramatic, with a nostalgia for past glory days.

The fastest-falling names of 2011:

1 Tyler Brisa
2 Diego Alexis
3 Aaden Isabella
4 Angel Shaniya
5 Brett Miley
6 Joshua Kendra
7 Alejandro Brianna
8 Braden Jada
9 Jaden Makayla
10 Ty Danna

Some thoughts:

Brisa: OK, this one's a stumper. Brisa is Spanish for breeze, and with the wildly trendy "bree" sound should be a strong option for non-Spanish speakers, too. It was especially popular in 2009 & 2010, but tumbled in 2011. Why? Readers, can you help? UPDATE: Many thanks to reader Hwar, who tracked the brief rise of Brisa to the 2009 telenovela Verano de Amor. I missed it in my annual telenovela name sweep because the Brisa in question wasn't one of the lead characters, but rather a baby born in the show!

Isabella: That big fall is just from #1 to #2, in a year without a lot of "Twilight" action. In fact, Isabella is still more popular at #2 today than Emma was at #1 a few years ago.

Tyler, Joshua, Alexis, Makayla, Brianna et al: A whole generation of names is starting to turn the corner. For the next edition of the Baby Name Wizard book, I'm creating a new demographic category -- the sound of the 1990s & 2000s.

Miley: Here's my rule of thumb on negative publicity and baby names. A celebrity's press will seldom seldom torpedo their name...unless it was that celebrity who inspired the name's publicity to begin with. The sharp drop in Mileys can be directly attributed to the shifting public image of Miley Cyrus, given that alternate spellings like Mylee barely fell at all.

Braden & Jaden: Is the end of the Age of Aidans nigh? Maybe, but it's not as dramatic as it seems. Both of those names are settling in on "y" spellings (Brayden, Jayden) as standard.

Brett: Quarterback Brett Favre retired in 2011. It appears he took his name with him.


By hwar
May 14, 2012 6:57 PM

I was thinking that Brisa might have something to do with a telenovela character since those names tend to spike when they are popular. There is a Brisa from Por Tu Amor (which aired May-October 1999).  The name entered the top 1000 in the US at that time at #482, then declined quite rapidly (down to 791 in 2008) until 2009 when it jumped up again for two years. Now its popularity is back to 2008 levels. So something definitely happened in 2009 to bring the name back! Yep, another telenovela. Brisa Palma was a character in Verano de Amor, which aired in the spring of 2009.   Now that the show is over, I guess people are forgetting about that character's name!

By hwar
May 14, 2012 7:15 PM

Further poking around reveals that the Brisa in Verano de Amor is a baby that is born during the show!  The 2009 telenovela was a Mexican remake of a 1998-2000 Argentinian telenovela and you can see from the comments on this video from the original program that many people chose to name their baby Brisa due to the show.


May 14, 2012 7:27 PM

Thank you!! I knew about the 1999 Telenovela, but not the 2009. That definitely explains it, I'll made a note in the blog.

May 14, 2012 8:18 PM

Tyler, Joshua, Alexis, Makayla, Brianna defintiely sound like they should be between 10 and 25 years old now. Not babies or toddlers. So, I can totally see why they are falling.

Brett is very very 70's to me. I don't think I know a single Brett under 30 so I'm surprised it's ven held in this long. 

Is there any reason the Hispanic names might be falling? 


By J&H's mom (not verified)
May 14, 2012 8:40 PM

How interesting to think that the names of my 3rd grader's pals are already from another era (at least naming wise)!



By mimie (not verified)
May 14, 2012 8:55 PM

Aaden and Alexis are part of the Gosselin sextuplets, whose family has fallen in popularity and risen in scandal. I'm sure this especially affected the unusual spelling of Aaden

May 14, 2012 9:05 PM

My guess with the Hispanic names is that with the economic situation fewer Hispanics are coming over into the country (with less of a job incentive), and thus naturally fewer of them are giving birth in the U.S.

By Chaires (not verified)
May 14, 2012 10:37 PM

I wonder if the drop in "Shaniya" has anything to with Shaniya Davis, the little girl who was sold by her mother, then raped and murdered. It happened in 2009, but she's the most prominent Shaniya I can think of.

May 14, 2012 10:41 PM

@mimie, oh yes I had thought of the fact that Aaden and Alexis were part of the Gosling set. I think they might have risen in popularity in part due to that show and now they are suffering from the association.

By Andre (not verified)
May 15, 2012 7:00 AM

Apparently the percentage of boys with -ayden names increased again last year to almost 5%. They seem to be spreading out to other letters.

May 15, 2012 8:23 AM

Some more thoughts on the drop in Hispanic names: Normally many of us NEs don't like to discuss politics, but this is one area where the political climate has an effect on a general name cluster (a politician may affect his/her name individually, but not as a whole trend). If we start tightening our borders and/or deporting illegals that will probably drop the Hispanic name count further. What will probably be interesting is if we ever get around to passing a constitutional amendment doing away with automatic citizenship for being born on U.S. soil; I'm placing my bets that most of the Hispanic names will drop A LOT in the year or two (depending on when in the year the amendment takes effect) timeframe when it's implemented.

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 15, 2012 9:47 AM

I agree with KellyXY.  There are some indications that due to the economy in the U.S. immigration has dropped, and in some cases people who were here for the work have returned to Mexico, hence the drop off in these names.

By EVie
May 15, 2012 1:06 PM

There's also the possibility that the names would decline not only as a result of falling numbers of Hispanic immigrants, but also due to perceived hostility in the  political environment. If governements are basically giving the ok to racial profiling like in Arizona, it wouldn't surprise me if people started to think that giving their kids assimilationist names was safer.

In general, though, I wouldn't draw too broad a conclusion from just a handful of falling names—they don't really constitute evidence that Hispanic names as a category are falling, just that those individual names are. There could be many others rising a little bit to fill the gaps.

By Saille (not verified)
May 15, 2012 1:11 PM

That's ridiculous. The US has the 5th largest Spanish speaking population in the world, and most of those have been giving birth in this country, as citizens, for generations. Some have been here before the US annexed territories to create the modern US. Assuming that all Spanish speaking citizens are immigrants coming here for migrant jobs is ignorant.

May 15, 2012 1:52 PM

I'm not saying that all Spanish-speakers in America are recent immigrants, but rather a drop in the numbers that are migrants is enough to cause the noticeable falls mentioned. It's like the names Wattenberg mentioned are going out of fashion; there are still plenty of baby Tylers and Alexises, but since they're past their prime the numbers have dropped enough to show up on this list.

May 15, 2012 1:52 PM

Speaking of eras going in and out of style, with the '90s-type names going out (and as Wattenberg said the subject of a new section in the next edition of BNW), I'm noticing that as the Victorian-era revivals are being played out a revived interest blooming in names from roughly the 1920s-'30s era (and the fustiest cohort of names shifting from those to the Mid-Century group). For example I've seen Gloria and Helen on celebrity babies, and Dorothy re-appeared in the top 1,000 this year. I think over the next few years there may be a growing interest in what Wattenberg calls the "Solid Citizens" genre (and the popularity of Mad Men may also be giving it a boost).

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 15, 2012 2:56 PM

"Assuming that all Spanish speaking citizens are immigrants coming here for migrant jobs is ignorant."


Assuming that other commenters made that assumption is ignorant, as well.

No, not all of the drop can be attributed to that, but some can:  and some can be attributed to assimilation, as well.

May 15, 2012 4:08 PM

...Or perhaps those Hispanic names are going out of fashion in the Spanish-speaking circles, loosing ground to other Hispanic names?



By Guest111 (not verified)
May 15, 2012 5:02 PM


That is quite possible.

Maximiliano jumped 173 spots this time around, Carmelo jumped 197, Matias 140, Vincenzo 124.  And of course Iker jumped 268 spots, as already noted on this blog.


Yes, I do know that those might not be chosen only, exclusively, or even by a majority of Spanish-speaking people.  Just speculating.


Collectively, 4,028 fewer babies were given the names Angel, Luis, Jose, Juan, and Diego in 2011 than in 2010.  These are the names within the top 100 that saw the largest 'ranking' drop among the boys.  If I find the time, I'll play around with my spreadsheet more and see if I can find more information about the risers.

May 15, 2012 5:19 PM

@Guest111 - here's a post from 2009 on the issue of Hispanic names:

By Guest111 (not verified)
May 15, 2012 6:34 PM

Thanks for the reference to the 2009 article.  I wonder if that is stifl true in 2011. 

May 15, 2012 9:23 PM

I like the names Brisa, Makayla, Jada, and Kendra. I can fully understand why the other names are dropping.

By Beth the original (not verified)
May 15, 2012 11:49 PM

Nothing makes me happier than the fastest-falling names list.  I picture a smoldering pile of Tiffanies and Ashleys and Mackenzies and Sophias and TuckerCooperAsherWasherDryerWhatevers. And I await the Gladyses and Vernes and Constances and Stanleys with open arms.

Speaking of which, any little boys being named Maiden yet?  It seems the only letter not taken.





By Beth the original (not verified)
May 15, 2012 11:49 PM

What the heck, babynamewizard?  You ate my whole carefully-crafted comment!

By Beth the original (not verified)
May 15, 2012 11:50 PM

My comments are getting eaten.

By Polly D (not verified)
May 16, 2012 6:21 PM

Now the name Alejandro makes the news.  I was waiting to see if the Lady Gaga song would propel the name to popularity in 2010.  It looks like there was a brief spike in the name that year, and that it's dropped down since then.

By kathryn119 (not verified)
May 17, 2012 5:59 PM

I don't think hispanic names are falling, it's just hispanic parents are chosing different or less traditional names. I talk babynames at my doctor's office with the nurses, I'm in SoCal, so there's a lot of hispanic kids, not all recent immigrants. They've noticed fewer hispanics are using the same few names, ie less Joses, Juans and Miguels, more Sebastians, Cristians and Matteos. Other names with big gains on the 2011 aren't always identified as being used by a lot of hispanic people, like Abel, Adriel, and Felix.

By mama2clara (not verified)
May 18, 2012 1:42 AM

The names that are falling sound about right. My sister is nearly 21 and her name is Brianna. And I can see where spanish names might be falling out of popularity, being hispanic, myself. We named our daughter Clara, but our son is Caleb. I also know a lot of my friends and family were going with more trendy or unique names,rather than ones from our heritage.

May 22, 2012 1:32 PM

It is amazing how fast trends go these days. I used to think of the group of girls' names like Hayley, McKenzie, Dakota, Ashley, Brianna, Samantha, Hannah, as baby names. Now they are teenager names, they are everywhere in junior high and high school, less so in birth announcements. Boys names in that generation would be Tyler, Dylan, Carter, Tanner, Hunter, Luke, Max, Jake. These former favorite baby names are now the sound of a youth generation!

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By jams
April 2, 2014 3:06 AM

Names tend to rise in a burst of glory, and fall in a slow, quiet drift. The hottest names may shoot up by 500%, but the fastest fallers seldom lose more than a quarter of their popularity in a year

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April 12, 2014 5:02 AM

 I missed it in my annual telenovela name sweep because the Brisa in question wasn't one of the lead characters, but rather a baby born in the show.    web design

May 3, 2014 5:07 AM

Names tend to rise in a burst of glory, and fall in a slow, quiet drift. The hottest names may shoot up by 500%,


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May 12, 2014 3:36 AM

 The falling names list often feels more wistful than dramatic, with a nostalgia for past glory days.   Katie Yeakle

May 29, 2014 2:24 AM

 The hottest names may shoot up by 500%, but the fastest fallers seldom lose more than a quarter of their popularity in a year.



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