The Shape of Boys' Names: An Update on the Age of Aidan

May 16th 2012

Once upon a time -- not so very long ago -- parents were super conservative with boys' names. Even as trendy girls' names began to rise and fall, you could count on the classic English kingly names to rule the boys' chart. Compare the top 5 boys and girls of 1947:



The girls' list is recognizably American Baby Boom. As for the boys...well, check out the top 5 boys' names in London in the year 1260, per Douglas Galbi:


How many styles can say they've held steady for 7 centuries? In the space of the past two generations, though, that rock-solid name base has started to melt away. Parents no longer feel bound by age-old tradition in naming their sons. As tradition gives way, something has to take its place, and that something turns out to be pure fashion.

My shorthand for the power of boys' name fashion has been names rhyming with Aidan (Jaden, Kayden, Braidyn, etc.). When I started tracking "The Age of Aidans" in 2003, 28 Aidan rhymes Aidan ranked among the top 1,000 American boys' names. That number rapidly climbed, and has been holding steady around 40-41.

In 2011 the Aidans showed their first small decline to 37. Don't expect revolution, though; this change looks like a very gradual evolution. As the -den names have slid, names ending in -ton have risen to keep pace.

In fact, the pure rhyming names are just the tip of the iceberg. I first charted the extraordinary rise of -n names for boys back in 2007. Here's the historical view again, 5 years later:

American Boys Born, By Last Letter of Name, Year 1900

American Boys Born By Last Letter of Name, Year 1900

American Boys Born, By Last Letter of Name, Year 1950

American Boys Born, By Last Letter of Name, Year 2011

The takeaway message seems to be: The more things change, the more they sound the same.


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That is one helluva graph.  I'd be really to see what the same study looks like for girls over time.

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November 15, 2018 6:25 AM

This was very helpful I wanted 2 boy Names ending in N to even out The R's I have Trevor,Hunter,Connor. I have a Ashton and wanted to even it out. Ashton was named after my best friend Ashley who passed away. My only Girls name is Kassidy. I have Zaiden Keith picked out Nn Zain.I like Torrin Jeffery nn T.J. But my mother does not Jeffery is the middle name for one and Keith is the middle name for the other its not an option to change. I'm liking City names also and I've noticed that this is a trend. I will NOT consider A boys name ending in R. But I would love to have 4 names on my list any suggestions would be great. Also the name has to be over 225 in popularity in the U.S. Thank you

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