AidenTake an Irish appellation with an on-trend sound, add a slightly different spelling or two … or three or four or even a dozen …

Top Ten week continues with our Baby Name of the Day: Aiden.

Aiden might be a twenty-first century favorite, but his roots run deep:

  • Áedán mac Gabráin, also called Aidan, ruled the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada from the late 500s into the early 600s.
  • The Irish Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne converted the Anglo-Saxons in the 600s.
  • Around the same time, a Bishop of Ferns – near Dublin – was known as Aedan or Maedoc.  I’m not sure about the double naming, but the aed element repeats in both names.

Aodh means fiery, and we all know that -an is a common diminutive form in Irish – think Ronan and Conan.  In Irish myth, Aodh or Aed was a god.  I’ve heard him called a sun god and god of the underworld.

So Irish roots he’s got aplenty, and that made him a logical successor to twentieth century favorites, like Ryan and Brian.  We’re wild about two syllable boy names with that ‘n’ ending, with so many favorites fitting the pattern: think of Jason and Ethan and Mason and Logan.  Factor in that bright ay sound, and how could Aidan miss?

But the story isn’t that straightforward.

The numbers look like this:

Aidan first appears in the US Top 1000 in 1990, and had climbed to #281 by 1995.  Credit handsome Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn, whose career took off with Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985, for putting this one on the radar.  Then in 2000, Aidan Shaw was Carrie Bradshaw’s new boyfriend on Sex in the City, and by 2001, Aidan ranked #86.  He peaked two years later, at #39 in 2003.

Aiden arrived in the US Top 1000 in 1995.  In 2001, he was still clearly the variant spelling, ranking #217.  And in 2003, he ranked #73.

But by 2006, Aiden eclipsed the -an spelling.  Aidan charted at #44, while Aiden rose to #32.

Blame it on the age of Aidens.  Jayden, Jaden, Hayden, and Brayden all ranked in the US Top 100, with Kayden, CaydenBraeden and plenty of other cousins not far behind, and names like Zayden and Raiden at the fringes.

Or maybe it wasn’t just American creativity run amok.  You can find Irishmen answering to Aiden over the ages, suggesting it was long considered a valid variant.

Stargate: Atlantis featured an Aiden when it debuted in 2004.  TeenNick chose the same spelling for a character in South of Nowhere in 2005.  And from 2002 through 2009, English actor Aiden Turner was playing Aidan Devane on All My Children.

Talk about confusing.

In any case, Americans finally settled on the -en ending.  Aiden peaked at #9 in 2010/2011, and dropped to #12 in 2013.

But don’t count him out.

Roses and Cellar Doors tallied up 32 spellings of the name given to 5 or more boys in the US in 2013.  That’s without including the unusual rhyming possibilities: DraydonGraiden, Jhaiden, Treyden, Zeiden.

Even with Aiden on the decline, he remains influential.

If you’re after a name to declare your kelly green roots, you might be better off to look elsewhere.  Today, his sound has defined a generation – and may someday sound as dated as 1940s favorites Larry and Gary feel today.

But that’s true of many a popular choice.  Aiden remains a reasonable, mainstream choice for a boy – not surprising, and subject to spelling challenges.  But a crowd-pleaser, to be sure.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I also prefer Aidan to Aiden, not because its the original spelling because I love a lot of alternative spellings, but Aidan just looks better than Aiden imo. Btw, Kayden is also ranked top 100.

  2. Ladies, you have cinched it for me. I have loved Alan a lot lately and have it on my top baby lists but have been torn between the Alan/Allan/Allen spellings. I went to school with an Allan so I do love that spelling, Alan looks so distinquished to me but Allen I have had issues with as I just don’t like it, but could have talked myself into going with it simply for common spelling issues. But my heart truely lies with Alan and Allan. now, which one?

  3. I still like Aidan. I feel my name-nerd cred fading, but I could see using it.

    Aiden kills it for me. I’m weird. Similarly I find Alan rather retro and ready to be revived, but can’t deal with Allen.

    1. Josie, I feel the same way about Alan/Allen – and actually, Aidan/Aiden. Aidan strikes me as handsome and Irish and likely to stick around for a while, while Aiden tends to feel more fleeting. Not sure why – I love plenty of variant spellings – Catharine, Isobel – just not this one.