We’ve tallied. We’ve clustered. We’ve grouped and ungrouped. We’ve stewed.
And while we still think there’s room for improvement, we’ve decided that our Revised 100 is ready to meet the world.
You can download the files from the box.net widget in the right hand column, or read on for some insights.
When we posted our revised Top Ten, we noted that parents do appear to approach naming a son differently. We tend to hew closer to the classics, though increasingly we’re willing to bestow the name in our native tongue. And while there’s a strong argument that Joey and Joel, Antwan and Anthony won’t be confused, the repetition of sounds does make the name less distinctive. (Thanks to Emmy Jo for her insights on this topic.)
The other issue was, of course, the Name Blob. While we might call our daughters Kayla, Kaylie, Kaycee, Mikayla, Mikailyn, Kaitlyn, Kaydence or Kaydee, there’s less variation with our sons’ choices. Most prefer to stick with two syllable constructions and prefer names that end in -n. The result? Most modern inventions for boys are even more often heard than those for their sisters.
In addition to these two issues, we couldn’t help but notice:
- While John doesn’t hold the top spot – and hasn’t for years – if we add up John, Jonathan, Jackson, Jack, Juan, Evan, Owen and Ian, we easily reach more than 90,000 bearers of some variation on the name – three times as many as the Josephs, Alexanders or Jacobs. Some families probably have two sons called Owen and Jackson. (Or one boy known as Evan Jonathan.) The names do stand on their own, but they share roots – and those roots continue to influence the boys’ list, even if they’re not as obvious as in generations past.
- But what’s more impressive is the dominance of the Aidens. Add up all the Aidens, Jaydens, Cadens, Braydens and Haydens, and you’ll reach a staggering 91,000 plus. Yup, that’s more than the John variants. There is simply no way – no spelling, no different first letter, no twist – that will make a name ending in -aden sound anything other than overexposed.
- The other sound we’ll nominate for a Worn Out Award? The Jay. Jacob, Jayden, Jason and Jaylen all rank in the Top 100. Tally those names and their variants, and it’s a record-smashing 71,000 plus names sharing the same first syllable. This doesn’t even take into account all of the Jacksons, Jordans and Justins, to say nothing of the boys called James, Joseph and John. If you want your sons’ names to stand out, opt for any of the other 25 letters of the alphabet!
Lastly, here’s a quick overview of the big movers between the Social Security Administration list and our recount:
- Jaylen and company – Jaylan, Jaylin, Jaylon, Jalen – make the biggest move, gaining by 93 spots to break into the Top 100 at #100;
- Mark, Marc, Marcus, Markus, Marco and Marcos together gained 89 spots to come in at #49;
- The Max names – Max, Mawell, Maxim, Maximillian, Maximus and Maximo – claim the #65 spot, up 76 places;
- The Caden cluster moved up 74 spots, to #18, doubtless helped by the ability to spell it with a C or that ever-popular K;
- Bryan and Brian both remain popular – and when added together, climb 38 spots to #40;
- Damian and Damien, plus less often-heard Damion, combine to move up 49 spots to #88;
- The falls are less dramatic, but among those moving down a few spaces: Adam (dropping 13 places to #77) and Evan (down 14 to #54). Unless creative respellings like Adym, Adhim, Evin and Evvan catch on, these choices will probably remain slightly less common than they appear based on the rankings alone.
Schwoo! Only a few more months, and the 2008 numbers will be out.
Thanks for asking, Lola. My (highly unscientific) thinking went something like this:
1. I chose to focus on the first syllables of the names. While Haylie and Kaylie could be grouped – and I’d love to spend some time looking at Mikayla, Kayla, Kaylyn and all those clusters, when I looked at the girls’ list, I decided the best approach for me was to focus on the opening sound. So I hesitated to cluster Javier with Xavier, since the opening sounds are clearly different.
This became a BIG issue with boys’ names, as plenty of them are the back half of a more common name – Xander and Alexander, for example, or William and Liam. After much mulling, I decided to stick with my original method. Otherwise, my Aiden cluster would be right up there.
2. I also focused on the number of syllables. While I grouped Chris and Christopher, in most cases, if I was in doubt, I tended *not* to group names with different numbers of syllables. So while Alejandro and Alexander seemed distinct to me, they shared the same opening sound and the same number of syllables. Ditto Michael and Miguel.
But Javier is nearly always three syllables, and I assume most of the Xaviers are using a two syllable pronunciation. So that was the second strike against the cluster.
3. I also tried – really, really tried – to take my best guess at usage. (A dangerous thing!) I can’t imagine a Diego going by Jimmy. But it seems likely that at least some Miguels are Mike, and some Joses are Joe. (Highly unscientific, again, based on observation in my heavily Spanish-speaking neighborhood and my fabulous Puerto Rican uncle-by-marriage’s big family.) So if the names share a nickname, I was more likely to be comfortable clustering them.
4. To some extent, I tried to ignore origins in favor of sounds. Emmy Jo righty pointed out that Joseph, Joe and Joel don’t share the same origins. But if I thought about origins, I might’ve felt obligated to cluster Owen and Evan, and that felt wrong.
And oh, Lola, you think you’re heartbroken over Alexander’s popularity? 🙂 It’s my father-in-law’s name and while I love Alexei, I’m dazzled at how many little heads swivel when I call out the name on the playground. Alexa, Alexis, Alex, Alessandra, Lexi … it feels like I’ve met them all. My son’s name on his birth certificate is, indeed, Alexander. We argued this one for months – my father-in-law is actually Aleksander. (But then, he was born near Cracow.) The Polish spelling of the diminutive form would probably be Aleksey, but my mother-in-law is from a region where they favor Olus – it sounds like oh LOOSH. To them, Alexei is Russian – and that is Not Acceptable. (I am also among the brides who did not walk down the aisle to Wagner’s Here Comes the Bride because Wagner is taboo in their family. I don’t think my opera buff husband has ever seen The Ring Cycle.)
Looking back, I was actually spelling his name Alexy early days – an awkward compromise. But all those Russian hockey players – and the fact that my child turned out to be a hockey-obsessed creature himself, who I think only learned how to walk so he could chase a puck – argued that he MUST be Alexei.
I’m curious to see what happens as he starts school – whether he’ll drop the “ei” or embrace it. He’s a big kid, so I don’t worry that he’ll be teased. And given our little melting pot of a ‘hood, it’s not like it’s the craziest name out there. For the moment, I’m claiming a small victory – when his father ordered his new Red Wings jersey, our son didn’t hesitate – he wanted ALEXEI on the back.
But really, one way or the other, he still has a variant of a Top Ten name for boys born in his generation. And I vowed I’d NEVER do that to my children!
Nice Job, Verity! I wonder why you didn’t include Javier (#163) in with Xavier, Xzavier & Zavier? Not noteworthy enough? Must be my area then, Javier abounds here! I’ve also been saddened by the Alex- overload the last few years, Alexander is easily my favorite classic boy name and while I’m happy to hear it all around me (beats -aiden, hmm?), I feel it’s already too popualr for my use. Not even as a middle, sic eit’s not a family name for me (I now have a 5 month old cousin named Alexander, goes by Lex). That’s as close as I’ll get.
Isaiah surprised me, all those misspellings! I’d never have thought of those. Seems pretty straightforward to me. Otherwise, I’m really impressed, all that work! Wow!