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Essay 2: In Aid of Aidan

Part I: The History of Aidan

Part II: The diverse roots of the Aidan-Rhyme names

Part III: Near-rhymes and predictions for new candidates for popularity

Part IV: Geographic trends

Part V: Spelling fashions

Part III: Near-rhymes and predictions for new candidates for popularity

How far does this Aidan-momentum reach in terms of names with a similar sound but not an exact rhyme? I looked at five names that differed either in having a "t" rather than a "d" (Clayton, Dayton, Layton, Payton, and Treyton) and at a group of names that are similar to the Aidan group except for having plain "a" or "e" at the beginning (Adan, Aden, Adin, and Eden).

Clayton has been mildly popular during the entire period covered by the SSI data. From the 1880s through the first decade of the 1900s it hovered around 200th in popularity for boys, crept up to #149 in 1919, declined through the mid century (although never lower than #266), had a second peak of popularity at #149 in 1994 then has been falling steadily since then.

Dayton had a fairly low presence on the charts in the early 20th century then disappeared until the '90s when it gains a low but fairly steady presence with no noticeable change around 1998.

Layton first shows up on the chart in 2001 and has been steady ever since.

Payton (in the spellings Payton and Peyton) first shows up at the beginning of the '90s and rises steadily in popularity, although not to the level of the true Aidan-rhyme names. (Payton has a very similar popularity curve for girls and is somewhat more popular in that context.)

Treyton has a brief blip at the bottom of the chart in 2002-2003 but never gains any traction.

Eden has only had a very minor blip in the last couple of years. But the Adan/Aden/Adin group shows the same profile as the main Aidan-rhyme names: Adan itself has been holding steady (in the 400s-500s of the rankings) since the mid-20th century but after 1998 it takes off, relatively speaking, Adding Aden to the chart in 2000 and Adin in 2005. The increase in popularity is nowhere near to the same degree as Aidan itself, though.

So of these names in the next rank of similarity, only the Adan group seems to benefit from and participate in the Aidan fashion. Payton is the only other of these name-groups that is on a rising trend in the same period, but it doesn't show the 1998 effect.

relative popularity or names rhyming with Clayton

As we can see in the cumulative graph above, there may be some indication in the 2009 data that the fashion is starting to fade. 2009 was the first year in a decade where the rate of increase leveled out. The four most popular name-groups (Aidan, Jayden, Caden, and Braydon) are all flat between 2008 and 2009, and Haydon has been declining for two years. Only the two most recent additions to the chart (Raiden and Zaiden) increased in 2009.

So if we wanted to make some predictions for the future, it might be safe to suggest that all the more popular groups will continue to decline, although individual names may still be on an upward arc. The pair Kayden/Cayden still seems to have some juice despite not being at the top of their group. And it might also be safe to predict that we'll see some other Aidan-rhymes make it onto the charts, driven by the overall momentum (as Raiden and Zaiden have since the time I first made this prediction). But which ones? We're unlikely to see initial sounds that aren't "normal" in men's names used in the U.S. and we might expect the overall popularity of certain initial sounds to make some Aidan-rhymes more or less likely. So let's start by looking at the distribution of initial consonants and consonant clusters in the names that have made the chart at some time in the last century or so (a total of about 2600 different names and spelling variants). Leaving out combinations that only occur in variants of a single, non-English name (such as Dmitrii), here are the relative numbers for each distinct spelling that has made the chart at some point. In each case, I've followed it by a suggestion of an Aidan-rhyme name beginning with those letters and commentary on known usage. (I've focused on the two most common spellings "-aden" and "-ayden" when searching for uses.) Names already discussed in this article are in bold.

Table of possible Aidan-rhyme names
Initial Consonants # of Names Spellings Possible Names Comments
D 232 Dayden Possibly pre-empted by Dayton.
J 230 Jayden  
M 178 Maiden Not likely, especially for a boy's name! But various spellings of this occur as surnames and except for the meaning over-ride there would be no reason it might not have been turned into a given name.
R 166 Raiden  
K 129 Kaden  
L 126 Layden Possibly pre-empted by Layton.
C 108 Caden  
H 98 Hayden  
G 88 Gayden Possibly blocked by discomfort about names containing "gay", however there is a surname Gayden and place-name Gaydon that are available as starting points.
T 83 Tayden Possible -- anecdotal evidence on the web shows that this is being used already as a boy's name.
B 80 Bayden Possible -- web searches turn up both Bayden and Baden as surnames and given names.
W 67 Wayden Possible, especially motivated by the given name Wade. There's a surname Wayden, but the most common web hit for it is for a sponsor of a curling (sports) tournament.
Br 63 Brayden  
S 62 Sayden Possibly blocked by the similarity to "Satan"?
N 61 Nayden Possibly pre-empted by Nathan? But Nayden appears to be a common transliteration of a Slavic form of Nathan and it shows up in the US as a surname, so you never know.
V 37 Vayden Possible -- anecdotal evidence on the web shows that this is being used already as a boy's name.
P 35 Payden Possibly pre-empted by Payton.
Tr 33 Trayden Possibly pre-empted by Treyton.
Ch 31 Chayden Possible -- anecdotal evidence on the web shows that this is being used already as a boy's name and there are examples of Chaden as a surname.
F 29 Faden Faden and Fayden show up as surnames (possibly as variants of MacFadden) but the only anecdotal evidence I've found for Fayden as a given name appears to be for girls, probably due to association with Fay(e).
Cl 28 Clayden Possibly pre-empted by Clayton. There is a surname Clayden, though.
Sh 24 Shayden Possible -- anecdotal evidence on the web shows that this is being used given name although the gender isn't clear.
Fr 22 Frayden Possible -- there appears to be a surname Frayden and I've found at least one given name example, although from the early 20th century rather than recently.
St 22 Stayden Possible -- web searches turn up a surname Stayden.
Z 22 Zaiden  
Gr 17 Grayden There's a surname Graydon, sometimes used as a given name, but it hasn't made the charts yet. Other possible spelling variants turn up as surnames and place names. This one's quite likely.
Th 12 Thayden No serious hits on this one.
Cr 9 Craydon Craydon is a surname and occasional given name. This one's quite possible.
Y 9 Yaden My gut instinct says this is unlikely.
Fl 7 Flayden Not impossible, but there's no surname of this sound to give it a starting point.
Kr 7 Krayden Possibly as a variant of Craydon.
Bl 6 Blayden Blayden is found as a surname, Blaydon as a place-name, and Bladon exists as a place-name and surname and occasional given name from the surname. This is a definite possibility.
Qu 6 Quayden Possible, especially motivated by Quaid (which itself isn't on the charts, though). Quaydon shows up as a surname and there seem to be some hits for Quayden as a given name, gender unclear.
Gl 5 Glayden Possible -- anecdotal evidence on the web shows that this is being used already as a boy's name.
Pr 5 Prayden Possible -- anecdotal evidence on the web shows that this is being used already as a boy's name.
Sc 5 Scayden Maybe, but the Sc- and Sk- spellings are pretty much restricted to variants of specific names (Scott for the first and Skyler for the second). This makes these spellings less likely to generate new names.
Kh 4 Khayden Possibly as a spelling variant for Caden but only if someone were working really hard on an exotic look.
Ph 4 Phayden My gut says unlikely unless Faden establishes itself first.
Dr 3 Drayden Possible. There's a place-name Drayden, alternately there's an even more common place-name and surname Drayton which might pre-empt it.
X 3 Xayden Possibly as a spelling variant for Zaiden.
Rh 2 Rhayden Possibly as a spelling variant for Raiden.
Sk 2 Skayden See notes under Scayden.
Sp 2 Spayden Unlikely for the same reason as Sc-/Sk- : initial Sp- is pretty much associated with a single name and its variants (Spenser).
Wh 2 Whedon A surname, currently especially familiar from TV producer Joss Whedon. It's possible this might get picked up.
Sl 1 Slayden Slayden can be found as a surname and place-name.
Sm 1 Smayden My gut says no.

What's the take-home message from this table? Well, the rhyme-names that begin with the most common initial letter(s) are, for the most part, ones that are already showing up in the top 1000 charts. Exceptions tend to be for names where the close-rhyme name exists and is popular (e.g., Dayton, Layton) or where the result is an ordinary word with a meaning that would interfere (e.g., maiden). The data here also illustrates something that is often forgotten by people who complain about "made up names": the reason some combinations of sounds get "invented" as names is because these are sound combinations that we're already used to hearing as names. And there are a LOT of uncommon place-names and surnames out there that are just as reasonable to adopt as given names as the ones we're already familiar with. The majority of the possible "inventions" for new Aidan-rhyme names (i.e., ones that fit the sound-patterns of existing English names) already exist as place-names or surnames (or even as occasional given names), whether or not someone choosing that rhyme-name for their baby is aware of the pre-existing names.

So what are my predictions for the next Aidan-rhyme to hit the charts? Tayden is a possibility but it strikes my ear as a bit odd so I'll skip it. (Mind you, my instinct isn't all that sound -- I wouldn't have predicted Raiden.) Vayden seems a likely possibility and I'd love to see Grayden/Graydon get picked up. Blayden also seems quite likely. I could see Craydon hitching a ride as well.

Continue to In Aid of Aidan: Part IV - Geographic trends

Return to Index of Name Essays

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