The meteoric rise of boys’ names ending in ‘n’

It’s been noted before that one of the most striking trends when analyzing American baby names is the rise in popularity of boys’ names ending with the letter ‘n’ over the past few decades. What I haven’t seen is a visualization that truly demonstrates the scale of this phenomenon. And for a good reason; it’s difficult to show trends over time in 26 variables. So I made this animated GIF of bar graphs; pay attention to the ‘n’ after the mid-70s.

I was also interested in the trends for each letter; in the GIF above, there’s a rise and a fall of names ending in “d” (although the rise ends in the mid-1930s, which I’ve already explained is problematic due to the way data was collected). So here’s a grid of every letter; the scales are not the same (“n” is far more popular than “q”, for example) so I’ve shaded each one so that darker green goes along with most popularity, and the overall trends of each one can be seen:

There’s still more that can done with this data; only since 2011 have as many as four of the top ten boys’ names ended in ‘n’, so evidently this is a phenomenon that has carried through more than the top tier of popularity; it would be interesting to see the contributions of different names. I also wonder what some of the peaks and valleys for other names represent, and of course one could always do the same analysis to the last letters of girls’ names (let me guess: lots of “a”s), the first letters of either sex, and even middle letters or multi-letter patterns. More to come, unless some other shiny data bauble catches my eye first…

Other posts about baby names:

44 Replies to “The meteoric rise of boys’ names ending in ‘n’”

  1. Considering renaming myself. Like a lot of 'n' names but was worried about their popularity. Might as well name myself "Common."

  2. Ayden, Brayden, Cayden, Dayden, Eayden, Fayden, Gayden, Hayden, Jayden, Kayden, Layden, Mayden, Nayden, Oayden, Payden, Qayden, Rayden, Sayden, Tayden, Uayden, Vayden, Wayden, Xayden, Yayden, Zayden.

  3. Jason, Ason, Bason, Cason, Dason, Eason, Fason, Gason, Hason, Iason, Kason, Lason, Mason, Nason, Nosan, Sonan, Zason

  4. Batman, Robin, Superman, Spiderman, Aquaman, Captain America (first names, remember), Iron Man … Coincidence? I think not.

  5. I tried to search names ends with N for my little boy and found some good American names like Aaden, Aaralyn, Kamryn, Dalvin and Landyn
    Hoping that i wouldn't have to research more if these are unique or rarely used, what would you all suggest.

  6. How about Aiden, Cameron or Landon? (not even sure how to pronounce Aaralyn or Dalvin) Stick them with 'original' spellings, and they're going to spend their whole lives correcting people on how to pronounce and spell their name. Maybe be a real trend setter and go with David, Robert, Michael or Peter.

  7. It appears the name Anonymous is more popular than I would have believed. That seems to contradict the fall in the letter S

  8. This is a wonderful animated chart and I don't at all mean to dismiss all the hard work that went into it. But it might have been informative to add consonant blends: names ending in ck, sh, th, ch, etc.

  9. I like the chart.
    Another option would be to map first name popularity against James Bond villains to check for correlation. Unless, of course, you have more important things to do.

  10. That is a computationally difficult but worthwhile approach. Name experts agree that it's not names or spellings that are being preserved, it's sounds. (In other words, not "n" but "aden"). I will add this to my to-do list. Thanks for your contribution! Don't worry, I don't interpret statements like "I wish your work had been done like this" to mean "You shouldn't have done your work like that," I'm always open to a good idea.

  11. Have you thought about the potential correlations between immigrant patterns and name endings? Does that appear to be related at all? I would love to look into this if you grant me access to your data sets!

  12. Very nice idea, using the .gif to render the time element. I had the same idea for a viz charting the progress of NFL teams over the course of a season, tracking mostly what is called 'Pythagorean Wins'. Worked out a snapshot for each week of a season, but didn't get round to researching how to GIF 16 weeks work into an animation. Also neat are the linguistic implications of your charts; lots of directions you could take. For example, might be interesting to track the first vowel in American names over a century or more — especially if a translation could be done between the vowel as spelled and the actual phoneme (which reveals something deeper about sound preferences, perhaps). I also have been thinking on & off, mostly off, about the preponderance of creative naming being done by African Americans, which can be glimpsed by looking through the names of professional football rosters (about 68% black). Finally, you've hit on this already elsewhere, the idea of comparing name trends across US and European countries seem interesting. I took a brief look at this with France awhile ago. Great blog, thanks. For reference: (French vs. English)

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