Every year, we see lists of the most popular baby names. But, nobody ever talks about the LEAST popular names! That is, until now. Thanks to a new book, expecting parents now know to avoid Jayden, Brayden, Madison and Addison!
(Courtesy of Stephanie Pappas – LiveScience)
When it comes to names, everybody’s got an opinion. But while figuring out what names people like is pretty simple– the U.S. Social Security Administration keeps a list of the most popular baby names each year — figuring out what people hate is trickier.
It turns out that in the case of names, love and hate aren’t mutually exclusive. A new informal survey of the most disliked names in America finds that popularity often breeds backlash, as a quick track to baby-name fame seems to also trigger hate for that name. Among the most-hated “trendy” names are Jayden, Brayden, Madison and Addison.
The most commonly cited name that put people’s teeth on edge was Nevaeh, or “heaven” spelled backward. That name didn’t exist until the 1990s, but it took off in popularity in 2003, shooting from the 150th most common baby name in that year to the 31st most popular in 2007 (as of 2009, it stood at No. 34).
“Nevaeh in particular seems to stand as this symbol … for what people don’t like in modern baby names,” Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby” (Three Rivers Press, 2005), told LiveScience.
Wattenberg did the informal survey of hated names for her blog, The Baby Name Wizard. She scoured general-interest message boards online, looking for conversations about baby names that make people cringe. She included only two message boards that were specifically for baby names, because name enthusiasts tend to know trends and might skew the results. The other boards included a motorcycle travel forum, a video game fan board and several parenting forums. The participants skewed female and under the age of 60, Wattenberg said. All told, more than 1,500 names were cited. Wattenberg calculated which names came up the most.
Wattenberg is quick to point out that the survey isn’t scientific, but it does have the advantage of capturing the names people spontaneously hate. A formal survey that gave people an option to rank names would likely bias people by putting ideas into their heads, Wattenberg said.
The survey also turned up a few interesting trends. The first is that people hate gender-bending names, particularly when a masculine name becomes feminine, as with Madison (which tied for second-most-hated for boys with 16 separate mentions) and Addison (which tied for sixth with eight mentions). They also hate names they can’t spell, including Kaitlyn, which got eight mentions and tied for sixth. (People say “Caitlin” is fine because it’s traditional, Wattenberg said, though the original Irish pronunciation of that spelling would be closer to “Kathleen.”)
Similar-sounding names that explode in popularity all at once usually become victims of their own success, Wattenberg found. The most hated boys’ names — Jayden, Brayden, Aiden and Kayden — all rhyme and all shot up from obscurity during the last decade. Among girls, a spate of “Mc”-names sparked annoyance: Mackenzie, McKenna and Makayla all made the top 10.
At the other end of the spectrum are people who hate ordinary names. This group is in the minority, but they pushed “Michael” into the top 10 most disliked names for boys.
“They really object to anything ordinary,” Wattenberg said. “‘Michael’ or ‘Matthew,’ the boringness of those names infuriates them.”