Aiden or Aidan? When a Variation Becomes the Main Theme

baby name zooey

You’ve probably noticed that Aiden is now way more popular than the original Irish Aidan.  And also that Zoey is catching up with Zoe, while other names like Isiah, Kaleb, Camryn and Sienna are either ahead of or breathing down the necks of their conventionally spelled cousins.  Sometimes the reasons for these changes are clear-cut, sometimes it’s just something in the ether.

Not that this is a new thing.  I remember the first time that someone asked me to spell my first name.  “Huh?”  “Well, is it Linda with an ‘i’ or Lynda with a ‘y’?  Without my really noticing, Lynda had become a spelling alternative in the wake of  the popularity of Lynn.  Something similar has happened with Aidan/Aiden.  When the epidemic of rhyming ‘en’-ending names erupted–Jaden, Braden, Caden et al–it was a logical development to make Aiden a legitimate member of that family.  And when ‘K’-beginning boys’ names became a rage, Kaleb began pursuing Caleb up the list.

The case of Zoe/Zooey is a little different, as the spike of the latter version can be pretty much traced to a single phenomenon–‘Zoey101’–the Emmy-nominated teen sitcom starring (now teen mom) Jamie Lynn Spears, which appeared on Nickelodeon in 2005.  And the publicity surrounding Jamie Lynn’s big sister Britney’s second son helped spread that spelling of Brayden.  The rise of the British actress Sienna Miller spurred the spelling change of the Italian town of Siena, actress Jorja Fox legitimized the phonetic spelling of Georgia, and Gossip Girl hottie Chace (originally his middle name) Crawford has the spelling of his name chasing Chase.

In terms of image, rather than spelling, Scarlett Johansson challenged the long-term connection of her name to Gone With the Wind spitfire Scarlett O’Hara, just as the charms of Jude Law have managed to erase the age-old associations of his name to Judas.

More recently we’ve seen a couple of starbabies who might have some influence on the future spellings of names: Brooke Shield’s Grier (rather than Greer) and Angie Harmon’s Emery (rather than Emory).

Can you think of any others?

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16 Responses to “Aiden or Aidan? When a Variation Becomes the Main Theme”

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Abby Says:

January 8th, 2009 at 8:38 am

Kaitlyn and Katelyn have sailed right past Caitlin, at least in the US. I heard a Caitlin complain that she was always hearing things like “what an interesting spelling!”

And then there’s Hayley. I assume the name became popular thanks to Hayley Mills, but Hailey and Haley are both more common.

I think it makes sense to choose the most obvious spelling – except that with so many names, that’s not easily done!

Leah Says:

January 8th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I think this happens most often for two reasons:

1) Someone likes a common name, but wants their kid’s name to be “different.” Guess what? When called out in a classroom Jackson sounds just like Jaxon. (I’ve also seen Jaxxon).

2) People just can’t spell! Or don’t take the time to look up the correct spelling of a name they heard and liked.

I’ll probably offend some people here, but names that are spelled different just to be different are my pet peeve. You’re sentencing your kid to a life of correcting people on spelling and mispelled nametags, trophies and awards.

DL Says:

January 8th, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I agree Leah. I find creatively spelled names annoying. The worst I’ve seen was a baby name poll for Madison – Madyson, Madicen, gah!

Say Says:

January 9th, 2009 at 11:23 am

Don’t you me Jayden not Brayden. Jayden is the name of Spears second son.

Abby Says:

January 9th, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Leah, I agree Jaxxon is pointless. But I can understand parents trying to come up with the best possible spelling and arriving at Katelyn or Kaitlyn instead of Caitlin. “Correct” is sometimes a matter of opinion. 🙂

linda Says:

January 9th, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Well if you wanted to substitute the word authentic for correct, Caitlin is certainly the original, and most authentic spelling.

Eva Says:

January 11th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Another name that is like Aiden and Aidan are Gillian and Jillian. Jillian is way, way more popular, and Gillian is almost unheard of, even though it’s the original. Jillian ranked at number 187 in 2007 and Gillian was at 790. My mom wanted to name me Gillian, I’m glad she didnt! It reminds me of a fish gill or something. Personally, I find Jillian much smoother and more attractive

linda Says:

January 11th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Another good example!

Melissa C Says:

January 12th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Instantly when I read this I thought of Makayla, Madelyn and Makenna.

All 3 are the new spelling “norms” classic Michaela, Madeline, and McKenna

Allison Says:

January 13th, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I completely agree with Leah; spelling variations are ridiculous and unnecessary. If no one deviated from the original, there would be so much less confusion. The “y” version of my name ensures a lifetime of “how do you spell that?” and I resent it.

kirstin Says:

March 1st, 2009 at 1:41 pm

New parents need to be aware that individuals SAY their name much more than they will even spell it or write it. As someone who has a unique name that is spelled in a unique way, I have spent the last 30 years correcting people. If someone wants to be “different” then they choose a more uncommon name and spell it normally. I have yet to meet one person who has spelled my name correctly on the first try. I know it seems petty, but as someone who is always correcting people, I will not do the same to my children.

Jennifer Says:

March 10th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Not knowing the sex of our baby- we have chosen either Aidan or Madelynne. However, our spelling of Madelynne is not to be “different” or what have you- it is actually an integration of my name into my child’s. Both sets of names incorporate our mother’s/father’s names as well. It was a personal, meaningful choice and not one made on a whim to be “different”.

christine Says:

November 10th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

My son’s name is Rhys, which is the tradtional Welsh spelling, going back for centuries. I was so stressed about spelling it the original way or Reece, or Reese, which is the phonetic way, but people think it is the traditional way and that Rhys is made up, it’s not!! I went with the traditional way but people do not know the name so I have to say it’s like Reese! Anyway I hope Rhys will become more familiar as it is the real name!

Lucy Says:

November 26th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I’ve always disliked Madeline, as the pronunciation is so ambiguous. Some say it like Madelyn, some say it like Madeleine.

littlebrownpony Says:

December 22nd, 2009 at 9:38 am

My first name is Greer, and ever since Brook Shields named her daughter “Grier” I’ve had people consistently misspell my name that way! It’s rather annoying. Not only am I partial to the G-R-E-E-R spelling because that’s the way *I* spell it, but honestly, the nicest thing about my name, in my opinion, is the symmetry of it’s spelling…..the two Es surrounded by the two Rs. G-R-I-E-R just doesn’t have the same impact.

Therealone Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Here’s something points about the name “Aidan” that you might find quite interesting.

The name “Aidan”, which ever way you want to spell it, came from the older variation, Aodhan, which was derived from the Celtic fire god, Aodh.

My name’s Aidan. I’m named after a roadie my mother met while sneaking backstage to meet Metallica at a gig in 1986 and his name was Aidan Mullen.

I would stipulate that the spelling “Aiden” has more to do with mispronunciation than it does being different. The correct spelling of Aidan is indeed Aidan- St. Aidan of Lindisfarne is a good example- and the correct pronunciation of Aidan, is Ay-dan, hense some of the spellings we now see.

However nowadays the “Dan” of Aidan sounds to bold and when I think about it, no one actually calls me Aidan because when most people, and I mean everyone here, vocalises my name they always skip the final vowel as if the language has relaxed somewhat so it becomes “Aidynn”, which is a feminine variant.

To conlude I would like to say that how you spell your name is up to you, or your parents for that matter, but Aidan is the earlier form of the two. So if you’re like me and you spell it with an A, get with the times, lol.

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