Greatest Baby Name Influencers of All Time

Which people over time have had the greatest influence on baby names in the U.S.? We’ve collected the top dozen individuals who’ve inspired millions of namesakes, often in unexpected ways. Sometimes it was an actual name that went viral; in other cases these people set off a wider-ranging trend. Here, the greatest baby name influencers of all time:


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When Jaden Smith was born in 1998, many people assumed his name was a subtle salute to mama Jada, as his sister Willow would be to father Will, few realizing it was an alternate spelling of the biblical Jadon. In any case, Jaden took off, not only engendering multiple spellings (Jadon, Jayden, Jaydon) , but a huge family of rhyming cousins—Brayden, Kaden, Caden, Kayden, Cayden, Kaiden (all in the current Top 200) and revivals of the more traditional Hayden and Aidan.

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11 Responses to “Greatest Baby Name Influencers of All Time”

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ppgsss77 Says:

March 2nd, 2012 at 2:59 am

I love Jadon. I hate that it’s been grouped with the ever so growing trend of Aiden names.

afmastro Says:

March 2nd, 2012 at 7:33 am

And now a generation is being influenced by Ryan O’Neal’s daughter’s name, Tatum. I’m not usually a fan of androgynous names, but I really like Tatum.

Sarah.Jane Says:

March 2nd, 2012 at 9:25 am

I would have to add Addison to this list. After Greys Anatomy that name took flight for girls. It almost seemed like an over night explosion.

Lola Says:

March 2nd, 2012 at 10:15 am

Bah! I’m apparently not influenced by the masses. I went to HS with a girl named Shirley and remember feeling sorry for her with that name. Nice girl, though! Nothing on this list would influence me, although Cassius is on our list for a potential boy.

Elisabeth Rae Says:

March 2nd, 2012 at 11:41 am

The Jaden/Jayden thing is really a phenomenon. They Jaydens/Braydens/Kaydens literally weren’t even in the top 1000 until 1993 and 994, where they popped up out of nowhere. I find this trend unfortunate but alas, it seems that it is still growing.

Pansy Says:

March 2nd, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Not sure if Bob Dylan’s the reason Dylan became such a popular name. I think it might have had more to do with ‘Beverly Hills: 90210″.

miloowen Says:

March 2nd, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Braeden actually was a name my Kiwi friend used for one of her twin daughters, born in 1990, so there’s at least one Braeden out there whose name had nothing to do with the Jayden/Aidan routine. The other twin is Talia, mother to a boy named Rowan.

Michael was pretty popular before Jackson. I know I grew up with dozens of them, and Jackson and I are (were) the same age. Along with Joshua and Christopher, it’s still a popular name with my African American students.

I too remember a Shirley my age that I felt sorry for, along with Lorraine, Lois, and Cheryl. Even though I didn’t like my own name that much, I was very grateful that I hadn’t been stuck with one of those names.

Mischa Says:

March 3rd, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I was surprised by some of the choices on this blog – notably one oversight. I thought for sure that William Shakespeare deserved a mention. In numerous baby name books, his names are often listed with a whole “Shakespearean” section of their own.

AZgram Says:

March 3rd, 2012 at 2:16 pm

? Rule for Naming Boys According to Generations
Is there a rule or practice regarding continuing Roman numerals in boys names? If Charles I through IV was used, then 2 generations were skipped without using the name, is it acceptable to name a Charles V after the 2 skipped generations?

pam Says:

March 3rd, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Hi AZgram — Questions like these should usually be asked in the forums, but I refer you to this discussion of name suffixes: and also this discussion:

The short answer to your question: Yes, you can do it, but going strictly by the book, it isn’t completely proper. If the line is broken, you need to start all over again. But this isn’t the royal family or the Social Register we’re talking about, so if you want to give your son the same exact name (middle and last too) as four members of the male line before him, you can and call him a V.

notcinnamon Says:

April 17th, 2012 at 9:39 am

Great entry! I enjoyed it and the study of what propels names. I think the choices here, in general, are the right ones, but I’d have to say the movie “Splash” and its impact on Madison, deserves to be here. The whole 80s power suit, break the glass ceiling mindset certainly contributed to Sydney, Taylor, Morgan, Peyton, etc, but perhaps Madison was the greatest catalyst of a trend that continues today (maybe more than the Drew entry?)…Also, it might not be on quite the same plane as what this blog was trying to accomplish, but the Bible has always and continues to drive names choices. Soap operas, day and night, have done the same to certain names and even whole trends. Jenna from Dallas and Blake/Alexis from Dynasty come to mind, as honorable mentions, as does Alyssa Milano’s impact on Alyssa. Thanks for an interesting read 🙂

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