Hi Duana,

We are expecting our first child in two weeks - a boy. We are torn between two names: Charles (Charlie) and Finlay (Finn). We want a name that is strong with a bit of a preppy, old-school vibe, and we're confident that Charlie fits the bill. Is Finlay a super trendy name? There's no polite way to put this, but is it becoming the new Jayden, Jaxon, Braydon?? Your input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, C


It kills me that Jayden is the new Kristi. You know what I mean, don’t pretend you don’t. It is the stand-in for all things downmarket and tacky. This is, of course, not due to Jaden Smith, is it? No, the tenor of the name – and probably the reason it grew so popular in the first place – is Jayden Federline, I assume.    Poor kid.

Finlay isn’t Jayden – not by a long shot – but it’s easy to say and has two syllables and sounds like girls’ names that are also created, like Brynlee and Kinslee. So while it’s not a downmarket name necessarily, it can get lumped in with those which are, you know? Kind of the same way Liam is, in all technicality, an old Irish name – but the maximum density of it makes it not that anymore.

So Finlay (or Findlay, or Finley) may remain noble and Scottish in your mind, with a preppy, old-school vibe but there may be some outliers.

The good news is that Finlay’s maximum density moment seemed to be about three years ago. It’s not as fashionable as it was, though it’s still very current. Your little Finn might be the only one in his preschool class but not the bigger school.

Choosing Charlie is, of course, much more timeless. It’s not that it’s any less susceptible to growing popular, but because it’s been so popular over so many decades, it’s not susceptible to trendiness in the same way, nor does it feel dated, as it would if you named your baby Doug, or Gord. (This is as good a time as any to point out that I’m deep in a Party of Five rewatch and the Charlie character is a scoundrel.  I suspect that show did a lot to revitalize that name. All those names, actually.)

I have a suspicion I know which way you’re going to go, but let me know!