Hi Duana!
I read your posts on the regular to source out names, but I never thought I’d write in as I didn’t want to share the names that I coveted. But I’m now in a conundrum cause I’m thinking my name isn’t as fresh as I had once thought. I’m due in May, and we are expecting a boy. We loved the name Heath (I still do), but my husband is now not on board. The other name that we both like is Hayden (I've loved the indie singer/songwriter Hayden since way back and in recent years discovered Hayden Carruth’s poetry, so have really positive associations with that name). But I’ve found myself moving away from it since I’ve heard of two other boys also named Hayden, named by people whose vibe is kinda different from mine. So now I’m thinking that Hayden will be more associated with names like Jayden or Caden than a badass indie singer-songwriter and gorgeous poet.

Other names we liked (ish) but have nixed are Malcolm and Nate.

Thanks so much and I look forward to your thoughts!


Okay, you get very high points for recognizing this, because it is not obvious. On the one hand, no, Hayden is not like the others. It’s a name and surname that’s been around for a long time, it’s been sparingly used and retains a sort of artistic spirit about it, and it is lovely sounding.

On the other hand, yes, it’s exactly like Jayden and Caden. It’s two syllables, ends in ‘en’, and will rhyme with them when they’re all being read off in class.

Even more insidiously, even if you wind up in a place where the Braydens don’t exist, Hayden is still right-on-trend with all the other two-syllable boys’ names ending-in-n that are so incredibly popular right now, from Brooklyn to Colton to Nolan to Declan to Mason and beyond. (Note: If you love this trend or sound, my current suggestions to get out in front of it are Irwin and Vernon. You’re welcome.)

So I think that, unfortunately, your fears are somewhat founded. Hayden is different, but short of pronouncing it like Haydn (HIGH-den; also, remember when nobody at the Golden Globes knew how to pronounce Mozart?) you may be setting your kid up for being ‘one of the Jadens’ more than you realize.

I would lean into other light-surname names that don’t echo this sound, though I understand they also don’t have the literary/musical significance. Hayes, perhaps? Tate? I like Heath even if your husband doesn’t, but what about Leith, or even ready-to-be-resurrected Keith? 

Another way to subvert the Jaydens is to go with a name that kind of inverts them – how about Denham? Or Benson? Or Jensen? Barlow, if you don’t (or I guess, if you do) have a history of being a huge Take That fan?

I know this isn’t easy, and I hate that I’m not sending a reassuring note. But at least you caught it early. The other entirely valid option here is deciding that even though it’s going to sound like the Jaydens, you know it isn’t, and therefore deciding not to care. You can totally do that.

Let me know!