Statistically speaking, there have never been more baby names in circulation than there currently are in the United States. The irony is that while the field is technically widening, the names in use also have more in common than in years past.
Case in point: According to newly released 2017 baby names data from the Social Security Administration, one in three babies born in the United States last year was given a name that ends with the letter “n”, as seen in this chart compiled by Quartz.
Compare that to data from 1960, when no final letter of a name cracked the 16.5% mark for popular usage.
You don’t have to look far to see this trend in action either. During 2017, six of the top 20 most popular boys names ended with the letter n: Logan, Benjamin, Mason, Ethan, Aiden and Jackson.
Among girls, only two in the top 20 ended with n: Evelyn and Madison. But the overall statistics got a boost by names just outside the top 20, such as Lillian, Addison and Brooklyn.
The phenomena seems to be representative of a bigger trend with baby names, says Laura Wattenberg, the founder of Baby Name Wizard and the first person to chart this trend, in a previous commentary on the trend toward -n names. “The takeaway message seems to be: The more things change, the more they sound the same.”
For further evidence of that, Nameberry co-creator Pamela Redmond Satran points to similarities among other “unusual” names. “Names that start with the K sound, via the first initial K or C, are up dramatically, especially for boys,” she says. “Among the top 10 fastest-rising boys’ names are Kairo, Kace, Kashton and Koa. Boy’s names starting with the Cas sound—Cassian, Casper, Caspian, all up sharply.”
The same seems to go for girls, just with -la names rising in popularity—think Ella, Isla, Bella and Mila.
Yes, the overall use of individual names is still at a lower rate than in the past when popular names truly filled nurseries. (In 1940, for example, a full 5% of girls born in the United States were given the name Linda.) Still, with the proliferation of -n names and other trends toward common sounds, kids today may have to pause to make sure it wasn’t their name called on the playground.