People are naming their children after vampires. The Social Security Administration has released its list of 2009's most popular baby names, and the leading choices were Isabella and Jacob. Both names just happen to belong to main characters in the Twilight book series. True, Isabella has been trending steadily upward since the 1990s, and Jacob has been in the top spot for 10 years in a row (thus predating 2005's Twilight). But one of the rising names is almost certainly the result of Stephenie Meyer's blood-sucking romance: Cullen. The last name of Meyer's sexy main vampire jumped 297 spots in one year and is now the 485th most popular first name for a baby boy. (See TIME's Q&A with Twilight star Kristen Stewart.)
Cullen is also part of a larger trend: two-syllable male names that end in the sound en. Aiden is another example (12th most popular name). So is Jayden (No. 8), Logan (No. 17), Nathan (No. 24), Kevin (No. 44), Justin (No. 46) and a name I'd never heard of before: Brayden. At No. 47, it means I'll probably start meeting a number of Braydens in about 20 years. Likewise, nearly half of the 50 most popular girl names end in the letter a, like Isabella. Why does this happen? Why do parents so often choose the same names for their newborns?
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