Excitement and curiosity fuels new parents when they get to choose the name of their new bundle of joy. In the United States, changes in culture throughout time has influenced the trends in popular baby names. Popular names for infants born during the WWII era will differ from infants born during the Dust Bowl era.
Have you ever wondered what the most popular names were in when your parents were babies? What about when you were a baby? Fortunately, the answers are available in the sections below.
Names matter and what we are named will influence how we walk through life. It is important to find a name that you are comfortable with your newborn having. Parents will select names for a variety of reasons, and the rise and fall in the popularity of names is unpredictable, so you are in for a wild ride. Buckle up!
The 1960s: Pop Culture and Short Names
The 1960s was an eventful decade for the United States since it marked the start of the Civil Rights Movement. There was also a large influence from pop culture as the Beatles became popular during this time. The name “Michelle” became popular from the Beatles song of the same name. The name “Michael” became popular after the career of the Jackson Five began to take off in 1964.
However, with the number one boy name also being the same as the biblical archangel, this name has become a classic choice for new parents.
Furthermore, the baby names during this decade barely went over two syllables. An interesting fact is that nicknames were quite popular which explains why these two-syllable names dominate the lists. The average length of names from 100 names in the 1960s is 4.98 characters. Compared to the names from boys and girls from 2015, names from the 1960s are 16 percent shorter.
The 1970s: The Rise of “J” Names
There is not a noticeable shift in the top 10 names for girls, but names starting with the letter “J” move their way to the top for most popular boy names. Three boy names with the letter “J” were able to make it into the top 10: Jason, James and John.
However, the name Jennifer does take the first spot for the most popular girl name for the 1970s and Michael retains its number one spot from the previous decade.
The 1970s was a decade with its own unique events, particularly for its beginnings and falls. For example, the Beatles announced their disbandment in 1970. That same year, Apollo 13 returned to earth from the moon after abandoning its mission because of issues with the oxygen tank and an explosion. Some positive starts were the ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the opening of Walt Disney World.
The 1980s: The Yuppie Years and Androgynous Names
Names from this decade have inspired high class names for babies. Names like Ashley and Amanda were considered more high-end names and have reached the top 10 for the 1980s. According to Linda Rozenkrantz, the founder of Namesberry.com, nicknames like Johnny, Jimmy and Betty fell out of popularity and went back to their original names such as John and James. The popularity of androgynous names like Kyle and Blake also rose in popularity.
The name rankings have not changed for boy names in the 1980s, leaving the name Michael at the number one spot for a third decade in a row. However, other girl names have been able to get into the top 10, like the name Jessica shifting to the very top. This name is of Hebrew origin and means wealthy and “God beholds.”
The 1990s: Creative Alternatives and the Return of Pop Culture Names
During this decade, parents of newborns decided that these normal names need a little bit more flair. Names also became shorter, going back to their two to three-syllable status. The names of popular characters from hit TV shows became high on the popularity list, even though they did not make it to the top 10. Some examples are Rachel from “Friends,” Alyssa from “Who’s the Boss?” and even Brandon and Dylan from “90210.”
Michael continues to be number one for boy names for a fourth time since the 1960s, and the name Christopher for a second consecutive decade. The name Jessica is also number one for a second time. Some names have shifted from their positions for the names of both girls and boys in the top 10 but remain on the lists for this decade.
The 2000s: Traditional Names
This decade brought plenty of turmoil from the wars and the economic downturn, so parents fell back on more traditional names for their children. However, these names are tried and true and a traditional, biblical name like Michael was knocked out the first place by another biblical name, Jacob. Jacob comes from the Hebrew meaning “seizing by the heel, supplanting.”
The turn of the century also brought diverse and strange names to light. Eclectic baby names like Bronx Mowgli started becoming more popular. Generation Z, who were born during the early part of this era, are also known to be the most diverse generation. This diverse generation has influenced and ethically-driven names.
The 2010s: The Rise of Spiritual Names and Shift in the Charts
The popular names list makes an incredible shift from the past decades. Traditional names from the past have come back and made the top 10 list for both sexes. The name Emma, which is a German-derived name meaning “strength,” was at the height of popularity in the 1880s, ranking into the third position for most popular girl names. The name lost its popularity during the mid-1900s and fell through about 350 ranks. In 2014, the name Emma took the number one spot.
Romance language names for girls join the top 10 for this decade. Names like Sophia, Olivia, Isabella and Mia are of Latin origin and have become very popular in recent years. Though it was not able to crack the top 10, Addison, the name of a character from the prevalent TV show “Grey’s Anatomy” started rising in popularity.