In the mid-1980s, when we were beginning to conceptualize our first book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason, the most popular names were, well, Jennifer (42,637 of them born in 1985 alone) and Jason, as well as Jessica, Michael (a whopping 64,852 of them—no wonder we run into so many 25-year-old Mikes) and Matthews, Ashleys and Amandas, Megans and Melissas.
Over the entire decade of those ancient eighties– the era of Cabbage Patch Dolls and Punky Brewster, the moonwalk and the Material Girl—the top three girls’ names were Jessica (469,000). Jennifer (440,000) and Amanda (369,000), while for the boys it was Michael (663,000— that’s over half a million, in case you hadn’t noticed), Christopher (555,000) and Matthew (458,000)—rounding them off to the nearest hundred.
In the quarter century (!) that has passed since 1985, we’ve seen some very different naming patterns emerge. At that time, there were very few vowel-starting names, except for those A-girls mentioned above, the perennial Elizabeth and the emerging Emily. Hardly a flower name in the bunch, minimal celebrity impact, Mary still in the Top 35, the boys’ list showing little signs of new life, sticking with Old and New Testament favorites and English classics. Not an aden-ending name in the Top 500—though Braden had already popped up at 583, just below Benny.
What’s particularly interesting to look at from today’s perspective is not so much the new names that were emerging or those that are still with us, but the older ones that were still hanging on in the 1985 Top 1000, and have now completely dropped off.
Here are some that might be ready for their encores. What do you think?