Category: 1980s baby names
Today is officially Soap Opera Day (woo hoo!) and though this isn’t as big of a deal in the baby name world as it once was, with a lot fewer sudsers on TV than there were when soap operas were the main staple of daytime programming, we have to acknowledge the influence that they did have in the past—just as powerful as reality show show TV names do today.
This is true both in terms of trends (as in sometimes condescendingly considered “soap opera names” on the order of Thorne and Trent, Blade and Brent, and also place names like Sierra and Egypt, boys’ names for girls) and individual names—the classic example of which is Kayla. It’s highly doubtful that there would have been 16,000 baby girls named Kayla in 1996 if popular good girl Kayla Brady hadn’t appeared on Days of Our Lives a decade earlier. And the same goes for all those Ashleys too.
What follows is a list of soap opera names across three decades that did have some influence—though it sometimes took as long as a decade or two to make an impact (and of course there could be other factors involved)—followed by the year in which they were at the peak of their popularity.
Conventional wisdom says that parents are willing to take risks with their daughters’ names, but turn conservative as soon as they hear the words “It’s a boy!”
There’s some truth to that, and yet I know more and more little fellows with daring names. The US Top 100 bears this out, too, from Noah to Jayden to Chase, all names that sound mainstream today, but violate some of the traditional norms of naming boys.
I think I might have landed on one of the reasons this week: 80s glam metal.
Yesterday we took a look at the girls’ names moving in and out of fashion and now we turn our attention to their brothers.
And here we find a somewhat different picture.
Overall, it confirms the fact that there is much greater consistency on the boys’ side of the fence, with a huge proportion of the names already established in the Top 100 list of 1880, and very few new ones entering in the succeeding years: only one or two per decade, with a large number of them having Irish roots.
Names that we might think of as fairly recent favorites were already on the list in the 1880s: Cameron, Carson, Carter, Chase, Cole and Cooper, Hunter and Haydn, for example. (Further evidence of the 100-year rule.)
So, again, here they are, arranged by decade, and then giving the particular years that they were among the Top 100.
- Angel: 1888, 1891, 1899, 1907-1910, 1912-1914, 1916-2009
- Blake: 1883, 1886, 1892-1894, 1897, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1920-21, 1933, 1942-1943, 1945-2009
- Bryan: 1883, 1886, 1890, 1892, 1894-2009
- Caleb: 1880-1907, 1909-1911, 1914-1915, 1917-1918, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1964, 1966, 1968-1009
- Cameron: 1882-1885m 1888, 1895-1896, 1900, 1911-1912, 1916, 1920-1924, 1926, 1930-1931, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941-2009
- Carson: 1880-1882, 1884-1892, 1894-1896, 1898-2009
- Carter: 1881, 1883-1977, 1980-2009
- Chase: 1885, 1972-2009
- Cole: 1886, 1912, 1951, 1954-1965, 1967-2009
- Cooper: 1882, 1885-1887, 1889, 1982, 1984-2009
- Diego: 1887, 1958, 1963-2009
- Dominic: 1885, 1887, 1890-1892, 1894-2009
- Ethan: 1882, 1884, 1886-1887, 1891, 1893, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1952, 1954, 1956-2009
- Hayden: 1880, 1885, 1888-1892, 1895-1901, 1903-1930, 1922-1936, 1941-1944, 1947, 1986-2009
- Hunter: 1880-1886, 1888-1902, 1904-1920, 1922-1924, 1926-1929, 1931-1932, 1934-1935, 1945-1950, 1954, 1956-2009
- Isaiah: 1880-1968, 1971-2009
- Jason: 1880-1898, 1900-2009
- Jesus: 1880-1890, 1892-2009
- Jordan: 1880-1889, 1891-1901, 1903-1910, 1912-1915, 1917, 1919-2009
- Josiah: 1880-1896, 1898-1899, 1903-1904, 1906-1907, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1975-2009
- Justin: 1880-1881, 1884-1886, 1888-1894, 1896-2009
If I were a cookbook writer, I think my first title would be: “100 Ways to Dice and Slice the Social Security List.” There is so much information to be found embedded in it and so many ways to look at it, that there seems to be no end of different and intriguing ways to parse the data.
Pam will be writing later about the startling number of names that have been in the Top 1000 consistently—which is to say every single year– since score-keeping began in1880. Today I’ll take a look at the patterns followed by the names that have moved in and out of fashion.
First, the girls, grouped by the decades they first came into favor, followed by the specific years when they were included in the Top 100. (This does not include names that have been up there every single year.)
You may be surprised at when some of the names initially appeared—sometimes earlier, sometimes later than you might have guessed. Zoe and Chloe, for example, were both strong in the 19th century, as were Savannah and Samantha. Alexis was already up there in the 1940s, but Alexa didn’t break through till the 70s; Kayla was there as early as the fifties, while—and this may not be such a surprise– Kaitlyn, Katelyn, Kaylee and Makayla all broke through as a group in the eighties, along with Hailey and Bailey.
1880s-90s (and possibly earlier)
- Abigail: 1880-1897, 1901-1903, 1906, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1949-2009
- Andrea: 1880-1881, 1884-1887, 1889, 1901-1904, 1907-2009
- Ava: 1880-1972, 1974-1975, 1984, 1986-2009
- Bella: 1880-1931, 2000-2009
- Chloe: 1880-1943, 1982-2009
- Ella: 1880-1983, 1988, 1990-2009
- Faith: 1880-1882, 1884-1886, 1888-2009
- Isabella: 1880-1948, 1990-2009
- Isabelle: 1880-1954, 1957, 1991-2009
- Jessica: 1880-1893, 1895, 1898-1900, 1903-1912, 1914-1918, 1935, 1937, 1939-2009
- Lily: 1880-1964, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979-2009
- Madelyn: 1893, 1895-1965, 1986-2009
- Mariah: 1880-1908, 1910-1911, 1913, 1973, 1975-2009
- Melanie: 1886, 1938-2009
- Samantha: 1880-1902, 1907, 1964-2009
- Savannah: 1880-1922, 1924-1925, 1928, 1983-2009
- Sofia: 1881, 1881, 1886, 1888-1889, 1891-1892, 1895, 1898, 1900-1901, 1906-1914, 1916-1917, 1920-1925, 1927-1931, 1935, 1969, 1971-2009
- Sophie: 1880-1955, 1984-2009
- Sydney: 1886, 1905, 1932-1957, 1959-1961, 1963-1967, 1981-2009
- Valeria: 1881-1944, 1946-1976, 1983, 1985-2009
- Zoe: 1880-1912, 1914-1926, 1928-1929, 1931-1941, 1951-1955, 1957-1961, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1983-2009
When I was a kid, I hated my name.
I always associated the name Emily with older women. When I say older, I mean women in their fifties. To a five- year-old, that was ancient! One of the Emilys I knew was my aunt. The other involved a scarecrow, a tin man, a lion and some very impressive tornado effects.
I grew up in the 80’s and my name was not common. In 1970, the year I was born, Emily was the 173rd most popular name, as per the social security stats. When I discovered that, I was surprised it was as high as 173.
At number 173, you would expect to hear someone else named Emily — not necessarily in the same class, but somewhere in the school! Yet, as a kid, I never heard anyone calling out for another little girl named Emily.
Throughout grammar school, I would sit in class and daydream about being a Michelle, a Stacy…or a Jennifer! If I were a Jennifer, I would have two other girls named Jennifer in class. The teacher would have to add an initial when she called on me. I would have an eraser with Jennifer written on it!
I would go into a store and look for my name on those “name” kiosks. I wanted a toothbrush, a notebook, a pencil — anything! There was never anything!
Oh, how I longed to be common.
For years I would tell my mother it would be her last year with a daughter named Emily. I was finally going to change my name.
For years, my mother would tell me it’s “coming back.”
Then things started to change.
In 1989, my first year of college, Emily moved up the ranks to #13! I walked into an English Literature class. The professor took attendance and called out Emily – with two different last names! I remember being completely amazed.
My name started showing up on merchandise. Suddenly, I could buy as many Emily pencil sharpeners as I wanted!
I would be in a store and someone would call out, “Emily! Emily!” I would turn around and realize I wasn’t the Emily they wanted. Before I knew it, Emily turned up on yearly baby name lists as one of the most popular names for girls. In 1996, for the first time, Emily was the most popular girls’ name.
Somehow, I wasn’t so happy about the sudden emergence of my name (or what felt like the sudden emergence of my name). For years, I wanted to have a mainstream type of existence. I wanted to be like everyone else. When you’re young, you want to blend into the room like wallpaper.
In college, I realized how great it was to NOT be like everyone else. I began to treasure my differences. I liked my curly hair. I embraced my curvy figure! I was happy that I didn’t know anyone else who liked The Indigo Girls. Yes, I actually liked my name!
Oh, how I longed to be…uncommon.
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