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Category: 1980s baby names



Boys’ Names Ins and Outs


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

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Popular Girls Names: Their ups and downs


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 SamanthaAlexis 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

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Guest blogger Emily Van Do grew up longing to find a pencil with her name on it and then–whoops!–she tells us how she felt when Emily became #1. 

 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, “EmilyEmily!”  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.

Suddenly, Emily was common.  Emily was very common.

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.

Emily Van Do is the author of Mama Never Told Me…which can be found at Destination Maternity Stores.  You can find her at :

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Gossip Girl (and Boy) Names


In a desperate attempt to bond with the teenagers in my family, I have become a devoted watcher of Gossip Girl. And as I take in the adventures of these upper-crusty New York teens, I can’t help but ruminate on their names.

What’s remarkable is not so much the names of the characters – BLAIR, the name of the series’ Queen Bee, is the only one that truly fits the mold – but the names of the actors who play them.

No fewer than five of the actors with major roles have names that are eighties-style upwardly-mobile surname-names, perfectly in tune with the style of the show:


(For the uninitiated, Blake, Leighton, and Taylor are girls, Chace and Penn are boys.)

Two other actors have names in the same vein, but not quite as stereotypical:


Other names that fit this mold, now more commonly heard on twenty-something interns and junior editors and gallery assistants than on babies, include:


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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.  

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