After decades of classic Thomases and Timothys, Richards and Roberts, nothing sounded cooler in the sixties and seventies than a sleek, new, single-syllable name. I’m not talking about those that were just short-form nicknames like Josh and Jeff and Brad and Greg, or the inauthentic Hollywood-invented names like Rock or Tab.
No, these were legit, independent names– a number of which happened to be Scottish by birth. They were for the most part sharp and brisk, often with hard-edged ‘k’ or ‘t’ endings, and some bore strong family resemblances to each other. We’ve called a segment of them Beach Boy Names—the personification of surfer machismo.
Some of these names are still in use; but we’re wondering today if any of them are ready for a really strong comeback .
Dean—Dean, with a mixed image—part academic, part Dean Martin— is actually on the upswing. It has risen close to a hundred places in the last decade, though its most prominent representatives, Deans Cain and McDermott, were both born in 1966.
Grant—Grant has been in the Top 350 every year since 1880, so it isn’t time-stamped like many of these others: it now ranks comfortably at Number 151. Grant is both presidential and has the Old Hollywood tie to Cary.
Keith—one of the early arrivals, originally a Scottish surname and still in use. A Top 50 name from the fifties to the seventies, Keith sounds more modern than some with its Keegan/Kieran-related beginning…but it also does bring to mind the craggy visage of Keith Richards.
Kent and Brent and Trent—a no-nonsense trio of British place and surname names, associated with English counties and rivers—and a number of star athletes. Trent rates highest of the three on the current list, along with its city cousin Trenton.
Lance—Lance already had something of an over-the-top soap opera-ish image drawback back in the day, and Lance Armstrong’s current problems have now tarnished that namesake. Adventurous modern parents might prefer the Arthurian Lancelot.
Scott—I don’t know about you, but I know at least a dozen Scotts—not too surprising when you think that there were almost 31,000 of them born in 1971 alone, when it was in the Top10. Scott is still hanging in at Number 372, but many Scottish-minded parents now would prefer something less generic, like Finlay or Ewan.
Troy—Troy’s popularity was spurred by sixties heartthrob Troy (born Merle) Donahue, reaching Number 40 in 1967-68, then was kept alive by legendary footballer Troy Aikman. It was still given to almost 1,500 baby boys last year– and it does have that historic ancient place name connection.
So, do any of these old surfer dude names appeal? Or are they still too Dad to you?