Names that Peaked in 1959

  1. Rory
    • Origin:

      Irish
    • Meaning:

      "red king"
    • Description:

      This spirited Gaelic classic, which became popular in Ireland via the illustrious twelfth century king Rory O'Connor, makes a highly energetic choice, now used for either sex. Rory's gender split is still trending boyward; it's one of the coolest boys' names starting with R.
  2. Michael
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "who is like God?"
    • Description:

      Michael was the Number 1 American boys' name for almost half a century. While Michael has moved out of the Top 10 baby boy names, it's still widely used.
  3. Mary
    • Origin:

      Hebrew or Egyptian
    • Meaning:

      "drop of the sea, bitter, or beloved"
    • Description:

      Mary is the English form of Maria, which ultimately was derived from the Hebrew name Maryam/Mariam. The original meaning of Maryam is uncertain, but theories include "drop of the sea" (from Hebrew roots mar "drop" and yam "sea"); "bitter" (from Hebrew marah "bitterness"); and "beloved" (from the Egyptian root mr).
  4. Susan
    • Origin:

      English diminutive of Susannah, Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "lily"
    • Description:

      Although Susan had her heyday from the thirties to the sixties, and is now common among moms and new grandmas, and though most modern parents would prefer Susanna/Susannah, we have spotted some flickers of interest in a revival. It still retains a certain black-eyed-Susan freshness.
  5. Valerie
    • Origin:

      French variation of Valeria
    • Meaning:

      "strength, health"
    • Description:

      The name of a martyred medieval saint, Valerie has been on the popularity list since its earliest publication in 1880. Though it peaked in the 1960s, remaining in the Top 100 until 1988, it still doesn't sound terminally dated; the association with the word valor gives it a sense of boldness and makes it one of the special group of girl names that mean strong.
  6. Gwen
    • Origin:

      Diminutive of Gwendolen/Gwendolyn
    • Meaning:

      "white circle"
    • Description:

      While Gwen may have originated as a short form of Gwendolen and Gwendolyn, these days it frequently stands on its own. Rocker Gwen Stefani has given it a shot of cool, and parents are choosing it as a standalone more and more often—Gwen hopped back onto the US Top 1000 in 2013 after an absence of over 30 years. Gwen could also be short for Guinevere.
  7. Mark
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "warlike"
    • Description:

      Mark has the rare appeal of a strong, sleek name with a minimalist modern feel and ancient roots. The name Mark is taken from the Roman god of war Mars, also the namesake of the planet.
  8. Venus
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "love, desire"
    • Description:

      The name of a heavenly planet and the Roman goddess of beauty and love was an intimidating no-no until tennis champ Venus Williams put an athletic, modern spin on it.
  9. Flint
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "born near outcrop of flint"
    • Description:

      Flint is one of the new macho names on the rise today, part old-school tough guy, part rebel. You won't find a tougher, steelier-sounding name; it's part of a genre on the rise along with cousins Slate, Stone and Steel.
  10. Betsy
    • Origin:

      Diminutive of Elizabeth
    • Meaning:

      "pledged to God"
    • Description:

      This Elizabeth nickname has a decidedly retro feel--think Betsy Ross and the Betsy Wetsy doll-- once seen as a perkier, younger-sounding alternative to Betty. But with Betty on the brink of a comeback, pigtailed Betsy could return as well.
  11. Steven
    • Origin:

      English variation of Stephen
    • Meaning:

      "garland, crown"
    • Description:

      Steven, the phonetic and now predominant spelling of the classier Stephen, has finally dropped out of the Top 100 after seventy years. Steve has become one of the ultimate regular-guy names, right up there with Dave and Joe. and there have been innumerable pop-culture role models among its bearers--from Steven Spielberg to Steven Soderbergh to Steve Jobs.
  12. Donna
    • Origin:

      Italian
    • Meaning:

      "lady"
    • Description:

      Literally meaning "lady" in Italian, Donna was the perfect ladylike housewife mom name on The Donna Reed Show in the fifties and sixties. And there were plenty of namesakes: Donna was in the Top 10 in 1964. These days we'd be more likely to associate it with the emanciatpated clothes of Donna Karen than as a baby name.
  13. Layne
    • Origin:

      Spelling variation of Lane
    • Description:

      As surname Lane becomes more popular, so too does this variant. Regardless, it does create the possibility for spelling confusion.
  14. Ricky
    • Origin:

      Diminutive of Richard or Frederick
    • Meaning:

      "dominant or peaceful ruler"
    • Description:

      Gone with Richard and Rick, Ricky has been falling since the turn of the 21st century. Probably still suffering from overuse in the 1990s.
  15. Meg
    • Origin:

      Diminutive of Margaret
    • Meaning:

      "pearl"
    • Description:

      Meg, perennially one of the Little Women, is a Margaret short form that manages to be neither quite in nor quite out of style. Meg is sleeker and more sophisticated than Maggie, more contemporary than Peg, more stylish than Megan, and still one of the best diminutives of Margaret.

      Meg Ryan was born Margaret Mary Emily Anne.

  16. Walt
    • Origin:

      German, diminutive of Walter
    • Description:

      A straightforward, down-to-earth nickname many Walters, from Whitman to Disney, have chosen to go by.
  17. Debbie
    • Origin:

      Short form of Deborah or Debra
    • Meaning:

      "bee"
    • Description:

      The quintessential friendly fifties name, nearly epidemic in its day. Now many grownup Debbies have reverted to the full and lovely form of their name, which modern parents often avoid because of the name Debbie ringing too loudly in their ears.
  18. Steve
    • Origin:

      Diminutive of Stephen or Steven
    • Meaning:

      "garland, crown"
    • Description:

      Some parents just use Steve on the birth certificate, but it doesn't have the breezy charm of trendy short forms like Max, Sam, and Jake. Regardless of how much you love Steve as a given name, it might be smart to give your son a longer option to fall back on.
  19. Bart
    • Origin:

      Diminutive of Bartholomew, Hebrew, "son of the earth"
    • Meaning:

      "son of the earth"
    • Description:

      Permanent property of that devilish little Simpson kid.
  20. Lise
    • Origin:

      Diminutive of Elisabeth, Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "pledged to God"
    • Description:

      Lise is most often found in the U.S. as the second half of the hybrid name Annalise. Canadian journalist Lyse Doucet bears a pretty alternative spelling, pronounced LEESE.