Baby Names of the 1990s

Baby Names of the 1990s

September is here, which means that summer is just about over and schools have once again reconvened. As a college instructor, I always find myself interested in the names of my new students each semester. Here, I take a look at some of the names that might appear in a college classroom today, 1990s names tied to students who were born in the mid-1990s.

Boys’ Names

The 1990s were dominated by traditional names for the boys—solid names that experienced frequent usage in the late-twentieth century. These names include Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Joshua, Jacob, Nicholas, Andrew, Daniel, Justin, Ryan, and David, to name a few. Chances are, if you know many people born in the 80s and 90s, you know multiple guys with these names. At the very top of the charts, then, the 1990s were not a time of experimentation or deviation.

Despite this continuance of trends from earlier decades, the 90s nonetheless birthed some new names and vaulted others into the spotlight. Names that gained a modest rankings boost (jumping between 20 and 50 places from 1985 to 1995) include Samuel (up 21 spots), Luke (24), Zachary (25), Cody (26), Alexander (29), Evan (31), Jordan (33), Tyler (36), and Trevor (44).

Names that gained a more significant boost (rising more than 50 places between 1985 and 1995) include Devin (up 63 spots), Christian (73), Caleb (82), Austin (97), Dylan (153), Logan (182), Ethan (233), Hunter (284), and Connor (614).

Finally, there are some names that didn’t necessarily rise during the 1990s but can still be attributed to the zeitgeist of the decade. These include Brian, Robert, Shane, Jason, Patrick, Jeremy, and Dustin. It wasn’t long ago that I had three students named Shane in a single semester.

Girls’ Names

Names given to girls of the 1990s followed some of the same trends of the 1980s—names like Jessica, Ashley, Amanda, Sarah, Rachel, and Megan continued to top the charts—but there were also some trend shifts that began to influence names of the 2000s and beyond.

Some with modest gains (jumping between 20 and 50 places from 1985 to 1995) include Emily (up 21 spots), Anna (23), Samantha (25), Courtney (26), Chelsea (28), Victoria (39), and Brooke (50). These are some of the names that came to define the decade.

There were also quite a few names that rose to prominence seemingly out of nowhere, many more than on the boys’ list. These names (rising more than 50 places between 1985 and 1995) include Alexandra (up 66 spots), Jasmine (79), Kayla (97), Alexis (98), Alyssa (103), Morgan (104), Hannah (110), Abigail (117), Kelsey (135), Brianna (170), Jordan (205), Olivia (209), Taylor (239), Kaitlyn (243), Shelby (243), Sydney (436), and Madison (598). The rapid rise in popularity for several of these names has influenced naming trends since, as several of them still receive a lot of attention while others have paved the way for some of the more daring entries in recent years.

Other girls’ names that exude a 90s feel but didn’t necessarily rise in usage during the decade include Amber, Danielle, Lauren, Jennifer, Rebecca, Michelle, and Tiffany.

From 1995 to 2015, much of the naming landscape has shifted significantly. Looking back, however, we can see that some of these names have stood the test of time and others appear more dated. While they may all be found in the college classroom these days, which of these names do you think still have what it takes to appear on a birth certificate in 2015?

About the Author

Josh Murray

Josh Murray

Josh Murray has a PhD in English and is a college instructor of writing and literature. In whatever free time he can find, he researches names and naming trends. He and his wife have a son and a daughter. You can find his (infrequently updated) naming microblog on Twitter: @readyNameFIRE.