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Baby Names that Bridge Generations: Allison and Kyle

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by Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

One day I had an epiphany. I consider myself part of the “Mom Generation”. When I was in high school, I knew both a Debbie (short for Deborah) and an Allison.

Fast forward to 2014 and I would be surprised to see Deborah on a birth announcement, but not on a grandmother. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allison on a birth announcement but I would be shocked to meet a grandma Allison.

Yet I can imagine both names on moms.

Deb (or Deborah, Debra, Debora, etc.) seems imaginable on anyone between 35-60. Allison (or Alison, Allisyn, etc.) seems imaginable on anyone newborn to age 40. These are large imaginable age ranges for feminine names, since feminine names seem to date more quickly than masculine names.

I double-checked the Social Security name stats to see if this was all in my head.

Based on the Social Security data, Deborah and Allison may have peaked at different times, yet there was a time in the 1970’s, the decade when I was born, when both names were in the top 100.

As expected, Deborah was a top name for my Mom’s generation, peaking at #2 in 1955. Deborah’s popularity started to fall throughout the ’60s and ’70s, but the name remained in the top 100 until 1977.

For all practical purposes, the similar Debra was almost as popular as Deborah, peaking at #2 in 1956 (the year after Deborah peaked at #2), and remained popular for almost as long, not leaving the top 100 until 1975.

While both Deborah and Debra were in decline in the 1970’s, when the 1975 birth numbers for both names are combined, it adds up to 5,860 girls born that year.

Around the time Deborah was declining, Allison had just begun its ascent. The similar Alison (with one L) had also begun its ascent but eventually the Allison spelling (with two L’s) would become much more popular.

When the 1975 birth numbers for both Allison and Alison are combined, it adds up to 5,618 girls, close to the birth numbers for Deborah and Debra that year.

1975 was a pivotal year, the year Deborah passed the torch to Allison.

Allison would go on to reach its peak at #30 in 2009. Most recently Allison ranked at #34. Allison’s reign among the top 40 ranks has lasted for nearly three decades.

After looking at the numbers, I realized someone from my generation having classmates named Deborah and Allison is not unusual.

I like to call names like Deborah and Allison “generational crossover” names. Maybe you and your parents (or you and your kids) have friends with these generational crossover names:

Deborah-Allison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allison (or Alison, Allisyn, etc.)

  • Years in the top 100: 1974 – present
  • Imaginable ages: Newborn to 40

Brian (or Bryan)

  • Years in the top 100: 1947 – 2009
  • Imaginable ages: 15 to 50*

Cynthia

  • Years in the top 100: 1945 – 1993
  • Imaginable ages: 30 – 60

Deborah (or Debra, Debora, etc.)

  • Years in the top 100: 1947 – 1976
  • Imaginable ages: 35 – 60

Eric (or Erik, Erick, etc.)

  • Years in the top 100: 1950 – 2010
  • Imaginable ages: 10 to 50*

Hailey (or Hayley)

  • Years in the top 100: 1996 – present
  • Imaginable ages: Newborn to 30

Jenna

  • Years in the top 100: 1984 – 2006
  • Imaginable ages: Newborn to 30

Kyle

  • Years in the top 100: 1974 – 2008
  • Imaginable ages: Newborn to 40

Megan (or Meghan, Megyn, etc.)

  • Years in the top 100: 1975 – 2007
  • Imaginable ages: 5 – 40

Natalie

  • Years in the top 100: 1976 – present
  • Imaginable ages: Newborn to 40

Sean (or Shawn)

  • Years in the top 100: 1965 – 2009
  • Imaginable ages: 15 – 45

* I feel I owe an explanation for why I can’t imagine Brian on anyone under 15 or Eric on anyone under 10 despite these names being in the top 100 as recently as 2009 and 2010. I can’t really give a good explanation. The imaginable age ranges are based solely on my frame of reference, and you may disagree with them. Feel free to disagree with the age ranges.

Do you know any more names that bridge generations?

This post was revised for Nameberry based on the UBN post 8 Names That Bridge Generations. New names were added to the list after the original post was launched based on readers’ suggestions.

Angela created Upswing Baby Names to help parents find that different but not too different name. She muses about names on their way in and on their way out in her book, The Top 22 in 2022

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About the author

upswingbabynames

Angela Mastrodonato created Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.
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10 Responses to “Baby Names that Bridge Generations: Allison and Kyle”

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loislane1222 Says:

June 20th, 2014 at 5:13 am

Abigail and Abby might be one. I know several moms named Abby. And I know tons of little girls named Abby, Abbie and Abigail.

gabbygrace1915 Says:

June 20th, 2014 at 9:19 am

I definitely think Sarah would be one!! I know a couple of newer moms named Sarah, but I can still totally see Sarah on a new born!

KatieSpills Says:

June 20th, 2014 at 11:53 am

I think Ryan would definitely be a name that’s both dad and baby friendly. I’d also consider my name Kate/Katie to be a crossover as I’ve met many women my age and girls my daughter’s age with my name.

SparkleNinja18 Says:

June 20th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Elizabeth, Victoria, Hannah, etc. My name, Abby (Abigael or Abigail, the original spelling) is also one.

tararyaz Says:

June 20th, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I consider myself in the “mom gen” as well, but I guess I’m more on the younger end of that spectrum because Debbie feels older than me. I have heard Allison on newborns & kids as well as Emily, Amy and Amanda. I think a lot of the names in my gen are nearly classic. Of course Katie, Victoria, Elizabeth, Margaret ect can be babies, moms or grandmas because they are absolutely classics, but the nickname picks are a bit revealing. To me Beth or Liz are older than Libby or Bette (unless Libby & Bette are great-grandmas :)) I think that Jennifer, Jessica, Lauren, Stephanie and the like are pretty classic despite their dated rep. Once the classmate associate chills out and they have more of a family-name feel I think they’re the ones we’ll hear more & more as the years go on.

NaomiNY Says:

June 21st, 2014 at 11:36 pm

I know people with the following names:
Allison (sister)
Eric (cousin and friend)
Brian (friend)
Shawn (friend)
Meagan (friend)
Natalie (friend’s mom)

Other names that might cross over generationally:
Elizabeth (my middle name, a friend’s middle name, and my maternal great-grandmother’s name)
Joshua (friend)
Caitlin (friend)
Siobhan (friend)
Nicole (friend)
Matthew (cousin and friend)
Samuel (7th & 8th grade classmate)
Samantha (Samuel’s cousin, another 7th & 8th grade classmate)
Leah (friend)
Dana (cousin)
Timothy (friend)
Miles (friend)
Michael (great-uncle)
Joseph (friend, great-grandfather, uncle)
Benjamin (friend)
Mark (cousins)
Robert (friend, cousin)
Amanda (friend, cousin)

bonfireazalea Says:

June 22nd, 2014 at 1:07 am

That’s a great description for names like that. I was saying something along those lines on the recent thread about whether Emily was/would be dated- I could imagine a newborn to 30s/40s Emily. All classic names technically fit into this category… Some names like Jennifer and Melanie feel dated but actually have been in the top 100 for decades and still are.

tmaire Says:

June 22nd, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I was born in the mid 80s and grew up with Brookes – and I’ve met babies with that name (but no grandmas) and other names that fit from my experience (80s to present) are

Kayla
Emma
Mckenzie
Samantha
Caitlin
Carley
Haley
Breanne

tmaire Says:

June 22nd, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I was born in the mid 80s and grew up with Brookes – and I’ve met babies with that name (but no grandmas) and other names that fit from my experience (80s to present) are

Kayla
Emma
Mckenzie
Samantha
Caitlin
Carley
Haley
Breanne

Waverly123 Says:

October 18th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I think Katherine for sure! My mom is Katherine and she went to school with like 5 other Katherine’s/Catherine’s. I also know 2 people my age (18) named K/Catherine and I know younger girls named Katherine. Factor in all the Katie’s, and Katherine is a name that definitely spans the generations.

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