Dad Names Give Us All The Nostalgia
Happy Fathers’ Day! To celebrate, we’re looking at today’s Dad Names.
Dad Names are names that peaked in popularity between 1980-2000. This means they’re mostly found on men aged 20-40, the main age group for new dads.
The key point here is when the names peaked. Some, like Richard and Robert, were well-used in the 1980s and 90s but were already past the height of popularity, and are now in Grandpa Name territory. Others, like Jacob, were becoming popular but peaked later, so most of their wearers aren’t dad age yet.
So are Dad Names usable today? Most still rank in the popularity charts, some even still in the Top 100. And there are certainly arguments in their favor. Many are very appealing — that’s why they were popular in the first place — and if being one of several in the class is a concern, they will probably stand among the Liams and Noahs at school.
But if you want a name that’s fresh, cool, and not likely to be shared with your kid’s teacher/sports coach/boss, you may want to avoid Dad Names. Let them rest (with slippers and a glass of something chilled), and they’ll be vintage and trendy again by the time your great-grandchildren are born.
10 Major Trends
1. C__y surnames
2. Cowboy names
Along the same lines, many names that peaked in the 80s and 90s had cowboy style. After all, their parents grew up in the golden age of Clint Eastwood. Cowboy Dad Names include Austin, Dallas, Cassidy and, yes, Clint. Cowboy names are still on trend today, but with a fresh set of names like Wyatt, Wilder and Colton.
3. Early-adopter occupational names
The 80s and 90s were a high point for traditional classics like Roberto, Felipe, Juan and Pedro. Since then, Spanish-speaking parents have moved on to a new generation of names. Some of the hottest now include Mateo, Angel and Santiago.
Every generation has its favorite bible names. Today’s dads have names that pull away from mid-century classics like David and Steven, but are more streamlined than the dramatic Old Testament prophet names favored today. Some examples: Aaron, Nathaniel, Jared and Joel.
If we had to pick just one letter to define Dad Names, it would be D. These decades were the golden age of names with a De- prefix — Deandre, DeVante — as well as popular D names like Daniel, Devon and Drew.
De- wasn’t the only popular prefix. Many Dad Names start with sounds like Ja-, Ra-, Tre– and Ty-. These are a mixture of established names, and creative ones that take the sound and run with it, so there’s Jamal and Jamarcus, Rashad and Rashawn. Today’s parents are equally creative, but with different sounds. The hot syllables of today include Jay, Kay, Car and Bry.
8. Names starting with Br-
9. Names ending in -ell
The most defining ending of Dad Names is -ell, in names such as Darnell, Jarrell, Montrell, Mitchell and Tyrell. Today, Maxwell is the only one in the Top 500: parents tend to prefer this sound on the start of names, like Elliot.
10. Pop culture
Some names that peaked in the 1980s and 90s can be firmly pinned to the stars of the time, including:
Darien (Time Trax)
Tristan (Legends of the Fall)
Here’s our pick of the most typical Dad Names. The full list is here.
Today’s Dad Names
For context, these were the most popular boy names of the 1980s and 1990s.
And these are some of the boy names that peaked in popularity during that time:
What are the names of dads you’re celebrating this Fathers’ Day?
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on June 19th, 2020 at 12:14 pm
I would add Adam, Brian/Bryan, Brent, Eric/Erik, Jeff(rey), and Travis as “dad names” from my social circle! I know at least two dads of kids with each of those names, and virtually no little kids with those names (save one little Adam).
Dan(iel), Jon(athan), Josh, Matt, and Tanner are also especially popular among the dads I know.
Clare Green Said
on June 19th, 2020 at 12:38 pm
@beynotce Good shout – how could I miss Adam! I’ve updated the list. Brian, Brent, Eric and Jeffrey peaked in the 70s, so they’re poised between older dads/younger grandpas.
on June 19th, 2020 at 3:14 pm
I feel that Jason and Sean/Shawn/Shaun should be on this list. I was born in the early 80s and went to school with so many guys with those names.
on June 19th, 2020 at 3:41 pm
100% agree on Jason and the Seans being added to this list!
Clare Green Said
on June 19th, 2020 at 6:35 pm
@Pansy and @DawnitaSunshine Thanks for pointing out these names, they’re absolutely in dad name territory. It just depends where we draw the (somewhat arbitrary) line for this list. Jason was huge in the early 80s (and is still in the Top 100 now!), but its real peak was in the 1970s: there were more Jasons born in the 70s than in the 80s and 90s combined. There were also more Shawns born in the 70s than any other decade, so the bulk of them are likely to be dads of older children.
Shaun and Sean are slightly different. They reached their highest rank in the 1970s, but in raw numbers most men with these names were born in the 1980s… so I think that qualifies to go on this list! I’ve added them.
on June 19th, 2020 at 8:45 pm
That all makes sense. I was born in 1981 so that would be why I perceive Jason as being more prevalent.
on June 22nd, 2020 at 2:15 am
My partner’s name is on this list…should I be sending it to him to give him a hint? 😉
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