Menu

Dad Names: The Next Generation

Dad Names: The Next Generation

Happy Fathers’ Day! To celebrate, we’re looking at Dad Names.

Dad Names are names that peaked in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. They're most likely to be found on men in their twenties and thirties, the main age group for new dads.

It's a group with blurry edges. Of course there are some young dads named Richard and Robert, or Mason and Theodore, but these names are more attached to different generations.

And some names are such enduring classics that we can’t pin them down to any generation at all. Thousands of new fathers are named James and William, but so too are thousands of children and grandpas.

Do you have a Dad Name? Or are you considering one for your kid? Read on for the top ways to recognise one, and 80+ names that are in definite dad territory.

8 Signs Of A Dad Name

If your name ticks any of these boxes, there's a good chance you're celebrating Fathers' Day this year.

1. Classic cowboy names

Many names that peaked in the 80s and 90s had a flavour of the Wild West. After all, their parents grew up in the golden age of Clint Eastwood. Cowboy Dad Names include Austin, Dallas and, yes, Clint. C__y surnames like Cody, Casey, Cory and Cassidy (in all their spellings) were a big subgroup of this style.

Cowboy names are still on trend today, but with fresh options like Wyatt, Wilder, Colton, and Beau.

2. Early-adopter occupational names

Nowadays the charts are full of occupational names, but it all started with Taylor and Tyler, which peaked in 1993. Tanner, Skyler and Spencer were hot on their heels.

3. Classic Spanish 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: some of the hottest Spanish boy names today include Mateo, Angel and Santiago.

4. Biblical Dad Names

Every generation has its favorite bible names for boys. 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.

5. Names That Start with D and Br-

If we had to pick just one letter to define Dad Names, it would be D. The 1980s and 90s were the golden age of the De- prefix — Deandre, DeVante — as well as popular boy names starting with D like Daniel, Devon and Drew.

Br- names are another trend that is still going strong, with an evolved set of names. Dads today are called Brandon and Brett. Their sons are more likely to be Braydon and Bryson.

6. Prefixes

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, such as Jay-, Kay-, Car- and Bry-.

7. 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 and Russell are the only ones in the Top 500: parents now prefer this sound on the start of names, like Elliot.

8. Retro pop culture

Some names that peaked in the 1980s and 90s can be firmly pinned to the stars of the time, including:

Chandler (Friends)

Clayton (Dallas)

Darien (Time Trax)

Dawson (Dawson’s Creek)

DeVante (Swing)

Jordan (Michael)

Keanu (Reeves)

Shaquille (O’Neal)

Taurean (Blacque)

Tristan (Legends of the Fall)

80+ Dad Names

All these boy names peaked in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. How many are dads you know?

To complete the picture, below are the most popular boy names of the 1980s and 1990s.

Top Boy Names of the 1980s

The top 1980s names for boys were:

Top Boy Names of the 1990s

The top 1990s names for boys were:


So are Dad Names usable today? Most still rank in the popularity charts, some even still in the Top 100. They're as familiar and comfortable as a pair of dad jeans, and in today's classrooms they'll actually stand out among all the Liams and Noahs.

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. Wait a few decades, and they’ll be vintage and trendy again by the time your great-grandchildren are born.

Read next

Top Dad Names Reinvented

Girl Names That Honor Dad

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from names peaking right now to feminist baby names, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. She has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and recently completed an MA dissertation researching names in multilingual families. She lives in England with her husband and son. You can reach her at clare@nameberry.com