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Comeback Candidates: Are we ready for babies Gregory, Susan and Mark?

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By Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names.

Every decade or two the name landscape transforms. New names are on the way in. Old names are on the way out. But as names rise and fall, the qualities parents seek in baby names remain constant. As a result, today’s top names share subtle similarities with yesterday’s top names.

While there will always be names that are undeniably dated, and should stay in old year books, others are unfairly dated, often overlooked, typecast as names of parents or grandparents. This is unfortunate. These names, because they peaked during a certain decade, may not generate short-term excitement but, in the long-term, their timeless and sometimes modern attributes make them stand-out.

Girls:

Amy – Amy shares the three letter-two syllables pattern of AvaMia and Zoe. Amy also boasts a touching meaning, “beloved.”

Beverly – Look no further than the prominent v shared with AvaEvelyn, and Olivia.  Bev may be your elderly neighbor, but close your eyes and imagine Bev on someone under 30 and Bev becomes super-chic.

Cynthia – An ethereal choice originating from Greek mythology. Say Cynthia out loud and rediscover its loveliness.

Diana – A wonderful Roman mythological choice with a royal legacy and cross-cultural appeal.

Helen – While some look to other Greek mythological names such as Athena and Hermione for fresh choices, the simple Helen shares the understated style of Claire.

Jessica – If Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba reinforce the name’s mom-image, consider Oscar winners Jessica Tandy and Jessica Lange and suddenly Jessica can fit any age. With Shakespearean roots and a classically feminine sound, Jessica is fitting for some contemporary babies, despite its overexposure in the 80s.

Laura – saw success long before the 60s and 70s. The name’s first wave of success was back in the 1880s, making Laura the perfect revival name. With the rise of Cora and Nora, Laura fits right in.

Lisa – Short, sweet, simple Lisa was the precursor to contemporary Elizabeth diminutives, Liza and Eliza. Chances are you grew-up with a Lisa and saw first-hand how a child can grow with this name.

Michelle – While Michelle‘s sisters Nicole and Danielle deserve a long hiatus, Michelle can still easily hang out with all the Gabriella’s and Isabella’s under 10.

Susan – Simple but not plain, an understated classic. The Susie nickname is incredibly cute, and fits in with EllieMaggie, and Sadie.

Boys:

Brian – This twentieth century favorite has just started to decline after years at the top. Brian is one of those dad names that was in the top 100 as recently as 2009.

Douglas – Before Scottish inspired Aidan and Colin, there was Douglas. Offers the eye-catching as-ending like Elias and Lucas, and easy-going nickname Doug.

Gregory – A handsome underused choice, with saintly significance and old Hollywood charm from Gregory Peck. Yet there are enough grown-up Gregory‘s to dilute the the famous association, making Gregory imaginable on many.

Kenneth – Sturdy and strong, this is another Scottish style-maker.

Mark – This name has a dependable timeless sound. The Marc spelling is eye-catching.

Peter – Occupational surname Porter may seem refreshingly modern, but Peter offers a similar sound in a traditional package.

Timothy – boasts Greek origins, saintly roots and musical rhythm. No wonder this name was once a huge hit back in the sixties. Timothy may be past-peak, but still hasn’t lost its style.

Unisex:

Rene – The French origins, the e-ending, the two syllables, the androgynous usage, and the feminine forms combine to make Rene eerily similar to fashion newcomer Esme.

When looking for baby names, many modern parents seek the unexpected yet fashionable. The challenge with unexpected and fashionable names is that they are paradoxes. These names’ fashionable qualities make them susceptible to discovery, eliminating the surprise element.

Granted, unfairly dated names aren’t fashionable at the moment. But there’s no denying that — on children — they have that surprise element. The future is uncertain, but I believe these names are too attractive to stay dated. After a few years out of spotlight, these names will get rediscovered and will probably end up on future grandchildren.

Which unfairly dated names do you feel will come back first?

Exhausted after continually searching for names no one has heard of, Angela rediscovered some old favorites which inspired the ongoing Unfairly Dated Name series on her blog Upswing Baby Names.

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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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25 Responses to “Comeback Candidates: Are we ready for babies Gregory, Susan and Mark?”

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liviajoan Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 12:27 am

I love Susan, but I prefer Susanna; you can keep it modern by having the nickname Sanna, and Suzie to me is not too far away from the cute and chic Zoey. I love Helen(a) and Cynthia as well, and Diana/Dianne is beautiful.

As for the boys, I like Peter, as it gives off the same feeling that Mylo does; sweet, caring, but adventurous. As for Gregory, I think George is more likely to come back, especially the feminine form, Georgia.

And as for Rene, I don’t think a boy should be named that. Its very feminine and is seen these days more as a feminine name.

joye Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 12:37 am

How about Linda and Pamela? 😉

Seriously, that little girl in the picture totally looks like a Linda to me.

Every Linda I’ve met under 30 has been Asian, for what that’s worth. It’s a very nice sounding name to the Chinese ear for sure (I speak Mandarin myself).

I’m considering Susan for my baby due in August. I just love Suzy (prefer that spelling) as a nickname!

tfzolghadr Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 1:13 am

A lot of people probably do use Lisa, but just as a nn for Elizabeth. I can see Helen, Susan, Mark, Peter, Gregory, and Timothy coming back…

Abby Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 3:42 am

I love Diana, Susan, and Peter. I agree with liviajoan – I’d use Susanna/h instead, but with the nn Zuzu.

calypsotheoneandonly Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 4:28 am

I like Susanna nn Sanna as well, but I can’t deny Suzy is pretty cool (Susie is cute, just kinda babyish to me). Diana doesn’t seem dated to me, there’s a girl called that in my grade. Niether does Jessica, but I think I like Jessa better.
I’ve always liked Amy, usually as a nickname for Amelia – my name love when I was eleven and twelve, and I still like it. For some reason I can’t really shake of the old-lady image for Beverly and Helen, although I like Everly, Ellen, and Elena. Hmmm.
But my favorite off the girl’s list has to be Laura. I’ve loved Laura ever since I first started the Little House books way back in second grade. Lisa is sweet too, I didn’t expect to see that here. On the boys side I love Mark and Kenneth, but Gregory and Peter are great too – Gregory mainly because it reminds me of the Greg Heffley books, and Peter because it gives me this reliable, strong older-brother image thanks to the Chronicles of Narnia.
Timothy should be a nice name, except all I hear is ‘timid’. That kind of ruins it for me.

upswingbabynames Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 4:32 am

@Abby – I’ve thought of Suzie, Sukie, and Zanna as nicknames for Susan / Susanna/h, but I never considered Zuzu. That’s a good idea.

sapphires Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 6:00 am

Jessica is still very popular here in England, so it’s not seen as dated really here! It was #4 in 2011!

imogeneve Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 7:15 am

Helen would be my favourite from your list. I don’t think it sounds old-ladyish at all, just classic. I could see Amy (I think of Amy in Little Women), Diana (another classic), Susan, Peter (both from the Chronicles of Narnia) and Timothy becoming popularish again.

namefan Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 7:39 am

My favorites from your list are: Amy, Cynthia, Helen, Laura, Susan, Gregory, and Peter. Some other ideas that might be worthy of mentioning:

Melissa – With so many “frilliana” names at the top of the current list, I think it would be a good compromise name when one partner’s (often the dad’s!) taste is stuck in a time-warp.
Nancy – Since the “Fancy Nancy” series being fairly popular among young girls, I could see this name making a comeback when they become moms.
Patricia – I think this is a great example of a name that would probably be popular now if it weren’t so overused in the past: It has an Irish-Latin feel (both of which are fashionable now) and lots of nickname options.

Paul – I think your son’s name is a good example of a name that you’d be more likely to see on the dad or granddad but still works nicely on a modern boy (and isn’t so common now, which is a plus to many).

namefan Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 7:53 am

Sorry about the grammar error with my description of Nancy (“being” where “is” should be).

littlebrownpony Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 8:34 am

I love Amy and Peter–both are family names for me, so maybe that’s why. To me they sound simple, strong, friendly and classy. I feel like Diana is ready for a revival, as is Gregory. I still hear Jessica and Laura so much, I don’t feel like they’ve gone anywhere, so they don’t really need to be “revived.” Kenneth is also nice, but I don’t like Ken or Kenny—I’d be delighted to see someone use Kenneth as a middle though.

andreachristine Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 8:39 am

I love this topic… It’s exactly where I am looking for names. I just tried convincing the hubby on Lisa this weekend! Another I love is Heather. The sound and look is gorgeous if you can get over everyone in their 30s having this name. On the boys side, I like Kenneth with the nn Kenny. Others that could fit in here: Adam, Eric, Jason

WrenMaple Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 9:27 am

Not a fan. I grew up in the 80s/90s with a midcentury name. I did not like it. I wouldnt recommend it. Lets stick with the 100yr rule. Give these names some more time. Dont revive them prematurely. 🙂

Danni Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 9:36 am

The only name on this list I would consider using is Diana. While the other listed girls names SOUND lovely (Jessica, Michelle, Helen, Lisa are all soft and pretty), most of them aren’t ready for use yet, IMO. I am not felling any of the boys names at all….

stephiekat Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 9:41 am

I LOVE Cynthia and Lisa (before we knew we were having a boy, one of the girls names I tried to convince my husband about was ‘Cynthia’)…I would definitely use either for a baby girl.

namesage Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 10:08 am

I personally know toddlers named Lisa, Diana, and Susan. Though Susan is alright (Susannah is so much better) I just can’t get behind any of these names. Maybe another 30yrs? Not a fan. I might not put Cynthia is this category, though. I might like to see a little Cynthia. It does have a great sound. As for boys Peter and Timothy are probably too classic to be tied to a certain time period. I agree with the previous poster who said stick to the 100yr rule! No need for early revival.

Kat987 Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I LOVE Amy. Amy is in my top 10, Still feels common and popular to me though.
Love how Liza sounds but it seems too nick-namey. Prefer Lilah.
Gregory should DEFINITELY come back – gorgeous name! Although I’d never use it because of the connotations with Greggs… :\

Like Susan, pronounced Su-zan. Like Susanna too (Oh Susanna!). Adore the nn Sue.

KickinKay Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I believe I’m ready for Diana and Helen to make a comeback, Lisa and Amy are still such 80s names to me. For boys, Brian, Gregory, Kenneth, and Peter are wonderful choices. I know two little boys named Brian and Peter and they are adorable, and Gregory and Kenneth are two top choices of my own. As for Rene/Renee, I never was or ever will be a fan of it.

SiobhanFB Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Amy and Timothy are my favorites, I think that both are viable for a comeback, especially Amy. It’s so simple but substantial, and it s also a classic. I know a girl named Amy and it is really fitting and beautful.

GoodHope Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 6:51 pm

With the exception of Brian, I’d happily use any one of those boy names. Douglas, Mark, Gregory, and Peter are particular favorites. From the girl list, I love Jessica, Susan, Laura, Cynthia, Helen, and Amy. I say bring back the mid-century names now!

I know kids named Amy, Helen, Laura, Diana, Timothy, Brian, and Peter–all under age 7.

upswingbabynames Says:

May 29th, 2013 at 4:39 am

@namefan – I love these suggestions, especially Nancy. I agree that the Fancy Nancy books might inspire more future Nancy’s in the same way the books inspired Eloise and Matilda.

Nyx Says:

May 29th, 2013 at 11:11 am

My favorites are Amy, Laura, Susan, Gregory, Peter, and Timothy. While these names might feel dated, they would feel young/fresh/vigorous/sweet/etc. again when given to a little one. Plus they would be fairly unique in their age group while also being a very normal name. – In fact, my third grader has a Laura and a Peter in his class, and I think that they are the only ones with their name at the school (I’m waiting impatiently for the yearbook so I can get a look at all of the names!) –

Nyx Says:

May 29th, 2013 at 11:21 am

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE all of the interest in Susan/Susannah/etc. My name is Suzanna and I go by Suzy. I’ve thought for quite some time that it’s a great, under-used, very feminine name (and not only because it is my name and a long standing family name!). While I love my spelling best (to me, the middle “z” adds a funky touch and the ending “a” has a very feminine feel), I think that it works well with any of the mentioned spellings.

Lo Says:

June 2nd, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I’m so happy to see mention of my son Mark’s name here! He’s 7 and likes to look at my baby name books with me (or has at least figured out that snuggling and talking baby names with mommy can easily result in missing bedtime by a few minutes). The spin on this blog is a more positive than Nameberry’s entry for Mark.

And I thought I might be the only one to like Susan. It always reminds me of Miracle on 34th Street.

iwillpraise Says:

December 12th, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I could totally get on the {Laura, Susan, Douglas, Gregory} band-wagon!

I prefer Dinah above Diana and Susannah above Susan, but I’ve actually considered using Gregor (without the -y) as a middle name (also Franklin!). I believe taking the -y off gives it a fresh spin; plus, our surname ends in a -y and it flows better.

You’re right about Bev, but I wish you could get that nn from something other than Beverly! My very first (handmade) Cabbage Patch was named Cindy (the other two were Lacey and Cathy) – but I don’t think I could do Cynthia. I have an Aunt Cindy AND Aunt Helen. Neither one of them are anyone I’d ever name my child after. My grandma’s name is Joyce Helen, but I just couldn’t…. to me Helen’s are troublemakers.

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