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Top Baby Names 1980s

The top baby names of the 1980s are the names of the new moms and dads of today. This is the decade that saw the peak of names such as Brittany, Allison, and Amber for girls, and Derek, Justin, and Brett for boys.

Along with Allison and Justin, other 1980s baby names that remain in the US Top 250 include Brandon, Emily, Jeremy, Kimberly, Lauren, Nathan, Rachel, and Ryan. The names that have dropped the most in popularity include Chad, Heather, Shannon, and Lindsay.

Sourced from the 1980s US Top 100, here is a list of popular names from the 1980s that which are relatively rare for babies today. But you'll probably recognize these 1980s names as the names of the other moms and dads in your childbirth class!
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ThomasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "twin"
  • Description:

    Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.

ZacharyHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord has remembered"
  • Description:

    Zachary is the English variation of Zacharias, which itself is derived from the Hebrew name Zechariah. The name Zachary is attached to eight different people in the Bible, the most prominent being the father of John the Baptist, and it's also presidential, via 12th president Zachary Taylor. Zackery is an alternate spelling, and nicknames include Zack, Zach, Zac, and Zak.

SamanthaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, feminization of Samuel
  • Meaning:

    "told by God"
  • Description:

    The origins of Samantha are not entirely clear, although it is commonly thought to be a feminization of Samuel with the suffix derived from the Greek anthos, meaning “flower.” Samantha has been in English-speaking use since the eighteenth century, particularly in the American South, and drew attention via Grace Kelly's Tracy Samantha Lord character in High Society, featuring the song "I love you, Samantha.”

KaylaHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic and Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "laurel, crown"
  • Description:

    Kayla is a modern invented name that emerged in the late 1950s. Despite its similarity to the name Michaela, Kayla most likely began as a combination of the then-popular name Kay and -la suffix. Alternatively, it may be a variation of the Yiddish name Kaila, which derived from the Hebrew name Kelila. Kayla can also be considered an Anglicization of the Gaelic surname MacCaollaidhe or MacCathail.

RebeccaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "servant of God"
  • Description:

    Rebecca is a name representing beauty in the Bible, an Old Testament classic that reached the heights of revived popularity in the seventies but is still a well-used choice. It derives from the Hebrew name Rivkah, from the verb ribbqah, meaning “noose.” The biblical Rebecca was the wife of Isaac and the mother of Esau and Jacob. Rebekah was a common spelling of the name in the Bible.
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AnthonyHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "priceless one"
  • Description:

    Anthony is derived from the Roman family name Antonii, and was initially used as Antony, without the “h.” The name evolved into Anthony in the 17th century, when it was speculated that it derived from the Greek word anthos, meaning “flower.” In England, whether it's spelled Anthony or Antony, the name is often pronounced as the latter, while Americans typically utter the “h” if present.

RyanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little king"
  • Description:

    Ryan’s use as a given name was inspired by the surname Ryan, a variation of the Irish O’Riain meaning “son of Rían.” Rían is composed of the Irish-Gaelic elements , meaning “king” and an, a diminutive suffix. Ryan is considered a unisex name in the US, where variant spellings Ryann and Ryanne are also valid for girls.

EmilyHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Emil, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "rival"
  • Description:

    Emily was derived from the Roman name Aemilia, which may have evolved from the Latin word aemulus, meaning “hardworking” or “rival.” Amelia, although similar, has separate origins — it was derived from the Germanic name Amalia. Emilia, however, has the same Latin root as Emily.

BrandonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "broom-covered hill"
  • Description:

    Brandon, a forebear of the Braden-Caden pack, had a great run of popularity over several decades, being in the Top 10 from 1992 to 1998, one of its inspirations being hearthrob Brandon Walsh played by Jason Priestley on the original Beverly Hills 90210--and it was aso the name of several soap opera characters.

JoshuaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord is my salvation"
  • Description:

    Joshua was derived from the Hebrew name Yehoshu’a, from the roots yeho, referring to God, and yasha’, meaning “to save.” Joshua shares origins with the name Jesus, which comes from the Aramaic variation Yeshu’a. An important figure in the Old Testament, Joshua was the successor to Moses who finally led the Israelites into the Promised Land, inspiring the hymn "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho."
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CodyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "helpful, pillow"
  • Description:

    In the early 1990s, Cody was in the Top 25 most popular boys' names in the USA; but it has been in decline since then. It retains a greater degree of popularity in the UK, however. Cody might be short for Dakota but despite its nickname feeling, it's a name of its own.

NathanHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "given"
  • Description:

    Nathan was derived from the name Natan, which came from Hebrew verb natan, meaning “gave.” In the Old Testament, Nathan was the name of a prophet and also that of one of King David's sons. Nathaniel and Jonathan are related names.

NicholasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "people of victory"
  • Description:

    Nicholas is derived from the Greek Nikolaos, a name that evolved from the components nikē, meaning “victory”, and laos, “people.” It shares origins with Nike, the name of the Greek goddess of victory. Nicholas is also a New Testament name that is well-used in literature, such as in Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby.

KevinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "handsome"
  • Description:

    Kevin was derived from the name Caoimhín, which originated from the Irish elements coém, meaning “handsome,” and gein, “birth.” The feminine name Caiomhe, anglicized as Keeva, comes from the same origins. Kevin was first popularized by the seventh century Saint Kevin, who founded a scholastic monastery near Dublin and was rewarded by being made one of that city's patron saints.

RachelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "ewe"
  • Description:

    Rachel was derived from the Hebrew word rāchēl, meaning “ewe.” In the Old Testament, Rachel was the favorite wife of Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. International variations include the Spanish Raquel and Israeli Rahel.
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AaronHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "high mountain; exalted, enlightened"
  • Description:

    The origin of the name Aaron is debated—some say it was derived from Hebrew, while others claim it originated in Ancient Egypt. In the Old Testament, Aaron, the older brother of Moses who was appointed by God to be his brother's spokesman, was the first High Priest of the Israelites. The Hebrew version is Aharon—in Yiddish it can be Aaran—and the name appears in Arabic as Haroun or Harun.

MatthewHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Matthew is the English derivative of Matthaios, the Greek form of the Hebrew Mattiyahu, composed of mattan, meaning “gift” and yah, in reference to God. The biblical Matthew was the apostle who wrote the first Gospel in the New Testament. Mateo, Matthias, Teo, Matek, and Mattia are among the many named derived from Matthew.

PatrickHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "noble, patrician"
  • Description:

    Patrick, long tied to a hyper-Irish image, is enjoying something of a renaissance as a stylish classic, as it has long been considered in England. Along with such choices as Charles and George, Patrick has escaped overuse in recent decades.

PeterHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "rock"
  • Description:

    Peter is derived from the Greek Petros, meaning “rock” or “stone.” One of the most important figures in the Christian hagiography is Saint Peter, keeper of the Gates of Heaven. Born Simon bar Jonah, he was given the nickname Peter by Jesus, to signify that he would be the rock on which Christ would build Christianity. Centuries later, there was Peter the Great, the czar who developed Russia as a major European power.

JaredHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "he descends"
  • Description:

    Jared is an Old Testament name that has been popular for decades--it was revived in the sixties via TV westerns-- and is still an appealing option.
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MeganHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh diminutive of Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Megan originally evolved from Meg, which itself derived as a nickname for Margaret. Margaret ultimately comes from the Greek word margarites, meaning “pearl.” Megan is no longer a common nickname for Margaret—it is most often used as a full name. Other spellings include Meghan, Meagan, Megyn, and Meaghan.

ChristopherHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek and Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bearer of Christ"
  • Description:

    Christopher derived from the Greek Christophoros, which is composed of the elements Christos, referring to Christ, and phero, meaning “to bear.” The name was originally used figuratively, to represent the bearing of Christ in one’s heart. Later it became used to honor Saint Christopher, a third century martyr who became the protective saint of travelers, reflecting the legend of Christopher being the giant who carried the Christ Child over a river.

SaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Sarah
  • Meaning:

    "princess"
  • Description:

    Sara, the streamlined form of Sarah, makes this ancient name feel more modern, but perhaps a bit lighter weight. Some Old Testament sources give Sara as a variation of Sarai, the Biblical personage's original name, and some give it as the authentic form of the new name of Isaac's 90-year-old mother. But most sources authenticate Sarah as the Biblical classic and Sara as the variation.

RobertHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "bright fame"
  • Description:

    Robert was derived from the ancient Germanic name Hrodebert, from the elements hrod, meaning “fame” and bertha, “bright.” Robert was the name of three kings of Scotland, including Robert the Bruce, who freed Scotland from English rule. The name was brought to England by the Normans.

CassandraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "shining or excelling man"
  • Description:

    The name of the tragic mythological Trojan princess who was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, but was condemned never to be believed, Cassandra has been used for exotic characters in movies and soap operas. Ethereal and delicate, Cassandra was in the Top 70 throughout the 1990s, but is now descending in popularity.
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AdamHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "son of the red earth"
  • Description:

    Adam -- a primal Old Testament name -- was revived as a 1960s cowboy name. Adam is not as popular as it once was and feels ready for a respite, replaced by newer A names like Aidan/Aiden, Avery and Axel. Its most prominent current bearers include Adams Sandler, Levine, Brody and Driver -- who plays a character named Adam on Girls.

AmyHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "beloved"
  • Description:

    Amy is the English variation of the Old French name Amée—Aimée in modern French. Amée was a translation of the Latin name Amata, which derived from amatus, meaning “beloved.” Other spelling variations include Amie and Ami.

JesseHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift"
  • Description:

    King David's father turned 1980s cowboy, Jesse is now down in popularity. The name is associated with a wide variety of bearers, from outlaw Jesse James to Olympic athlete Jesse Owens to activist Jesse Jackson to current actors Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jesse Eisenberg. The spelling Jesse is more usual as a boys' name while Jessie is more traditional for girls.

StephanieHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine variation of Stephen
  • Meaning:

    "garland, crown"
  • Description:

    Stephanie is the feminine form of Stephen, derived from the Greek name Stephanos, meaning “crown.” It’s been the name of several royal women throughout history, including the medieval Stephanie, Queen of Navarre, and Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, the daughter Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco. International variations of Stephanie include the German Stefanie, Italian Stefania, and Spanish Estefanía.

JenniferHeart

  • Origin:

    Cornish variation of Welsh Guinevere
  • Meaning:

    "white shadow, white wave"
  • Description:

    Jennifer is the Cornish variation of Guinevere, which ultimately derived from the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar. It has been in use in the English-speaking world since the 18th century but came to prominence in the 20th. Playwright George Bernard Shaw chose Jennifer for the name of his leading lady in his play The Doctor’s Dilemma, which drew more attention to the name.
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NicoleHeart

  • Origin:

    French feminine variation of Nicholas, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "people of victory"
  • Description:

    Nicole was derived from Nicholas, the English variation of the Greek Nikolaos, composed of the compounds nike, meaning “victory,” and laos, “people.” The variation Nicole arose in the Middle Ages in France to honor St. Nicholas. Names related to Nicole include Colette, Nicolette, Nika, Nicola, and Nicolina.

LaurenHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Laura
  • Meaning:

    "bay laurel"
  • Description:

    Lauren was derived from Laurence, an English name from the Roman family name Laurentius, meaning “from Laurentum.” Laurentum, an ancient Italian city, got its name from the Latin word laurus, meaning “bay laurel.” Lauren was originally a masculine name but was embraced as a feminine name after Betty Joan Perske chose it for her stage name, Lauren Bacall, in 1944.

SarahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "princess"
  • Description:

    Sarah was derived from the Hebrew word sarah, meaning “princess.” Sarah is an Old Testament name—she was the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. According to the Book of Genesis, Sarah was originally called Sarai, but had her name changed by God to the more auspicious Sarah when she was ninety years old.

EricHeart

  • Origin:

    Old Norse
  • Meaning:

    "eternal ruler"
  • Description:

    Eric is derived from the Old Norse name Eiríkr, from the components ei, meaning “ever,” and ríkr, “rule.” It was adopted by English speakers in the mid-nineteenth century, who were already familiar with the exploits of the tenth century Viking navigator and discoverer of Greenland, Eric the Red. Erik is an alternate spelling and the preferred form of the name across much of Europe.

KatherineHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    Katherine is one of the oldest, most diverse, and all-around best names: it's powerful, feminine, royal, saintly, classic, popular, and adaptable. Long one of the top girls' names starting with K, Katherine has now been unseated on the popularity list by upstarts Kennedy and Kinsley, but a dip in popularity only adds to its charm.
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ShaneHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicized variation of Sean
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Shane ambled into the picture via the 1953 movie, adding a cowboy twist to its Irish essence. Shane is even more popular in Ireland than in the USA or the UK. Singer Siobhan O'Connor and actor Kevin Sorbo have sons named Shane.

ErinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "from the island to the west"
  • Description:

    First-wave Irish name and place name—the poetic name for Ireland—now supplanted by newer alternatives such as Maeve and Delaney.

JoseHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and Portuguese version of Joseph
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah increases"
  • Description:

    Jose is as widespread in the Hispanic community as Joseph and Joe are elsewhere in the U.S., though its numbers here are starting to decrease somewhat. Jose is one of those Spanish baby names that has never crossed over into the Anglo naming culture.

AliciaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish variation of Alice
  • Meaning:

    "noble"
  • Description:

    Alicia is a Latinized variation of Alice, a name ultimately derived from the German Adalhaidis. It emerged in the 19th century, but the 20th saw many spelling evolutions for Alicia, including Alecia, Alisha, Aleesha, and Alysha. Alyssa originated as a form of Alicia.

AmberHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name, English
  • Description:

    Though perhaps not as currently stylish as Ruby, Jade, or Pearl, Amber has a colorful history (remember the notorious Forever Amber heroine?). Unfortunately, it does come with the "Amber Alert" connotation for modern parents (and their children).
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JacquelineHeart

  • Origin:

    French, feminine diminutive of Jacques
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Jacqueline originated as a feminine form of Jacques, the French variation of James, and therefore Jacob. Jacob was ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Ya’aqov, and gets its meaning, “supplanter” from the story of Jacob supplanting his brother Esau as the first-born son in the Bible. Jacqueline was first used in France in the Middle Ages.

KatieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Katherine
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    Friendly mega-popular short form of Katherine that has definitively replaced Kathy, Katie is often given on its own. Going forward, though, Katie is more stylishly clipped itself to the grownup Kate.

ChristinaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "a Christian"
  • Description:

    Christina, a pretty and feminine, crystal clear classic, may be trending downward, but it's never out of style. Christina's short forms Chris, Christie, and Tina all seem dated—making the royal Christina best used in its full glory.

MarcusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "warlike"
  • Description:

    Though ancient, Marcus now sounds more current than Mark, in tune with today's trend towards us-ending Latinate names.

AndreaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Andrew, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Andrea -- a feminine form of Andrew (and a male name in several European cultures)-- comes with a good selection of pronunciations-- ANN-dree-a, AHN-dree-a, or ahn-DRAY-a--each with a slightly different image: girl next door/slightly affected/downright exotic
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JamieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of James
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Jamie is typical of the relaxed unisex names starting with J that seemed so cool in the sixties after decades of Jeans and Joans, though now pretty tepid. Jaime and even Jamey and Jayme are alternate spellings.

JoelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah is his God"
  • Description:

    In the Old Testament, Joel was one of King David's 'mighty men' and the name was taken up by the Puritans of the sixteenth century. In the mid 1960s, Joel entered the Top 100, and stayed there for about twenty years, as parents tried to jazz up and formalize old standby Joe by reviving this biblical name.

JeremyHeart

  • Origin:

    English form of Jeremiah
  • Meaning:

    "appointed by God"
  • Description:

    This one-time trendy form of Jeremiah hovered just outside the Top 25 throughout the 1970s and 80s.

MichelleHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Michael
  • Meaning:

    "who is like God"
  • Description:

    Michelle is the feminine form of Michel, the French variation of Michael. Michael was derived from the Hebrew name Mihka’el, meaning “who is like God.” The alternate spelling Michele, with one “L,” was the original version of the name. Michelle appeared as a later Anglicization in the 20th century.

AprilHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "to open"
  • Description:

    Once the most popular month names, April has been overtaken by June (for girls) and August (for boys), as well as the charmingly old-fashioned May. Literary reference: the heroine of the book and movie Revolutionary Road, and there have been Aprils on Parks and Recreation, Glee, and The Vampire Diaries. Trivia note: comedian Ralphie May named his daughter April June May.
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