What do leg warmers, parachute pants, and the end of the Soviet Union have in common? The 1980s!
The Bible, the Cold War, and boy bands that had better hair than girl bands were the perfect inspiration for a host of 1980s baby names. Do any of these top 100 sound familiar?
1980s Boy Names
Michael has been a top boy name for over a century. But as parents sought to honor the political heroes working to end to the Cold War — Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan — its appeal only grew.
Popular names from the 1980s also expressed a love of places far and wide. Ireland gave us Sean, Adam and Kevin, while British royalty inspired classics like William and Charles.
Biblical names continued to be fashionable, but trends shifted from kingly figures like David and Joseph to humble characters, including Daniel, Joshua, and Jacob.
Most Popular Boys Names from 1980s
1980s Girl Names
Biblical girl names were also a hit — Sarah and Rachel gained in popularity. But, the British royal family couldn't be ignored.
“Elizabeth” flew to the top of the list of regal names from the 80s while a young new princess named Diana made a splash in the United States. “Diana” rose from its number 97 spot in the 1970s to a cool 75.
But despite the continued popularity of classic names, baby names from the 80s trended toward the fun and romantic. Monikers like “Tara,” ”Brandi” and “Misty” had pop vibes, while “Kayla” entered the top 100 for the first time in homage to the romance of the decade on NBC’s daytime soap Days of our Lives.
Enchanting names from afar were among the foremost choices for girls. “Heather,” a flowering evergreen from the barren lands of Scotland, and “Kimberly,” meaning “from the wood of the royal forest” were favorites.
Other trends in 1980s names were girl-versions of boy names like Danielle, Samantha, and Jamie, and Old English boy names for girls including Ashley and Lindsay.
Most Popular Girls Names from 1980s
Does a baby name always have to have a classical meaning to reflect a child’s one-of-a-kind personality? Maybe not.
Why the name “Jessica” topped the list of the '80s' most popular girls name is a mystery — cultural inspirations are absent. And the most popular name for boys, “Michael,” could reflect Christian tradition or a fascination with the “King of Pop.”
Names with meaning matter, but ultimately, it’s what they mean to you that's the most important.
Are Popular '80s Names Still Popular in 2023?
If you're looking to the '80s for name inspiration for your baby, then chances are good you're curious if the top names are still popular in 2023. Let's take a look at how the top five boys' and girls' names from the '80s fair today.
The top five names for boys in the '80s were Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Joshua, and David. Michael retains a lot of popularity today, ranking at 26 in 2023. Christopher still retains a spot in the Top 100 at rank 94. Matthew doesn't quite make it into 2023's Top 50, ranking at 56. Joshua has just fallen out of the Top 100, ranking at 101 in 2023. Finally, David is still fairly popular, ranking at 45.
In the '80s, the top five names for girls were Jessica, Jennifer, Amanda, Ashley, and Sarah. Jessica has fallen far out of popularity, ranking at 1,006 in 2023. Jennifer doesn't fair much better, though it does make the Top 1,000 at position 997. Amanda is only slightly more popular than Jennifer in 2023, ranking at 923. Ashley fairs better than all of these names, still making the Top 500 at 362. Finally, Sarah in 2023 ranks as the most popular of these five names at 238.
If you're looking for an uncommon name for your baby girl, then the top names from the '80s are certainly a great start!
Top 100 Baby Names by Decade
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