There's nothing quite like taking a walk down memory lane, thinking about "the good ol' days" when things were cheaper, life was simpler and so many boy bands were taking over the world. Remember when you could get a gallon of gas for $1?! Yeah, it's best not to think about it too much.
The baby boy name that was most popular during your year of birth may give you an indication of what was popular at the time (Michael Jackson may have influenced the 80s and 90s quite a bit!). As you think back to your childhood, certain names stand out and may be what you want to give to your handsome little man in memory of the good old days.
But top names for a country didn’t change as much back in the day, whether from a lack of internet search tools or trends in those years, so this list is compiled of top names from the US, Australia, Norway and Germany to give you a look into what was popular around the world the year you were born. Some may come as a surprise, while others may explain the 7 Christophers in your 6th grade class.
Enjoy this look into what was all the rage the year you were born!
Here’s the thing with the 80s and 90s.. they LOVED the name Michael. It pretty much reigns supreme throughout the entire 2 decades, so instead of boring all of us with repeats and various twists on the name, let’s look at some other top names from that year, starting with Jason. He sits in the number 3 position in the US in 1980 and means “Healer” in the Greek language. Today the name is not nearly as popular, falling all the way to position 108 in the US.
In other 1980 news, Michael Jackson is making hit after hit, releasing Rock With You this year. It’s also the year of Star Wars, with the newest film, The Empire Strikes Back, hitting the big screen. And it may be the saddest year for a while, after John Lennon was shot outside his apartment in New York City.
The glamor begins as we get to watch Lady Diana become a princess by marrying Prince Charles this year. We also get to see the very first airing of MTV (when they were just a music video channel!). And we mourn the loss of the legend, Bob Marley, who sadly died of skin cancer on May 11th, 1981.
Rounding out the top 5 boy names in the US is David, a highly popular name throughout history. It means “Beloved” and is a Hebrew Biblical name. It still sits pretty high on US lists, just squeezing into the top 40 at number 39. If you want to remember this year for any reason (maybe you’re THAT big of a Indiana Jones:Raiders of the Lost Ark fan), then this name could be the perfect way to do it! Plus, Davey as a nickname is just too cute.
Remember the very first CD player released by Sony? Yeah, me neither, but it happened this year! This is a major year for pretty much every area of interest- Prince William is born, Michael Jackson releases the best selling album of all time, Thriller, and we get our alien fix with the hit movie, E.T.
For the top names, we jump over the pond to England, where James is the second most popular boy’s name. Coincidentally, James made the top 10 in the US that same year, coming in at number 6. The name means “Supplanter” and is derived from the Hebrew name, Jacob.
In 2017, the name still holds plenty of popularity, just making it in the top 10 names for boys in the US.
We have a lot for which to thank 1983. It’s the first time Microsoft releases Word, which you may or may not be thankful for, depending on how often you used the word count function for school assignments. Police, Michael Jackson and Air Supply are all rolling out the hit songs. And most importantly, McDonalds introduces us to the McNugget. Thank you 1983. Thank you.
In the naming world, Sebastian has hit new heights in Germany where it is the second most popular boy’s name. It’s a Greek name, meaning “Revered” and is super popular today, coming in at number 12 on US charts. Many parents love this name because it’s international and familiar at the same time (Thanks to The Little Mermaid), and it has great nickname options like Seby.
We have reached the year that many would argue is the height of the 80s. This year brings us the very first Apple Macintosh computer, the first MTV Music Awards are held in New York City, Michael Jackson gets seriously burned filming an ad for Pepsi and we get ALL the amazing 80s nostalgia movies (think 16 Candles, The Karate Kid, Footloose, The Terminator).
We also get to see Robert make an appearance in the top 10 names for boy’s in the US. It’s the English version of the German name that means “Bright Fame”.
Today’s it’s fallen way down the list to number 62, which means it may have seen it’s finest days back in the 80s. It may also mean that nostalgic parents bring it back and we get to meet quite a few Bobby’s in the future!
It’s the year of Back To The Future (hello Michael J. Fox) and Madonna’s Like A Virgin, plus huge historic moments like Microsoft’s first version of Windows and the Nintendo Entertainment System hitting the US markets for the first time. The name Michael is the top boy’s name in the US and you can really tell. From the birth of swim star, Michael Phelps, to pop music icon, Michael Jackson, the name Michael is everywhere.
Today, Michael is still highly popular in the US, sitting in position 8. It means “Who Is Like God?” and comes from the Hebrew.
Big names in 1985 include Michael Douglas who starred in The Jewel Of The Nile that year, and Anthony Michael Hall from The Breakfast Club, also a hit movie that year.
Michael stays popular in the US, still sitting in the number one position for boys. Ronald Reagan is president, the Chernobyl disaster takes place, and Mary-Kate and Ashely Olson are born. In fact, quite a few household names are born this year, including, Amanda Bynes, Shia Lebeouf, Lindsey Lohan and Emmy Rossum.
Last year Coke released a brand new recipe called New Coke, but due to negative feedback switched back quickly to their original recipe, so people in 1986 don’t have to worry over that classic Coke taste.
The top boy’s name in Norway is Kristian and means “Follow Of Christ” (it’s the Danish and Greek variation of Christian). Although it was super popular in 1986, today it sits at number 24 in Norway and number 698 in the US.
The reign of Michael continues, with the popular boy’s name dominating the number one position in the US. It’s the year of music greats like I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston), With Or Without You (U2), Heaven Is A Place On Earth (Belinda Carlisle) and Faith (George Michael). Michael Douglas stars in yet another hit movie, Fatal Attraction, which may be the reason the name has such popularity during this era.
In Australia, Matthew was at the top of the charts, and was still popular in the US at number 3. It comes from the Hebrew, meaning “Gift Of God”. Today it’s number 56 in Australia and number 15 in the US, meaning it hasn’t lost too much of it’s charm for parents-to-be.
Not much has changed in naming trends, with Michael still in the number one position on US charts. Big name movies are hitting the scene with Big (Tom Hanks), Die Hard (Bruce Willis) and the start of the Land Before Time cartoon series. Ahh the memories.
Meanwhile, in Australia a change up has occurred, with Daniel beating out Matthew for the top position in boy’s names. Daniel means “God Is My Judge” and comes from Hebrew origin, which seems to be a trend in itself amongst top names throughout the 80s.
Daniel is still a popular choice to this day, remaining in the top 15 in the US and the top 40 in Australia. In fact, it’s remained in the top 15 names for boys as a whole since 1972, which is pretty impressive.
Well, apparently the US didn’t like change in the 80s, because Michael is still the top boy’s name there. Maybe it’s due to Michael Jackson. Maybe it’s because of Michael Douglass. Maybe it’s a tribute to Michael Jordan. Whatever the reason, it stays at the top for a while, which means we’ll be taking a look at other top names to get a break from the monotony.
The 2nd hottest name for boy’s in the US in 1989 is Christopher, which you probably expected if you think about how many Chris’s you know. The name means “Bearer of Christ” and comes from Greek or Latin roots. Today it’s only in the 36th position in the US which could indicate that this will be one of those old school names that parents seek out in the future.
No surprise here- Michael is still topping the US charts. It seems that the name will continue to be a favorite even as we leave the 80s behind and begin a new decade.
This years brings the very first episode of The Simpsons, the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope and the very first in car Satellite Navigation System (the directionally challenged rejoice!). Closing out the year was the release of a childhood favorite movie, Home Alone.
In France, the chart topping boy’s name was Kevin and we kind of wonder if that has anything to do with the Home Alone films. Kevin is an Irish name that means “Handsome” and there are plenty of handsome Kevins that come to mind (Kevin Bacon, Kevin Costner and Kevin Spacey to name a few).
If you’re feeling like me at this point, you’re annoyed at every Michael you know because you’re tired of seeing that name at the top of the charts. So we’ll talk about Joshua, which comes in at number 4 for boy’s names in 1991.
Joshua is a Hebrew name (Hebrew names were SUCH a thing in the 80s and 90s!) that means “The Lord Is My Salvation”. The name has sat inside the top 10 names for boys from 1983 all the way until 2010, so it’s no wonder we see it so high up the charts in the 90s.
While Joshua is dominating the baby name game, the US is going through a massive change, with the internet being released for the first time for unrestricted commercial use. A whopping 1 million computers were connected to it at that time.
You’ll never guess what name is number one in the US for boys.. oh wait, yes you will, because it’s still Michael. But we can talk about Norway now, since their number one boy’s name is the very interesting Martin.
Martin is a Latin name that means “Warlike”. Today it’s fallen all the way to the 31st spot in Norway, and even further down in the US charts at number 257th, making this a name that might find itself becoming hip once again.
Some celebs with this international name include actor Martin Sheen and director Martin Scorsese. Back in the 90s, you would probably shorted the name to Marty, but today you’d probably do the modern parent move and keep the full name with no nicknames attached.
I’m not even going to mention Michael at this point. Let’s talk about Tyler, who has just made the top 5 for boy’s names in the US in 1993. Other notable things that made it this year include the official introduction of the World Wide Web (since the internet had been introduced a few years prior), the first cloned human embryo and the first Jurassic Park movie.
But back to Tyler now. The name means “Maker of Tiles” and is an English occupational name, meaning that it came about because of the person’s profession. Nowadays it’s often used as a girl’s name, but remains a popular boy’s name, ranking 41st in Australia and 91st in the States last year.
Tyler is also considered a presidential name along with Truman, Ford, Jefferson and Jackson.
This is a huge year- O.J. Simpson leads police on a high speed chase throughout southern California, satellite TV gets launched, Lisa Marie Presley marries Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain commits suicide and The Lion King hits the big screen.
It’s not a huge year for names however, with the usual culprit (Michael) sitting in the number 1 spot. But if we look to the top 10, we see Andrew rounding out the last spot.
Andrew means “Strong and Manly” and comes from the Greek. According to research done by Harvard, the name Andrew is the top pick for highly educated parents. Maybe that’s why this name sat in the top 20 in the US for nearly 2 decades. Today, however, it’s slipped down to number 34, meaning it’s still pretty popular but not quite what it used to be.
It’s 1995 and Ebay has just been created, Toy Story hits the big screen and Michael Jordan returns to the NBA. Nothing as exciting is happening in naming trends, with Michael still sitting in position one (maybe we can blame Jordan for that one).
In Northern Ireland, Ryan has taken the top spot. This popular Irish name means “Little King” and has been a favorite for decades in both Ireland and the US. It’s been in the top 20 in the US since the mid 70s, but now sits further down at number 40.
Popular Ryans today would be the ever loved Ryan Gosling, the hilarious Ryan Reynolds, and the accomplished Ryan Seacrest. But this name isn’t bound to the boy’s alone. Today, many parents choose this name for their baby girls.
Technology has been moving quickly, with the first DVDs being launched in Japan this year. Computers connected to the internet goes from 1 million to 10 million. Microsoft releases it’s latest Windows, version 4.0 and Internet Explorer 3 comes out.
In naming news, Michael hasn’t changed it’s position as the number one boy’s name in the US, but Austin has worked it’s way into the top 10, reaching number 9.
Austin means “Great, Magnificent” and is the English shorted form of Augustine. It can be used either for girls or boys, but is traditionally a boy’s name.
Today it’s dropped all the way to number 73 in the US, so it could be an awesome choice for parents wanting to pay tribute to the 90s without being too obvious.
This is the year of the $4.50 movie ticket, a gallon of gas pricing in at a whopping $1.22, and average monthly rent coming in at under $600 (try not to cry). This is also the year that Princess Diana died so, yeah, go ahead and cry.
You know the top boy’s name in the US by now, so let’s hop over to Norway where Andreas has topped the charts. It means “Strong and Manly” and is still in the top 20 for boys in Norway. In the US however, this name is a rarity, not even hitting the top 1000! So if you have an Andrew in your family that you’d love to name your little one after, but aren’t sold on such a popular name, this could be the perfect answer for you! Add to it that you’re doing a throw back to the 90s and you couldn’t choose better.
The 90s are drawing to a close, a gallon of gas has actually become CHEAPER (why, God?!), and Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky are on the cover of every tabloid and news story.
For naming trends, we look to John, which means “God is Gracious”. This is one of those names that you see everywhere but probably don’t know much about, if you’re anything like me. In 1998, John was the 15th most popular boy’s name in the US, but it is the all time most popular Christian boy’s name. Ever. In fact, it is currently at it’s lowest point, number 28, since records were kept on these sorts of things. That’s a pretty popular name, if you ask me, so chances are you know a John or two in your life.
BREAKING NEWS: We have a new leader in boy’s names in the US! Finally!! Jacob has swooped in and taken the number one position, and honestly not a moment too soon. I think we were all getting tired of Michael. No offense, Mike.
Jacob is an old Hebrew name which means “Supplanter”, but many parents today use it as a tribute to the Twilight saga. I mean, who wouldn’t want to showcase that they chose Team Jacob over Team Edward by giving the name to their kiddo??
Nowadays, the name is still pretty popular, making it into the top 10 by sitting in position 7 as of 2016.
Want to memorialize the end of the 90s in a non obvious way? Instead of naming your kid a variation of Y2K, you could use Jacob!
The year 2000 hits with no Y2K drama unfolding, despite the predictions of widespread computer failure. The latest book in the Harry Potter series gets released, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And Survivor has it’s first ever season on air.
The US has a thing for sticking with a name, so Jacob is still in the number one position, but in the UK, the super cute name Jack has reached the top spot.
Jack is the English diminutive of John, so it also means “God is Gracious”, but has a more fun and less regal sound to it. It had a funny transformation from John to Jack, by going from John to Johnkin to Jankin to Jackin to Jack.
You can use this name as a way to honor a John in your life without using the more traditional name.
This name only just hit the US popularity lists in 2000, slowly working it’s way up to the number 151st spot in 2016. But in 2001 this was the top boy’s name in Germany. It’s still in the top 15 there, hitting the 11th spot only last year.
Although the meaning of the name isn’t anything exciting (“Man from Lucania”), the Italian derived name is a modern and international update to the overused Luke.
Using Luca for your baby boy (or girl!) could be seen as a throwback to the very first Harry Potter movie (has it really been that long?!) which debuted in 2001, or as a tribute to the first Lord of the Rings movie.
Or if music is more your thing, the top songs in 2001 were Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse, Fallin’ by Alicia Keys and All for You by Janet.
This year, hits like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are releasing their second movies in the series. Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Pink are all doing well in music. Even the Mars rover is winning, finding signs of large ice deposits on Mars.
Markus is making its mark (no pun intended) on the naming world, coming in at number one in Norway. Although this version of the spelling isn’t popular in the US, Marcus is. It’s a classic Roman name meaning “Warlike” and is used by parents today in tribute to those Ancient Roman times. Although it’s not as high on the lists now as it was back in 2002, it still finds itself within the top 200 in the US, at number 183.
Jacob still reigns supreme as the top boy’s name in the US in 2003, but Norway is once again taking our attention as their top name becomes Tobias, the ultra cool and modern sounding name that has roots all the way to Biblical times. Shortened to Toby, it can be seen as far back as Shakespearean days.
Tobias means “God is Good” and is a Greek from Hebrew name. Today, it’s at its highest point on the US charts at number 246, looking to continue its climb.
Fans of Harry Potter might be extra interested in this name as its the character Severus Snape’s dad, Tobias Snape.
Or if you want to use it as a throwback, then consider using it to remember events like iTunes being launched for the first time or the completion of the Human Genome Project.
Although Jacob still remains the number one boy’s name in the US, a new name has reached the heights of the number two spot. Aidan is both unique and international, making it an amazing choice even today. It’s an Irish name that means “Little and Fiery”, which could be a perfect summary of your new cutie pie!
Now, this name has fallen to the 190th spot, which makes it a pretty unique choice if you’re wanting to choose a name that was popular in 2004.
Other things that were popular then include the Boston Red Sox, who won their first World Series since 1918; Facebook, which was launched only to Harvard students as a social networking site before expanding to other Ivy League colleges; and Janet Jackson after her very revealing Super Bowl halftime show with Justin Timberlake.
Sources: BabyCenter, Baby2See, BabyNames.CH, HuffingtonPost, Nameberry, LikeTotally80s, ThePeopleHistory