Top Baby Names of the 1980s

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From Stephanie to Kimberly, we've got your super rad '80s inspired names here.

<p>Parents/Getty Images</p>

Parents/Getty Images

Fact checked by Karen CilliFact checked by Karen Cilli

The top baby names of the 1980s are, like, totally so great! While the “me” decade was all about excess, it was also home to some super classic names for boys and girls...and some that feel extremely ‘80s in hindsight. But hey, that’s part of their charm!

In the ‘80s, Michael, Christopher, Jessica, and Jennifer reigned as the top first names for a generation of kids; chances are you probably have a handful of those names in your phone contact list right now. Some of the top names still sit in the most popular 20 today, while others have fallen out of fashion along with teased bangs and acid wash denim—although that doesn’t mean we’ll never see them make a comeback!

Ready to take a trip back in time to the ‘80s, no legwarmers or shoulder pads required? Below, check out the top baby names of the 1980s.

Although many baby names are often separated by gender, Parents believes that sex does not need to play a role in selecting names. It's important to choose a name you feel fits your child best.

Related: 40 Totally Cool '90s Baby Names

Popular '80s Names for Boys


The 1980s was a great decade for famous Michaels, with stars like Michael J. Fox and Michael Jackson dominating TV screens and radio stations.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Gift from God

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Micheal, Mike, Mykal, Mikel

  • Famous Namesakes: Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Michael Caine, Michael J. Fox

  • Peak Popularity: 1998

  • Fun Fact: Save for the year 1960, Michael was the number-one name for baby boys from 1954 to 1998.


Christopher wouldn’t peak until the early ‘90s, but was a big name for little boys for a second decade in a row.

  • Origin: Greek

  • Meaning: Bearer of Christ

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Kristofer, Kristoffer, Cristofer, Chris

  • Famous Namesakes: Christopher Plummer, Christopher Meloni, Christopher Walken, the Chrises

  • Peak Popularity: 1994


Another holdover from the ‘70s, Matthew continued its reign in the ‘80s.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Gift from God

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Mathew, Matt

  • Famous Namesakes: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Broderick, Matthew Perry, Matt Damon, Matt LeBlanc

  • Peak Popularity: 1996


The ‘80s was home to a whole lotta Joshes and Joshuas.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: God is deliverance

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Josh

  • Famous Namesakes: Josh Groban, Josh Brolin, Josh Duhamel, JC Chasez

  • Peak Popularity: 2006


You probably know more than a few Davids—how many of them are Gen X or elder millennials?

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Beloved

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Dave, Davey

  • Peak Popularity: 1960


James Spader was the ultimate ‘80s teen movie bad boy, stealing the show in his white suit in Pretty in Pink.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Supplanter

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Jamie, Jamey, Jaymes

  • Famous Namesakes: James Earl Jones, James Marsden, James Spader, James Dean

  • Peak Popularity: 1952

  • Fun Fact: The name James hasn’t left the top 20 most popular names since 1900.


Whether they went by Daniel, Dan, or Danny, Daniel was in good company during the ‘80s, but it didn’t peak until the 2000s!

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: God is my judge

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Dan, Danny

  • Famous Namesakes: Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Craig, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Tiger

  • Peak Popularity: 2008


Actor Robert Downey Jr. rose to fame in the ‘80s, including a role in the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero.

  • Origin: German

  • Meaning: Bright fame

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Rob, Robbie, Robby, Bob, Bobby, Roberto

  • Famous Namesakes: Robert Redford, Robert Kennedy, Robert Pattinson

  • Peak Popularity: 1953


Thanks to actor Jon Cryer, generation after generation falls in love with his iconic Pretty in Pink character Duckie.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: God is gracious

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Johnny, Jon, Jonathan

  • Peak Popularity: 1923


  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: He will add

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Josef, Jozef, Joe, Joey

  • Famous Namesakes: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Joe Jonas, Joey Lawrence

  • Peak Popularity: 1917

More '80s Names for Boys

  • Jason: This Greek name, which means “healer,” was in the top five most popular names from 1973 to 1982, but has since departed the top 50 list.

  • Justin: The ‘80s gave rise to a lot of Justins, including musician Justin Timberlake, who was born in 1981.

  • Andrew: This Greek name translates to “strong” and “manly,” and can be shortened to Andy or Drew. One of the most famous Andrews of the ‘80s was Andrew McCarthy, a member of the Brat Pack who appeared in John Hughes’s Pretty in Pink.

  • Ryan: Ryan is now seen as a gender neutral name, but in the ‘80s, it was a top 20 name for baby boys.

  • William: Whether you’re William, Will, Billy, or Liam, this classic first name is versatile and timeless.

  • Brian: Brian had a moment throughout the ‘70s and mid-’80s, but its use as a first name dropped dramatically in the mid-2000s, and it doesn’t appear in the top 100 names today.

  • Brandon: Brandon is another popular ‘80s name currently experiencing a dip in popularity; it’s ranked outside the top 200 names for boys.

  • Jonathan: Though this name ranked in the top 20 throughout the ‘80s, it’s still pretty widely used today. In 2023, Jonathan was the 82nd most popular name for baby boys in the U.S.

  • Nicholas: Nicholas ranked in the top 25 boys names in the ‘80s, but it didn’t peak until 1999. Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys was born right as the decade began, in January 1980.

  • Anthony: Another classic fave, Anthony continues to hold its spot in the top 50 names.

Related: These Are the Top 1,000 Baby Boy Names of 2023

Popular '80s Names for Girls


You can’t talk about ‘80s names without mentioning Jessica, the queen bee name of the decade. It continued its popularity well into the ‘90s.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Vision, sight

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Jessikah, Jessika, Jessie, Jess

  • Famous Namesakes: Jessica Lange, Jessica Alba, Jessica Chastain

  • Peak Popularity: 1995

  • Fun Fact: Sweet Valley High’s twins were named Jessica and Elizabeth, making them the perfect heroines of the ‘80s and ‘90s.


After reigning as the number-one name through much of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Jennifer experienced a pretty sharp drop in popularity; as of 2022, it ranks outside the top 500.

  • Origin: Welsh

  • Meaning: Fair one

  • Famous Namesakes: Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Connelly, Jennifer Aniston

  • Peak Popularity: 1984

  • Fun Fact: Jennifer is a derivative of Guinevere, a.k.a. King Arthur’s queen.


In 1986, the rock band Boston wrote an ode to this name with their hit song “Amanda.”

  • Origin: Latin

  • Meaning: Loveable

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Mandy, Mandi

  • Famous Namesakes: Amanda Seyfried, Amanda Bynes

  • Peak Popularity: 1980


One of the most famous Ashleys, Ashley Olsen, was born in 1986, and would become an ‘80s and early ‘90s icon as Michelle Tanner in Full House.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Ash tree meadow

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Ashlie, Ashlee, Ashly

  • Famous Namesakes: Ashley Olsen, Ashley Tisdale, Ashley Benson, Ashley Judd

  • Peak Popularity: 1992


Sarah is an enduring classic name choice that hasn’t left the top 100 names since 1900.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Princess

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Sara

  • Famous Namesakes: Sarah Jessica Parker, Sarah Paulson, Sara Ramirez, Sarah McLachlan

  • Peak Popularity: 1993


Stephanie hung out in the top 20 names list for nearly 30 years, starting in 1969 and ending its reign in 1997.

  • Origin: Greek

  • Meaning: Crown

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Stefanie, Steph

  • Famous Namesakes: Stephanie Tanner, Stephanie Seymour

  • Peak Popularity: 1987


Melissa kicked off the ‘80s with a strong showing as the second most popular name of the late ‘70s, but it dropped off the top 100 list in 2005, though it continues to rank in the top 500 names.

  • Origin: Greek

  • Meaning: Honeybee

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Missy, Mel

  • Famous Namesakes: Melissa Etheridge, Melissa McCarthy

  • Peak Popularity: 1979

  • Fun Fact: Melissa is also an herb, commonly referred to as lemon balm.


Nicole and its many nicknames had a moment in the ‘80s, and was also a popular middle name. It has since departed the top 100 list entirely.

  • Origin: French, Greek

  • Meaning: Victory of the people

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Nichole, Nikole, Nikki, Nicky, Necole

  • Famous Namesakes: Nicole Ari Parker, Nicole Kidman

  • Peak Popularity: 1982


Ever a classic, Elizabeth is the kind of girls’ name that really never goes out of style, and it held strong in the top 10 list in the 1980s.

  • Origin: Hebrew

  • Meaning: Oath of God

  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Liz, Betsy, Beth, Eliza, Elisabeth, Libby

  • Famous Namesakes: Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth Olsen

  • Peak Popularity: 1905


There’s a reason the movie was called Heathers; it was one of the biggest, most popular names of the ‘80s. However, it took a nosedive after the decade and hasn’t ranked in the top 500 names since 2009.

  • Origin: British

  • Meaning: Evergreen flowering plant

  • Famous Namesakes: Heather Locklear

  • Peak Popularity: 1975

  • Fun Fact: Heather is a flowering shrub with pretty pink and purple flowers.

More '80s Names for Girls

Tiffany: “I Think We’re Alone Now” singer Tiffany probably contributed to the popularity of this first name.

Michelle: Michelle, the feminine version of Michael, was a top choice throughout the late ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, likely in part because of the Beatles song of the same name.

Amber: The name Amber peaked in 1986 and has since dropped out of the top 500. However, as gemstone-inspired names like Ruby and Opal continue to rise in popularity, Amber may make a comeback.

Megan: The name Megan peaked in 1994, just a few years after the birth of actress Megan Fox, who joined the world in 1986.

Amy : Amy’s popularity as a first name peaked in the ‘70s, but continued trending throughout the early ‘80s. It can also be spelled Aimee or Amie.

Rachel: Rachel hung out in the top 20 names from 1983 until 2000, which is a pretty strong run!

Kimberly: One Kimberly Noel Kardashian was born in 1980 — maybe you’ve heard of her?

Christina: Two very famous Christinas, Aguilera and Milian, were born in the early ‘80s. This classic first name can also be shortened to Chris, Chrissy, and Tina.

Lauren: Lauren really suits the preppy vibes of the ‘80s, the decade in which the Original Preppy Handbook was published. The book kickstarted a return to the prep aesthetic with all its tweeds and layers.

Crystal: Crystal made an appearance in the top 20 list in the ‘80s, perhaps in part because of Krystle Carrington on the massively popular Dynasty.

Related: 30 Gorgeous Yet Rare Baby Names

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