The Most Popular Baby Names from the 80s

Have They Stood the Test of Time?

by Jane Duncan, freelance writer

Sept 23 2021

It’s so easy for each generation to be cynical about the one that preceded or followed it, and when ABC published this year’s most popular baby names a couple of months ago, there were all the gasps of horror that we have come to expect. But were things so different a generation ago?

1980s fashion came and went, but a name is for life. These were the decade’s most popular baby names.
Baby lying in a rubber ring floating on water

Most Popular Boy's Name - Christopher

Christopher Reeve and Christopher Lloyd were among the box office stars of the 1980s, while the likes of Christopher Cross and Christopher Williams were topping the charts. The name peaked in popularity in the mid 1980s as the top boy’s name of the decade. It is from Greek and means “bearer of Christ.”
Overtly biblical names like Noah and Elijah are as popular as ever today, but Christopher has gone out of fashion for the time being, although it is more common as a middle name – perhaps because so many 1980s Christophers are now becoming Dads!

Most Popular Girl's Name - Sarah

This Hebrew name, meaning princess, is one that you’d never expect to go out of fashion. Yet it has dropped out of the current top 10 in the USA and is no longer even in the top 100 in the UK.
In the 1980s, the name Sarah was at peak popularity, helped, no doubt, by the Jefferson Starship hit from 1986. Famous real-world Sarahs included Sarah Ferguson, who married Prince Andrew in 1986, and Sarah Brightman, who helped bring the musical works of Andrew Lloyd Webber to global appeal.
Marty McFly Back To The Future

Other Names That Peaked in the 1980s

1986 saw a sudden flurry of boys being nicknamed Marty, in honour of Michael J Fox’s character in Back to the Future. That in itself was a short-lived trend, although the full version of Martin is a derivation of Mars, the God of War, and goes all the way back to Roman times.

Cindy achieved brief popularity for the girls, following the meteoric rise to superstardom of Cindy Crawford, not to mention the gutsy and independent attitude of Cyndi Lauper, whose 80s hit "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" simply oozed girl power a decade before the Spice Girls came along!

Daniel was the second most popular boy’s name after Christopher, and there’s a good chance The Karate Kid was at least partially responsible. The name remained a top five favourite well into the 1990s, which is more than can be said for Chesney. Yes, this boy’s name had a very brief flash of popularity, much like the man who inspired it, Chesney Hawkes, whose single hit was, ironically enough, entitled "The One and Only".

The second most popular girl’s name was Emma, a timeless classic that has definitely stood the test of time. Third was Gemma, which has a decidedly 80s vibe, and has all but disappeared today.