The Name Game

The other day I came across an experience I knew I might have only once in a lifetime – I ran into someone under the age of 20 named Tiffany. All of us 80s babies know that we have mega-eternal-exclusive dibs on the name Tiffany. In fact, we’ve also cornered the market on Brittany, Emily, Kelly, Holly, Molly, Amy, Jenny and any other name ending in “Y” (or perhaps in “I” with a little heart over it because that’s just a little bit cooler than “Y”). So on behalf of my fellow “Y”s, (my full name is Bethany, after all) stumbling across this wannabe Tiffany who didn’t even have the courtesy to wear a side-swept pony irked me just a little. Yet when the barista handed over the pumpkin spiced mocha with “Tiffanee” scribbled across it, the world was right once again.

It got me thinking about how the name game changes with the decades. It was terribly easy to name your child in the 80s. If you had a baby girl, you would flip a coin. One side would say “parents’ choice” and the other side would say “Jennifer.” If you had a boy, you just picked your favorite apostle. There was a year in grade school where all three of the school’s Jenny S’s were in my class along with Jenny R, Jenny M, and of course Matthew A, B and C.

If you were born in the 90s, you have no more than one degree of separation from someone named Kylie, Kaylie, Kyla, Keeley, or Kayla. The apostles were still running things on the boys’ side, but the last-name-as-first-namers started to creep into the mix.

If you were born in 00s, you may have been lucky enough to be named Aidan, but later in the decade Pottery Barn Kids sold out of Aidan-embroidered duvet covers so Cayden, Brayden, Jayden and Hayden became the monikers of choice. This was also the decade when conventional spelling went out the window. My good buddy Tiffanee was certainly drinking her mocha with a Jakob, Aimee, and probably even a Marc.

In this decade, no word in the English (or any other) language is off limits. Now that celebrity baby antics rival world news, creative nomenclature has been turned on its head. Cities, inanimate objects and adjectives are on the rise and the Beverlys, Barbaras, Bettys and even Bethanys of earlier decades are shaking their heads as the apostles lose ground to the Greys and Brooklyns and Cullens.

With baby name tomes quadrupling in size and no option too unusual, I’m comforted in the knowledge that my future children will live in a world where their name won’t always be followed by an identifying last initial – and most importantly, where the banana-fana game will never get old. What is your favorite name fad?

About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
This entry was posted in 80s, Commentary, Family, Friends, Humor, Life, Nostalgia and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The Name Game

  1. I like how unisex names have been updated. It used to just be Pat and Chris. Now we have Taylor, Shea, and Balasubrumanian. OK, I don’t actually know if that’s unisex. All I know is that when I’m on conference calls wtih Bala, I can’t tell if it’s a he or a she…

  2. Robyn Wright says:

    Did you see that Levi Johnston just named his new daughter Breeze Baretta? I kid you not – her middle name is after a GUN!

    I have a unisex name, but spelled the “girl way” with a “y” and then goofy me went and did the same to my son giving him a unisex name also, Taylor. When I named him that it was popular for boys, but right after it flipped more for girls. Poor kiddo.

  3. Growing up I was one of about three Katie’s in grade school. There was Katherine, Kathryn, and actual full-name Katie’s (whose moms obviously didn’t care they were naming their daughter a nickname.) These days there seem to be a lot of Ava’s and Madison’s.

  4. Elise M says:

    I’m a huge fan of non-conventional names. I came from a Bill and Beverly, and my brothers were John and Zach; I have a vintage name that came from my grandmother, Louise, that I actually don’t go by. But, it’s almost to that point in time where being named ‘Louise’ would be cool again. I’m so glad that almost any name is acceptable today, I can’t imagine generations upon generations of Jennifers, Ashleys, Annas, and Michaels. Snooooze.

  5. I recently started substitute teaching, so I get treated to a crazy-name buffet on a daily basis. Not a fan of all the “Nevaeh”s out there. It’s nice in theory but it just sounds clunky when you say it out loud. Jacob must be popular because yesterday I subbed a four-Jacob class (which reminded me of my four-Joshua class in elementary school, and the innumerable Michaels and Christophers). Trinity (girl), Odin (boy), Celestia (girl), and Calyx (a boy) are some of the best I’ve heard this week. It’s gotten to the point where I immediately ask the children to spell their names for me, because between baby-talk, missing teeth, traditional Aztec names from Mexico, and parental creativity I never get it right on the first try.

    Being an 80’s y babe with an i (Kristy), I totally rocked the heart-as-dot. When it got too mainstream, I switched to stars. Then music notes. Baby hipster.

    • It always killed me not having an “I’ to heart-dot so I started ending as many sentences as possible with exclamation points that I could heart. The hearts went away as I got older but I still have an awful exclamation point habit!

  6. Nancy says:

    I’m a 50’s girl and in high school we had 11 people in my home ec class – five of us were named Nancy. That’s when I switched to Nanci for awhile, just so I’d get back my own homework! I was a jock, so I dotted with a circle rather than a heart 🙂

  7. We had two Bethany Lynns in my second grade class and we were best of friends. It was fun making our parents’ and teachers’ lives miserable. It was like having an identical name twin.

  8. happ1ly3v3raft3r says:

    My name fad was Emily. There was about 5 Emily’s in my graduating class 😛

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  10. Tiffany A. Robbins says:

    I’m an 80’s baby Tiffany with a sister named Jennifer. 😀
    Love the blog today!

  11. I wrote to the state of PA when I was about 11 and added a middle name, and those a**h*les let me do it without parental consent. Then I went all crazy at the time of my divorce and added a new first name (neither of these names is “Mad” or “Queen”). My identity crisis is no accident.

  12. justjennyfromtheblog says:

    As a Jenny M, I loved this blog… So true!

  13. justjennyfromtheblog says:

    As a Jenny M., I loved this blog. I’m still convinced I will name my kids Brenda and Dylan respectively.

  14. dinkibass says:

    As an 80s baby in Australia, I grew up surrounded by Kates, Katies, Emmas and Emilys. I hate being trendy so I am hoping my idea doesn’t catch on too much. My partner and I are really into two things, Male names for girls such as Charlie and using old names such as Dulcie, Betty etc.

  15. kitchenmudge says:

    Now that baby boomers are starting to die off, it might be time to go retro. Half the kids I grew up with could be covered with Sue, Kathy, Debbie, Steve, Bob, or Dave.

  16. behindredbricks says:

    I was born in 1980, and my name is Natalie. Yes, in my sixth grade class there was Natalie T, Natalie G, Natalie P. In high school, we were joined by a Natalie Z. When naming my children, I opted for names I thought would stand out. I hated being confused with other girls throughout my youth.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Very funny. I’m a 70’s kid ending in ‘Y’ and named after a british actress so nobody, and I mean nobody had my name until the 80’s/early 90’s. Loved being different so i did the same for my two girls. Marley and Jackson – yes, Jackson – being that she is the only girl I know with the name I felt it was different. We named her after Jackson Hole ski resort. Best part – her middle initial is just the letter ‘H’ because we felt it was inappropriate to name her HOLE. 🙂 She’ll thank me later.

  18. I can relate to this post, as I’m a Kelley. My high school class had a several other Kelley/y/i/ies, but I’m the only one I’ve met that spells it my way…. not that anyone ever spells it right. I notice that my high school and college classmates are naming their daughters anything that ends with a Lynn. Adelyn, Katelyn, Jolynn, Hollynn… I’m so sick of hearing those names. I’m a fan of unconventional names. I know a child name Link Goodnight (a boy), and I’ve heard the name Duality Freedom (a girl).

  19. toddasaur says:

    I have a really simple name, Todd., its pretty easy. monosyllabic…. means fox, olde english and contemporary american eat your heart out….

    but the thing special about my name is almost everyone has to call me anything but it… by adding something to it…. Toddy, Toddo, Tood, Toddly, Toddkins, Toddles, Tidge, Tud, Turd, Tidtaktod, Teddy, or they get tricky.. Dot, or Dottles…. or they just call me fox, cos thats what shakespeare called a fox: a todd.

  20. In my class, I was one of three Nicole’s, but somehow, we all spelled it differently. There was Nicol, Nicole, and me, Nichole. The teachers could never figure out which spelling went with which girl though, and shoved us all under the shortest spelling and called it a day. I couldn’t move three feet during my younger years without meeting about 6 Nicole’s.

  21. traciegila says:

    Haha! I am thankful my mum didn’t call me Wolfgang like she wanted to. Instead I have to put up with spelling my name out and identifying myself as the ‘Tracie with an ‘ie’…

  22. senator476ad says:

    Good blog. You make a lot of good points in. Its all laughably true. Though there is one thing I wanted to point out in the names you exampled; the name Marc, spelled as such is of French origin. That spelling has been around for a long time. Either way though, Marc is still a better name than Apple or Blanket. I got lucky, I got one of the common Greek names (ironically I’m Dutch), Gregory.

  23. bookyworm says:

    I was born in the late 90s and had a couple other Sarahs in my school…one was even a Sarah G like me, so we had to go by Sarah Go and Sarah Ga. In later years we switched to colors.

    I’ve noticed lots of girls these days named McKenna or McKayla or some other variation.

  24. bankholidaytuesday says:

    Growing up in Ireland in the late 1990s was great because Irish Language names had just gotten popular again around 91/92. Cue a whole generation of girls called ‘Niamh’ frustrated by the constant mispronunciation. There were also 6 Meghans in my class at school, and about 9 Sarahs in my year overall.

  25. Reblogged this on chasingautumnskye and commented:
    Cute blog 🙂

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