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unique baby names

There was a time when every other girl was named Ashley. That time has ended.

As we know, baby name trends are constantly changing. One generation’s Barbara is another generation’s Bethany. But it doesn’t make it any less odd when you suddenly realize that your very own name has suddenly made it into the “old and unhip” pile. And for many of us 80s babies…that time is now.

In a now-viral TikTok post, baby name consultant Colleen Slagen went through the top 100 girl names from 1986 to find which ones “did not age well” and were no longer ranked top 1,000 today. Such a descent from popularity would mark them as what she calls “timestamp names.”

Spoiler alert: what might be even more surprising than the names now considered old school are the names that are still going strong.


The first name that Slagen says is “officially out” is Heather. That’s right, not even cult movie fame could help it keep its ranking.

via GIPHY

Other extinct names include Erica, Courtney, Lindsay, Tara, Crystal, Shannon, Brandy and Dana. Tiffany, Brittany and Casey are also heading very much in that direction.

“My name is Brandy. The Gen Z hostess at Olive Garden told me that she’d never heard my name before and it was so unique,” one viewer wrote.

However, Andrea ranks “surprisingly high,” and Jessica, Ashley and Stephanie have survived…so far.

Gobsmacked, one person asked “How is Stephanie still in there? I don’t think I’ve met a Stephanie younger than myself at 34.”

But the biggest holdout still belongs to Jennifer. “She was a top 100 name all the way up until 2008. Round of applause for Jennifer,” Slagen says in the clip.

@namingbebe Sorry Lindsay, Heather, and Courtney. #babynames #nametok #nameconsultant #girlnames #80skid #1986 #nametrend ♬ original sound - Colleen

If your name has found its way into relic of a bygone era status, fret not. Slagen, whose name also ranks out of the top 1000, assures it just means “we are creatures of the 80's.”

Of course, while we still have baby names that become incredibly common for extended periods of time (looking at you, little Liam and Olivia), the real contemporary trend is going for uniqueness. As an article in The Atlantic notes, for most of American history families tended to name their children after a previous family member, with the goal of blending in, rather than standing out. But now, things have changed.

Laura Wattenberg, the founder of Namerology, told the outlet that “Parents are thinking about naming kids more like how companies think about naming products, which is a kind of competitive marketplace where you need to be able to get attention to succeed.”

But again, even with a keen eye on individualism, patterns pop up. “The same thing we see in fashion trend cycles, we see in names,” Jessie Paquette, another professional baby namer, told Vox. “We’re seeing Eleanor, Maude, Edith—cool-girl grandma names.”

So who knows…give it time (or maybe just a pop song) and one of these 80s names could make a comeback.

Is it always best to be honest with friends?

A big parenting trend over the past few decades is people giving their children names that help them stand out instead of fit in. Social scientists say that a big reason for the change in America is the rise of individualism.

“As American culture has become more individualistic, parents have favored giving children names that help them stand out—and that means more unique names and fewer common names,” Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor, told the BBC.

However, being an individualist comes with some risks. One can be an iconoclastic trendsetter or seen as desperate, inauthentic and cringeworthy.


The move towards unique names has caused controversy in families, especially among the parents-to-be and their in-laws. But, as you’ll see in this story, it can cause problems among friends, too.

A Reddit user who was once known as Shayleigh recently shared her conflict with a friend on the AITA forum to see whether she was in the right.

baby names, unique baby names, bad baby names

Friends fight over baby names.

via Liza Summer/Pexels

“One of my friends found out she was pregnant a few months ago, and she's really excited to be a mother. I'm happy for her and think she'd make a good mom, but there's one problem; she wants her baby's name to be unique and special, but the way she's going about it is terrible,” she wrote.

“What I mean is, the name she plans on using is godawful. If it's a boy, she's going to name him ‘Daynger’ (yes, spelled like that to be unique), and if it's a girl, she's going to name her ‘Tinkerbelle,’” she continued.

This woman not only wanted to be unique by naming her child after a Disney character, but she combined the names of two characters, Tinkerbell from “Peter Pan” and Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.”

The woman formerly known as Shayleigh leveled with her friend, saying her child would get bullied if they were named Daynger or Tinkerbelle. The former Shayleigh wasn’t just a wet blanket, she knew what it was like first-hand to have a unique name. After all, she was bullied for being named Shayleigh by being called “Gayleigh.” She was also the victim of her parents using the “leigh” for “ly” naming convention, which many see as cringeworthy. Her name caused her so much stress that at 19, she had it changed.

According to Stop Bullying, being targeted by bullies can cause anxiety and depression and the effects can lead into adulthood.

The honest remark led to a falling out among the friends.

“She got really upset and told me I was being unsupportive and I was a shi**y friend,” the woman formerly known as Shayleigh wrote. “She's been ignoring my texts ever since, and it's been more than a week. I'm starting to feel kind of guilty over what I said.”

The commenters on the post overwhelmingly supported the poster for being honest with her friend.

"A baby’s name should work for them from birth to school to career to retirement. She’s only thinking of how cute a baby Daynger/Tinkerbelle would be and not thinking of how much her tween will hate her for that name," Regular-Switch454 wrote. "She needs a reality check. She’s naming adults here. Those names won’t set her kids up for their best shot at life and she needs to accept that," Thoughtinspace added.

The good news was that the friends eventually reconciled and had a long talk about the woman’s baby name ideas.

‘“I carefully brought up some of your points, and suggested using the name "Belle’ for a girl, with ‘Tinkerbelle’ as a nickname; she thinks it's cute and liked the idea,” the woman formerly known as Shayleigh wrote. “She did decide to use ‘Daynger’ (still spelled like that) as a middle name, which isn't nearly as bad as using it for a first name. On the bright side, the kid can tell people, ‘Danger is my middle name.’”

Family

'We're naming a child, not a dog': Man fights with wife over naming baby 'Zoomer'

Has the unusual baby name trend gone too far or is he stuck in the past?

A couple arguing over what to name their baby

Over the past decade or so, there has been a trend of parents choosing to give their children unique names. “We are deep in an era of naming individuality, where parents assume that having a [name] sound distinctive and unique is a virtue,” Laura Wattenberg, the founder of the naming-trends site Namerology, told The Atlantic.

There are multiple reasons for this change in American culture. One is that people have fewer children, so their uniqueness has become more important for parents. Another is that baby name data has pushed parents to go to further lengths to come up with names that won’t make them the third John or second Maria in a classroom.

The internet has also played a role in the change. People with unique names stand out online. Good luck if you’re looking on Facebook for a former classmate named Matt Smith.


Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic also points out that picking a unique name has become a trend, so it has become a type of conformity. “Trying not to be like everyone else makes you just like everyone else,” Pinsker wrote.

The unique name trend has also caused friction among parents. A father-to-be who goes by the name Aaronsaway on Reddit asked the AITA forum whether he was in the wrong for being “rude” to his wife for shooting down her unique baby names.

The boy’s name that caused the most drama was Zoomer.

“My wife and I are expecting our first child in the coming months and we have chosen not to find out the sex until the baby is born. Things are starting to feel very real now so we’ve started to properly discuss names, but we’ve realized we both have vastly different tastes in name style and we are having a hard time finding the right one,” Aaronsaway wrote.

He says that his wife likes unique names that he finds “tacky and silly,” while he prefers “traditional names.”

“Last night she showed me a short list she had put together and thought I might like. The names on the list were:

Girl: Fern, Fennix, Rhodes, Faun, Brixtyn, and Kinley

Boy: Spark, Diesel, Quincy, Phoenix, Buck, and Fox”

Aaronsaway countered by suggesting some traditional versions of the names she chose.

But Aaronsaway finally snapped when his wife suggested Zoomer for a boy.

“I asked if she was serious and said it was a stupid name. She asked what my problem was and why I was so dismissive of all her ideas and shooting down all the names she likes. I told her we were naming a child and not a dog, and that names can have a huge impact on the child,” Aaronsaway wrote. “I said I don’t want my child to be bullied or taken less seriously because they have a ridiculous name. She told me I was rude and that I was the bully for making her feel unsupported.”

The wife started crying and went to bed.

So, is the dad-to-be right in dismissing his wife’s unique suggestions or should he get with the times and give his child a one-of-a-kind name?

The commenters overwhelmingly supported Aaronsaway.

The most popular comment came from AsOne8433, who wrote: "So many people naming their kids like a 9-year-old naming a goldfish or a valley girl naming a pocket dog. Unfortunately, it indicates that the parent considering these names does not see the child as a person, but a thing, an amusing accessory to show all her fans how cool she is."

Willing-Helicopter26 agreed.

"I definitely feel like you should discuss names you like and consider a more unique middle name, but ultimately this IS a person not a pet," they wrote. "Lots of these names are more appropriate for pets. Your wife needs to be a bit more grounded in her selections. Fern isn't bad. Quincy isn't terrible, either. But please don't name your kid Zoomer."

The few dissenters didn’t like the way he talked to his wife.

“You're allowed to not like her name choices, and she's allowed to not like yours. You're allowed to veto one another—but not to be mean to each other,” NightOwlEye wrote.