Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

contrarian baby names, uncool baby names

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?


12 thoughts on “Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

  1. I would most definitely use many of the names, both male and female. Too many to put in here actually. I am almost 49 so I don’t know if I’m considered Grandma material. My son is only 17, I had him when I was 31. His name is Jayden, which was pretty new and became very “in” a few years later (I got it from Star Trek the next generation)
    I did get a huge laugh to see my little sister’s name on there. She was born in 1972 and my mom named her Deanne. The name my mom originally saw was DeeDee, and the girl was a model for a famous men’s bunny magazine. Bad big sister that I am to tease her LOL She just goes by Dee now as she hates that most people see her name and think it is Dean, not Deanne. I love unusual unique names (perhaps because I am a writer LOL) I’d rather a child have a unique one of a kind name than 200 Davids, Michaels, or Johns. The names at the bottom of your list that came in both male and female categories, are very popular male names in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming (Mormon country-we love to name our kid’s weird stuff)

  2. To the previous commenter: My nickname (used almost exclusively in my childhood) was Dee Dee! I never knew there was a relation to the men’s bunny magazine! ????

    I love a lot of the names from this list. I am 50, so my taste is probably different than today’s young moms & dads.
    Some of my favorites from your list: Jeanne (fav since childhood)
    Phyllis (fav since the late 80s)
    Glenna (since late 80s)
    Dolores (since early 90s, would use on a real baby)
    Marian (since 2000’s, would use)
    Deirdre (since 2000’s, would use)
    Marion (for a girl, recent)
    Dale (middle for a girl, recent)
    Dean – not on your list but similar (middle for a girl, recent)
    ThelmaDean (recent)
    Vernell (for a girl)
    Wilma (recent)
    I would use any of these boys’ names on a real baby, except maybe Vernon ????
    Chester
    Ed (nn for Edward. This is the only boy’s name from the list that I have liked for a long time, since 2000’s.)
    Fred (nn for Frederick)
    Pete (nn for Peter)
    Stan (nn for Stanley or Stanislaus)
    Vernon (and nn Vern)
    Thanks for the great list!

  3. Although I really like a few of the names (Claudette, Merrill, Haywood, etc) and think might be nice to have used more often, there are a few I would never use and doubt will see much of a resurgence anytime soon.
    Names like Adolf and Kermit are so solidly linked to an individual that would make it a hard name for any kid. Adolf simply can’t escape the Hitler connection no matter how many good guys named Adolf are lurking in our family trees. Even though Kermit the Frog is certainly a positive role model, I’m not sure any kid would enjoy a lifetime of frog comments.

  4. Denise, I was curious (called me weird) and I found the pics in the August 1971 magazine. DeDe Lind from England.

  5. Christa,
    At least I spell it differently! LOL
    But I do know at least one person thought my nickname had a “men’s magazine” sound. When I met my future MIL in 1990, my boyfriend introduced me as Dee Dee. She told him later she would call me Denise, because Dee Dee sounded cheap/tacky. I was highly offended at the time. She and his whole family have always called me Denise. It used to bother me, but it ended up being a good cut-off from my childhood name. Now I enjoy hearing my childhood friends and my parents & brothers call me Dee Dee, but I don’t like anyone else to use it. Sorry everyone, for the long, off-topic comment ;)

  6. I don’t agree on the inclusion of a lot of the nickname names.

    Jimmie is out, definitely. But James is a top 10 name, and I’m sure a lot of little Jameses are getting called Jimmy. Same with Sammie and Tommy. I’d also add any name starting with Wil-, because William is top 10. And I suspect a little Charlene would get called Charlie, which is certainly ‘in’–that’d be fun, too, names that are dated but have trendy nicknames.

    I like Trudy.

  7. @G – I see where you’re coming from on those nickname-names (not all, but several). I’ll keep tinkering with the formula. Maybe I’ll be able to exclude more of them the next time I analyze/post about contrarian names.

  8. This article and list is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you!

    Would love to see more of these names that expand beyond the 100-year rule. I like the idea of a 85-year rule – what if my kid’s name was hitting that mark in his teens?

  9. @Billie Ocean – You’re welcome! Glad you liked it. These don’t go as far back as 100 years, though — not even 85. I aimed for names common among today’s 60-year-olds (2 generations removed from today’s babies).

  10. I like Theresa and Meg. I also like a lot of the boy names. Earnest has always been a favorite of mine, I also like Lawrence, Les, Lennie, and although it’s not on your list, Lewis ??

  11. My baby Harriet’s name didn’t make this list, but variant Harriett did! Most of these names would be shocking on a baby these days. It’s interesting to see that Jeff, Jeffry, Jefferey, and Geoffrey all make this list, but not the most popular variant, Jeffrey. I guess a name like Jeffrey or Robert or Timothy continues its long, slow decline while all the variants fall out of use first. Meanwhile, most of the girl names are just out of circulation entirely (Tammy, Janet, Donna, in all their variations).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.