“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
Contrarian Baby Names: Boys
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…”
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)
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)
Vernell (for a girl)
I would use any of these boys’ names on a real baby, except maybe Vernon ????
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!
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.
Denise, I was curious (called me weird) and I found the pics in the August 1971 magazine. DeDe Lind from England.
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 ;)
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.
@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.
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?
@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).
Oddly, I’ve met a young Lori. Really like Cathleen/Kathleen, too.
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 ??
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).