What popularized the baby name Gage in the 1990s?

The character Gage Creed from the movie "Pet Semetary" (1989)
Gage Creed from “Pet Semetary

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Gage saw a substantial rise in usage during the last decade of the 20th century and achieved peak popularity during the first decade of the 21st century.

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Gage in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Gage

What kicked off the trendiness of Gage in the 1990s?

  • 1991: 809 baby boys named Gage [rank: 319th]
  • 1990: 666 baby boys named Gage [rank: 361st]
  • 1989: 171 baby boys named Gage [rank: 755th]
  • 1988: 57 baby boys named Gage
  • 1987: 51 baby boys named Gage

A young character from the horror film Pet Sematary (1989), which was set in Maine.

In the movie, Gage Creed (played by Miko Hughes) was the 2-year-old son of Louis Creed (played by Dale Midkiff). After Gage was hit by a truck and killed, Louis, distraught, decided to bury Gage’s body in an ancient Mi’kmaq burial ground known for resurrecting people…as murderous zombies, of course.

The movie was based on the 1983 book of the same name by Maine-based horror writer Stephen King.

How fitting is it that the name Gage — after entering the boys’ top 1,000 in 1989 — nearly quadrupled in usage in 1990 to precisely 666 baby boys? ;)

Gage’s trendiness also gave rise to a handful of variants, including Gaige (which debuted in the data in 1989), Gauge (1990), Gayge (1998), and Gaege (1999).

The character Johnny Gage from the TV series "Emergency!" (1972-1977)
Johnny Gage from “Emergency!

And, while we’re talking about Gage, let’s take a look at a similar (but much smaller) boost the name got from pop culture back in the 1970s:

  • 1976: 29 baby boys named Gage
  • 1975: 20 baby boys named Gage
  • 1974: 23 baby boys named Gage
  • 1973: 20 baby boys named Gage
  • 1972: 7 baby boys named Gage
  • 1971: 6 baby boys named Gage

In this case, the increase was caused by television.

One of the main characters of the medical drama Emergency!, which aired from 1972 to 1977, was a young firefighter-paramedic named John “Johnny” Gage (played by Randolph Mantooth). He was often addressed as “Gage” on the show.

Incidentally, the realistic series not only inspired dozens of parents to name their sons Gage, but also “motivated many people to embark upon careers in the emergency medical field.”

What are your thoughts on the name Gage?


Images: Screenshots of Pet Sematary and Emergency!

One thought on “What popularized the baby name Gage in the 1990s?

  1. I think it’s a terrible name. Gage likely has brothers named Maverick and Bentley and sisters named Nevaeh and Jazleen.

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