Popular, trendy, and noteworthy baby names of 1978 (U.S.)

Baby name timeline 1978

Which baby names were the most popular in the U.S. in 1978?

Which names saw the steepest rises in usage?

And which names appeared for the very first time in the national dataset?

Below you’ll find the answers to all three of these questions, plus some of the other baby names that made gains in 1978. (In parentheses are my guesses about the outside factors influencing certain names.)

Top names

These were the most popular baby names overall in the U.S. in 1978:

Girl names: Most popularBoy names: Most popular
1. Jennifer1. Michael
2. Melissa2. Jason
3. Jessica3. Christopher
4. Amy4. David
5. Heather5. James

Rising names

These baby names saw the largest increases in usage from 1977 to 1978 in terms of number of babies:

Girl names: Top absolute increasesBoy names: Top absolute increases
1. Crystal1. Nicholas (TV character)
2. Amanda2. Shaun (singer)
3. Nicole3. Joshua
4. Sarah4. Adam
5. Christina5. Matthew

These baby names saw the largest increases in usage from 1977 to 1978 in terms of percentage of babies:

Girl names: Top relative increasesBoy names: Top relative increases
1. Aja (song)1. Dequan (news)
2. Tyronda2. Ayinde
3. Kylie3. Jaquay
4. Kiley4. Apollo
5. Quinn (actress)5. Natalie

And here’s a selection of the other baby names that saw higher usage in 1978:

Girl names: Other increasesBoy names: Other increases
Ariel (song)Chancey (TV character)
Ariane (product/advertisements)Damien (movie character)
Bailey (TV character)Elvis (news: singer)
Chrissy (TV character)Luke (movie character)
Danay (TV character)Truth (celebrity baby)
Desiree (song)
Devin (product/advertisements)
Kaya (song)
Leia (movie character)
Qiana (brand/advertisements)
Suzanne (actress)
Tovah (actress)
Winter (TV character)

Debut names

These were the baby names that debuted most impressively in the U.S. baby name data in 1978:

Girl names: Top debutsBoy names: Top debuts
1. Enjoli (product/advertisements)1. Mychal (basketball player)
2. Katiria (celebrity baby)2. Jarian (celebrity baby)
3. Arnetia [tie]3. Aja (song)
4. Shavonn [tie]4. Arien
5. Astria5. Kene [tie] (actor)
6. Shaquan [tie]

And here’s a selection of the other names that appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 1978:

Girl names: Other debutsBoy names: Other debuts
Kushana (African-American magazine)Theus (basketball player)
Sayward (TV character)Travolta (actor)
Deonca (African-American magazine)Dorsett (football player)
Eronda (African-American magazine)Adama (TV character)
Astrea (TV character)Davidlee (singer)
Karenina (TV character)Roarke (TV character)
Aba (African-American magazine)Andretti (race car driver)
Demelza (TV character)Biko (news)
Estibaliz (singer)Boz (singer)
Ambi (product/advertisements)Namath (actor/sports)
Loribeth (TV character)
Sulie (TV character)

If you want to check out another year on the timeline, here’s the baby name timeline main page.

Finally, a few reminders about the Social Security Administration’s baby name data:

  • It only includes names given to at least five babies (of one gender or the other) per year.
  • It does contain mistakes such as misspelled names, misgendered names, and placeholder names (e.g., “Babygirl”).
  • It isn’t very accurate from 1880 to the mid-1930s. Why? Because the SSA was established in the mid-1930s, so the names in the dataset from 1880 to the mid-1930s are not the names of babies, but the names (or nicknames) of adults applying for social security numbers. More importantly, adults born during these decades who never applied for a number are simply not accounted for.

Data source: U.S. Social Security Administration