Top 30 Fad Names Over the Last 100 Years

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circa 1934: Shirley Temple (1928 - ) the American child star who started performing in films at three years of age. She entered politics in the 1960's and took on several ambassador positions representing her country. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Shirley Temple – The American child star who started performing in films at three years of age. (Getty)

Just like all other fads, trendy baby names come and go, often shaped by the unseen forces of pop culture and whims — sort of like the one-hit wonders in the music business.

It’s not shocking that 1930s child star Shirley Temple inspired parents to name their little girls after the curly-haired wonder, but some of these others might surprise you.

Here are the Top 30 that experienced dramatic increases in popularity, only to fall back to obscurity. They each saw at least a 700% increase during a given year compared, to their average frequencies from 1900-2014.

 

#30. Amanda

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 701.42%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 21,938.4
Year of Peak: 1987

Coined from 17th century literature, Amanda was considered a fad name in the 1980s, ranking in third place. In 2014, 1,042 baby girls were named Amanda, giving the name a U.S. rank of 314.

#29. Lauren

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 704.93%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 10,423.3
Year of Peak: 1989

Lauren was a top choice for baby girls born in the ’90s, and the name held an average rank of 13th. Lauren is still a popular choice overseas, and was the 24th most common baby girl name in Ireland in 2014.

#28. Lori

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 705.65%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 11,666.6
Year of Peak: 1963

Lori is not a common name heard at baby showers these days. In fact, in 2014 only 126 girls were named Lori in the U.S. If you meet a woman born in 1963, though, chances are far higher her name is Lori, since it was the eighth most popular name that year.

#27. Jeremy

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 716.45%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 12,993.9
Year of Peak: 1977

Jeremy is an Anglicized form of Jeremiah, and was most popular in 1976 when it was the 14th most common baby boy name. While the name was ranked No. 169 in 2014 in the U.S., the name is becoming in vogue in New Zealand, where it was the 86th most popular boy name in 2014.

#26. Jessica

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 716.58%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 29,393.1
Year of Peak: 1987

The name Jessica was created by Shakespeare, who was trying to name a Jewish character. The name rose to the No. 1 spot in 1987. Even though the name has been trending down in popularity in the U.S., parents in other countries use the name frequently. Jessica was the fifth most popular baby girl name in Scotland in 2014.

#25. Brittany

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 717.07%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 18,701.0
Year of Peak: 1989

Brittany was one of the top girl names in 1989, making the name the third most popular name in the U.S. Over the last decade, the name has been trending significantly down in popularity.

#24. Sharon

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 718.30%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 16,314.3
Year of Peak: 1946

While some names are derived from old words, the name Sharon comes straight from a Bible verse in Song of Solomon. The name was trending down in 2014, but in 1943, it held an all-time high rank of eighth.

#23. Ethan

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 722.88%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 10,991.8
Year of Peak: 2002

Ethan is a common boy’s name with a strong meaning behind it. Ethan means “strong and constancy.” Ethan peaked in popularity in 2002, and remains a very popular boy’s name now. In 2014, the name was the sixth most popular boy’s name, and is predicted to hold steady in popularity.

#22. Carol

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 734.91%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 21,263.8
Year of Peak: 1945

Carol hasn’t been a popular name for almost 70 years. In 2014, it was ranked No. 1,491 for U.S. baby girls, which is a long fall from the name’s 1941 ranking of fourth.

#21. Judy

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 738.36%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 12,007.6
Year of Peak: 1946

The name Judy was made popular by singer and actress, Judy Garland. Similarly, the name Judy was also most popular in the 1940s, right after the premiere of “Wizard of Oz.”

#20. Taylor

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 740.38%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 10,632.4
Year of Peak: 1993

Originally a popular surname and then a popular boy’s name, Taylor is also a common choice for baby girls. In 1994, Taylor was the sixth most popular baby girl name in the U.S.

#19. Cynthia

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 742.20%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 18,250.2
Year of Peak: 1957

Trending way down in popularity, Cynthia was once a popular choice in the 1950s. Cynthia means “from Mount Cynthus,” and was an epithet applied to the goddess Artemis, who was said to have been born on Mount Cynthus.

#18. Tyler

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 754.89%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 15,420.1
Year of Peak: 1994

Tyler was originally a surname for individuals who were tilers by occupation. In 1994, Tyler was the fifth most common boy’s name in the U.S. Over the last decade, the name has been trending down in popularity.

#17. Amy

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 792.77%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 20,515.2
Year of Peak: 1975

The ’70s were all about love, making Amy an appropriate, popular name choice. Amy is a French baby name that means “beloved” and “dearly loved.” In 1975, it ranked No. 2 in the U.S. In 2014, Amy was a more popular choice in other countries including Ireland (rank No. 30) and Scotland (rank No. 44).

#16. Crystal

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 804.46%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 10,380.0
Year of Peak: 1982

Crystal was the 477th most popular girl’s name in 2014. In 1982, it was the ninth most common female baby name — the most popular it has ever been. The name has been trending down significantly in popularity.

#15. Madison

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 806.79%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 11,007.6
Year of Peak: 2001

The name Madison was apparently inspired by President James Madison. Madison peaked in use in 2001, but in 2014 the name was still a popular choice, ranking ninth.

#14. Alexis

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 818.72%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 10,034.1
Year of Peak: 1998

Alexis is a common female name with English, Greek, Latin, and Roman origins. Its 2014 rank of 64 is a long drop from 1999 when Alexis was the third most popular baby girl name in the U.S.

#13. Lisa

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 822.77%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 32,051.7
Year of Peak: 1965

While popular in other countries, Lisa hasn’t been a hit name since the 1960s, when it had an average rank of No. 1. In 2014, Lisa was the 750th most popular baby girl’s name in the U.S.

#12. Kathy

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 835.18%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 11,252.6
Year of Peak: 1958

Kathy was originally used as a pet name for Katherine and Kathleen. In the 1950s, Kathy peaked in popularity as a stand-alone name. By 2014, the name had decreased significantly in popularity, and ranked No. 1,547.

#11. Jason

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 855.03%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 34,668.8
Year of Peak: 1974

Meaning “heal,” Jason was probably a classicized form of Joshua in New Testament times. In 1974, Jason was the second-most popular boy name in the U.S. The name has dropped significantly since then, and ranked No. 75 in 2014.

#10. Judith

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 905.16%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 17,492.0
Year of Peak: 1940

Judith is a biblical name meaning “Jewess” or “woman from Judea.” During the name’s peak of popularity in the 1940s, 17,492 baby girls per 1 million babies born were named Judith, giving the name an average rank of ninth.

#9. Austin

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 924.07%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 13,286.5
Year of Peak: 1995

Austin was the 66th most common boy’s name in 2014. However, the name was a popular choice in 1995, most likely inspired by the city of Austin, Texas.

#8. Deborah

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 977.69%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 26,816.1
Year of Peak: 1954

Deborah is a biblical name that means “bee” in Hebrew. In the 1950s, the name held an average rank of four and even became the second most popular girl’s name in the U.S. in 1955.

#7. Joan

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 988.39%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 17,250.8
Year of Peak: 1932

Joan is considered the female variation of the name John. The name Joan was most popular when it reached a rank of five in 1932. The name is very unpopular now. In 2014, only 75 girls were named Joan in the U.S., giving the name a rank of 2,413.

#6. Isabella

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 991.43%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 11,437.8
Year of Peak: 2010

Isabella topped the baby name charts in 2010 and, in 2014, it still held a strong rank of four. Isabella is not just a popular American name, it has made waves in other countries too, such as Norway and Sweden, ranking No. 53 and No. 44 in 2014, respectively.

#5. Linda

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 1,023.50%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 52,906.2
Year of Peak: 1948

Linda is a common baby girl name that was derived from words meaning pretty, soft, tender and weak. Linda had a spike in popularity from 1947 to 1948, and then it dropped significantly on the charts. The name continues to trend down in popularity and, in 2014, held the rank of 615th.

#4. Sophia

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 1,062.80%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 11,254.9
Year of Peak: 2012

Sophia is one of the most recent name fads. The name, which means “wisdom,” was popular in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. During the peak of the fad, 11,254.9 babies were named Sophia per 1 million babies born. This was a 10 percent increase of popularity from the name’s average ranking.

#3. Debra

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 1,089.64%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 24,667.8
Year of Peak: 1955

Debra is now considered an unusual female name, ranking No. 3,099 for baby girl names in the U.S in 2014. The name was most popular in 1956, when it ranked No. 2.

#2. Ashley

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 1,094.36%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 28,789.9
Year of Peak: 1987

Originally starting off as a boy name, Ashley was right behind Jessica in popularity in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Ashley is based off an Old English word for ash wood.

#1. Shirley

 

Percent Change From Average Frequency to Peak: 1,298.03%
Frequency per 1 Million Babies at Peak: 35,638.2
Year of Peak: 1935

In 2014, only 200 baby girls in the U.S. were named Shirley, giving the name a rank of 1,211. This is a long fall from when the name was extremely popular in the mid-1930s. The peak in popularity can likely be attributed to the darling child star, Shirley Temple.

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