12 Baby Names That Have Gone Out of Style (And 5 That Never Will)

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By Jonathan Trent

Baby names tend to come and go, with some achieving extreme peaks due to cultural references and current fashion trends. However, what goes up must come down, as you’ll find out with these 12 baby names that have fallen out of fashion, along with five timeless exceptions.


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Once an incredibly popular name for boys, The Independent found Gary to be the 10th most popular name in the US for three consecutive years from 1951. Sadly, this classic name is at risk of going extinct, having fallen out of favor in the ‘90s and not having recovered since.


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While the Scottish-origin name Ian has been falling out of favor in the United Kingdom since its peak in the ‘60s, it didn’t reach its peak in the United States until 2003. Briefly, Ian actually found itself as a top-65 name, but unfortunately, this has retreated in modern parents’ minds.


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Little boys named Geoff are few and far between these days. One reason for its decline in popularity is that it is so often mispronounced. The spelling leads some to believe it should be pronounced Gee-off, a problem not experienced by those with the more familiar spelling of the name, Jeff.


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Names usually associated with the upper class, such as William and Charles, tend to be ever-present in the popularity lists. This isn’t the case with Clive, however, a name that used to be associated with wealth but is now largely unconsidered by trendy parents. We think it’s due for a comeback!


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The name Nigel experienced a bounce in popularity back in the 1970s but has failed to ever fully establish itself among the usual list of popular boy names. The Guardian suggests that Nigel has never exactly been a ‘cool’ name, a sentiment echoed by modern society. We think it’s pretty cool, though!


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Once a popular name, Stuart has well and truly fallen out of favor among parents and is often regarded as extinct by name experts. It reached its peak in 1961 but has been on a downward decline ever since, reaching its lowest usage ever in 2021. 


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Sheila is another once-popular name that has fallen victim to being used as derogatory slang. Usually associated with Australia, it’s used in the same manner that Americans would use the terms ‘chicks’ or ‘birds’ to describe women, terms not generally accepted in modern times. It’s still a nice name, though, so it’s a shame!


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While people named Alex and Alexandra have narrowly managed to escape having their name used for a globally famous technology product, Alexas were not so lucky. Call a child Alexa, and they will be faced with so many Amazon/smart speaker jokes they’ll hold a grudge against you forever.


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In recent years, people have drifted toward more softer-sounding names, such as Olivia, Emily, and Lily, a bracket that Agatha most certainly does not fit into. It’s both too harsh sounding and too dated for modern parents to even consider, but it’s still a pretty name in its own way.


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The fame of Doris Day and her association with the ‘50s and ‘60s have left many new parents believing the name sounds too dated for modern times. As the 1950s isn’t currently a fashionable retro trend, it is unlikely to return to normality any time soon.


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Thanks to the internet, the negative connotations of the name Karen have pushed it as far out of people’s baby name shortlists as one could ever imagine. According to Newsweek, the name Karen peaked in 1965, which lines up perfectly with the stereotype of a middle-aged person who is excessively entitled and demanding.


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Unfortunately, after a 1939 spike in the number of babies named Dorothy following the incredibly successful Wizard of Oz release, the name Dorothy has drifted out of fashion. It hasn’t shown any recent signs of making a comeback, but with so many old movies being remade, there is always hope.


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Moving on to timeless names that will never fall out of fashion, Christianity catapulted the name Joseph into popularity in all its many forms. Even with Christianity’s decline in popularity, Joseph has become so popular that it has transcended its original religious tag, remaining a common name to this day.


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Ever since biblical times, the name James has kept itself in fashion and is likely to remain fashionable for many years to come. It has experienced a new-found fluidity, with parents beginning to use it as a girl’s name as well as a boy’s name.


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The name Olivia dates back to the era of William Shakespeare, who was credited with popularizing it after using it in his play The Twelfth Night. The name experienced a resurgence in the latter half of the 2010s and has spent half a decade as the most popular girl’s name in the USA.


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The Social Security Administration claims that Liam has been the most popular name in the USA for seven consecutive years and has appeared in the top five for over a decade; those are some crazy statistics! This popularity is partially due to its link to the ever-popular name, William.


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Last but certainly not least, Elizabeth is an incredibly versatile name, partially thanks to its many nicknames, such as Eliza, Liz, Beth, and Betty. It’s also a royal name, which is often people’s source of inspiration for children’s names due to the connotations of nobility and class.  Who wouldn’t want to be named after a queen!?