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Baby Boomer Names

Photograph by Twenty20

A Kayden or Hendrix would have been an anomaly in a 1950s kindergarten classroom; today a Judith would be almost as unusual. The names given to babies born in the two decades after World War II aren't extinct, but these boomer names are due for a second coming.

Ronald

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #397

Today this Scottish name is well-known because of Ronald Reagan and Ron Weasley. In the middle of the century it was one of the most popular names for baby boys, and Ronnie is a sweet nickname.

Karen

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #492

Karen only became a common name in the U.S. in the 1940s, so it's no surprise that this was a popular choice for boomer babies. It's a Danish nickname for Katherine, which itself is a Greek name with indeterminate meaning.

Larry

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #510

Meaning: "From Laurentum," an ancient Roman city

It's a nickname for the dignified and upper-crust name Laurence, but Larry has a decidedly casual vibe—doesn't everyone have a friend with a wacky Uncle Larry?

Sharon

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #879

Meaning: Plain

Sharon means "plain," but any girl with this name will be relieved to hear that it's the geographical feature—not a lack of beaut—that inspired this Hebrew name. Famous Sharons include Sharon Stone and Sharon Osborne

Kenneth

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #191

Meaning: Born of fire; handsome

Kenneth's popularity hasn't fallen off as drastically as many boomer names. It's the Anglicized version of the Gaelic names Cináed, meaning "born of fire," and Coinneach, meaning "handsome."

Donna

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #985

Meaning: Lady

It's a little unusual today, but this name is delicate and feminine—appropriate, since it means "lady" in Italian. That doesn't mean it's for shrinking violets, however; both "The West Wing" and "Suits" feature Donnas who are fierce and funny.

Dennis

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #491

Dennis the Menace really did a number on this name's reputation. It's derived from Dionysos, the Greek god of wine, revelry and dance—so you can be sure that a young Dennis will be the life of any party.

Patricia

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #739

Meaning: Noble

Like Patrick, Patricia is a form of the Latin name Patricius, meaning noble. Baby boomers commonly shortened this name to Pat or Patty. Tricia is a slightly less dated nickname today.

Donald

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #418

Like its sound-alike Ronald, Donald is nowhere near as popular now as it was during the post-World War II era. It's derived from the old Gaelic name Domhnall, though for most folks today the name is best known as belonging to Donald Duck.

Deborah

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #753

Meaning: Bee

Deborah is a stately name with a long history; it dates back to the Old Testament. Plan on using this full Hebrew name instead of any of its cutesy nicknames. Even Debbie Gibson went back to Deborah.

Gary

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #560

Gary is an old name that's due for a comeback. Sure, you rarely meet a Gary who doesn't have some gray in his hair, but this moniker, which comes from an English surname, is friendly and masculine.

Barbara

Popularity rank in the U.S.: #863

Meaning: Foreign

Barbara comes from the Greek for "foreign," which is somewhat appropriate today: Most kids probably have never even heard of this name. Don't pick it in honor of Streisand. The legendary singer was named Barbara but changed the spelling to Barbra to stand out.

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