17 Most Popular Baby Names From the 1970s

The 1970s marked the end of the postwar boom and saw technological and scientific advances and events like the oil crisis and Watergate. During the decade, several classic names, including biblical names like Michael, Jennifer, and Matthew, were hugely popular. Here are 17 of the most popular names for babies in the 1970s.


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Social Security’s website notes that Michael was the most popular baby boy name of the 1970s. The name has a Hebrew origin, meaning “gift from God” or “who is like God?” Michael is still a hugely popular name and one of America’s most common names.


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Jennifer was the most popular girl’s name throughout the decade. The Bump notes the name is “rooted in the Welsh Gwenhwyfar” and is a “modern English variation of the legendary Guinevere and shares its meaning as ‘the fair one.’”


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Christopher is second for the most popular boys’ name of the 1970s. VeryWell Family explains that “Christopher is an English name of Greek origin meaning ‘bearer of Christ.’” Chris Pratt, famous for his roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is one of many notable figures called Chris, born in the 1970s.


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Nameberry notes that Jason was the third most popular boy’s name in the 1970s and has a Greek origin, meaning “to heal.” Jason was a figure in ancient Greek myths as the leader of the Argonauts and in the Bible as an early Christian who showed St. Paul hospitality.


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The fifth most popular girl’s name of the decade, Kimberly is a unisex name with an Old English origin meaning “royal forest.” Widely popular in the 1970s, the name has become less popular over time.


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Matthew has Hebrew origins, meaning “gift of Yahweh.” Matthew was a member of the Twelve Apostles, with the Gospel of Matthew attributed to him. The name was popular in the 1970s, with Good Will Hunting actor Matt Damon born in 1970.


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Michelle was the fourth most popular girl’s name in the 1970s. The name has French roots, Michèle, from Michel or Michael. French actress Michèle Morgan initially made the name famous in the 1930s, and by the 1970s, it had spread worldwide.


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Brian is the eighth most popular boys’ name of the 1970s and is an Irish name meaning “noble” or “high.” The Bump notes the name is “symbolic of strength and virtue, traits inspiring bravery.” Brian Austin Green, an actor famous for his role in the teen drama television show Beverly Hills, 90210, was born in 1973.


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Karen has a Danish origin, a diminutive of the formal Katherine, meaning “pure.” The name was a popular choice for babies in the 1970s, but it has taken on a new meaning since 2020, often applied to middle-aged women perceived as entitled.


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David is the fourth most popular name of the 1970s and has Biblical origins. David is the name of the third King of Israel, who killed the giant Goliath. The name evolved from “Dod,” the Hebrew name for “beloved.”


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Another word of Hebrew origin, Susan, comes from Shoshannah, “lily of the valley.” According to The Bump, the “appealing two-syllable title is also recorded in Ancient Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Latin, making it a timeless Mediterranean name.”


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James, the fifth most popular boys’ name of the 1970s, is still a hugely popular boy’s first name. According to data from the Social Security Administration, there were 3.4 million people in the U.S. in 2021 with the name, making it the second most common first name.


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This Latin name means “patrician” or “noble” and is a female variant of Patrick. Patricians ranked high in society, unlike their plebeian counterparts, making Patricia a popular choice in the 1970s.


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John, derived from the Hebrew Yohannan, means “God is gracious.” It was the sixth most popular name for boys in the 1970s, with Room for Squares musician John Mayer born in 1977, and is still a staple name.


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Short for Elizabeth or Melissa, Lisa was a hugely popular name for baby girls in the 1970s, with songs like Elton John’s “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” bearing the name. According to a 2010 Minyanville article, Steve Jobs named his daughter Lisa when she was born in 1978 and named Apple’s 1983 computer Lisa after her.


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Elizabeth has Hebrew origins and originated from Elisheva, meaning “God is my oath” or “God’s promise.” John the Baptist’s mother in the Bible was named Elizabeth, which has been popular in the English-speaking world since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.


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Robert was the seventh-most popular boy’s name of the decade and has an ancient Germanic origin. Meaning “bright fame,” the name has maintained its popularity for centuries, with famous figures including Robert the Bruce and Robert De Niro.

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