The 1980s were utterly insane. The hair was big. The fashion was loud. People said things like”bodacious” and “gag me with a spoon.” What the heck was even going on? Pop culture in the 80s reached new heights with power ballads like “Livin’ on Prayer” blaring on radios and quirky blockbusters like Back to the Future packing movie theaters. It was the last decade before the ubiquity of the internet and maybe that’s partly to blame for everyone’s complete lack of self-consciousness throughout the decade.
Because everything had to be big and bold, the 80s brought us some larger-than-life celebrities in the form of musicians, actors, and artists. We’re thinking of crushes on The Brat Pack, mixtapes filled with Synth-pop, and the invention of the Supermodel. Here are 25 bold and bodacious baby names from the 1980s that will fill you with nostalgia. We hope that nostalgia is for the 80s and not a better decade.
One of the original Brat Pack, Demi Moore was the coolest thing on movie screens in the 1980s. Was there a more quintessential 80s film than St. Elmo’s Fire? Demi is short for the Greek name Demetria and it means “half.”
Emilio Estevez was fantastic in The Breakfast Club and stole hearts in other coming-of-age films of the decade. Emilio is a popular Spanish and Italian name that means “rival.”
With hits like “True Colors,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “Time After Time” Cyndi Lauper dominated pop music of the 80s. Cyndi is a different way of spelling Cindy, a name with Greek origins that means “from Mount Kynthos.”
Steven Spielberg’s E.T. is a classic film that received both critical and commercial success. The film tells the story of a boy named Elliott who befriends an extraterrestrial. Elliott is such a handsome name that has origins in Hebrew and English. It means “God on high.”
Ronald Reagan was president from 1981-1989, so just about the entire decade. A polarizing figure, his legacy stirs strong opinions from many people. Regardless of how you might feel about him, he sure did have a winning name. Reagan sounds similar to Regan, a character from Shakespeare’s King Lear. Reagan is an Irish name that means “little ruler.”
“Let’s Dance!” David Bowie solidified his superstar bona fides in the 80s.
“I was something I had never wanted to be,” he said of his success at the time. “I was a well-accepted artist.” The name Bowie has origins in Gaelic and means “yellow” or “fair-haired.”
Scottish singer-songwriter Annie Lennox and her vehicle, Eurythmics is another musician from the UK who enjoyed global acclaim. “Sweet Dreams” became a smash hit in 1983 and its music video was on heavy rotation on a relatively new channel called MTV. Annie is an English name that means “gracious.”
James Cameron’s The Terminator helped launch his film career when it was released in 1984. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg who travels back in time to murder a character named Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton. Hamilton’s performance in the film and subsequent movies in the franchise inspired us to suggest Connor as a name for a little boy. Connor has Irish roots and means “lover of wolves.”
Heathers entertained and shocked viewers when it was released in 1988. The film became a popular cult film after it flopped at the box office and was misunderstood by many critics. Heathers was ridiculous and cynical and perfect for the time. We unironically love the name, Heather. It refers to a flowering evergreen plant that thrives on peaty barren lands in Scotland.
Alan Ruck played Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and helped create the perfect balance to Ferris and Sloan. Another teen comedy, the film has since become a classic from director John Hughes. Cameron is a gender-neutral name that means “crooked nose” and has origins in Gaelic.
The Berlin Wall physically and ideologically separated Berlin from 1961 to 1989. The end of the 1980s saw the opening up of Berlin and a glimmer of hope for the future of global relations. Berlin is a gorgeous city that’s enjoyed a reputation as a hidden treasure of Europe for centuries. Berlin would be an excellent name for a girl. The name of the city comes from West Slavic origins and means “river rake.”
Legendary Tina Turner split from Ike and forged a better, greater path for herself in the 1980s. Her solo career was catapulted to success in 1984 when she released hits like “Private Dancer” and “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” Tina is a shortened form of Christina, Valentina, or Albertina and means “river.”
The late George Michael was in a little band you might have heard of called Wham! They released the hit album, Make It Big in 1984. They did indeed, make it big with hits like “Freedom” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” George is an English form of a Greek name that means “farmer.”
Cher dazzled audiences in 1987’s Moonstruck as Loretta Castorini. Her performance won her the Academy Award for best actress. We love the complicated character of Loretta and her name! Loretta is an English name with Italian origins that means “laurel tree.”
Prince was a truly iconic artist that wrote and performed the soundtrack to the decade. His landmark Purple Rain was a smash hit and if you were born in the 80s every single one of your parents owned a copy of it. Prince was such a talented, inspiring, and singular individual. Prince is an English name that means “principal one.”
Molly Ringwald is an incredibly talented actress that burst onto the scene in the early 1980s in the sitcom The Fact of Life. She reached new heights after appearing in a number of popular John Hughes films and other 80s coming-of-age hits. Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club are all classic films that she helped make huge successes. Her character in The Breakfast Club, Claire is one of our favorites and we love the name as well. Claire has origins in Latin and means “clear” or “bright.”
One of the world’s most cherished athletes, Michael Jordan was first drafted in 1984 by the Chicago Bulls. The rest is history! He was one of the most popular celebrities throughout the 80s. Jordan is a beautiful unisex name that comes from Hebrew and means “to flow.”
In 1982, Alice Walker wrote the novel The Color Purple, for which she won the National Book Award for hardcover fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Steven Spielberg directed the film adaptation and it was released in 1985 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Alice is an English form of a German name that means “of nobility.”
Ash, as a character name, had a bit of a moment in genre films of the 80s. There was Ash, the scary android in Alien. Then, we met Ash Williams, the protagonist of The Evil Dead. Ash is an excellent name that’s a shortened form of Asher or Ashley. It refers to the ash tree.
Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice was released in 1988 and it featured an all-star cast that included Winona Ryder. Ryder played the young goth kid, Lydia Deetz who Beetlejuice wants to marry. Lydia is such a wonderful name that has Greek roots and means “kindred spirit.”
Everyone’s least favorite James Bond, Timothy Dalton played the spy after Roger Moore. He first appeared as Bond in 1987’s The Living Daylights. Timothy is a superb English name with origins in Greek. The name means “to honor God.”
National Treasure, Betty White was one of the most lovable Golden Girls. White played the indefatigable Rose Nylund on the show that premiered in 1985. Rose is a classic name that’s never going out of style.
The Jeffersons was a hugely successful TV series that ran from 1975-1985. The supporting character Lionel Jefferson sure had a fantastic name. Lionel is a popular name that has Latin origins. It means “young lion.”
One of the greatest singers who ever lived, Whitney Houston emerged as one of the biggest solo artists of the 1980s. With songs like “How Will I Know,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” and “Greatest Love All” Houston was the soul of the 80s. Whitney is a handsome name that has origins in Olde English and means “white island.”
Meryl Streep solidified her reputation as one of the greatest American actors of all time with her work in the 1980s. Her performance in Sophie’s Choice is one of the most powerful we’ve ever seen on film. She was equally fantastic in the next film she appeared in, Silkwood. Meryl is not a popular name for little girls today, but we think it really works. It has antique charm and comes from Celtic origins. Meryl means “bright sea.”
Feeling nostalgic? Don’t you just love these names inspired by the biggest pop culture icons and moments from the 1980s? We’re feeling totally tubular and inspired by these baby monikers.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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