Baby Names

Calling All Ashleys and Jessicas: Check Out These ‘90s-Inspired Baby Names We Love

written by KATHY SISSON
Source: Ashley Selleke
Source: Ashley Selleke

While the ‘90s are inspiring many things of late—from fashion to movie remakes—we decided to seek out other inspo from the 1990s: baby names.

Many new parents today will have spent some of their childhood in the 1990s. A decade when rollerblades replaced roller skates and AOL IM replaced house phones as the primary way to chat with your friends—or your crush.

For better or for worse, the way we consumed ‘90s pop culture and entertainment was less diversified than it is today. Movies came to the theaters and the local Blockbuster. Music was listened to on CDs or songs taped off the radio (although Napster did come out in 1999). Families watched the TGIF TV lineup on Friday nights and went to the mall on the weekend. 

Tapping into the decade’s pop culture moments and sourcing the most popular baby names from the 1990s, we’ve pulled together the best ‘90s-inspired baby names—from Amanda to Zach—to consider for the next generation.

‘90s Baby Names

We’ve divided these ‘90s-inspired baby names by boy names and girl names since that’s how the Social Security Administration organizes them, But regardless of their category, many of these names could be used for babies of either sex.

‘90s-Inspired Baby Girl Names


One of the OG characters in the wildly popular ‘80s and ‘90s book series, The Baby-Sitters Club, Claudia also ends with the now-popular “ia” sound.


Inspired by two iconic 1990s moments; the debut of a fourth historical American Girl doll and the 1990s college drama Felicity starring Keri Russell.


Celebrate the first Black female gymnast to represent the U.S. in the Olympics—Dominique Dawes—who won bronze in 1992 and gold in 1996. She helped make Dominique an inspired name for a baby girl.


Inspired by Lark Voorhies Saved by the Bell character—and Screech’s unrequited love—Lisa Turtle. Lark also means “a merry adventure”—which is a lovely metaphor for life.


Phoebe might forever be associated with Friends’ character and singer-songwriter of “Smelly Cat”, Phoebe Buffay. But the name also means “bright” or “radiant,” making it a meaningful baby name for a little ray of sunshine.


Tia means “aunt” or “goddess” with famous ‘90s Tia as one half of the famous Sister, Sister duo, Tia Mowry.


Speaking of long-lost twins, consider this name inspired by Hallie Parker in the 1990s movie remake of The Parent Trap


A unique name meaning “ruler”, Vada might be the perfect name for your little leader. And, of course, it would honor the beloved main character from 1991’s My Girl.


This “pleasant sounding” name won’t be found on the popular baby names list, which makes it all the more special. It’s also inspired by the true story told in the ‘90s movie, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken


Whether this name makes you think of the “teenage witch” or the 1995 movie of the same name, according to the experts at Nameberry, Sabrina’s roots are traced to “the bewitchingly radiant name of a legendary Celtic goddess”. 


Little actress Mara Wilson played some of the cutest movie characters in the 1990s—Matilda Wormwood in Matilda, Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street, and youngest daughter Natalie in Mrs. Doubtfire


‘90s kids will remember No Doubt’s lead singer Gwen Stefani as “Just a Girl” before she broke out on her own (in an even bigger way!)


Before the 1996 Winter Olympics brought the figure skating drama, there was Kristi Yamaguchi, who won gold in women’s figure skating in 1992. Kristi left the top 1000 baby names in the ’90s, so would be a more unique option for a baby girl today.


Statistically more popular for girls than boys, the name—meaning “armored”—suits both. Kennedy has been climbing in popularity for girls since 1995, perhaps inspired by one of the most well-known MTV VJs from the ‘90s.


Cameron has been moderately popular as a boy name for years but gained popularity with girls in the ‘90s perhaps due to actress Cameron Diaz—who made splashes in 1994’s The Mask and 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding. Today for girls, Cameron is only just within the top 500 names, making it a more unique pick for girls.

‘90s-Inspired Baby Boy Names


Pay homage to the hip-hop artist who paved the way for some of the greatest in the industry—Dr. Dre, whose birth name is Andre Romelle Young. In 1992, Dr. Dre’s first solo album, The Chronic debuted.


While statistically more popular as a girl’s name, in the 1990s, many will remember Bailey Salinger as the second oldest brother in the 1990s hit show Party of Five.


Before there was Barney, there was Sharon, Lois, and Bram’s Elephant Show, a staple for ‘80s and ‘90s kids. Of Hebrew, Dutch origin, Bram means “father of multitudes” and has a cool, monosyllabic ring to it.


Clueless fans will remember the lovable skateboarder (and stoner) Travis, played by Breckin Meyer. With Irish origins, Breckin is a cute baby name alternative to today’s Irish-inspired favorites Liam or Aiden.


Pay homage to the memorable teen drama Dawson’s Creek or Leo DiCaprio’s character Jack Dawson—and Rose’s enduring lost love—from the epic 1997 film, Titanic. Either way, your heart will go on for your baby boy with this name.


The mid-1990s gave us the show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, featuring actor Dean Cain as the one and only Superman. Also a cute, short baby boy name.


Who can forget Julia Robert’s BFF and adorable love interest, Dermot Mulroney, in My Best Friend’s Wedding? Another baby name of Irish origin, Dermot means “free from envy,” a quality we should all aspire to have.


Those who swooned over Devon Sawa in the 1990s can fall in love all over again with this name for a new baby boy.


Those who were “Team Dylan” might consider this name which started gaining popularity after the debut of Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1990. Although not as popular today, Dylan could be a more unique pick for a boy (or a girl!)


Kids today won’t be as familiar with the iconic 1994 film Forrest Gump, but Tom Hanks’ beloved character is forever etched in most ‘90s kids’ memories. 


Of Italian origin, Mario means “manly”. When you think of the ‘90s, Mario Lopez and Nintendo’s Mario Bros. might come to mind.


Drafted in 1998, Peyton Manning was just starting his storied NFL career in the 1990s. While Peyton is a unisex baby name, it means “fighting-man’s estate,” sure to conjure strength in any little one given the moniker. 


Open up a Bop magazine in the 1990s, and you likely saw a picture of Boy Meets World bad-boy—and Corey’s best friend in the show—Rider Strong. 


Actor and model Taye Diggs made a big-screen splash in 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but he’d already been playing Benny in the acclaimed rock musical Rent since 1996. Taye is a unisex name of African origin meaning “he has been seen”.

90s baby names
Source: Steph Alleva Cornell

The Most Popular Baby Names in the 1990s

These were the top 20 most popular baby girl and baby boy names of the decade—with a few still popular today.


From 1985 to 1995, Jessica ruled at the top choice for baby girls born that decade. Today she just barely cracks the top 500. Of Hebrew origin, Jessica means “rich” or “God beholds”. We see a comeback on the horizon, maybe as Millennials honor their besties?


The early ‘80s saw Ashley’s popularity soar, staying in the top 10 for over 20 years. Expectant parents might consider Ashley as an alternative to the now-popular Avery and ‘90s kids will remember Ashley Banks as the youngest sister in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.


A popular baby girl name dating all the way back to the 1900s, Emily’s rise to the top 100 began in 1973, breaking the top 10 in 1991 and hitting #1 in 1996. Emily is still a mainstay in the top 25.


Mega-popular in the 1980s and ‘90s, Sarah is still in the top 100. Consider Sarah for a pretty alternative to today’s popular picks with a similar “a” at the end like Sophia or Olivia.


Samantha moved into the top 10 in 1988 and stayed there until 2007. She’s now just outside the top 100. Probably the most famous Samantha from the 1990s includes the original American Girl doll, Samantha Parkington.


Amanda was an “it” name throughout the 1980s and mid-90s. Like Jessica, this name barely cracks the top 500 today. Meaning “worthy of love” and “lovable,” it would certainly make a perfect name for a baby born this year.


From 1986 to 1996, Brittany was in the top 10 most popular baby girl names. By the time Brittany Spears song “Hit Me Baby One More Time” was released in 1998, it was already moving down the list. Now this ‘90s name is just within the top 1000 most popular baby names.


Except for a couple of years in the 1920s, Elizabeth has been in the top 25 baby girl names for the past 120+ years. If there was ever a timeless baby name pick for a little girl, Elizabeth would be crowned the winner.


Taylor made her debut in the top 25 most popular baby names in 1992 and stayed there until 2010. Swifties having babies this year may bring Taylor back as a name for a baby girl or boy to remember the year they saw the Eras Tour.


The early 2000s saw Megan decrease significantly in popularity, but she may be ready for a comeback with famous favorites like soccer player and advocate Megan Rapinoe, rapper Megan Thee Stallion, and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.


Popular in the early 20th century—but not in the Boomer era—Hannah regained popularity again when those Baby Boomers started having kids—AKA Millennials—perhaps honoring their older female relatives.


The mid-80s was when Kayla made her debut on the most popular baby names lists, remaining in the top 100 until just a few years ago. Like Hannah and Sarah, Kayla could be an alternative to today’s popular girl names ending in “a”.


While traditionally seen as a masculine name, it’s thought to have been popularized as feminine thanks to the beloved actress Lauren Bacall, hitting peak popularity in 1989.


Stephanie peaked in the 1970s and ‘80s but remained popular through the early 2000s. Famous Stephanies of the 1990s include supermodel Stephanie Seymor and Full House’s feisty middle sister Stephanie Tanner.


While Rachel Green might come to mind when you think of Rachels from the ‘90s, the name has a long history. Of Hebrew origin with biblical ties, Rachel was Jacob’s beloved wife in the Old Testament. So it’s no surprise Rachel has remained moderately popular for over 100 years, peaking popularity at #9 in 1996—two years after Friends debuted.


Since we’re on the topic of Friends, Jennifer Aniston might have helped keep the name in the top 25 in the ‘90s along with the debut of Jennifer Lopez in the movie Selena and the release of her first album, “On the 6th” in 1999.


Derived from the Greek word for “victory”, Nicole was more popular in the 1980s than in the ‘90s but stayed in the top 25 until the year 2000. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise were a hot couple in the 1990s, but we much prefer her match with now-husband, Keith Urban.


Long before Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa was a thing, Alexis peaked as a baby girl name in 1999—perhaps befitting as the name means “helper”.


Like Elizabeth, Victoria is well-known for British royalty. While the nickname Vickie might sound totally ‘90s, Victoria is a beautiful alternative to today’s popular picks ending in “ia” like Olivia and Amelia.


Amber hit peak popularity in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Famous Ambers include Tiffani Amber Thiessen of Saved by the Bell fame and Cher’s Clueless “friend” in the movie.

90s baby names
Source: Jess Welsh


Who doesn’t know someone named Mike? Michael has been in the top 25 most popular boys’ names since the 1930s, holding the number one spot for years. Of Hebrew origin, Michael means “who resembles God.” There are too many Michaels to count in the 1990s from Michael Jordan to Michael J. Fox.


Gaining popularity in the 1960s, Christopher means “bearing Christ”. Parents can make this still popular name more unique with a nickname like Topher, like That ‘70s Show celebrity Topher Grace.


Another name of Hebrew origin, Matthew picked up steam in the 1950s. Famous Matthews of the 1990s include Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc of Friends fame.


Even though the name Joshua became big in the 1980s, it found its spot in the top 10 for most of the ‘90s. Whether inspired by nature (i.e. Joshua Tree National Park) or by ‘90s heartthrobs (i.e. Joshua Jackson), we can get definitely behind this baby name.


Jacob has remained steadily popular since the late 1980s, perhaps perpetuated by the character from the 2000s Twilight book series. Plus, Jake is a great nickname that fits babies as well as grown men.


Moderately popular for over 100 years, the name peaked in the 1990s. Meaning “people’s victory,” it’s no wonder Nicholas stands the test of time, not to mention belongs to some ‘90s teen icons—like Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and then-Nickelodeon star turned procreation superstar, Nick Cannon.


A steady choice for a baby boy’s name, Andrew has been a perennial favorite for over 100 years and means “strong” or “manly” Choose Andy or Drew as an easy nickname.


Another centenary favorite, Daniel barely ever made it out of the top 50 most popular boy names. Beloved ‘90s icons included Full House dad Danny Tanner and Forrest Gump’s Lieutenant Dan Taylor.


There’s a reason Tyler just sounds like a name from the ‘90s. It shot up in popularity in the early part of the decade and no longer makes the top 100 baby boy names. Tyler has quite a literal meaning; “tile maker”.


2020 was the first time Joseph fell out of the top 25 since the Social Security Administration started tracking baby names. Joseph could be your pick if you’re looking for a timeless boy’s name.


This could be a perfect pick for your baby boy if you were team Brandon Walsh (and not team Dylan McKay) in the 1990s. Of Celtic origin, the name means “prince”.


David moved out of the top 10 most popular boy names for the first time since the ‘30s in 1993, but still remains a popular pick that means “beloved” and “uncle”. And includes another Beverly Hills, 90210 character, Donna’s long-time boyfriend.


James hit a low in popularity in the 1990s, showing how wildly popular this boy moniker has been over the years. Funny guys named James include Ace Ventura’s Jim Carrey and Jimmy Fallon—who made his SNL debut in 1998.


Ryan started gaining popularity in the 1970s and continues to be a strong short name for baby boys.


Like James, John’s popularity has remained steady through the years but peaked at the turn of the 20th century. John means “God is gracious” or “graced by god”. In other words, #blessed. Perhaps a perfect name for a baby boy.


Like Tyler, Zachary is a quintessential ‘90s boy name. Zachary was not even on the list of baby names until 1946. The most memorable 1990s Zachary is likely “Preppy” himself, Zack Morris of Saved by the Bell


Gen X babies began Justin’s rise to a popular 1990s boy baby name. Derived from Latin and meaning “just,” we can’t mention Justins without referencing 1990s boy band NSYNC’s Justin Timberlake.


While a top U.S. baby name mainstay, William only made it to the top 20 in the 1990s, where the name remains today. With Fresh Prince Will Smith and SNL’s Will Ferrell as well-known Williams of the ‘90s.


A top 100 name for over 100 years, Anthony means “priceless one”—another timeless pick for a baby boy. And ‘90s kids might remember Anthony Edwards from E.R. or skateboarder star Tony Hawk.


‘90s movie stars Rob Lowe and Robert Downey Jr. carry this moniker rightly meaning “bright fame”.

I’m Parenting My Kids Like It’s the ‘90s—Here’s How
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