If it’s in the zeitgeist, it’s in the names. Every cultural shift, every hot trend, every new societal understanding leaves lasting footprints in the form of baby names.
When it comes to the tumultuous times of the late 1960s, those footprints may look faint from a distance. Top-10 girls’ names of the year of Woodstock included Lisa, Kimberly, Amy and Tammy – not exactly the sound of revolution. But if you dig deeper, you find reflections of the unique spirit and events of the era.
I searched through historical data for names that registered in the stats for the first time ever in 1969. The signs of the times are clear, from the silly to the profound. Here’s a name-based snapshot of what was on parents’ minds in 1968-69.
Barbarella, Che Guevara. Images: Wikimedia Commons
Aldrin (M): 1969 moon-walking astronaut Buzz Aldrin
Che (F): Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara (Che debuted in the boys’ column a year earlier)
Tuesdee (F): Jockey Tuesdee Testa, who became the first woman to win a race at a major U.S. racetrack in 1969
Barbarella (F): Cartoonishly sexy 1968 science fiction film Barbarella
Cassidy (F): Acclaimed 1969 western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Chastity (F): The birth name of a child born to singers Sonny & Cher in 1969
Tige (M): TV’s Mod Squad star Tige Andrews
Trevino (M): Upstart 1968 U.S. Open Golf champion Lee Trevino
Spirituality and the Age of Aquarius
Dharma (F): Term with varied important meanings in Buddhism and Hinduism
Shalom (F): Hebrew word for peace
Uranus (F): In astrology, the ruling planet of Aquarius
Zen (M): A school of Buddhism emphasizing meditation
Africa (F): The whole continent
Biafra (F): Secessionist state which fought for independence from Nigeria, 1967-70
Ghana (F): The West African nation
Nubia (F): Historical Nile region, home to early African kingdoms
Tanganyika (F): East African territory that was a sovereign state in the early 1960s, now part of Tanzania
You shall know them by the company they keep.
That's the idea behind the "sibling clouds" in our Namipedia. On each name page, we invite readers to submit the names of siblings they've encountered. ("Know a Sebastian? What are his siblings named?") The top 25 sibling results are displayed, with the size of the type reflecting how many times each name was submitted. For popular name pages, the 25 displayed names may be distilled from many thousands of individual name submissions.
The resulting set gives you a unique perspective: names, as described by other names. Seeing names favored by the same families not only offers ideas for potential brothers and sisters, but paints a picture of a name’s cultural setting and stylistic impact.
See for yourself. I've gathered a variety of sibling clouds from Namipedia pages. Can you match the names to the sibling sets? (Answers below.)
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From Ezra to Zion, names highlighting the alphabet's last and arguably coolest letter are on the rise. In 1915, the United States recorded only 113 boys’ names that included the letter “Z.” A century later, that number has jumped to over 900. The energy and adventure found in this character are unparalleled, from its sleek form to its bright sound.
If you're drawn to Z names but want shy away from their growing popularity, here are fifteen zippy alternatives for boys that don’t currently rank on the US Top 1000.
Zayd. This Arabic name meaning “to increase” is already well-known in Muslim communities, but it’s gaining fans around the world for its edgy sound and unique spelling (Zaid is another option). Balancing history with modern style, Zayd is bound to soar.
Denzel. While celebrity Washington is the most notable namesake, this dashing name has been used as far back as the 16th century (with the spelling Denzil). Denzel is a Cornish name with strength and personality, well-matched with the trends of today.
Paz. A softer sibling to ruddy Pax, Paz is a serene choice with Latin flair. The name has been used in the past to honor the Virgin Mary - “Our Lady of Peace” - but its peaceful vibe could appeal to people of all races and religions.
Lazarus. With Old Testament names currently in the spotlight, Lazarus could be an unexpected option for fans of the daring. The story of Lazarus’ resurrection has inspired centuries of art, music, and writing, making the name both accessible and inspiring.
Zen. Actress (and Z-name bearer) Zoe Saldana chose the understated Zen in 2016 for one of her twin boys, bringing this spiritual name to center stage. With names like Bodhi, Messiah, and Faith on the playground, why not include simple and straightforward Zen?
Kenzo. Common in Japan, Kenzo is a dynamic and friendly choice with cross-cultural potential. Kenzo is easily pronounceable, has a multitude of meanings and namesakes (based on the kanji used to write the name), and feels like a great addition to the Western name canon.
Ozzie. Though it’s originally a nickname for Oscar, Oswald, or Osmond, Ozzie is the type of quirky retro name that could surpass its originators in popularity. The name has ranked on US popularity charts only once - in 1903 - but it’s been slowly rising over the past few years, for both boys and girls.
Chaz. The recent focus on darling Charlie has obscured many other wonderful nicknames for Charles, gregarious Chaz among them. Chaz is a handsome choice with a jaunty sound, the kind of name that will inspire creativity and confidence.
Nazareth. A place name with religious overtones, Nazareth is a pleasant choice that makes a great alternative to Zion or Israel. The name is memorable and warm, and with dozens of Nazareth cities around the globe, your Nazareth is sure to feel welcome wherever he goes.
Zephyr. The Greek god of the west wind, gentle Zephyr is known for heralding the spring - an excellent namesake for a late winter or early spring baby! The name Zephyr has been chosen in recent years by a few celebrity parents, and more are sure to be drawn to its charming vibe.
Ezio. Already popular across Europe, Americans may be familiar with suave Ezio via the hero in the Assassin’s Creed video game series. Whether your little one wants a life of adventure or one close to home, this name will work for all kinds of personalities.
Zohar. From the Hebrew word for “radiance,” elegant Zohar is well-used for both boys and girls in Israel - it’s also especially important to members of the Jewish Kabbalah sect as the title of a holy book. Zohar is both sophisticated and accessible, uncommon yet unforgettable.
Boaz. Now that Bo names are trending - Beau, Bodhi, and Bowen among them - Boaz could be a unique route to this sweet nickname. Like Noah or Moses in their ancient style, Boaz feels like a wonderful mix between the old and the new.
Izidro. This Spanish variant of Isidore spices up the clunky original, making it more attractive with a cool Iz-beginning and a masculine O-ending. While it’s more common as a last name, Izidro works well in the first name spot, with the adorable nickname Izzy.
Zorion. Adding one crucial letter to celestial Orion gives you Zorion, a Basque name meaning “happiness.” Though its form blends well with contemporary trends, Zorion feels one-of-a-kind in its energetic, boyish appeal.
If you're looking for more zesty ideas, check out Are There Any More Z Names?