The baby in this picture is so adorable but Grandma’s today are much more stylish and hip than the old-school Granny cliches! Grandma’s today are typically in their 50’s or 60’s so let’s look at some of the most popular names from that generation. I plucked names from 58 years ago in 1960, since most of these names held popularity for several years making them now Grandma-aged names!
Mary, a Hebrew name meaning bitter, was the Number 1 name in 1960 and today ranks and Number 126. Mary was a Top 10 name from 1900-1971 so chances are you have a Grandma, Great-Grandma, Aunt, or other female relative named Mary. My favorite modern Mary alternative is Maren. I love how familar yet unique Maren is. Maren has Latin roots meaning sea. There are probably 1,000 variations and diminutives of Mary, but a few I think make nice modern way to honor include Mara, Meryl, and Molly. And for you more adventurous namers, how about Marietta? Etta sure would be a sweet nickname.
My Dad is the eldest of seven children and he has five younger sisters. I just had to chuckle seeing that four of my five Aunt’s names are on this list, including Susan. Susan was ranked at Number 2 in 1960 and comes in at Number 963 today. Susan is a Hebrew form of Susannah, meaning Lily, which is my top pick for honoring. I love that the meaning and think that would be a lovely bond between grandmother and granddaughter. Of course it’s root name Susannah would make a lovely choice, as would Suzette (again that Etta nickname, or the upbeat Sookie. If you want something with a clear sound connection that is distinctive you may like Sioux.
Linda was all the rage in the 1940’s-1960’s. Ranked at Number 3 in 1960, today Linda is Number 708, the lowest it has ever ranked. Linda is still popular among Spanish speakers as it is a Spanish and Portuguese name meaning pretty. A friend of mine had a daughter named Linden last year and I remember loving the nature tie but also thinking it would be a great Linda alternative! My other ideas for honoring a Linda include Lindley, Lydia, or Lindy. If you’re craving something more bold you may consider Linnora.
In 1960 Karen was Number 4 but today this Dutch variation of Katherine is all the way down at Number 556. I could see Karen coming back into fashion, is it just old enough to sound fresh? Karen does share the pattern of being a two syllable name ending in N that many popular names also have. I think Kieran would be the perfect Karen alternative. There are tons of great Karen alternatives including Karina, Kara, and Karys. I also think Kerensa would be a great showstopper!
Donna peaked in the 1960’s, reaching spot 5 in 1960 and then decreeased steadily there after. Donna fell out of the Top 1,000 in 2010. Truly a generational name, Donna also reminds many of use of the character Donna Martin in the TV show 90210. Donna is Italian meaning lady but I really like male alternatives for this one! My top pick would be Donovan. I also think Dante, Donnelly, and Donal would make cool choices for a grandson. If you’d like a bold name that is also female Domina shares the same meaning and has a ton of flare!
Lisa is totally a modern Grandma name. It ranked at Number 6 in 1960 but Lisa was a Top 10 name from the late fifties through the mid-seventies. Still, Lisa doesn’t feel as old or dated as some names on this list and today it ranks at 884. Lisa is one of the several variations of Elizabeth meaning God is my oath. I have always loved the name Lisette so that will be my pick for a Lisa alternative. You might also consider Liesel, Elise, or Elisa. My favorite creative way to honor a Lisa though is to scramble the letters and use Isla.
Patricia was fashionable for a number of years and ranked in the Top 10 from 1929-1966! In 1960 Patricia was Number 7 and today it comes in at spot Number 889. A Latin feminine form of Patrick, Patricia means noble or patrician. Unless you go the Trisha/Tricia route then you’re a bit limited in P names with a similar vibe, but I’m going for that sound and so my top pick would be the similar sounding unisex Pax. I also think the more exotic Petra, Patrice, or Patrika could be fun, particiularly in the middle name spot. Want to go out on a limb? Then I’d vote for Adelaide which shares a similar meaning as Patricia.
Debra & Deborah
In 1960 Debra ranked at Number 8 and Deborah was Number 10. There were a whole generation of Debbie’s as you can imagine with two spelling variations in the Top 10. A name close to my own heart (it’s My Mom’s name), Debra is not currently in the Top 1,000 while Deborah is holding on at Number 774. A Hebrew name meaning bee, I thought Bee would be a cute nickname to honor a Debra or Deborah. Devorah which both names stem from would be another cool choice and you get Dev or Devi as nicknames. Most Debra/Deborah’s go by Debbie so why not consider similar sounding Darby or Libbie? Devra one final alternative I wanted to add to the mix. I still think Bee would be a cute middle name to honor. Matilda Bee? Lucy Bee? I think so.
The Greek name Cynthia peaked in the 1950’s and 1960’s and ranked at Number 9 in 1960. Today Cynthia has a sophisticated era and comes in at Number 637. I love the name Thea so I’d chop off the end of Cynthia and use Thea as a name to honor. Kynthia (kin-thee-uh) is a very cool bold alternative or you could run with the beiginning letters and get Cypress or Cyan. Many Cynthia’s go by Cindy so if your Mom was more of a Cindy than a Cynthia you may also get away with honoring through names like Sidney or Lindy.
What’s your Mom’s name and what name would you consider using to honor her?