Join me for a trip in my baby name time machine. We’re heading back to the 1990s, the age of flip phones, FUBU and Furbys. The names that will take us there are ’90s natives, baby names that mostly existed in that decade and wear their origins proudly.
I’ll count them down in order of their ’90s purity score: the percentage of all babies with that name who were born in the 1990s.
#10. Latifah (F, 65%)
Queen Latifah was the Queen of All Media in the ’90s. She was the tv star of Living Single, the movie star of Set it Off, the grammy-winning rapper of “U.N.I.T.Y.,” and a baby name hit maker. Both Latifah and her Living Single character name Khadijah became hits.
#9. Kramer (M, 68%)
For all of its influence on ’90s culture and catchphrases, the sitcom Seinfeld wasn’t a big player in the baby name arena. Names like Jerry and Elaine just didn’t offer parents anything new. But “hipster doofus” neighbor Kramer did inspire his share of namesakes.
#8. Wynonna (F, 69%)
Country singer Wynonna Judd crossed over in a big way with ’90s hits like “Tell Me Why” and “No One Else On Earth.” Fellow country crossover Shania Twain’s name might have been more popular, but only Wynonna’s truly says ’90s.
#7. Vendela (F, 71%)
Swedish model Vendela Kirsebom didn’t even need a surname in the ’90s. A staple of magazine covers and swimsuit photo spreads, Vendela was also a frequent tv guest star as a living symbol of supermodel glamor.
#6. Chakotay (M, 75%)
The ’90s were a banner time for the Star Trek universe. At any given moment you could find a couple of different Star Trek tv series running, and a new film due soon at your local theater. Chakotay was a character on the series Star Trek: Voyager, a Native American with a tribal facial tattoo, but no specific tribal identity.
#5. Moesha (F, 78%)
The sitcom Moesha was the first big hit for the UPN television network, a broadcaster that now stands as a ’90s memento itself. “The Boy Is Mine” singer Brandy Norwood starred as high school student Moesha, whose father ran a Saturn auto dealership—the ’90s being Saturn’s only full decade in existence.
#4. Notorious (M, 79%)
Legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G. was a king of ’90s East Coast hip hop before his life was cut short in 1997, in a tragic period of feuding and violence in the hip hop world. Unlike most of the names on this list, the adjective Notorious reads as a statement, and a reminder of one of the dark sides of the decade.
#3. Shauni (F, 82%)
The tv lifeguard drama Baywatch premiered as the decade dawned. A syndicated hit, it was a showcase of sunshine, big hair and beach bodies that cynics sometimes referred to as “Babewatch.” Erika Eleniak starred in the show’s early years as rookie lifeguard Shauni.
#2. Miata (F, 87%)
There’s more to a decade than just people. The Mazda Miata was the ’90s “it” car, a curvy little roadster that made everybody remember that cars could actually be fun. The rapid rise of the baby name Mia after the Miata’s debut was probably just a coincidence. Probably.
#1. Versace (M, 100%)
It’s hard to imagine a more fitting ’90s champion. Designer Gianni Versace perfected the decade’s seamless fusion of fashion and celebrity. As a baby name, Versace was a one-hit wonder in 1997, the year of the designer’s shocking death. But as a fashion icon, he lives forever.