LindsayShe was a Top 50 favorite for girls in the 1980s – and  even more popular when all of the spellings were tallied up.

80s week continues with Lindsay as our Baby Name of the Day.

Chances are that you know a Lindsay, and odds are good that you’ve met a Lindsay who spells her name Lindsey, or even Linsey.

Back in the 600s, there was a Kingdom of Lindesege – Lincoln island.  That’s because it was located in Lincolnshire, island-like in the midst of marshland.  The ‘eg’ is pronounced ‘ey’ – so the place name became Lindsey.  Up until the 1970s, it was still officially on the map in Northern England.

There’s a Scottish Clan Lindsay, with history tracing back to the 1100s.

For years, both spellings were used sparingly for men – think of Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, among others.

But spellings were fading by the middle of the twentieth century:

  • The ‘a’ spelling last charted for boys in 1969.  For girls, this version charted briefly, from 1949 through 1953.  By 1974, Lindsay was back on Team Pink.  From #690 in 1974 to #95 in 1978, this name skyrocketed in use for girls.
  • The ‘e’ spelling left the boys’ Top 1000 in 1970, but only briefly – it would hug the fringes of the rankings later in the decade.  Meanwhile, Lindsey debuted on the girls’ side in 1974 at #653, and quickly climbed to #91 by 1980.

The moment was right for Lin-names.  Linda was the #1 name for girls from 1947 through 1952, and remained in the Top Ten until 1965.  Carolyn, Marilyn, Evelyn, and just plain Lynn graced the Top 100.

Lindsay Wagner.  She was born in 1949, and yes, it is her real name.  Her big break came in 1975 as Jaime, the childhood sweetheart of The Six Million Dollar Man.  She went bionic following a sky-diving accident, starring in The Bionic Woman spin-off from 1976 through 1978.

Starting in 1974, twin sisters Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush were playing Carrie Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.

Two very different shows, both wildly successful.

Since then, the list of notables – fictional and real – answering to a version of the name is long:

  • The Bluth family, of Arrested Development fame, including Michael’s sister, Lindsay, played by Portia deRossi.
  • Tennis star Lindsay Davenport is one of several headline-grabbing athletes sharing the name.
  • Linda Cardellini wore the name on Freaks and Geeks, and other shows, including One Life to Live, The Practice, and CSI: NY have given the name to a character over the years.
  • She’s Susie’s sister in the book and movie version of The Lovely Bones.

And then there’s child star turned cautionary tale, Lindsay Lohan.  LaLohan may help explain why both spellings of the name have tumbled so far, so fast.  As of 2013, Lindsey ranked #572 and Lindsay a chilly #683.

It strikes me that this one is so far out that it might almost be time to cautiously consider reviving Lindsay as a boys’ name.  For girls, Lena or even Linley feels fresher in 2014.

Do you know any Lindsays?  Can you imagine this name making a comeback anytime soon?  Will Lindsay/Lindsey ever be used for boys again?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I went to school with one girl Lindsay and one boy Lindsay (weirdly enough, they looked quite similar). Unfortunately, neither of them instilled in me a love of the name on either sex. It’s one of those names which sound too boyish for a girl, yet not quite boyish enough for a boy.

  2. Lindsay seems like a sister to sisters Courtney or Leslie or brothers Trevor and Travis.

    Every Lindsay I’ve known has been studious, strong-willed, and had a sharp sense of humor.

    I know a twelve-year-old Lindsay (as well as adult ones), and her name seems surprisingly fresh. There isn’t another at her school, and, my, she does own the name!