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Old Man Names: Crusty or Cool?

Heidi_and_her_grandfather

Old Man Names are the new Old Lady Names.

They’re the next frontier of vintage names, we mean. Old lady names — from Beatrice to Violet, Florence to Eleanor — have been mostly cool and rarely crusty for several years now. As with other fashionable categories — Old Testament names for boys, say, or Irish names — parents seem to push continuously into new and braver territory, stopping just this side of Bertha.

But old man names have been a different story. Sure, you’d get a girl cutely called Sydney, or a boy named Harold the III — but always called Tripp. And Harvey and Stanley are very trendy in England — though Americans find that totally baffling.

Now, though, we think it’s time to take a fresh look at old man names. For boys, of course, and yeah, even sometimes for girls.

The first tier of Old Man Names are the Grandpa Names, some of them Biblical, that have become popular and have paved the way for their crustier brothers. In this group we’d include:

Caleb
Charley
Ethan
Henry
Jake

Leo
Levi
Max
Nathan
Nathaniel
Oscar
Sam
Silas

The second tier are those names that are starting to be stylish now. This group would include:

Arthur
Calvin
Clifford
Cyrus or Cy
Edmund
Elliot
Felix
Frederick
Gus
Harry
Ike
Louis
Martin
Raymond
Theodore
Walter

Some of the names in the next group, in some people’s eyes, may start veering into the crusty group.

Abraham or Abe
Alfred
Barney
Bernard
Edwin
Eugene
Floyd
Frank
Gilbert
Gordon
Harold
Harvey
Herman
Horace
Howard
Humphrey
Julius
Marshall
Milton
Monroe
Montgomery or Monty
Morris
Mortimer
Murray
Otis
Otto
Percy
Ralph
Seymour
Sidney
Stanley
Stuart
Victor
Waldo
Wilbur

Crusty or cool? It’s borderline, with that last group. The key to moving from crusty to cool may simply be getting old enough; the crustiest names are those like Larry and Gary, Richard and Ron that were most popular in the 1940s and 1950s and are still too unseasoned to be cool.

And what of Old Man Names for girls? In our book Cool Names, we had a group called Geezer Names for Girls. It is kind of an outrageous idea and we’re not going to launch a big campaign for calling your daughter Seymour. But these names, to us, sound really cute for girls:

Claude
Jules
Laurence
Lyle
Mel
Monroe (Mariah Carey‘s choice for her twin daughter)
Murray
Neal
Perry
Reuben
Roy
Rudy
Wallace

What do you think? Where does the line cross from crusty to cool, and back again?

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