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Unusual Vintage Names: Which might come back?

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By Linda Rosenkrantz

The folks at the Social Security Administration publish not only the thousand most popular names for every year dating back to 1880, but also the Top 200 names for every decade, making it possible to see broader patterns and trends.

I was scanning these decade lists to see if I might find any goodies that have escaped the mass raid on vintage names, and was able to pick out two girls and two boys from every decade from the 1880s to the 1950s that were once in the Top 100 but are not even in the Top 1000 now.

I ‘ve included the year they fell off the list and their highest ever point of popularity—plus some possible pros and cons. (Of course most of these names spilled over from one decade to the next.)

1880s—

Lula——off since 1965; reached #36

Pro—shares the popular double-l form with Lila, Lola and Lulu

Con—might be confused with any of the above

Maude-- off since 1950, reached #20

Pro—mauve-tinted Victorian charm

Con—strident Bea Arthur 70s sitcom character

Roscoe– off since 1978, reached #117

Pro—-Lively o-ending à la Milo and Arlo

Con— Hillbilly image via old Dukes of Hazzard -type shows.

Archie-off since 1988, reached #82

Pro—already a hit across the Pond

Con—comics character + Archie Bunker connection

1890s–

Augusta–off since 1944, reached #113

Pro—if August and Gus are cool, why not Augusta?

Con—go-to Great-Aunt name in English lit

Mamie—off since 1966, reached #53

Pro—Cute twin of Maisie

Con—First Lady Eisenhower’s bangs

Grover-- off since 1974, reached #20

Pro—Presidential

Con—Muppet

Homer– off since 1983, reached #6

Pro—great ancient Greek epic poet

Con-Bart Simpson’s doltish dad

1900s—-

Lottie-off since 1959, reached #75

Pro-Lacy Charlotte nickname name hot in England

Con—Does Charlotte need to be on the birth certificate?

Ethel—-off since 1975, reached #6

Pro—starbaby choice of Lily Allen

Con-Lucy Ricardo neighbor Mertz

Rufus—off since 1988, reached #88

Pro—cute for a redhead

Con –cute for a puppy

Otis—–off since 1994, reached #94

Pro—bluesy image, new star baby fave

Con–Pug dog in Adventures of Milo and Otis

1910s—-

Viola—-off since 1972, reached #42

Pro—Logical, Shakespearean, follow-up to Violet

Con–Too tied to the musical instrument?

Geneva-off since 1995, reached #107

Pro–lovely place name

Con–nickname Genny, so close to recently-ubiquitous Jenny

Floyd—off since 1998, reached #44

Pro—jazzy vibe

ConAndy Griffith’s barber

Earnest-off since 1992, reached #111

Pro—solid boy’s virtue name

Con–looks like a misspelling

1920s—-

Inez—–off since 1976, reached #97

Pro–sizzling z-ending

Con–possible pronunciation confusion

Dora—-off since 1992, reached #46

Pro—ready to join cousins Cora, Flora and Nora in the playground

Con–vintage comic strip/expression Dumb Dora

Edmund–off since 1997, reached #130

Pro—a distinguished alternative to Edward

Con — could sound stuffy

Claude—off since 1993, reached #46

Pro—soft, cloud-like French feel

Con—villain of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

1930s—–

Maxine–off since 1996, reached #76

ProMax names are in

Con—Still playing canasta in the clubhouse?

Peggy—-Off since 1971, reached #31

ProMad Men’s Peggy Olson

Con— perky period prom queen

Lowell—off since 1980, reached #148

Pro—distinguished literary surname

Con–means “young wolf”

Freddie -off since 2003, reached #131

Pro—retro boy nicknames are back on trend

Con—nightmare memories of Freddy Krueger?

1940s–

Jill——- off since 2000, reached #41

Pro—time to follow Jack up the hill

Con—might need a little more time getting there

Kay—-off since 1984, reached #70

Pro—sleek and sophisticated

Con-—her name is her initial

Gordon–off since 2008, reached #70

Pro—Distinguished Scottish alternative to Jordan

Con –Greed is Good’s Gordon Gekko

Ted—off since 1996, reached #144

Pro—funkier than Theo

Con—fustier than Theo

1950s—

Beth—–-off since 1997, reached #65

Pro—memorable Little Women character

Con– dated Elizabeth nn

Constance--off since 1999, reached #82

Pro– virtue name in disguise

Con–nn Connie

 Stuart— off since 2003, reached #161

Pro– royal Scottish heritage

Con—nn Stewie

Glen—–off since 2003, reached #136

Pro—evocative Gaelic nature name

Con– what happened to his final ‘n’?

So which of these names do you think deserve to be back on the Top 1000–if not the Top 200?

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