Category: 1940s baby names

A Century of Back-to-School Names

baby names 1945

As a new school year gets underway, we survey a century of names emblematic of each decade. The path from Old School John and Mary to today’s Anakin and Zendaya has not been a straight or direct one, but it’s certainly been educational. — by Abby Sandel and Pamela Redmond Satran

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Rare Boys’ Names of the 1940s

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1940s boys names

By Anna Otto, Waltzing More Than Matilda

The most popular boys’ names of the 1940s were John, Peter, Robert, and David, but what were the least popular names? Here are ten names which were only chosen once in any year between 1944 and 1949 in South Australia, making them unique names for their time and place. Still rare, some feel surprisingly contemporary, while one or two have perhaps had their day.

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posted by: waltzingmorethanmatilda View all posts by this author
1940s girls names

By Anna Otto, Waltzing More Than Matilda

The most popular girls names of the 1940s were Margaret, Patricia, Judith, and Helen, but what were the least popular names? Here are ten names which were only chosen once in any year between 1944 and 1949 in South Australia, making them unique for their time and place. They continue to be rare, and some parents will still find them appealing.

Avis
Thought to be a Latinised form of the Germanic name Aveza, most likely a long form or elaboration of the familiar Ava. Introduced to England by the Normans, it was reasonably common in the Middle Ages, and quickly became associated with the Latin word avis, meaning “bird”. Avis Rent a Car was founded in the 1940s by Warren Avis, but did not become big in Australia for some time – it’s now quite difficult to disassociate the name Avis from the rental company, although it’s very much on trend and still seems contemporary and pretty. It was also a good fit in the 1940s, when names such as Avril and Averil were fashionable.

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Billy and Bob are Back in the Playground

vintage nicknames

By Linda Rosenkrantz

The nickname-name trend is nothing new. Who among us hasn’t known a baby Max or Maggie or Sam or Ellie? Or even one of those with a whiff of vintage nostalgia, like Millie or Josie?

But lately there’s been a new twist on this phenomenon, especially seen in the celebrisphere. Several stars have resurrected some of the All-American Boy nicknames of the Depression Era, like Billy and Johnny and Tommy, and haven’t hesitated to plunk them right onto their babe’s birth certificate. In particular:

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limboys

Last week we took a look at the ladies in limbo, the girls’ names not old enough to fall under the Hundred Year Rule, but were most popular from the 1920s to the 1960s, to question whether any of them were eligible for resuscitation.

And now, as promised we perform the same operation on the boys’ list.

We find several differences between the genders.  For one thing, the popularity of the boys’ names tend to stretch over longer periods of time (122 years for Howard, for instance), and clearer syllabic and sound patterns tend to emerge.  In the 1920s and 1930s, for example, we see a preponderance of two-syllable names ending in the letters n and d.  By the fifties and sixties, there are lots of four and five-letter single syllable favorites—the Todds and Troys, Deans and Dales—those surfer dudes we’ve labeled ‘Beach Boys’ in our books.

Not many of these names, except for a few in the pre-1920 list, have shown significant signs of revival—once again, because they’re the names of our grandpas and great-uncles and fathers-in law—the older men in our lives, the men still smoking pipes on Father’s Day cards.

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