Category: 1940s names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Certain comeback kids have been getting a lot of buzz lately—names like Elsa and Amelia and Elias and Tobias, all of which have that nice vintage 19th century vibe. But there’s another group of names inching their way back that you might find a bit more surprising. Mostly midcentury mom and dad names, they are flouting the Hundred-Year Rule, returning way before their expected due dates.
Here are a dozen prime examples:
The history of baby names is littered with former stars that burned brightly for a decade or two, only to fade from view.
Many of these once-hot names are lovely, even classic. They’re just not as stylish as they once were (although some, especially from the earlier decades, are on their way back in).
We looked at the Top 25 baby names for each decade of the 20th century to pick out choices that were hot back them, and are not today. Included here are Old People Names like Bertha and Clarence, Baby Boomer names such as Karen and Gary, today’s mom and dad names such as Jennifer and Jason, and names like Taylor and Tyler that are beginning to be heard much more often on babysitters than on babies.
Vintage names have been cool for a while now, but old school nicknames are just starting to come into their own.
The Brits have led the way on the revival of the retro nickname, with their fashionable little Alfies and Evies, Freddys and Teddys — though Teddy just might be a girl.
Using one of these new old nicknames for your child can be a way to give a fresh spin to a classic name, to distinguish a little girl from her namesake grandma, or to set your Henry apart from the five others on the block.
Here, a roundup of classic and vintage names and their old school nicknames.
There’s a certain species of girls’ names that we’ve referred to in our books as freckle-faced, pigtailed and button-nosed: they’re the kind of character names inhabited by Shirley Temple as a curly-haired moppet, and Judy Garland as a wide-eyed, innocent teen, as well as starring in dozens of old popular songs. Basically nickname names that have long stood on their own, none can be found any longer in the current Top 1000 — though one of them ranked as high as Number 31 in the 1930’s.
They’ve been gone a long time, but they still project a lot of spunk, and so, with the revival of nickname names in general we’re wondering if any of these could get their youthful mojo back.
We’re talking about:
Gone since 1995; Highest rating: Number 228 in 1959
Betsy originated as a combination of other classic pet forms of Elizabeth—Betty, Beth and Bessie, and makes appearances in two Dickens novels—Pickwick Papers and David Copperfield. The ‘B’ Elizabeth nicknames were superseded by the ‘L’ ones– Liz, Lizzie, Liza and Lisa— but maybe now might be the time for a switch back.
Gone since 1975; Highest rating: 52 in 1936 and 1941
Gone since 1989; Highest rating: 31 in 1937
Peggy, a pet form of Margaret, is the one that’s climbed the highest of all these names. Perky and pure, Peggy was the perfect date for the prom—in 1953. In later decades it’s been traded in for Maggie.
The shadowy world of film noir, those stark black-and-white, often low-budget films with single-word titles—Possessed, Pursued, Trapped, Tension, Decoy, Detour, Breakdown, Blackmail—produced in Hollywood from roughly the early 1940s to the late 1950s, were populated with smoldering femmes fatale, hard-boiled detectives, corrupt cops, cynicism, intrigue and suspense
A lot of the female characters had a distinctive style of forgotten two-syllable names like Veda, Velma, Verna, Meta, Mida and Nita, while the tough guys who weren’t named Nick or Tony or Barney were occasionally given some wildly eccentric monikers.
Here, from both classics of the genre like The Maltese Falcon to barely remembered B-movies, some of the more interesting examples:
- Althea – The Unsuspected
- Angel – Guilty Bystander
- Barby – The Fallen Sparrow, Sleep, My Love
- Brandy – Two of a Kind
- Brigid – The Maltese Falcon
- Candy – Pickup on South Street, Breakdown
- Carmen—The Big Sleep
- Cecily – The Two Mrs Carrolls
- Celia – The Secret Behind the Door
- Cora –The Postman Always Rings Twice, Brute Force
- Dell – Shadow on the Wall
- Della — The Burglar
- Eden – Murder is My Beat
- Edwina/Eddie – Fingers at the Window
- Effie – The Maltese Falcon
- Evangeline – T-Men
- Fay – The Killing
- Frennessey – World for Ransom
- Fritzie – The Big Bluff