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rising vintage baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz & Pamela Redmond Satran

One day you’re out, and the next day — if you’re one of the old-fashioned formerly-dowdy baby names here — you’re very very in.  Just a few years ago, you might have cringed if the family expected you to name the baby after Great-Aunt Martha or Grandpa Harvey.  Today, those names and the others on the list are among the fastest-rising on the Social Security list.  These are the Olives and Oscars, the Sadies and Silases of tomorrow.

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classic girls' names

There are so many gorgeous classic girls’ names to love — from the classic classics like Katherine and Elizabeth to the fashionable classics such as Clara or Juliet.

Then there are the quieter classics such as Ruth and Helen and Mary, a bit sleepy at the moment, as well as new favorites that may or may not qualify as classics: Hazel, or instance, or Beatrice.

What’s your very favorite classic girls’ name?  And yes, sure, you can mention more than one.

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Buttoned-up Girls’ Names

classic girls' names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

The trendiest girls’ names of recent years have been flowery and elaborate: Isabella and Sophia, Olivia and Arianna.  They end in vowels….and often begin with them too.  And if they’re not exotic confections, stylish girls’ names are often gender-and-tradition-confounding novelties such as Harper and Hadley and Neveah.

You can almost hear your granny asking: What ever happened to a nice name like AnneAren’t any babies named Mary these days?

Well, fewer and fewer, in many cases, yet all the frippery in girls’ names is enough to make the old-fashioned buttoned-up standards feel downright refreshing.

A few of these buttoned-up names – Eleanor, most notably – are already making a comeback.  But most are simply lovely standards that may feel buttoned-up, but come with fanciful nicknames for now that can be shed (or not) if and when the future demands more seriousness.

Supreme Court Justice names, anyone?

The buttoned-up names for girls we think deserve a closer look include:

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alice-in-wonderland (1)

What’s your favorite classic girls’ name?

And by classic, we mean timeless choices such as Elizabeth, Sarah, and Margaret.

We also mean currently fashionable classics such as Charlotte and Alice.

In fact, when you tell us which classic girls’ name is your favorite, maybe you can also tell us why you consider it a classic.

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classic girl names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Think you have to pick between names that are classics, with deep roots and centuries of use, and names that are unusual?

You don’t, as these classic girls’ names, all ranked below the U.S. Top 1000, attest.

Some were popular in recent years and are now sinking from view — Pamela, Jean — while others are rising stars we predict will soon appear on the official Top 1000: Imogen is a prime example, along with Mabel, the Margos, and Clementine.

That still leaves dozens of classic girls’ names that are neither coming into style nor sailing out but simply holding steady below the radar.

A note on how we chose the names: We did not include variant spellings of more popular classic names such as Emilee, and for the most part excluded short forms unless they have been traditionally used on their own.  Our definition of classic embraces ancient names such as Phaedra and Keturah along with more recent widely-used girls’ names such as Maureen.

If you’re in search of a classic girls’ name that’s both traditional and unusual, consider these 100+ picks, ordered from those given to the highest number of baby girls in the U.S. in 2012 (Aurelia, at 250) to the least (Petal, used for just 5).

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