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Vintage Baby Names

vintage baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

I was asked by a magazine interviewer recently why I thought some vintage names come back and others don’t. Why Cora and Flora and not Dora? Why Edward and not Edwin? All of which got me thinking about the influences that do propel names out of the attic and into the spotlight.

The most obvious and evident of these is the celebrity factor in all its manifestations. Stars’ names, stars’ baby names and the names of characters they play:

Some examples:

ScarlettYes, the name of Miss Scarlett was used by a handful of parents following the publication of Gone With the Wind, but it wasn’t until Ms. Johansson burst on the scene that it really took off, bringing it now into the Top 50.

Isla –This old Scottish name was barely heard of or even pronounceable in this country before the emergence of the rising redheaded star Isla Fisher. Now it’s one of the fastest rising girls’ names—it entered the list in 2008 and is now at Number 167, with almost 2000 little American Islas born last year.

SiennaSiena was a picturesque town in Tuscany until English actress Miller publicized the Sienna spelling and was instrumental in advancing her name into the Top 300 in the US, the Top 40 in England and Wales, and Australia.

AvaAnd yes, stars of the past can also continue to exert an influence far beyond their own era. The sultry Ava Gardner was in her prime in the 1950s, yet became a 21st century hit, in the Top 10 for the last decade.

It’s also celebrity parents who have revitalized a whole raft of neglected names of the past, as in:

AgnesJennifer Connelly & Paul Bettany

AliceTina Fey

BirdieBusy Phillips, Maura West

ClaraEwan McGregor

CyrusClaire Danes & Hugh Dancy

Elsie–    James Morrison, Ioan Gruffudd

Ethel—   Lily Allen

HattieTori Spelling

HazelJulia Roberts, Emily Blunt & John Krasinski

Olive—   Isla Fisher & Sacha Baron Cohen, Drew Barrymore

Otis—     Tobey Maguire, Olivia Wilde & Jason Sudeikis

PearlMaya Rudolph, Jack Osbourne

Silas—   Jessica Biel & Justin Timberlake

VioletJennifer Garner & Ben Affleck + several others

WinnieJimmy Fallon

Indelible characters in blockbuster books and movies and TV shows have spawned a large share of the vintage name renaissance, particularly from franchises like Harry Potter and Twilight . Here are just a few:

DexterDexter

Downton AbbeyCora, Edith, Mary, Sybil, Elsie

Frozen—Elsa

Harry PotterArabella, Minerva, Lavender, Luna, Poppy

MatildaMatilda

Sex and the City-Charlotte, Miranda

The Fault in Our Stars—Hazel

To Kill a Mockingbird—Atticus, Scout, Harper

Twilight—Edward, Isabella, Bella, Rosalie, Jasper, Emmett, Esme, Ephraim

And then there are less concrete factors.

The British Influence—Let’s face the fact that our cousins across the pond have been way ahead of us in certain significant trends. The vintage Amelia is their #1 name and Poppy is Number 7. It was the Brits who started the whole vintage nickname revival trend, with Evie, Millie, Rosie, Maisie, Ellie, Elsie, Tilly, Alfie, Archie, Freddie, Charlie, Theo, Frankie, Louie, Ollie, Teddy, Ronnie and Sonny all on their Top 100. As are Mad Men-era names that have yet to make it back big time in the US: Arthur, Harvey, Stanley, Leon—though there are signs that may be coming.

Sight & Sound—Both visual and aural pattern trends can lead to the advancement of some vintage names as well. A couple current ones:

S-ending boysOtis, Atticus, Augustus, Rufus, Linus, Lucas, Silas

Ella girlsBella/Isabella have led to Stella, Arabella, Mirabella, Anabella

Ett boys—Everett, Emmett, Beckett, Bennett

The X-factor—Dexter/Dex, Felix, Axel, Knox, Maximus, Maxine, Beatrix, Xavier

One thing leads to another: Emily to Emma to Ella to Elsa to Elsie

So what could bring back Dora or Edwin? It might just take one cool character or one cute starbaby.

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vintage nicknames

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Nickname-names still appear on birth certificates.  In the U.S., such names as Ellie, Abby, and Charlie for girls; Jake, Jack, and Johnny for boys all rank high.  In the U.K., nickname-names are even more fashionable, with Evie, Maisie, Millie, and Ellie in the Top 35 for girls, and Jack, Charlie, and Alfie in the boys’ Top 10.

But there are generations of nickname-names that have fallen off the Top 1000, yet sound cute and baby-ready today.  The list here is drawn from names that were on the Social Security roster on their own in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but fell off by the early 1970s (the date of their last listing follows the name) and haven’t yet reappeared.

Whether you choose to use Bea or Mamie, Clem or Zeb as full names or as diminutives for Beatrice or Marietta, Clement or Zebediah, any of these nickname-names would make charming choices.

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Old School Nicknames

school-55

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.

Especially fresh on this side of the pond are the old school nicknames for boys: We’ve long loved Ned and Joe and Hank, but we are newly fond of such choices as Ray and Hal, Walt and Monty.

For girls, names that are just beginning to awake from a long slumber sound especially fetching: Dottie, Betty, Lou.

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.

girls

Adelaide or AdelineAddie

Beatrice or BeatrixBea or Trixie

CharlotteLottie

Dorothea or DorothyDory or Dottie

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abbyretrz

In perusing the baby name news of the week, Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain documents the latest developments in the trend for retro baby names.

We all know that names drift out of fashion and then slowly find their way back into style. But when is it time for a comeback – and how do you know?

This week’s big baby name noise has been about Jessica Simpson’s use of two family names for her new daughter, combined for the masculine Maxwell Drew. Parents of boys called Max everywhere accused the celeb mom of name-napping and general bad taste.

But maybe we’re all missing something. Rumor has it that Simpson plans to call her daughter Maxi – a sassy retro choice that fits right in with Sadie and Sophie. Could it be that Jessica’s faux pas is really an invitation to dive right into names from the 1910s?

And why stop there? This week also saw high profile birth announcements drawing on favorites from the 1920s to the 1980s.

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70s1

Nameberry’s Question of the Week: What 70s to 80s name or names do you consider ready for revival?

Looking back over the popular names of two and three decades ago, are there any whose comeback time has come?

As a reminder:

The top girls’ names of the 1970s were Jennifer, Amy, Melissa, Michelle, Kimberly, Lisa, Angela, Heather, Stephanie and Nicole.

They were joined in the 1980s by Jessica, Amanda, Ashley, Sarah, and Elizabeth.

Seventies boys’ names—most of which are perennials– were Michael, Christopher, Jason, David, James, John, Robert, Brian, William and Matthew, joined in the next decade by Daniel, Joshua and Joseph.

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