Category: 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:
Scarlett—Yes, 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.
Sienna—Siena 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.
Ava—And 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:
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:
The Fault in Our Stars—Hazel
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:
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.
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.
Let’s face it: We all have embarrassing names in our family trees. Great Aunt Hortense and Uncle Myron, Grandma Gladys and Dad Brad. They’re the family names we hope we won’t be expected to pass down to our children.
But hey, today we’re here to celebrate the wonderful names, and we all have those too. Searching through the family archives, you discover that your great-great-grandmother was named Marguerite or Flora, or that you have a handsome Henry or Nathaniel among your forebears. Or it might be a surname or a middle name you discover that’s worth polishing up and passing down: Callahan or Keene or Caruso.
So what’s the best name or names in your family tree? The names you’re actually excited about passing on to a child? And who and where did they come from?
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By Abby Sandel
Take an overlooked name with an on-trend sound, add a high profile celebrity birth announcement, and voilà – the next big thing in baby names.
Or not. Some names are too offbeat to catch on. I’m looking at you, Apple and Zuma.
But more often, celebrity baby names are truly influential. Starbabies can turn that name everyone is cautiously considering into the next Top Ten favorite. Ava, Isabella, Jayden, and Liam all got a big boost when Hollywood mamas chose the names.
When it comes to vintage baby names, a new celebrity baby can be a powerful signal that a name is prime for a comeback.
Every year, the US government issues a list of the names that are making the biggest leaps up the popularity list. And there, among the reality TV-inspired Daleyzas and Jayceons, sprinkled in with the new-fangled Jurnees and Zayns, is a collection of vintage names that for a range of reasons have suddenly become hot.
Here, 40 vintage baby names making big leaps up the popularity list. The +number indicates how many places each name moved up the US popularity list in 2013. And the second number is the name’s standing on the popularity list. Please note: Only those names in the Top 1000 are tracked.