Category: vintage boys’ names
Once upon a time, a century ago or so, Al was almost as commonplace a nickname as Joe or Jim, Bill or Bob. Al itself stood independently at Number 298, a casual short form of popular standards Albert (in the Top 20 for 40+ years) and Alfred, which reached as high as 32, and others less common..
Al dropped off the list in 1944, but just because it may not be as appealing a nickname today as, say, Cal or Hal, that’s no reason to dismiss some of the interesting Al-starters availablet: for though Alexander and some of his offshoots have been popular for decades, there’s a whole contingent of other, neglected Al– names worthy of a fresh look.
So even if you haven’t the slightest interest in ever using the nickname Al (though even he is starting to sound plausible again in this era of revived good-guy short forms), here are a dozen semi-vanished members of this family of names worth reevaluating–though we won’t push as far as Algernon or Aloysius, Alcestis or Aladdin, or even Alvin.
ALARIC –This ancient name that goes back to the Kings of the Ostrogoths has a certain quirky charm that helps modernize it. A literary name that’s been used by authors from P. G. Wodehouse to Stephen King, Alaric might be recognized by contemporaries as a history teacher character on The Vampire Diaries.
Old Man Names are the new Old Lady Names.
They’re the next frontier of vintage names, we mean. Old lady names — from Beatrice to Violet, Florence to Eleanor — have been mostly cool and rarely crusty for several years now. As with other fashionable categories — Old Testament names for boys, say, or Irish names — parents seem to push continuously into new and braver territory, stopping just this side of Bertha.
But old man names have been a different story. Sure, you’d get a girl cutely called Sydney, or a boy named Harold the III — but always called Tripp. And Harvey and Stanley are very trendy in England — though Americans find that totally baffling.
Now, though, we think it’s time to take a fresh look at old man names. For boys, of course, and yeah, even sometimes for girls.
The first tier of Old Man Names are the Grandpa Names, some of them Biblical, that have become popular and have paved the way for their crustier brothers. In this group we’d include:
Is this another case where the Yanks will follow the Brits in baby-naming trends and revive such previously verboten Grandpa names as Harvey, Arthur, Leon, Walter and Stanley— all once considered distinguished in their day? Or similar in style name like Gilbert, Murray, Ralph, Howard or Ernest?
Which, if any, of the names of this genre would you consider?
Would you choose it only to honor a relative with that name? And/or only as a middle name?
If you did use one, would you consider it cutting-edge or pleasingly retro or perenially stylish?
Do you love vintage names but want to move beyond the usual classics and Biblical choices? We looked at the popularity lists of 1910 to uncover hundreds of vintage boys’ names that are no longer in use — but could be revived.
It’s odd that there seem to be more terminally-antiquated boys’ names from 1910 than girls’ names. After all, girls’ names change more quickly and dramatically than do boys’, which tend to hinge more on tradition and less on fashion.
Yet beyond the Johns and Williams that have always predominated for boys (and still do today), there are dozens, even hundreds of names that filled the Top 1000 list a hundred years ago and now are lost to time.
They include hero names, surname-names, nickname-names, androgynous names, and even regular old first names that few people seem to use any more.