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Vintage Nicknames for Girls

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We love Hattie, the name Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott chose for their new baby girl.Hattie is one of the vintage nicknames for girls enjoying a new turn in the sun these days, on the path paved by such big sisters as Annie and Maggie.

It’s astonishing to think that Hattie – just Hattie, all by itself, not Harriet — was Number 27 in 1880, until you realize that many other short forms were among the top choices that year.  Minnie was all the way up at Number 5, Annie was Number 11, Nellie, 18, and Bessie, 23.  Other nicknames for girls in the Top 50 included Carrie, Jennie, Mattie, Jessie, and Fannie (and obviously, the ie ending was the popular one).

We see the full-fledged revival of this trend today, with Hattie a prime example of one of the vintage nicknames for girls that feel stylish, adorable, ready for a whole new generation of babies.

While choices like Ellie, Josie, and Sadie are already rising through the charts, what follows are our favorites of the next wave of cool vintage nicknames for girls.

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Old Man Names: Crusty or Cool?

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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:

Caleb
Charley
Ethan
Henry
Jake

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476px-Cassatt_Mary_Baby_John_Being_Nursed_1910

Do you want a vintage name for your daughter but are hoping to uncover a hidden treasure from the past?  We combed the popularity lists in search of cool vintage names you may not have heard before.

We’ve written a lot about the names of 1910 that are coming back, thanks to the Hundred Year Rule: Alice and Florence, Lillian and Hazel and Ruby.

But what about the names in the Top 1000 of 1910 that are virtually unknown now? A hundred years ago, Helen was the number 2 name for girls, right behind Mary. Mildred was number 8, Ethel number 13, and the dubious Gladys hot on her heels at 15. You don’t meet many Ethels and Gladyses (Gladysi?) anymore outside the nursing home.

And I’ve never heard of a Ceola, Ozella, or Exie, yet those names and dozens of others now lost were in the 1910 Top 1000.

Several months ago we looked at the Lost Names of 1880, and were surprised by how many there were. We declare ourselves surprised anew by how many lost names we’ve located on the 1910 roster that are different from those we listed in the 1880 story.

The first group are not lost, exactly, as they’re still heard from time to time. A few — Blanche, Lula, Viola — may even make a comeback. But most of these names, popular in 1910, have been in mothballs for decades now and may never make it out.

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Vintage Nicknames: Girls’ Edition

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Five minutes ago, I didn’t know I was going to write a blog on this topic.  And then searching for something else (I can’t even remember what!) I came across a long list of vintage  nicknames from 18th and 19th century America from the Connecticut State Library.

Not only are some of the proper names used in Colonial and Victorian times now rarely heard, but the nicknames may be antiquated too.  But nickname names are back in fashion., making it a prime time to dig up some new (or new old) examples.

I’ve left off the predictable choices like Margie for Margaret or Abby for Abigail.  What’s here are  either surprising combinations or vintage nicknames for still-used names that are in danger of becoming obscure.

Here, some ideas for pulling ahead of the Gracies, Evies, and Ellies currently heard in every pediatrician’s office;

NICKNAME/Proper Name

ABBY / Tabitha

BAB or BABBIE / Barbara

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The Lost Names of 1880

vintage baby names

I was combing through the Top 1000 Names of 1880 the other day for another project (ah, the glamorous life of the baby name expert) and I was blown away by how many names on the list had been totally forgotten.  I don’t mean just marginalized, like Ethel or Beulah, but no longer even in our naming lexicon.

We tend to think of strange, invented, unique names as being a recent phenomenon, as if in the past everybody was named John and Mary, and it’s only since 1968 that we’ve had names like Hallie and Freedom.

But in fact, naming innovations have always been a part of American culture, and examining the list for 1880 – the first year for which we have records – makes that crystal clear.  The roster contains literally hundreds of names virtually unknown today.

Here, a two-part look at the lost names of 1880, starting with girls’ names.

The biggest name trend story of 1880 was nickname names – yes, dozens of the expected Minnie and Annies and Elsies (the name of the little girl in the Mary Cassatt painting that illustrates this post), but also dozen of names ending in –ie that have rarely been heard in the past hundred years.  There was a notable collection of boyish nickname names such as Donnie and Vinnie and Gussie, but here are the most outrageous overall:

ALCIE

ARRIE

AVIE

CORDIE

DESSIE

DILLIE

DOVIE

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