Category: vintage girls’ names
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:
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.
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.
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.
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;
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:
A sizeable number of people come to nameberry every day searching for Old Lady Names – and they’re not looking for a new moniker for Grandma. Rather, they’re looking for Old Lady Names that sound new again for babies.
As a genre, Old Lady Names are approaching their third wave of stylishness. The initial wave was identified in our first baby name book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason, published in 1988, as the hot Grandma names and the edgier Baby Women names.
Hot Grandmas included such folksy choices as:
The more buttoned-up Baby Women names we called “the names of the rich great-aunts who, ten years ago, you might have prayed would not ask you to name your child after them. These included such now-stylish (but then-outrageous) choices as: