Category: vintage names for girls
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).
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:
When Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany recently named their newborn daughter Agnes, I was very excited. For a baby name connoisseur, the choice of Agnes by two stylish and attractive stars heralded the arrival of a new kind of cool name: the slightly awkward, somewhat geeky name that’s so uncool it’s cool.
Of course, Geek Chic has been around for awhile now, in names as in other aspects of fashion. In our book Beyond Ava & Aiden, we featured a category – now on Nameberry – of Clunky but Cool Names for boys and for girls. (There are also more, similar choices on the lists of Old Lady Names and Old Man Names. The list of Old People Names, taking off from the twitter sensation, is full of names that are terminally geeky.)
Some of these choices, like Hugo and Oscar for boys, for instance, and Imogen and Matilda for girls, sound a lot more cool than clunky these days. As vintage names become more mainstream and our tastes broaden, names that seemed edgy just a few years ago now feel normal and pretty – pretty normal.
Today’s Question of the Week is a two-parter:
Last week we talked about naming styles for boys, now it’s the girls’ turn.
- With girls’ names, there are even more style preference category possibilities. How would you characterize the names you like best? Girly girl, gender neutral, boyish? Classic, biblical? Vintage Old Lady? Trendy, nouveau? Family or surname names? British-inflected, international? Creative? Quirky? Eclectic? Exotic? Good girls or bad girls? (These are just a few suggestions–we’d love to have your own designations of your style.)
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.