By Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names.
Every decade or two the name landscape transforms. New names are on the way in. Old names are on the way out. But as names rise and fall, the qualities parents seek in baby names remain constant. As a result, today’s top names share subtle similarities with yesterday’s top names.
While there will always be names that are undeniably dated, and should stay in old year books, others are unfairly dated, often overlooked, typecast as names of parents or grandparents. This is unfortunate. These names, because they peaked during a certain decade, may not generate short-term excitement but, in the long-term, their timeless and sometimes modern attributes make them stand-out.
Amy – Amy shares the three letter-two syllables pattern of Ava, Mia and Zoe. Amy also boasts a touching meaning, “beloved.”
Beverly – Look no further than the prominent v shared with Ava, Evelyn, and Olivia. Bev may be your elderly neighbor, but close your eyes and imagine Bev on someone under 30 and Bev becomes super-chic.
Cynthia – An ethereal choice originating from Greek mythology. Say Cynthia out loud and rediscover its loveliness.
Diana – A wonderful Roman mythological choice with a royal legacy and cross-cultural appeal.
Helen – While some look to other Greek mythological names such as Athena and Hermione for fresh choices, the simple Helen shares the understated style of Claire.
Jessica – If Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba reinforce the name’s mom-image, consider Oscar winners Jessica Tandy and Jessica Lange and suddenly Jessica can fit any age. With Shakespearean roots and a classically feminine sound, Jessica is fitting for some contemporary babies, despite its overexposure in the 80s.
Laura – saw success long before the 60s and 70s. The name’s first wave of success was back in the 1880s, making Laura the perfect revival name. With the rise of Cora and Nora, Laura fits right in.
Lisa – Short, sweet, simple Lisa was the precursor to contemporary Elizabeth diminutives, Liza and Eliza. Chances are you grew-up with a Lisa and saw first-hand how a child can grow with this name.
Michelle – While Michelle‘s sisters Nicole and Danielle deserve a long hiatus, Michelle can still easily hang out with all the Gabriella’s and Isabella’s under 10.
Susan – Simple but not plain, an understated classic. The Susie nickname is incredibly cute, and fits in with Ellie, Maggie, and Sadie.
Brian – This twentieth century favorite has just started to decline after years at the top. Brian is one of those dad names that was in the top 100 as recently as 2009.
Douglas – Before Scottish inspired Aidan and Colin, there was Douglas. Offers the eye-catching as-ending like Elias and Lucas, and easy-going nickname Doug.
Gregory – A handsome underused choice, with saintly significance and old Hollywood charm from Gregory Peck. Yet there are enough grown-up Gregory‘s to dilute the the famous association, making Gregory imaginable on many.
Kenneth – Sturdy and strong, this is another Scottish style-maker.
Mark – This name has a dependable timeless sound. The Marc spelling is eye-catching.
Peter – Occupational surname Porter may seem refreshingly modern, but Peter offers a similar sound in a traditional package.
Timothy – boasts Greek origins, saintly roots and musical rhythm. No wonder this name was once a huge hit back in the sixties. Timothy may be past-peak, but still hasn’t lost its style.
Rene – The French origins, the e-ending, the two syllables, the androgynous usage, and the feminine forms combine to make Rene eerily similar to fashion newcomer Esme.
When looking for baby names, many modern parents seek the unexpected yet fashionable. The challenge with unexpected and fashionable names is that they are paradoxes. These names’ fashionable qualities make them susceptible to discovery, eliminating the surprise element.
Granted, unfairly dated names aren’t fashionable at the moment. But there’s no denying that — on children — they have that surprise element. The future is uncertain, but I believe these names are too attractive to stay dated. After a few years out of spotlight, these names will get rediscovered and will probably end up on future grandchildren.
Which unfairly dated names do you feel will come back first?
Exhausted after continually searching for names no one has heard of, Angela rediscovered some old favorites which inspired the ongoing Unfairly Dated Name series on her blog Upswing Baby Names.