15 Old-but-New Names for Boys
Vintage baby names have been so widely used for so long that the parent in search of a boys’ name that’s both old-fashioned and fresh-feeling may have to search long and hard.
Given all this popularity, if you’ve been looking for a vintage boys’ name that feels fresh and new, you may feel frustrated. So we’ve done the searching for you. These 15 boys’ names are all well below the Top 1000 yet can work in the modern world. They’re distinctly vintage — some Biblical, some from ancient cultures, some international — yet feel surprising cool.
Our picks for old-school boys’ names that feel new again are:
Ansel — This old German name has two great references: revered classic photographer Ansel Adams and hot young actor Ansel Elgort, who gives it a decidedly modern spin. It reached its zenith on the US popularity list in 1893 but fell off the Top 1000 nearly a century ago.
Casimir — The dashing royal Polish and Slavic Casimir was surprisingly high on the US popularity list a century ago, but fell off completely in 1942, perhaps because of anti-Eastern European sentiment during World War II. Last year only 30 boys in the US were named Casimir, which comes with the great nickname Cas.
Lazer or Lazar — This name with two spellings, both variations of Eliezer or Lazarus, has biblical roots but a modern bad boy feel. We’re betting most little boys, once they reach school age, will be delighted to be named Lazer — though last year only 32 received this spelling with another 23 named Lazar.
Levon — This Armenian version of Leon enjoyed some light use in the US from the 1930s through the 80s, and has a cool edge thanks to musician Levon Helm. Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke named their son Levon.
Linus — Linus has finally let go of his blanket, and the only downside of using this underrated name is that you’ll hear lots of Peanuts jokes like the one we just couldn’t resist making. Linus has roots in Greek myth and was also the name of the second pope. It was at its peak in the US the year the name standings started, 1880, but fell off the Top 1000 in the early 1940s. Linus is in the Top 50 in Germany, Sweden, and Norway.
Morris — Morris is an Old Man name definitely ready for his comeback. In the Top 100 at the turn of the last century, Morris disappeared from the US standings two decades ago. Nickname alternatives: Mo, Morrie, or Moss.
Odysseus — The adventurous Odysseus might finally be ready in this era of ancient revival to climb out of his myth and into the playground. If Odysseus is too odd for you — it was given to 30 baby boys last year — you might consider Homer. But Mr. Simpson might have marginalized that one even further; last year it was given to even fewer boys, with 28.
Orson — The surnameish Orson, with its bear-related meaning, has some celebrity cred: both Paz Vega and Lauren Ambrose have sons named Orson, and the creator of Citizen Kane was Orson Welles. It peaked in the US in 1883 and hasn’t been on the Top 1000 since 1901.
Wilber or Wilbur— Wilbur is the sweet pig in Charlotte‘s Web, which you may consider a plus or a minus. Taken together, the two spellings are given to only about 50 boys. And Will is a great if much-more-ordinary short form.
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on April 28th, 2016 at 11:39 am
Ansel is a family name for me and a new addition to my list but battling it out with Anders. Monte is a family name as well and so I’ve been eyeing Montgomery. Cassian is awesome but I’d be worried about pronunciation issues.
on April 28th, 2016 at 12:53 pm
Wanted to chime in because I thought our 4th son might be a Theodore for a little while (he ended up being a George).
Are you completely opposed to putting Thomas in the first name spot? It’s a great one. The only reason we personally didn’t use it for a first name is because it’s my dad’s name.
Some other suggestions: Maxwell, Bartholomew (nickname Tholo), August (Gus), or Martin.
on May 2nd, 2016 at 2:35 am
@mill1020 Bartholomew is a great suggestion! They probably didn’t include the other three because they fall in the top 1000.
I love Orson, Ansel, and Casimir. I think Balthazar and Sylvan would work too.
on May 2nd, 2016 at 3:29 pm
I’m happy to see Lazer and Morris making an appearance because they are family names.
Orson, Montgomery, and Linus are handsome to me.
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