By Linda Rosenkrantz
In the baby-name world there’s something called the 100-Year-Rule, the theory that it takes a century for names to be ready to make a comeback. That timeframe has shrunk considerably, with the resurgence of names from the fifties, sixties and even later, that is happening right now.
But every year we do like to look back at the names from a century ago, to dig for Top 500 examples that haven’t made it back to the current Top 1000 (actually two years short since we’re still looking at 2015) , but have the potential to do so. And for good measure, we’ll add the names that are in that same position now.
Cecile (#476) We’ve welcomed back Celia and Cecilia and Cecily, but equally sweet Cecile, once as high as 222, has been left behind. Despite its dash of French flair, Cecile has been off the list since the sixties. Appearing at 476 today: the Biblical Talia.
Cleo (189) There was a craze for all things Egyptian in the late 1910s and 20s, which brought Cleo into the Top 200. It’s sleek, exotic and usable today. #189 now: Tiffany, a name unheard of a century ago, though Tiffany & Co had been open since 1837.
Consuelo (494) Sophisticated and glamorous, this name was once associated with high society via railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. A Spanish appellation that works well with Anglo surnames, it boasts the stylish o-ending. 494 now: the modern name Destiny
Geneva (113) This attractive European place name was remarkably popular a century ago, given to almost 2000 girls. Current counterpart is Kinsley, a once obscure surname name that has recently risen in popularity, given to 2700+ girls in 2015.
Pauline (33) At its peak in 1917, influenced by the hit silent serial The Perils of Pauline, this sweet and gentle name was given to just under 7000 babies that year, but finally fell off the list a decade ago. Could it make a comeback? Vin Diesel bestowed it on his daughter in memory of his friend and costar, Paul Walker. In 33rd place this century: Zoe, given to almost 6000 girls in 2015, and still rising.
Winifred (141)–A vintage classic that has been dearly departed since the 1920s despite appearances in many books and some Disney movies and Jimmy Fallon giving his daughter the adorable nickname name of Winnie. Let’s hope it can still be polished up and restored. Sharing its space currently is the wildly trendy Isla, introduced in the US by actress Isla Fisher.
Zella (365)—A name that has been completely lost to time even in this era of Ellas, Bellas and Stellas, but which could definitely join them. Occupying the same position now: Alicia, the lacier version of classic Alice.
Some other Top 500 girls in 1917 worth a new look:
Ambrose (403) This cheerful saint’s name has already inspired Berries to rank it at #185, but, despite an appearance on American Horror Story, Ambrose still has a long way to go to regain any of the national popularity it lost in the 1940s. An old standard, Russell, holds this place today.
Archie (142) –Archie was a widespread nickname name in the past, more popular on its own than parent name Archibald, but in the US it has yet to find the kinds of admirers it has currently in the UK, where it’s a sky-high #19. Here and now, 142nd place is held by Kingston, the place name chosen by Gwen Stefani for her first son in 2006.
Booker (233) Booker was an honor name celebrating Booker T. Washington, the ex-slave who became an advisor to presidents. No longer on the national list, Booker is #650 on Nameberry and was used by Thandie Newton for her son. It definitely could rise again. The streamlined Cade holds the equal position today.
Claude (98)—This smooth, suave French name was a Top 100 name one hundred years ago and on into the 1920s, dropping off the list entirely in 1994. Associated with great artists (Monet) and composers (Debussy), Claude Blue is the name picked by actor Simon Baker for his son. At 98 right now: the very modern Ryder.
Grover (209) Long before Sesame Street, Grover was considered a respected presidential choice, as Grover Cleveland’s term in had ended just nine years earlier. Now that Hannah on Girls has just chosen Grover for her son, it might serve to further de-Muppetize it. The corresponding name on the latest list: the growing-in-popularity Finn, given to more than 1800 boys.
Hiram (418)—This forgotten Biblical name, unlike cousins Silas and Cyrus, has been on a precipitous slide since its turn-of-the-last-century heyday, despite its friendliest of nickname, Hi. Opposite in feel is energetic contemporary counterpart, Ace.
Roscoe (232)—A popular o-sound-ending name of its day was Roscoe, a quirky moniker that fell off the list in the late 70s, but has already been rediscovered by prescient Berries and is making a comeback in England, so we see it headed for renewed widespread popularity. At #232 now is the sophisticated Brooks, the name of more than 1600 boys born in 2015.
Some more forgotten 1917 Top 500 names to consider: