44 Names from 1917 You Should Use Now!

Grover and Geneva, comeback kids?

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.

Girls

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:

Alta

Avis

Cornelia

Dorothea

Dovie

Elvira

Eugenia

Flossie

Geraldine

Inez

Lula

Mamie

Maude

Minerva

Odessa

 Boys

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:

Barney

Benedict

Casimir

Cleveland

Cornelius

Dewey

Doyle

Garland

Noble

Norris

Ollie

Palmer

Sol

Waldo

Wiley 

For more unusual vintage baby names you should consider, see our list of the lost names of 1916 for boys and for girls.

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12 Responses to “44 Names from 1917 You Should Use Now!”

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EmmaMay Says:

April 17th, 2017 at 11:05 pm

I prefer Consuela over Consuelo, which is a name with very great significance to me. I am considering using it as a mn in one of my combos, but I haven’t decided which of my favorite names work best with it yet.

I love Odessa and Noble!

Myosotis Says:

April 18th, 2017 at 3:12 am

I love Cleo, Lula, Odessa, Archie (but very popular in the UK), Benedict (also gp due to association), and Noble as a middle, plus Minerva is top name for a cat. Pauline is my grandma’s name, but I’ve not really considered it. I’m not a fan of Paul or the -ine ending tbh.

mariaanalisa Says:

April 18th, 2017 at 11:14 am

Tiffany wasn’t “unheard of” a century ago, even if it didn’t make the top 1000–it was a medieval nickname for Theophania! I think I learned that from Nameberry, actually…

mill1020 Says:

April 18th, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Hiram, Roscoe, Dorothea, and Zella are some new favorites of mine after reading this. I also like Odessa a lot.

indiefendi2 Says:

April 18th, 2017 at 8:44 pm

I would use
Cecile
Inez
Maude

Casimir
Noble
Palmer

I would like Sol if I didn’t have a d-bag classmate named Sol in middle school…

lesliemarion Says:

April 18th, 2017 at 9:52 pm

These names are five trillion times more appealing than their modern counterparts!

GPU Says:

April 19th, 2017 at 1:59 am

Winifred, Archie and Ollie are my favourites.

ARhythmofNames Says:

April 19th, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I love Eugenia! Even though I wouldn’t use it, Eugenia has this spunk about it that I love. Cecile and Inez/Ines are 2 others that are lovely.
Ambrose is one I would like to see come back! I also like Noble and Casimir, and Archie, but as a nickname for Archibald.

FelicitySmoak Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 1:22 am

I like Odessa and Wiley.

nml28 Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 6:16 pm

I pretty much love all of these. My favs are probably..Cecile, Inez, Pauline, Consuelo, and Maude. And Casimir and Benedict (even though it just makes me think of eggs benedict lol) these are some A+ names

RosieMac Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 7:00 pm

I’ve always wanted to be a Cleo, but alas,no luck. I.ve got a GGrandfather named Noble with GUncles named Royal & Loyal. All gone now but I remember!
I also adore Maud (notMaude), Casimir & Ambrose.

elifsu Says:

June 18th, 2017 at 1:29 pm

My favorites are:
Cleo
Geneva
Alta
Avis
Eugenia
Maude
Odessa
Ambrose
Casimir
Cornelius
Garland
Sol

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