Classic Baby Names Make a Comeback
By Abby Sandel
The new US Top 1000 list is out, and there’s good news for those who love classic baby names! While plenty of newer names caught on, 2014 was all about the return of longtime favorites.
The farther you look down the list, the more vintage gems you’ll find. Some of the names have returned to the rankings after decades of hibernation. Others have never really gone away, but the numbers suggest that these classics might feel stylish and fresh once more.
Here are eighteen great names – nine for girls and nine for boys – that climbed 50 spots or more between 2013 and 2014.
CLASSIC NAMES FOR GIRLS
Thea – Theodore has been on the upswing for boys. Now sister Thea is catching up. This spunky name is short for Theodora, or any name ending in –thea. (Anthea, anyone?) In 2014, Thea rose 358 places to rank Number 776. If you’re heartbroken that Stella and Cora are so popular, Thea might be the choice for you.
Cordelia – Speaking of Cora, this Cor– name has finally made it back to the Top 1000. Lear’s loyal daughter climbed 205 places to Number 993 in 2014. Meanwhile, the equally Shakespearean Olivia landed at Number 3.
Margot – Originally a nickname, Margot has long been bestowed independently. Edgier than Margaret, less modern than Marlowe, it’s easy to see why parents love this ‘o’ ending name. Margot was up 200 spots to Number 749.
Elaine – Elaine’s heyday was the 1930s. If the hundred-year rule applies, it’s just about time for a comeback. The French form of Helen climbed 105 places to Number 654 in 2014. Fellow Camelot name Arthur has also made big gains in recent years. And isn’t the nickname Laney/Lainey irresistible?
Frances – The 2013 appointment of Pope Francis may help explain the 91 spots Frances climbed to arrive at Number 602. Or maybe Frances just fits with gentle, understated, and classic names like Alice and Charlotte.
Edith – Downton Abbey’s middle sister, Edith, is one of the reasons parents are rediscovering this vintage gem. There’s also adorable nickname Edie, as well as literary namesake Edith Wharton. No surprise that Edith made an 89-spot gain to Number 627.
Dorothy – Not so long ago, Dorothy was a Golden Girl. Now she’s just golden – the heroine of The Wizard of Oz and the middle name Scarlett Johannson chose for her daughter, Rose Dorothy, in late 2013. Dorothy charted at Number 731 in 2014, a gain of 76 places.
Ada – Ava is all Hollywood glam, while the similar-sounding Ada has a gentle, homespun sensibility. There’s also Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, whose work helped create the modern computer. They’re all reasons why Ada is up 54 places to Number 382.
CLASSIC NAMES FOR BOYS
Clyde – Clyde re-entered the US Top 1000 in 2013, and climbed another 192 spots to Number 804 in 2014. Clyde feels cool and edgy, a brother for Dexter or Otis. Bonnie was also up 193 places. Credit a December 2013 miniseries called Bonnie & Clyde with at least some of the names’ rise.
Alfred – Batman’s faithful butler answers to Alfred. So did the poet Tennyson and director Hitchcock. Nickname Alfie has been wildly popular in the UK in recent years, and Freddie is also on the rise. All of it makes Alfred a very wearable classic that remains underused, even after climbing 192 spots to Number 804.
Winston – It’s a W surname name like Walker, a –ton ending name like Easton or Colton, and ties to a famous figure. Winston feels like a big, important name that’s still wearable for a child. Winston was up 85 places to Number 538.
Clark – Not so long ago, Clark – as in legendary actor Gable – was Gone with the Wind. Now Clark feels like an on-trend surname name with an adventurous vibe, thanks to Lewis and Clark, as well as a heroic one, thanks to Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent. Clark climbed to Number 382 in 2014, a gain of 75 places.
Lionel – Leo names are fierce! Leo cracked the US Top 100 in 2014. And Lionel, which also has pleasing associations with model trains and Hollywood’s Barrymore dynasty, was up 75 places to Number 660. Another reason this name is enjoying a revival? It’s the given name of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.
Otto – Quirky, upbeat Otto is yet another name climbing for the second year in a row. Otto arrived at Number 627, after a gain of 69 places. With ends-in-o names like Leo and Arlo in favor, Otto fits right in.
Harold – Can Harold be ready for a comeback? As with so many names, the minute you meet a small Harold, it seems reasonable. Beloved children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon is a positive association, as is the super-genius character from CBS series Person of Interest. Harold climbed 59 places to Number 828 in 2014.
Are you excited to see any classic or vintage names make a comeback? What are your favorites?
About the author
View all of 's articles
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on May 10th, 2015 at 11:19 pm
I LOVE most of these names, and one of them is my middle name. 🙂
on May 11th, 2015 at 8:44 am
So glad to see the classics heading back and taking the place of wisps of nothing like Tiffany, Kayla and the like. Love them all but Ada, Lionel, Winston and Matilda are favorites. I prefer Margo spelled without the T, it has a sleeker look and far less chance of mispronunciation.
on May 11th, 2015 at 9:32 am
I know a little Althea who goes by Thea.
My favorite names Agatha and Percival will hopefully stay as outlier names.
on May 11th, 2015 at 11:10 pm
I am thrilled to see this trend. Sometimes I get frustrated by nameberry, but about a month ago I looked at the Social Security name site, at the Top 300 for 2013. I saw the ugliest names there, or non-names, most of which I never see on nameberry, thanks be.
I adore Harold and Chester and Maud and Althea and Herbert and Virginia and most all of these sorts of classic names. I only hope I live long enough to meet some (I’m not old but I’m not 20 and many of these names are still outliers).
on May 13th, 2015 at 4:13 pm
I’ve definitely seen this trend for more old-fashioned/classic names making a comeback. Just recently, I’ve had friends name their babies Caroline, Thomas, and Calvin. I’m glad to see more classic names making their way to the top and ousting some of the “made-up” names!
on May 14th, 2015 at 8:22 pm
Harold is more popular now because of Harry’s rise as a nickname for Henry. Parents are looking for other ways to get to Harry.
The Best New Baby Names – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Said
on May 14th, 2015 at 11:03 pm
[…] girls and 34 names for boys appear in 2014’s Top 1000 list that did not rank in 2013. Plenty of classic names made a comeback, but here are a dozen of the most interesting modern […]
Comeback Classic Baby Names – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Said
on May 15th, 2016 at 10:48 pm
[…] year we looked at nine boy names and nine girl names that were both traditional and trending. Happily, it was easy to find eighteen more great baby names that were on the rise this […]
on August 28th, 2016 at 11:57 pm
Some good ones there! Matilda’s the only one that’s in my faves, though…but it’s in my top 10!
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.