Classic Baby Names on the Rise

Classic Baby Names on the Rise

When it comes to classic names, there are two stories we like to tell. Sometimes it’s that classics have been abandoned. Time to name your baby Chicago, Koala, or True, because nobody would dare call a kid Elizabeth or James in the year 2023.

The other story? Classic baby names are back. Everyone is taking a page from Prince William and Kate's book, and sticking to the most enduring of choices, naming their children Caroline and Henry.

Neither of these extremes is true.

Instead, classic baby names rise and fall, just like every other kind of name. Even though we’d never call them trendy, it’s easy to see that they do trend, just as surely as Justin and Brittany, Maverick and Everly.

The most popular baby names 2022 reveal some of the hottest of the classics. In many ways, stylish, traditional baby names are the perfect compromise. They feel fresh and current, but they’d be equally at home in nearly any decade.

Rising Classic Girl Names


One-part legendary queen, one-part inspiring First Lady, Eleanor sounds romantic and serious, daring and capable. Eleanor has risen over 100 places to sit at Number 16 last year. This name also proves that it often takes a century for names to cycle in and out of fashion. Way back in 1922, Eleanor ranked Number 28.


Boosted by Hamilton’s Schuyler sister, Eliza has risen 101 spots in the last decade, and sits now at Number 16. Originally a form of Elizabeth, today Eliza stands on its own. If you’re worried that your Elizabeth might become Ellie or Betty, naming her just Eliza sidesteps that issue, and gives your daughter a name that feels modern and traditional at once.


As gentle as Alice, as enduring as Mary, Frances has gained over 350 places over the last ten years! It now ranks at Number 418. Like Eleanor, Frances was an early twentieth century favorite. A handful of celebrity children and a popular Pope have boosted the name, and so has the rise of the popular "grandpa"-style nickname Frankie.


Beautiful and fearless, the Biblical Judith has inspired countless parents over the centuries. Judy became a mid-century favorite, as in Garland and Jetson and Blume. But shorten Judith to Jude instead and it feels surprisingly fresh. The baby on The Walking Dead helped Judith get back on track, and this year it climbed over 70 spots to Number 873.


Lou– names are rising — just look at the astronomical success of Lucas and Luna. Classic French Louise naturally follows them up the charts, this year gaining 9 spots to reach Number 638. Louisa, on the other hand, dropped slightly in the rankings in 2022.


Mary Ann is still on Gilligan’s Island, a sweet name from the middle of the twentieth century. But Mariana feels richly elaborate, jumping 8 spots to Number 243. Marianna, with a double N, also leapt up almost 50 spots this year, to Number 814.


Rose has occupied the middle name spot in big numbers for years, but lately it’s getting more love as a given name. In 2022 it was Number 120. Its rise has stalled a little in the last couple of years, but it's still impressive considering that fifteen years ago, Rose languished in the mid-300s. Rosalie is rising too.


The Old Testament Ruth was known for her loyalty. The name became a Top Ten favorite at the turn of the twentieth century thanks to the birth of “Baby Ruth,” President Cleveland’s daughter. Now the name is back again, up 9 spots last year to 179. As for nicknames? Ruthie belongs on the same playground as cozy, casual favorites like Millie, Winnie, and Jack.

Rising Classic Boy Names


Back around 2010, Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town character mentioned this as a favorite boy’s name. A year later, Selma Blair named her son Arthur Saint. It’s climbed the popularity charts ever since, with a 15-spot jump taking this regal name to Number 140.


The real name of legendary singer Frank Sinatra, and the name of the current Pope, this former Top 100 mainstay had fallen out of the Top 500 just ten years ago. Today it’s reversed course, reaching Number 462, a gain of over 100 places in the last decade. Based on the name’s history, it’s easy to imagine it continuing to rise.


With longer boys’ names like Alexander and Sebastian so in favor, why not Frederick? British parents love Freddie, and there’s a heroic Harry Potter character by the name. Frederick currently stands at Number 474, a far cry from its former Top 100 status. But it's gained over 50 spots in the last decade.


A Germanic name with a great meaning – heart – Hugh and the Latin form, Hugo have been worn by saints and kings over the centuries. Straightforward Hugh has bounced up and down in popularity, but energetic Hugo is now back in the Top 400 baby names for the first time in over a decade. With Leo and other –o ending boy names so popular, Hugo almost certainly has farther to go.


Even before Will and Kate delighted the world with their prince’s name in 2018, Louis was going places. Sandra Bullock welcomed son Louis Bardo in 2010; a year later, Louis Tomlinson took the world by storm as part of pop sensation One Direction. A slow but steady riser, Louis has risen by over 50 places in the last decade, and is now Number 246.

Theodore / Theo

Theo is to Theodore as Jack is to John. One is casual and modern; the other, more traditional and buttoned-down. But both the short and long forms are very much in favor today. Bright, o-ending Theo rocketed into the Top 100 this year, sitting at Number 99. Meanwhile Theodore has climbed almost as high as it's possible to go, and ranks at Number 10.


Like Arthur, Walter comes by its –r ending naturally, a first name that fits with surname favorites like Hunter and Carter. It’s less common than William, but nearly as familiar. Now it stands at Number 269, up over 100 spots in the last decade. Plenty of distinguished men have answered to the name, from journalist Cronkite to poet Whitman to Walt Disney himself. Time for a new generation to join them!

Want more names like these? Read all our lists of Classic Names.

This has been edited from a piece by Abby Sandel originally published in May 2018.