Classic baby names: Peter, Paul or Mary?

Of course they’re still around, with a few like William and Daniel still in the Top Ten, but most of the standard classics are far from being the power names they once were–Peter, Paul and George, for example, have hit all-time lows.

And yes, Edward has that Twilight touch, and Jack is back with a vengeance, and we are suddenly hearing people say they think Mary is due for a comeback.  But will Robert or Richard ever be cool again?

Thus and therefore, the question of the week:

Which classic name do you think is most due for a comeback?  Would you use it for your child?  And if so, is it because it has ties to your family history?

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60 Responses to “Classic baby names: Peter, Paul or Mary?”

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smismar Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 1:43 am

I know a young toddler Peter, my 22 year-old SIL is Mary (so it doesn’t strike me as “old”), and I know a couple Pauls. My friend just used Richard for a middle name for her brand new boy. I don’t think the classics every really die out entirely. There are names that will always be tried and true, even if they aren’t in the top popularity lists. I’d much rather meet a baby George than a Jayden, IMHO.

Elle Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 1:45 am

I don’t know if this is considered classic or not but I love the name Forest! I have an uncle Forest and he is 80 years old. I have never met another. This name has not been in the top 1000 for at least 10 years. There are so many word names being used now…there is no reason this one can’t come back!

eglantine Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 1:58 am

Thomas/Tom is big in Australia, is it in the US? Harry and Henry are huge. James is pretty popular.

I think Timothy is an overlooked classic name. John is surprisingly rare in Aus for anyone under 40 (I love the dimunitive Johnny). I also like Stephen, which is uncommon for kids.

Robert and Paul don’t quite feel vintage enough to me to use them, just sort of unfashionable. Same with Mark, Phillip, even Michael (though I quite like Pip and Mickey).

eglantine Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 1:59 am

Oh and I love George. I think it’s definitely on the cusp of a comeback in Australia and the UK at least.

heather Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 2:08 am

I agree with Elle! I’d love to see forest make a comeback. 🙂

Alexa Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 3:01 am

I have to say that I always thought of Mary as old fashioned and boring, but Mary McCormack, Mary McDonnell, and Mary-Louise Parker (not to mention MM’s Mary Shannon) have me rethinking and changing my tune completely.

Kat Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 7:26 am

Mary and Peter are my two top choices for baby #2 (#1 is Isla). I think that if you just throw the name out there, it may sound a little old-fashioned, but on a young toddler they sound fresh, sweet, and classic.

Tiana Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 7:49 am

Paul is my second son’s middle name, after his great grandfather.

I think Peter and Mary are both ready for a comeback. Peter has been low on the list for a long time, and I know of at least one adorable little Peter running around.

Mary seems to work better these days as part of a two-first-names pair:

Mary Grace
Mary Clare
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Faith

British American Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 8:23 am

My husband likes George & wants to bring it back.
We have friends due in the spring and they want to name their baby Peter, if they have a boy.
We used Robert as a middle name, as it’s a family name.
It would be fun to meet a little Mary.
I know a toddler John-Paul but none just called Paul. I knew boys with that name when I was growing up, so that doesn’t make it ‘old enough’ for me.

AliceVictoria Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 8:40 am

I didn’t like Mary at first, but now it’s really grown on me! Another name I love is Annie. It hasn’t been used in my family
for about 150 years so I think it’s definitely due for a comeback!

Andrea Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 8:49 am

Give me any of the classic names over the trendy names I see constantly. My cousin named her son Gregory last year because she wanted a classic name that isn’t being used much any more but wasn’t too weird. She was right about its popularity. I can’t remember the last time I heard of another little kid named Gregory. I like the name a lot. I also really like Anne, which people seem to inexplicably be abandoning. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it’s grown-up and classic.

belly Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 9:25 am

Robert is totally hot. I love Robert!

Stephanie Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 9:28 am

I know a 1 year old named Mary. It’s due for a comeback. It’s such a pretty name for a little girl, teen, and adult. I also think Marilyn and Mabel will be coming back.

Stephanie Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 9:30 am

For a boy, I say comeback Adam! I’d love top see this name used more often. No more Noahs (So overdone in my area), bring back Adam.

Janine Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 9:37 am

I think Charles is due for a comeback. It has a great nickname (and a few bad ones); Charlie works for a little boy and Charles is the distinguished older version. Plus, whenever I hear it, I can’t help thinking of Charlie from Lost.

Angela Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 10:46 am

My husband and I are all about preference for traditional over trendy any day. Our son is Henry and for a girl, we had considered Alice, Jane, Eliza, and Annabel as top contenders. They are still on the “list” for the next baby. I also love Eloise and Eleanor. Middle name for a girl will most definitely be Beatrice. Hugh and George are at the tops for another boy. My husband LOVES Desmond, but we’ve gotten slack for that, so doubtful. Other boy names on the list: Raymond, Ira, and Gregory. I love Thaddeus as a middle name. My top second boy name was/is actually Milo, and I know it’s a bit more towards the trendy side, but it is an old name that is coming back after being dusted off. Any thoughts on that as a sibset with Henry?

I do love the British style of naming. I lived over there for 2 years and they are definitely more fans of the classics that Yanks in general. I do always smile to myself when I hear a mommy call a little Josephine, Lillian, etc. over a Kailey, Addison etc. anyday.

Angela Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 10:49 am

@ Janine…..Ah, I love Charlie too. Forgot about that one!

Becca Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 10:54 am

I think Jack is ready for a come back but the rest I don’t think I’m ready for.
Mary is a nice name but it just seems old lady to me still. The rest I’m not fond of especially Robert and Richard ( prolly due to bad associations).

However there is other “old” names I like! For example Boys: Henry, Hank, Felix, Frank and Girls: Lena, Leona, Mae, Stella among others!

Joy Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 11:13 am

I think the names are fine not being in the top ten again. There are so many other good old and classic names that need the chance to be seen.

iris1973 Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 11:18 am

I know of a baby Thomas recently.

I wonder about the name Ruth. My grandmother was named Ruth and recently passed away. I’d like to use her name. My husband’s grandmother was Mary, and we were THIS CLOSE to using it, but my daughter was born in the Midwest where the Catholic and Lutheran usage of Mary tends to be a double name: Mary Claire or Mary Frances or Mary Ellen…I think this affected my decision because I didn’t want people calling my daughter by her two names; rather, just the one.

phoebesmom Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 11:19 am

Oh, I love classic name, particularly for a boy. George, and Thomas, nn Tom, are my top faves, but I would consider Peter or Robert, nn Bobby. I think these classics go through phases of hotness. For instance, Henry and William are big right now, I think George and Edward will be next. I also think John will return after Jack has become over-saturated.

katybug Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 11:49 am

I still prefer Marie to Mary but I see the appeal. It’s a classic for a reason. As for the double name trend, I love it but I have three adult cousins (Mary Ellen, Ruth Ann and Carol Ann) who all prefer to just be called by their first names. They felt the double name was too “little girl” sounding.

Shelia Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I love the classics names except for Richard. It’s the ending & nicknames that bother me. Rich, Richie, Rick, Rickie, & Dick are awful. I hope this name never comes back.

Thomas The Tank Engine has a lot of good classic names:

Sachiko Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I’m considering a double-barrelled Mary + name for my next girl.

Yes on Gregory! It’s serious and masculine without being fusty. I knew a young George; his mother is on the leading edge of fashion–she also had a Jane and a Ruby before that got really hot–so I’m sure it’s back in.

I’ve been hearing and seeing more and more really strong classic names lately, “classic” in the Greco-Roman sense. Leonidas, Ulysses, and even Cincinnatus (!).

For girls, I predict that Selah’s going to get really hot, following the -ella sound trend. Ditto for Raphaela.

I wonder if -linda names will come back in during the next 10 years. Belinda, Rosalinda, Melinda.

Now that everyone’s used Rose as a middle name and we’re all used to previously fusty Sophie, I think older names like Rosamund might warm up a little.

I think Margaret and Susannah are heating up.

Ruth and Naomi are currently overlooked Biblical names.

Kathy Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

My one year old daughter is named Mary, so I obviously love the name! I think it is simple, classic, sweet, and not at all trendy. I don’t care for the southern style of pairing Mary with a middle name, so we just use her first name. I also love Sarah and think it is ready for a comeback. If I have another girl, it is probably what I’d choose. There are a lot of Sarah’s in my generation (30’s), but I’ve only met 1 little one. Anne is a great name, too.

For boys I love John. I’m tired of Jack. I also think Mark and Paul are ready to come back. Matthew is a fantastic name as well, but I don’t think it went out of style the way the others did.

Kathy Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Meant to add that I agree about Gregory– it’s great, under-appreciated name!

Bella (spotlightstarlit) Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I love the Mary variations, my favs. being Marion and Marigold; I would rather see variants of classic names come into the spotlight.

Elle Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I like Charles/Charlie but Charlee/Charley/Charleigh are now becoming girl names! They are always stealing the most adorable boy names!

braveangel2 Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I just copied and pasted my answer to the underated names post…


Mary should come back around too. There’s this really cute commercial where a little girl named, Mary decided what color she’s going to wear that day and after I watched it for the first time, I thought – that’s a perfect name for a little girl who doesn’t want to get pigeon-holed into a category. Plus, we’ve done Marie, Maria, Mariah, Maryann etc. Time to let this little name shine again I think.

Danni Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Fred!!! I absolutely love the name Frederic or Frederick. It’s due for a huge comeback. What could possible be cuter than a 3-year-old Freddie? What could be more attractive than a strapping 20-year-old Frederic?

LouiseRae Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

It’s funny because my dad’s name is Robert, and my brother (16 yrs old) is named Richard, after my dad’s uncle. I actually really like the name Robert, obviously with the nn Rob or Robbie instead of Bob, and would consider using it if it wasn’t my dad’s name. I also like clean simple girls names like Mary, Anne, and Jane.

smismar Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Thought of another that’s on my list… Theodore. A little boy named Teddy? A teen Ted? Grows well, I think!

smismar Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I wish I could just go back and edit previous posts when I do something silly like post too early….

Also on my boy list: Calvin, Malcolm, Douglas, Simon, Curtis, Arthur, and Conrad. I think many of these have comeback potential!

beeplaysbass Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I love Frank for a boy, but I don’t like Francis because there’s nothing distinguishing between Francis and Frances. I do, however, like Francis as a middle name.

A while ago, I asked a bunch of my friends for advice about the middle name of my first son (for future planning purposes) and they said the best one was either John Francis, John Ryan, or John Thomas. But John Thomas means something else entirely in European countries and Australia I’ve heard :-D. I’m going to avoid that one.

peach Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

All of the classics are on their way back, some much faster than others. Edward definitely is/will be shooting up the popularity list. Jane and Alice on the girl’s side are heard more and more. I think some of the classic boy’s names will make their way in through the middle spot, often with family ties: Paul, Robert, John. Mary (along with Marian, Miriam) is on her way up too. I agree with many of the previous comments that I’d rather meet a little Frederick, Frances, or Ruth than another Kaylin or Khloe.

Sunny Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I would like a lot of classic names to come back…


Andrea Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I like Ruth as well. It was my grandmother’s name and the name of a great-aunt as well. I just interviewed a little girl called Ruth Anne (double name.)

Andrea Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 5:51 pm

And, actually, Susan appeals to me a lot too. I like the simplicity of it and there are a ton of 1950s/1960s songs about Suzies — Wake Up, little Suzie and Suzie Q and Suzie Baby, etc., etc. etc.

Lori Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

One of our upcoming twins will be named Anne (Annie) and I love all of the old classics that sound so fresh amid all of the -adens!

eglantine Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 6:27 pm

I adore Jane. Mary-Jane. And like Spiderman she can contemp it up with MJ if she wants.

Annette Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Annie has become super popular where I am. I know 4 girls named “Annie” and one was born just a few weeks ago. I expect Ann, Anne, Annie, and Anna to become huge soon.

Macy Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Nah I wouldn’t use it. There’s a reason they’re hitting all time lows, they’re incredibly overrated and been very overused over time that everyone is bored of those names. Nobody wants to share their name with a million other people… they’re just boring. I don’t mind some, I actually think some classic girl names should make a comeback since they were never popular to begin with. But oldschool boy names need to be left alone for a very long while…

Shan Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

We just named our son Robert Henry and he goes by Henry (Robert is after his dad). Almost named him Declan. But, I couldn’t do it b/c it seems I prefer a classic name. Love almost all of the classic boy names…definitely see George and Edward rising quickly. And, I think Peter is adorable (I know one little Peter already). Our daughter is Isla Anabelle. Even though Isla isn’t a traditionally classic name. It has that feel. I can definitely see Mary making a come back.

stacy Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Margaret was on our list for our daughter, although we didn’t go with it. It’s still on the list for any possible future children.

Edward was there for a boy, mostly to get to the nickname Ned, after my great-grandfather (who went by that, his initials.) Charles was always on our list for a boy’s middle name, as well.

We have a more common last name, so we tended towards older but less well-known names for first names.

Gingersnap Says:

August 18th, 2010 at 11:29 pm

I’m just so sick of the Jadens, Haydens, Hunters, and Kayleighs I could barf. I have a teenaged nephew named George and although I didn’t like it at the time he was named, it really suits him. I also like Ted as a nickname for both Theodore and Edward. I’m old enough to have known 100 Marys, plus it is my mother’s name. I wouldn’t use it, but it is a pretty name and is probably due for a comeback. My two current favorites are Thomas and Sylvia (Sylvie is good too). Bring back the classics, please!

Linelei Says:

August 19th, 2010 at 1:01 am

I’ve been crushing on Marian and Marielle lately. Ooh, also names like Josephine and Henrietta. Funnily enough, I’m digging Henry for boys: it’s so universal and friendly.

Laura Says:

August 19th, 2010 at 9:44 am

I have sons Paul and Mark! I have been thrilled with our choices. We’ve run into a few more Marks than Pauls. Anne Marie is a strong contender for a future girl. I love Ruth but dh doesn’t; I’m sure I could convince him but I’ll wait and see how many girls we have.

JustADad Says:

August 19th, 2010 at 10:17 am

We chose Charles and William for our sons’ names and have never regretted going traditional over trendy. I hate to say it, but some trendy names don’t age well even after just a few years. I have a close friend named Peter and know of a couple of kids (under fifteen) with this name and think it’s due for a comeback. It’s strong, masculine, and classic. I also love the name Mary, which I think has sat on the shelf long enough.

ycw Says:

August 19th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Every girls’ name on my list is a classic except Selah and Eden, all with Biblical and/or family ties. Some are in now (Hannah, Lucy, Leah, Elizabeth) but I love the less common ones too: Jane (dd’s middle name–also mine, my mom’s, my grandma’s, and her mom’s first name), Rebecca, May, Charity, Eve, Faith, Joy, Martha, Pearl, Rhoda, Rose, Trinity.

I don’t pronounce Selah like Bella at all; it’s SAY lah. I think where it’s catching on is Christian parents looking for something pretty and different with Biblical ties (same with Eden).

I know a Ruth (8)–like the name but off my list for various reasons–a Susan (3), a Naomi (1 1/2).

I haven’t decided among Mary, Marie, or Mara, but I’ve got at least 8 names I like better for a little girl, so I probably will never get to Mary; but it is on my list.

My son is Peter, but he is a III, so “Is it in?” was never part of the discussion. I knew 3 or 4 Peters in high school plus one in kindergarten (I was class of ’01). Some of my boys’ list is obscure Biblical names; some are more classics. Classics on my “short list”: Daniel (never really went out), George, John, James (also never out), Jesse, Mark, Alfred, Ernest, and Benjamin, which is in. George was Dh’s grandfather, and John is mine, and I’d like to use both as first names. And my sister’s dog is Ringo…. so Paul is out. And I don’t love it anyway. Also like the more obscure Asa, Hezekiah, Judah, Japheth, Josiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, Shem, and Silas.

DS’s middle name is Sidney.

Sachiko Says:

August 19th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Selah is a classic, popular among the Puritans. Its pronounciation is a matter of much debate, and pretty much boils down to Whateva You Like.

Kinda like Sarai that way–I’ve known a Suh-rye and a Shu-ray. Both spelled “Sarai”.

Tori Says:

August 19th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

In the UK classics are really big…
Are very big here at the moment. I think Arthur will also make a come back too with girls classics are also big with there being many Elizabeth’s, Charlotte’s and Lily’s around.
I think many classics like Arthur, Dean, Caroline and Audrey will make a big come back because it seems suddenly especially in the UK that classic names are being favoured more over the Jayden’s and Willow’s.

smismar Says:

August 19th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Gingersnap – My 15 month-old is Sylvia. I’ve gotten nothing but compliments on her name 🙂

JKG Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 1:19 pm

We love these classic names. Before we had children we had a friend who (she didn’t have children) who gave us some naming advice. Choose a name your kid could have if that sit on the Supreme Court, but one that also has a derivitive you could yell on the basketball court.

We have an Edward, Louis and Beatrice. Baby #4 will be arriving soon and we are considering Mary and George along with a handful of other “old” names for this next member of our family.

abby Says:

January 15th, 2011 at 10:51 am

I think that classic names are great. Hope to see more of them make a come back. That is good advice to give them a name that could be used sitting on supreme court but also fun to say out on the basketball court.

Livi Says:

April 26th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I love Augusta, Roxanne, Joanna, Gail, Hazel, Eve, Kit, Ruthie, Georgia, Diana, Claudia, Cherise, and Theresa! They should be used more often because personally they seem much more usable than Brylin, Rylynne, and Maelyn and all the rest of trendy group.

tiffany Says:

April 30th, 2011 at 10:45 am

I think that forest would be cool for a girl name same as charlie for a boy or girl.. I love the name charlotte its beautiful I have a little two year old named mya sheila marie and a 2 month old named ava grace .. So if I ever had a 3 rd child which hopefully not for a while I would think about for girls evangeline, charlie,forest, charlotte, bella, and maria. Boys daniel, hunter, grayson, mason, jack, william, bayden

margaret Says:

May 8th, 2011 at 9:37 pm

We have a little Peter (age 1.5yrs) and while we haven’t always gotten a lot of compliments, I adore his name, it’s a strong name that suits our all-boy rough and rumble guy perfectly 🙂 Bring back the classics!!

Kenzi Says:

February 29th, 2012 at 3:03 pm

My 3 year old daughter’s little playmates are triplet 3 year olds named Bonnie, Trudy and Rosie. Their older brother’s are also Henry and Thomas. Although these are old fashioned names, i think they need to come back! i love them!

EmmaF Says:

March 10th, 2013 at 6:08 pm

James and Eleanor are definitely returning- it seems like it’s time for more George, too, but maybe that’s just my preferences. I think Richard is pretty much stuck in the place of having no good nicknames attached.

alphabetdem Says:

August 14th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I think classics are easier for boys than girls, and it has to have a certain “feeling” to suit the times.

George, Robert, James, Jack, Louis, Edward, Daniel, Oliver and Henry strike me as appropriate for the times, (and John will never really be out, but definitely not really “in” right now), but Peter, Paul, Matthew, Michael, Mark and Charles strike me as boring and dated. But Charlie is still cute.

As for girls: Eleanor, Jane, Rose, Victoria are ok, but the rest? Mary, Katherine (or Catherine), Abigail, Margaret, Anne, etc? So boring and overused. Elizabeth, with its endless nicknames, will forever be usable.

I’m just not really a classic name person in general, but I definitely think it has to hit the right note – at the right time. And people are more willing to go out of their safe box for girls, so we see more classics for boys.

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