Cool Classic Baby Names

Not a contradiction in terms

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

They know their style: a mix of cool, classic names and rich meanings. But after successfully naming their first son and daughter, they could use some help with baby number three!

Jennifer writes:

My husband David and I are expecting our third child this December. Our son’s name is Luke David and our daughter’s is Claire Emma. We like classic names, easily recognizable but not ubiquitous.

The meaning and context of the name is especially important to me as well. I like the hero archetype of Luke Skywalker and Paul Newman‘s Cool Hand Luke for our first son.

For our daughter, I interpret the names’ meanings as “clearly whole,” a nod to the work of Brené Brown and her concept of living “wholeheartedly.” Claire is also the name of the main character in the first book my husband gave me when we started dating, A Time Traveler‘s Wife.

For boy names, we liked Christopher Francis, which are the names of our fathers who are still living. However, the baby’s due date is my father Chris‘s birthday and now it seems way too much.

For girl names, we like Lauren Elizabeth, but I fear Lauren seems dated. There are other Elizabeths in the immediate family which is why we are hesitating to consider it as a first name. Our last name starts with a J, and ends with a –son.

Can you suggest any empowering and cool classics for baby #3?

The Name Sage replies:

I love the thought that you’ve put into your children’s names! A mix of meaningful stories and personal significance can make even the most traditional name shine. You’ve achieved exactly that for Luke David and Claire Emma.

Let’s start with girls’ names, because you raise an interesting question. Is Lauren an evergreen classic, or a fading name?

Lauren peaked in the late 80s and early 90s. That puts it in mom name territory circa 2017. And yet, if it had not caught on then, it could easily be the height of fashion today. A tailored, feminine choice, Lauren (Bacall) fits right in with Hollywood glam names like Ava (Gardner) and Audrey (Hepburn). Claire and Lauren sound like sisters. Plus, Lauren is associated with laurel leaves, an ancient symbol of triumph and achievement. It checks all the boxes!

Still, it’s hard to deny that Lauren has dropped dramatically in use over the last few years. One possibility might be to choose Lauren as a middle name, but we’ll put a poll at the bottom to gauge others’ reactions to Lauren.

Let’s take a look at some more options for a first name:

Alice Alice comes from a Germanic word meaning noble; it’s actually a cousin to Adelaide. With centuries of use behind it, Alice feels like a classic. But like Claire and Luke, it’s quite current today, too.

Carys Carys comes from a Welsh word meaning love. It might make a great middle name option.

Eliza – If Elizabeth is out, would Eliza be an option? On the negative side, both could shorten to some of the same nicknames. But Eliza is typically used in full. The name has quite a bit of spirit, but feels every bit as familiar as big sister Elizabeth.

Felicity – I suspect Felicity is too elaborate for your tastes, but it’s hard to argue with the meaning! From the Latin felicitas for luck, happy and fortunate Felicity has gone from rare to mainstream since the 1990s. Similar virtue names include Amity (friendship) and Verity (truth).

Grace Do word names appeal? Traditional Grace signifies elegance – think Grace Kelly – but also has a spiritual dimension.

Laura, Laurel – If Lauren tops your list, but feels dated, maybe Laura or Laurel would substitute? Both have long histories of use – yes, even Laurel! They share the same roots as Lauren, and thus the same ties to laurel leaves and the idea of success.

Ruth – Determining a name’s meaning can be tricky; sometimes the cultural associations overpower the actual roots. Ruth has both. It comes from a Hebrew word meaning friend, but is associated with loyalty, thanks to the Old Testament figure. It’s one of the longest and most consistently used <a href=””>Hebrew names</a>.

Vera – I mentioned Verity above; Vera is the more familiar name sometimes associated with the Latin verus – truth. But it actually comes from the Russian word for faith. Either way, Vera makes for a meaningful choice with a traditional vibe.

Eliza Lauren is my favorite for you, especially because it’s a twist on your almost-favorite name. But I could mix and match this list for days! Ruth Carys is another favorite, especially because the meanings loyalty and love seem so compelling together.

Now, on to the boys.

One of the challenges with family names is the desire to be fair. Would it be difficult to choose Christopher or Francis, only honoring one father?

It strikes me that you might consider using Frances for a daughter’s middle name, and Christopher for a son. That takes the decision out of your hands. (Or, of course, Francis for a son and Christine/Christina for a daughter.)

Or perhaps it is best to start fresh.

Abel Abel has a long history of use, and Hebrew roots. But it sounds like the English word able, meaning capable – a worthy meaning for a son’s name.

Daniel Just as Luke brings to mind Skywalker, Daniel conjures up the lion’s den. While the name doesn’t mean brave or courageous, there’s a strong association with those qualities.

Foster Foster feels like a modern surname name, a brother for Hunter or Carter. But to foster is to raise or encourage – one of those great meanings. While it has been used in small numbers for years, maybe this fits better in the middle spot.

Hardy – Again, this might be more of a middle name option, but surname Hardy means just that. It means to be confident and brave, and brings to mind hearty, too – all positives.

Jack John means God is gracious; Jack started out as a nickname for John, but has long stood on its own. Luke and Claire and Jack sound very much like siblings. If Luke has his action hero inspiration, so does Jack.

Leo – Having mentioned Daniel, I can’t possibly skip Leo! In our age of Bear and Wolf, Leo remains a traditional pick, even as it brings to mind the king of jungle, and all the strength that goes along with the image.

Max – Most names starting with Max ultimately come from the Latin maximus – greatest. And yet, Max feels traditional, even vintage. It’s not a showy, flashy name like Maverick or Legend. It stands up nicely to the heroes associated with Luke.

Theo Theodore means gift; shorten it to Theo, and I think you can retain the meaning. There are some great possibilities for phrases, like whole-hearted, with Theo.

Overall, I love the sound of Max Christopher or Jack Francis. But if honoring one father is problematic, maybe a name like Leo Foster – strong and encouraging – or Daniel Hardy – strong and confident – would appeal?

Readers, I know you’ll have some amazing suggestions for Jennifer and her family. What are your favorite cool classic baby names, and do any of them have meanings to match Luke David and Claire Emma?

Is Lauren too dated?

  1. AYes! It's a mom name.
  2. BNo! It's a cool classic.
  3. CMaybe ... it's a little bit of both.
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About the author


Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at
View all of Abby's articles View all Berry Juice Bloggers


18 Responses to “Cool Classic Baby Names”

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EmmaRoseXO Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 12:01 am

I’m in my early 20s and know countless people named Lauren. I like that your kids both have short sweet one syllable names.
For girls Jane, Mae, Pearl.
For boys Max, Hayes, Reid

BrittanyBrown Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 12:39 am

Considering the pattern of your two children’s names are a 1 syllable first name followed by a 2 syllable middle name, I’d go with these –

Ruth Eliza
May Olivia
Lux OR Liv Harlow

Sam Cagney
Rhett Pierson
Rex Ambrose

saoirse123 Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 1:02 am

The suggestion of Grace made me think of Anna or Hannah which I think pairs nicely with Laurel.

As for the boys I personally like Max Francis the most because if you combine the meanings is can make “greatest free man”.

kennamoon Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 1:27 am

I like the idea of using Christopher/Christine/Christina and Francis/Frances depending on the sex for the middle name so I will use that for my suggestions!

For a boy:

-Luke, Claire & Harry Christopher-
Harry brings to mind not only Potter but Prince Harry, Harry Styles and many more including Houdini! I also think it matches stylistically

-Luke, Claire & Jack Francis-
I really liked this suggestion! If you don’t mind alteration with the first and last name I think these names make a perfect sibset!

-Luke, Claire & Abel Christopher-

-Luke, Claire & Grant Christopher-
Grant Wood painted “American Gothic.” I imagine a Grant to be generous and kind.

-Luke, Claire & Bram Francis-
A slightly darker influence from writer Bram Stoker of Dracula. Sound-wise it fits in so smoothly! Though it is much less popular.

-Luke, Claire & Sam Christopher-
Sam has so many namesakes! One cool one being Samuel Clemens, the birth name of Mark Twain.

-Luke, Claire & Mark Christopher-
See above!

-Luke, Claire & Sean Francis-
Penn, Sir Connery

-Luke, Claire & Dean Francis-
From James Dean to Dean on supernatural (also works for Sam! Plus it sounds great with Francis)

For a girl:

I really loved the suggestion of Eliza! I also think Felicity would be an awesome middle name if you go a different route.

-Luke, Claire & Eliza Frances-
It also makes me think of the adventurous main character on the wild thornberry’s!

-Luke, Claire & Maude Frances-
“Come into the garden, Maude” is a Tennyson line. And there was also a sitcom but I’ve never seen it lol I love that it continues the theme of one syllable names.

-Luke, Claire & Faye Christina-
Faye/ Fay means Fairy!

-Luke, Claire & Alice Christine-
Also Alice in Wonderland!

-Luke, Claire & Olivia Frances-
Olivia is the ultimate power women on Scandal!

-Luke, Claire & Kate Felicity-
Famous namesakes include… Winslet, Hudson, Moss, Spade and Beckinsale. It also means ‘Pure’

-Luke, Claire & Maya Christine-
Maya Angelo is a pretty great namesake!

Bobcat108 Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 10:03 am

Having used one syllable-two syllable names for both of your first two children, it seems that a short first name (even if it’s two syllables) would fit better w/the set.


My 19-year-old daughter has a good friend named Lauren; in her high school class of about 110 girls there were only two Laurens. I like the spelling variation of Lauryn, too, & have loved the name Laurel since reading a YA mystery back in the ’70s w/a Laurel as the protagonist. I’ve only met one Laurel IRL & she’s about 60; I don’t know any Laurens other than the two girls from my daughter’s class.

Good luck! 🙂

Sweetchariot Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 10:25 am

I share your last name (I think) and have always loved Lauren for a girl. Two other suggestions-

Elise/Elyse is a nod to Elizabeth if you want, or a nod to Champs-Élysée and Elysian/paradise, or echoed in Für Elise.

Blaise is a great historical namesake and it’s also got that cool sound of blaze and its corresponding connotations.

Fan of ends in the s or z sound in general with our last name 🙂

kennamoon Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Eloise could also be a nod to Elizabeth and brings to mind the children’s book/ movie character.

Erin Beth Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 3:14 pm

I was also going to suggest Elise; I think it is great with the sibling names. I think Laura or Laurel might read slightly more classic than Lauren, but Lauren could work if you love it. If you decide on a one -syllable theme, I think Grace, Rose, and May/Mae are beautiful. I really like Christopher Francis and wouldn’t look any further for a boy. It is hard to suggest other classic names that would be meaningful to you–Margaret and Catherine also have a lot of rich associations. Caroline and Charlotte are nice too.

mill1020 Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 4:23 pm

I like Vera Lauren as a sibling to Luke and Claire.

Lo Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Jack is a great suggestion. I’d pick James for a boy. I love Grace with their other kids names but not sure it’s “cool”. Eliza is pleasing because the kids names would all share an internal /L/ sound.

TiffanyS Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 9:56 pm

Lauren is a beautiful classic choice. So elegant.

For a boy, I like Abby’s suggestion of Jack for your set. Or, if you did Christopher, you could use nn Kit to fit the one syllable pattern (if it’s important to you).

JH Says:

May 31st, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Love Leo & Max as suggestions, they’re actually two of my sons’ names!

My suggestions:
-Frederick (peacefuler ruler) with cut nickname Freddie or Fritz
-Christian as a nod to Christopher but still his own name

jonix Says:

June 1st, 2017 at 6:44 am

I agree about using another one syllable name.

Claire, Luke and

Jack, Finn, Max, Wyatt, George, Rhys, Zack, Theo

Zoe, June, Rose, Sage, Tess, Liv, Pearl

I also like Alice and Eliza or even Olive, or something like Miles or Milo. Claire and Luke share an l sound which could become a pattern.

Cordelia16 Says:

June 1st, 2017 at 1:15 pm

From NameSage’s list I like Alice, Eliza, and Vera, with Eliza being my favorite. I also like Eve. I had thought of Laurel as a more modern alternative to Lauren, but I don’t like when siblings share first initials (esp when it’s 2 out of 3).

Same is true for Leo. For boys, I like Jack and Max, but .not if your surname is Jackson!

Otherwise I like Daniel from NS’s list.

What about Thomas? That’s quite classic, and there are a lot of YA novels that have Thomas/Tom as their hero’s name. Jack, Claire, and Thomas sound like siblings.

nell_07 Says:

June 1st, 2017 at 2:19 pm

I love Eliza, and Elise! I think either would be beautiful with that sibset.

Some other ideas I had are:

Sophie Grace
Hannah Jane
Elle Lauren
Jane Darcy
June Elise
Mary Irene
Eliza Maeve/May
Nieve Elise
Eliza Neive
Ivy Jane
Nora Eve
Celia Jane (Shares the c and l sounds of Claire and Luke)
Anne Louise
Violet Eve (makes me think of a beautiful twilight)

Callum John
Dean Joseph
Jude Matthew
Scott Christian (Kind of links to Francis through F. Scott Fitzgerald, maybe?)
Ben Samuel
James Levi
Daniel Simon

Hopefully a couple of those names will be helpful!!
Even if the pairings are a little haphazard in places ?

Good luck on your new arrival x

HattieJ Says:

June 1st, 2017 at 8:12 pm

I think Lauren is a lovely name but thought Eliza was a great suggestion.

IMO Luke, Clare and Eve would be a charming sub set.

For boys names I was wondering about Hugh and Jonas. I’ve always loved the meaning of Jonas.

Kate4hisglory Says:

June 2nd, 2017 at 2:32 am

I love Lauren, I’d use it, but my aunt Laura told her children that she wanted a granddaughter named Jessica Lauren, so I didn’t want to touch it. I still might, I think it’s beautiful. As for being a mom name, there are moms named Sarah, Katherine, Ashley, Elizabeth, and lots of other names. If it is a “Mom name”, then that just means that she won’t be the tenth Lauren in her class!

As for changing up the genders, Francine (nn Francie or Franny) and Christiana, or Christianne are beautiful, too.

May I also suggest Franco Kit, Topher Frank, Frank Topher

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