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Extinct Names That Should Stay Extinct

May 19, 2020 Sophie Kihm
Extinct Baby Names

Names lists from a century ago contain hundreds of extinct baby names that can be downright surprising. You would think we’ve heard them all, but no, names like Square and Burdella are new, even to us.

It may seem contrary to the 100-year-rule — the idea that names come back into style approximately once every century — but not every name makes its return. (And we have trouble believing many of these names were actually stylish to begin with!)

After carefully combing through the data, we identified over 200 names — each given to five or more babies in 1920 — that we hope will never be revived. These include cringe-worthy vintage inventions like Bunice and Darthula, as well as hilarious word names such as Trellis and Bland (yes, you read that right).

These are the 100-year-old names we’ve happily said goodbye to:

 Weird Re-spellings

If you thought Kaytelynne had it bad, I’d like to introduce you to Girtrue. And Earma. And Irl. These were some of the most kre8tif spellings we found on the 1920 baby names list — made worse by the fact that most of these names are hopelessly out of style.

Aurthur: 9 boys

Bennette: 6 boys

Birt: 13 boys

Earma: 14 girls

Elease: 74 girls

Emogene: 131 girls

Evertt: 27 boys

Gearldean: 6 girls

Girtrue: 7 girls

Harryette: 8 girls

Irl: 16 boys

Luceal: 14 girls

Murl: 29 girls

Olevia: 42 girls

Ople: 18 girls

Randle: 18 boys

Rease: 6 boys

Rosevelt: 54 boys

Surprising Gender-Bends

You’ve heard of boys named Sue, but how about girls named Robert and Jim, or boys called Daisy and Alice? These parents took gender-bending to a whole new level, proving any name can be unisex if you really want it to be.

Alice: 28 boys

Beatrice: 21 boys

Carl: 45 girls

Daisy: 10 boys

Dave: 6 girls

Donald: 46 girls

Elsie: 22 boys

Emma: 10 boys

Guy: 10 girls

Jim: 10 girls

Lola: 11 boys

Mary: 195 boys

Nancy: 6 boys

Richard: 54 girls

Robert: 205 girls

William: 205 girls

Feminizations

Taking a cue from some of the top names of the day — Josephine, Pauline, and Geraldine — some parents tried to feminize other classic boy names. Charlesetta and Walterine just don’t have the same effect.

Arthurine: 9 girls

Charlesetta: 9 girls

Hermina: 59 girls

Lugene: 12 girls

Melvina: 136 girls

Nedra: 75 girls

Vincentina: 9 girls

Walterine: 9 girls

Wilburta: 9 girls

Body Talk

It is truly unfortunate to be named after any part of the body, even an appendage as inoffensive as the pinkie toe. We hope Colon is just a tragic misspelling of Colin, but there’s no good reason to use Oral nowadays.

Colon: 32 boys

Dimple: 75 girls

Dimples: 6 girls

Fanny: 222 girls

Oral: 84 boys

Oralee: 23 girls

Pinkie: 94 girls

Hairy Names

A word to the parents of 1920 — your baby’s hair is subject to change. He’s not going to be Harless or a Baldo forever, and those Curly locks could very well straighten out. Who knows, your Blondine may eventually turn into a Brunette! So please, don’t name your baby after her haircut.

Baldo: 7 boys

Blondell: 24 girls

Blondine: 8 girls

Brunette: 10 girls

Curlie: 11 girls

Curly: 7 boys

Harless: 14 boys

Food and Drink Names

We love a food name as much as the next person (Olive? Yes! Plum? Adorable!) but they come with guidelines. Fruit, spice, and herb names are best, although some are best avoided (we’re looking at you, Lemon). There were some interesting edible names on the 1920s list, perhaps the worst of which is Mayo — because no child should ever be named after a condiment.

Almond: 13 boys

Brownie: 30 girls

Cherry: 34 girls

Cola: 14 girls

Curry: 18 boys

Lemon: 25 boys

Mayo: 36 boys

Mescal: 8 girls

Peachie: 10 girls

Rice: 8 boys

Romaine: 73 girls

Word Names

The shocking word names of 2018 have nothing compared to these seemingly random word names of 1920. Trigger and Boss, meet Tennis and Boots. We wouldn’t blame you if you said these names make you Wanna Hurl.

Boots: 8 girls

Clearance: 14 boys

Cluster: 5 boys

Coy: 241 boys

Crit: 5 boys

Deforest: 26 boys

Ether: 6 boys

Eureka: 5 girls

Fairy: 70 girls

Glee: 14 girls

Hurl: 6 boys

Icy: 21 girls

Luster: 37 boys

Meta: 92 girls

Metro: 32 boys

Pebble: 11 girls

Tennis: 5 boys

Trellis: 6 girls

Toy: 17 girls

Verbal: 9 girls

Wanna: 13 girls

Wave: 6 girls

Wealthy: 7 girls

Welcome: 5 girls

Wing: 5 boys

Shape and Color Names

The moms and dads who chose these names for their children clearly weren’t thinking outside the 12-color crayon box.

Brown: 36 boys

Gold: 5 boys

Orange: 20 boys

Oval: 34 boys

Pink: 17 boys

Square: 5 boys

Occupational Names

Many of the occupational names we see today are aspirational, like Pilot and Knight, or obsolete terms we no longer associate with professions, such as Fletcher and Sawyer. But in the 1920s, mainstream jobs were also used as baby names. In 1920 you were actually more likely to meet babies named Author and Colonel than Archer and Cooper.

Author: 42 boys

Barber: 7 boys

Butler: 24 boys

Captain: 5 boys

Colonel: 37 boys

Commodore: 12 boys

Doc: 27 boys

Doctor: 17 boys

Farmer: 9 boys

Lawyer: 16 boys

Lieutenant: 9 boys

Miner: 5 boys

Plummer: 10 boys

President: 5 boys

Squire: 15 boys 

Close Calls

These names are so close to words that just shouldn’t be baby names. Was Ferol feral, Loney lonely, or Loring boring? Not necessarily, but these parents were asking for it.

The blender wasn’t invented until 1922, making Blenda a forgivable offense. Thankfully by 1923 Blenda was entirely extinct. But the pencil had been around for centuries and 1920s parents were still naming their children Pencie and Wencil, for some reason.

Algie: 16 girls

Blenda: 7 girls

Bubber: 6 boys

Clorine: 17 girls

Dicy: 12 girls

Ferol: 10 girls

Graple: 5 girls

Leafie: 6 girls

Loney: 10 girls

Loring: 29 boys

Lousie: 5 girls

Pencie: 5 girls

Pleas: 17 boys

Stancil: 5 boys

Velva: 118 girls

Wencil: 5 boys

Wirt: 18 boys

From the Looks of It

Beauty standards are traumatic enough without being named after one.

Beauty: 16 girls

Everlean: 14 girls

Everleaner: 6 girls

Fair: 5 girls

Little: 22 boys

Littleton: 9 boys

Shorty: 6 boys

Tiney: 14 girls

Tiny: 58 girls

Place Names

Seen here: many Midwestern state names — perhaps the least common part of the country to name your child after (although Indiana Jones did a great deal for his name).

A few of these choices, such as Argentina and Melbourne, have potential for modern resurrection, but a name like Palestine would be too politically charged.

Argentina: 8 girls

Armenia: 9 girls

Australia: 9 girls

Brazil: 5 boys

Burma: 12 girls

Frenchie: 8 girls

Illinois: 6 girls

Kansas: 7 girls

Maryland: 9 girls

Melbourne: 42 boys

Missouri: 30 girls

Nebraska: 6 girls

Palestine: 6 girls

Philippine: 6 girls

Like a Virgin

Naming your daughter Madonna sends a very different message in our post-1980s world, but the rest of these names are too strongly tied to abstinence to be used on modern babies.

Hyman and Hymen were common among Jewish immigrants as Anglicizations of Chaim — not, as it may seem, in reference to the hymen — but today either spelling is an absolute no-go. Inocencia is still occasionally heard in Latino communities.

Conception: 95 girls

Hyman: 269 boys

Hymen: 16 boys

Inocencia: 11 girls

Prudy: 7 girls

Madonna: 91 girls

Sister: 8 girls

Virgina: 29 girls

Terms of Endearment

As cute as it may be to call your daughter Sweetie or Honey on occasion, these pet names do not deserve a promotion to legal first name status.

Babe: 15 girls

Bambina: 5 girls

Doll: 10 girls

Girlie: 18 girls

Honey: 8 girls

Pet: 5 girls

Sweetie: 14 girls

Tootsie: 5 girls

Insulting Names

While most of these words were not insulting back in 1920, they cannot be used on a 21st century baby in good conscience.

Bossie: 5 boys

Cornie: 11 boys

Flake: 5 boys

Guido: 89 boys

Hoke: 16 boys

Pansy: 234 girls

Nimrod: 8 boys

Oddie: 10 girls

Rube: 19 boys

Nothing Special

Nowadays we like to give our kids names that speak to how great they are (in fact, Great was given to 5 baby boys in 2018), but certain parents in the 1920s preferred to remind their children that they’re part of the average. A name like Bland or Normal would serve to keep your ego in check.

Bland: 16 boys

Layman: 9 boys

Less: 7 boys

Normal: 8 boys

Other: 6 boys

Virtues

Virtue names have come a long way since the Prohibition Era — buttoned-up choices such as Prudence and Modest have given way to the more modern Serenity and Reverie. A couple of these name could still work as middles — Friend and Jolly, maybe Pleasant — but let’s say goodbye to Handy and Nicey. And we are not encouraging the revival of the anti-virtues of the ‘20s, including the vain Vanita and Philander (really).

Friend: 10 boys

Handy: 15 boys

Jolly: 9 boys

Modest: 5 girls

Modesta: 27 girls

Modestine: 6 girls

Perfecto: 8 boys

Philander: 11 boys

Pleasant: 21 boys

Prudence: 74 girls

Nicey: 6 girls

Vanita: 27 girls

Worthy: 14 boys

Almost There

These names resemble more familiar baby names, but somehow missed the mark.

Bunice: 11 girls

Chales: 6 boys

Charlcie: 15 girls

Cloyd: 73 boys

Flordia: 12 girls

Lessie: 325 girls

Ophie: 6 girls 

Gay Pride

Any name beginning with Gay– is now off the table, but there was no such association with the LGBT community a century ago. The moms and dads of the 1920s got creative in their variations, spawning spinoffs like Gaynell and Gayland for their daughters and sons.

Gay: 57 girls

Gaye: 9 girls

Gaynell: 48 girls

Gaynelle: 30 girls

Gayland: 13 boys

Gaylen: 10 boys

Gaylon: 12 boys

Gaylord: 126 boys

Ruined by Pop Culture

We won’t hold it against these parents for choosing these names, since they couldn’t have predicted that Alf would become synonymous with an alien puppet or Garfield a lasagna-loving cat. But we do have some questions for the eleven sets of parents who named their daughters Cinderella, because they certainly knew better.

Alf: 26 boys

Cinderella: 11 girls

Elmo: 397 boys

Garfield: 104 boys

Gilmore: 18 boys

Hedwig: 128 girls

Kermit: 382 boys

Lassie: 26 girls

Lolita: 53 girls

Pocahontas: 6 girls

Santa: 71 girls

Simpson: 15 boys

Ventura: 22 boys

What Were They Thinking?

It’s difficult to imagine a world where anyone thought it was a good idea to name their daughters Girtha or Dardanella. And yet, these names were given to a significant number of baby girls born in 1920.

Arbutus: 46 girls

Blossie: 8 girls

Blouncie: 8 boys

Burdella: 12 girls

Dardanella: 23 girls

Darthula: 8 girls

Earther: 8 girls

Floyce: 13 girls

Girtha: 18 girls

Lugardita: 5 girls

Thecla: 10 girls

Could any of these names be used today? Which names surprised you the most?

About the author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.

View all of Sophie Kihm's articles

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