How About Harvey? What About Walter?

The Nameberry Question of the Week: Would you name your baby boy Harvey or Stanley or any of the other up-and-coming oldies appearing on the recently released British pop list?

Is this another case where the Yanks will follow the Brits in baby-naming trends and revive such previously verboten Grandpa names as Harvey, Arthur, Leon, Walter and Stanley— all once considered distinguished in their day?  Or similar in style name like  Gilbert, Murray, Ralph, Howard or Ernest?

Which, if any, of the names of this genre would you consider?

Would you choose it only to honor a relative with that name?  And/or only as a middle name?

If you did use one, would you consider it cutting-edge or pleasingly retro or perenially stylish?

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51 Responses to “How About Harvey? What About Walter?”

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Whit Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 12:36 am

I like Walter, Arthur, Stanley, and Harvey, in that order. Not a fan of the others mentioned.

Lyndsay Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:11 am

I really like Harvey, Murray, Walter, Leon and Arthur. I also quite like Gil (not sure about Gilbert though) and Ralph. Honestly, none of these have ever seemed “verboten” to me, and I definitely don’t consider them cutting-edge. Pleasingly retro fits I suppose, but I know guys my age (25) with half of these names, so they don’t really seem that granpa-ish to me.

I would use Harvey and Walter for sure. Murray seems a little insubstantial to me, I prefer Murphy, but I do like both. The only reason I wouldn’t use all of them is that they just aren’t my style, but I wouldn’t think them unsuitable for someone else!

P.S. One that I want to love is Ernest. Because of The Importance of Being… How can you read that play and not love the name as much as Gwendolen does? I’m surprised there aren’t more Ernests. But when I think about it out of that context, it’s a little hoaky. And Ernie isn’t all that great. Though, I know a few Ernies and it wears just fine.

Jenna Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:26 am

My favorite boy’s name is Frederick nn Freddie, which I definitely see fitting in with these names, and I love Arthur! (Will probably use it as a mn). Depending on how many sons I have we will probably use Leon, as it is my MIL’s maiden name (she’s from Portugal).

Charlotte Vera Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:51 am

I’m personally in love with Alfred, which I think some would consider old-fashioned to the point of being unusable. I’m also rather fond of Ernest (but don’t like Ernie), Arthur — which I find to be an incredibly handsome name, and Gilbert (because of Anne — but I’m rather turned off by “Gil”). I’d be willing to use all of those in the first place except for Ernest. Why do I like them? I just find them to be rather fabulous names.

peach Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 2:17 am

I appreciate Arthur, Gilbert, Ernest but I doubt I would use any as a first name myself. I would consider these more seriously for the middle though. I think these are new-wave vintage names that will be coming back although probably not as strongly as in the UK.

phoebesmom Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 2:19 am

Roger is in my top 2 names. I also love Walter, George, and Arthur.

Emmy Jo Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 4:16 am

We did use Arthur as our son’s middle name (for family reasons). I like it, though I would consider it in the “pleasingly retro” category. Surprisingly enough, I’ve gotten a VERY positive reaction to it, so I think it is seeming like a somewhat stylish choice in my area.

I adore Gilbert and think it could definitely come back. (If only it didn’t sound so awful with our last name, I’d happily use it.) And Murray would be cool, too — a successor to Riley, perhaps?

I’ve been wondering about Ernest for a while, exactly for the same reasons as Lyndsey. I love The Importance of Being Ernest, and so many names from that play are back in style (Gwendolen, Cecily, Jack… though admittedly not Algernon). I wonder how much the “Ernest” movies are hurting the name. But if Alfie can be hip in England, then I don’t see why Ernie couldn’t work there… and if it ends up gaining ground there, it’s probably only a matter of time before we see it cropping up in the U.S., too.

Abby@AppMtn Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 6:36 am

I’m biased – Arthur is my husband’s name, and I had a friend called Ernie in college. (He was Ernest III.) And Stanley just got lots of love over at AppMtn when someone used it for her son.

I agree with Emmy Jo – if Alfred can work in the UK, why not in the US?

Design Mom has a Ralph. And I’ve heard the nickname Gib for Gilbert and Hoby for Howard – both make the names MUCH more wearable, IMHO.

So … I’d say they’re all on the verge of a comeback. Except maybe Murray. I can’t see Murray on a little boy.


So …

Kim W Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 6:38 am

I love Walter and would use it in a heartbeat if my last name didn’t start with Wa.

tarynkay Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 7:24 am

Any hope for Herman? This is my husband’s grandfather’s name, and truly, Herman is one of the best men who has ever lived. I would love to name a son after him. But then- Herman! It’s so terrible!

katybug Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 7:27 am

I’ve been wondering about the following names from my family tree: Harold, Franklin, Lester. Are any of them ready for a comeback?

Sara A. Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 8:29 am

The class of grandpa names I tend to like are the ones that show up in late 19th early 20th century literature, like Anne of Green Gables and Alcott’s works. Montgomery has way more quirk especially amongst the farming community with names like “Ludovic” and others that I really cannot think of at the moment. But they’re the kind of names that when I read them in my teen years I thought were musty, fusty, and a crime to bestow on anyone. Now, I feel like they have history, quirk and personality. I think it would be great for my future son to look through history and literature and see others with his name succeeding and failing and living note-worthy lives.

Now on my boys list are Walter, Gilbert, Leon, Leopold, Franklin, Ambrose and Angus. I like Arthur but could never use it because –er or –ur ending names sound awful with our last name. Love Ernest but with a word last name that is an intensifier, his name would be subject to jokes about being completely earnest. And Harvey and Murray just sound like the old folks home to me.

Katybug: Franklin is because Frank is really usable and the founding father angle is also really cool. Also Harold could be for people that don’t like the idea of using Harry by itself.

ricamaca Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 8:39 am

I’ve always really liked Monroe. Will that one become more usable?

pdxlibrarian Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 8:54 am

I actually have been liking this genre of boys names for a while. I don’t think I could get my husband to agree to any of them, but I especially like: Walter, Arthur, Franklin, Roger. I’m not feeling the Howard and Ralph quite as much — possibly because Howie sounds too much like Howie Mandel and Ralph is a euphemism for vomit.

Danni Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:15 am

I recently met a two-year-old darling little boy named Walter, and my heart melted! He goes by Walter, no nicknames, and it was the most refreshing name I have heard on a child in awhile. It’s so much better than the trendeigh names like Jayden, Aiden, Keegan, etc. That name is definitely usable!
I also really like Frederick, Earl (my grandfather’s mn and my great-grandfather’s fn), Ernest, Harvey, Stillman, Bernard, Irving (last 3 are family names), Leopold, and Arthur.

Stormie Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:16 am

@ricamaca– Monroe certainly works today. It fits with 2 trends: older names and last names first. One word of caution, though, I’ve heard that it’s being used more on girls now.

Vanessa Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:41 am

I’m in the same boat as you, tarynkay and katybug, My husband desperately wanted to name our son after his grandfather, Clifford. All I can see when I hear the name is a big red dog. My questions to you nameberries is; Can I revive Clifford?. Maybe more tolerable with the NN Clive or Ford, definitely not Cliff. And oh, BTW, our last name is also a noun, Ball.
We do have a son and named him Vincent, which Nameberry put into this category of, “so far out, it’s coming back in”. I don’t see that at all with the name Vincent, it’s been on the U.S.A popular charts for nearly 100 years, between numbers 150 and 50 in popularity.
I’m just saying, Vincent is no Clifford in my book.

mermuse Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:43 am

First boy (if/when I have him) will be Arthur. And Walter is my dear grandfather’s name, and will be incorporated into a middle. I could use Walter as a first, but doesn’t go with our last name (starts with W). Stanley is another family name, and I might not give it, but I like it. Also like Ernest for it’s meaning and Gilbert for…. Gilbert Blythe! 🙂

British American Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:44 am

Being English / British and living in the USA, I totally look to the England top 100 for inspiration and English sounding names that are less popular in the US.

I did have Walter on my list for our son, born 2007. Though I see it more as ‘old man’ than ‘especially English.’

My main association with Harvey is the American movie with Jimmy Stewart. Plus it doesn’t sound so great with our last name, and we already have a H initialed child. So that one is out.

Gilbert, Murray, Ralph, Howard & Ernest don’t really do it for me, but the first list mentioned are ‘pleasingly retro’ to my ears. Happily enough, my husband also seems to like the ‘stodgy’ old fashioned boy names – though not as many of them as I do.

Vanessa Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:45 am

I would classify Vincent as perennially stylish.

British American Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:47 am

Oh and if we have a boy in the spring and my husband does pick his favourite boy name for the first name, then I’m picking my (British) great grandfather’s name for the middle name, which fits in this style. 🙂 So the boy will have two ‘old man’ names. 😛

There’s an Arthur in my daughter’s elementary school – I read all the names of the kids along the corridor and Arthur stood out as a favourite to me. 🙂

Vanessa Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:57 am

There have been several references to the Anne of Green Gables saga. These books and movies are very close to my heart as well. Has Namerry ever done a AGG category, if not, could you please?

Janine Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 10:27 am

It seems like every baby boy born lately is a Vincent; it’s definitely seeing a resurgence in popularity.
I’m not a huge fan of Walter, but I think Walt is adorable. It conjures images of Disney, and the adorable/mystical boy on ‘Lost.’

jwalling Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 10:57 am

Is Floyd in this category? DH and I have this picked out as the frontrunner if Baby #2 is a boy. I like the vintage grandpa feel of it, but I think my husband thinks mainly of Pink Floyd. Also love Walter and Gilbert. The others listed above I’d think were fresh and stylish on someone else’s baby, but can’t see myself using them.

eechick Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 12:11 pm

If I have a son when I get married I want to name him Ernest. My mom’s dad’s name was Ernest but his parents spelled it like the word: Earnest. A friend of my dad’s as a son named Walter (family name though) and goes by his middle name, Kyle. I flipped when I found out he was really a Walter, it fit him perfectly. He is adorable. I’m also a fan of Virgil, Oscar, Ralph, and George.
I’ve seen Leon listed but would Leonard but considered in this category also?

How About Harvey? What About Walter? « My Cool Baby Names Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 12:24 pm

[…] Read more… […]

Laura Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Love Walter! Husband doesn’t. I am trying to decide if I should push him on it (I have 9 months) or let is pass.

Amy3 Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I like so many of these! We would have used Walter as a middle after my husband’s grandfather had we had a boy, but I’d happily use many as firsts–Stanley, Arthur, Harold, Albert, Gilbert, Ralph, Sidney the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t agree, though!

Bella Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I love Arthur an Henry and can “see” it. I also love Sheldon, but I just don’t think one little boy could appreciate Sheldon when his best friends are Maddox, Jett or Aiden.

KatieKR Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:56 pm

We just had our first two weeks ago, and named him Walter! It was my grandfather and great-grandfather’s name, and my husband I both really like seldom-used, old-fashioned names. His name is Albert, which is along the same lines. I love all these sorts of names, and only hope that Walter doesn’t got *too* popular!

phoebesmom Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 3:14 pm

@Vanessa-I know a young Clifford, nn Ford.

Sunshinetuna Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 4:45 pm

If my second child had been born a boy, I would have named him Walter.

kaybee3 Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 4:52 pm

George, Frederick, Franklin, and Harold…love them!

Ruth Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I like Gilbert, Walter, and Arthur but I don’t really like the other names. I kind of like Howard but I probably would only use it as a middle name.

Em Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I really do love this category of names. I just wish that Americans were as open to them as the Brits. :/

stephanie_elizabeth Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I like Gilbert and George, and could like some of the others. My 16-year-old cousin is named Walter (after Walter Payton, my uncle’s favorite football player), and he wears it well. He doesn’t really have a nickname. They mostly call him Walter.

smismar Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I like Walter and Arthur. Not sure if I’d ever use them, but I like ’em. My GFIL is Herman Ernest and I thank GOD that they don’t have any goofy naming traditions in the family that would force me to saddle my (hypothetical) son with either of those names. My grandfather was Clifford, but I doubt I’d use it thanks to the Big Red Dog.

Lis09 Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I love Gilbert! I also really like Walter and Ernest for Ernie.

Jaime Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I would probably use any of them (or others that are similar) as a middle name if they held special family significance. Otherwise, I could see using Arthur, Walter, Murray and Gilbert. Harvey is a maybe.

Now, I’d LOVE to use Rufus (my paternal grandfather’s name) but my husband won’t consider it for our baby boy due in March.

Helly Says:

November 3rd, 2010 at 10:49 pm

funny–my dad is stanley arthur, and my gpa was walter murray. wouldn’t mind any of these as a middle name to honor relatives, but wouldn’t use them as a first.

nancy Says:

November 4th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

phoebesmom Says:

Roger is in my top 2 names. I also love Walter, George, and Arthur

I Absolutely LOVE Roger but everyone thinks i’m insane – so happy that someone else feels the same. Ditto on Arthur – just really don’t like Art as a nn.

smismar Says:

November 4th, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I didn’t think about Rodger. That’s my dad’s name and definitely on the list for a possible middle spot. I prefer it with the d. Without, I think it looks like roe-gur.

phoebesmom Says:

November 5th, 2010 at 1:32 am

Re Roger-Yes, everyone thinks I am insane as well, but a chubby little 2 yr old Roger would be about the cutest thing on earth, IMO. Also like that it is very ancient and noble, but feels like a 60’s sitcom dad. And lots of sports stars to get the dads on board!

Sarah A Says:

November 5th, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Thanks so much for this post! I’ve always loved Howard since the Backstreet Boys introduced me to the name (sad I know!) And Walter is one of our new favorites. I think Wally and Howie would be an adorable sibset. I would definitely categorize them as classic, simple, and not too common. I love Howard and Walter because they have great nicknames for kids but the full names are serious without being too stuffy.

Alyssa Says:

November 7th, 2010 at 5:59 am

I had a baby boy in May this year and named him Harvey William. I really wanted to call him Harvey Walter as Walter is the dad’s middle name but he hates it so it was banned. I loved Harvey for a about 6 of the 9 months I was pregnant and it just really stood out to me. I must be old fashioned! When people find out his name they either really love and tell me immediately or just have no comment, or maybe just say how old fashioned it is.

Kathleen Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 7:37 am

I have to say I’m not a fan of most of these names. I like Arthur but wouldn’t use it personally. Roger’s not too bad and I admit that the image of a two-year-old Walter is pretty cute. Most of those names just sound stuck in a nursing home to me. I just prefer Biblical names for boys.

Oztok5 Says:

December 3rd, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I have a 7 month old Arthur sleeping on my lap. I’ve gotten very positive reactions to his name. Older folks particularly light up when they hear it. It’s fun to see it bring a smile to their faces. If we have another boy, I will be pushing for Gilbert or Walter, and his middle name will be Howard.

msmoll91 Says:

June 23rd, 2011 at 11:23 am

Frederick, Arthur, Franklin, Geroge, Stanley,and Walter were all BIG contenders for son #1. We eventually went with a family name, but I’m 6 months along with son #2 and most of those are still on the list. I love Gilbert too – I may have to add that one! I don’t care for Harvey or Ernest though.

sunshinetina Says:

September 1st, 2011 at 12:02 am

Hurray for Walter. I have a Walter, so that is most definitely my fave.

KrissyKat Says:

May 8th, 2012 at 12:08 am

Harvey and Walter are on my long list for a boy (middle names). My grandmother’s maiden name is Harvey and we have Walters on both my family tree and my partner’s. Not sure I’d consider them if they weren’t family connected though, since names like Arthur, Stanley, George, Ernest, etc don’t appeal to me!

Nedra Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I love old-fashioned names like these and would totally use them. I particularly like Ernest, Arthur and Walter.

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