Nameberry Picks: 12 neglected boys’ classics

There are the eternal boys’ classics that never leave the higher echelons of popularity—names like John, James, William and Daniel.

But then there are those boys’ names that move in and out of style, names that can appear timeless in one period and then seem tired and fusty in another. These names, once at the top of their class, are now nearer the bottom—in one case having slipped away completely.

Yesterday we looked at forgotten girls’ classics. Today we bring you a dozen classic boys’ names that have fallen off the radar but deserve a fresh look.


Picture 1 of 12

Picturing Jude Law playing Alfie brings a lot more life to this somewhat serious British Royal classic. Both Alfie (currently the fourth most popular boys’ name in the UK) and Freddie are two of the most appealing nicknames imaginable. A similar possibility is Albert, nn Bertie, which is what British singer Kate Bush calls her little boy. (ill: Jude Law as Alfie)

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29 Responses to “Nameberry Picks: 12 neglected boys’ classics”

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Trustedwriter Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 1:14 am

I like so many of these!! Roger is one of my loves…sadly, I don’t think my husband likes it very much.

Mystery0_0 Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 3:44 am

I love Edmund so much. Both Fredrick and Ernest are good but I prefer Hugo to Hugh and Roger is slang in Australia.

graceful_klutz Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 5:24 am

I adore all of these boys’ names (except for Roy), although I was only OK with their girl counterparts. LOVE Frederick, Gilbert, Alfred and Lewis…

romanticism Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 7:19 am

I love Frederick! I think Freddie is just the most adorable nickname. I do think Harry is sweet and works well as a standalone name, although I prefer Henry. However, its popularity here in the UK (#3 overall, and it’s also the #3 boys name in the area which I live in.. the ONS gives a breakdown of the top 10 names by region which I love!) compared to in the US really shocked me! I’m so surprised more people aren’t using it.

Still can’t get on board with Roger or Gilbert though. They still seem dated to me for some reason.

FablesofLove Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 8:24 am

I loved Gilbert. Such a cute name.

p.s. Great picture of Jonnhy Depp.

pdxlibrarian Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 8:34 am

I prefer Franklin over Francis as a way to Frank. Franklin just seems more solid and exciting.

Also not sure that Ralph will come back until there are young enough mothers to not think of it as the slang term for barf.

I so love some of these though and have no idea why they aren’t more popular: Lewis, Roger, and Hugh are three of my favorites.

Pansy Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 8:45 am

We actually have Hugh on our list. I just think it’s so dignified sounding. I also love Harry as a nickname for either Henry or Harold. Frederick and Edmund are also great, as is Lewis (though I knew a few guys named Lewis growing up, so I don’t really think of it as “neglected”).

Lola Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 9:19 am

I utterly adore Francis! Frankie is adorable on a little guy and Frank is awesome on a grown man. Fromthis list: Ernest, Gilbert & Roy also get high marks from me. Roy I’d use as a short form of Royal (My Great Uncle’s name).

But there’s a few here that make me pause:
Frederick – I’ve known lots of guys named Fred and none have endeared me to the name. And one in particular we used to call Derf (Fred backwards) ’cause he was such an idiot. (we were horrible in high school!).
Harry -just gets an ick from me. He feels very messy. And Henry’s whiny. I don’t like either.
Hugh – While I adore Hugo, Hugh, to me is “the name you breathe,not say”. It seems insubstantial.
Ralph – I grew up with this as a synonym for barf. Just doesn’t work for me.
Roger – My mother loved this name. Wanted to name my brother (who ended up Steven) this. Pop used to go “Roger, Roger” so often,Mom took it off her list. I still go “Roger, Roger” in my head so it’s out for me too. But it would be sweet on someone else’s kid.

And, thinking of Roger; “Dark Shadows” being re-made by Johnny Depp & crew has a Roger in it. Roger Collins is a nice guy in the original. Maybe he will be in the re-make and that might boost Roger! (it will almost definitely boost Barnabas, since Depp’s playing him).

Oh, and where’s George? He’s another fairly neglected classic. I think George is beyond fabulous!

Danni Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 9:45 am

I absolutely adore Frederick and Harry, but I think Walter and George should be on this list!

C in DC Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 9:49 am

Lewis and Gilbert were the names of the Nerds in the Revenge of the Nerd movies. It’s hard for me to get past those images. Roger and Lester were 2 brothers I knew growing up; again not a great association.

I’d consider using Franklin, Royce, and Edmund. I’m not in love with Fred or Harry names, but I agree with the previous poster about George being neglected too (although I prefer the female variants: Georgia, Georgette, Georgina, etc.)

theroadtohere Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 9:58 am

Great list. I much prefer Edmund to Edward. While I’m not crazy about Alfred, I do think both Freddie and Alfie are sweet. My top boy’s name, though, is Hugh, and while I love it for its simplicity and handsomeness, I also love its unexpectedness. I’d be sad if there were a sudden surge in the number of little Hughs running around.

henrye Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 10:56 am

Ralph makes me think of vomiting, and Roger is a synonym for “have sex with.” I think you could get away with Rafe, but Ralph and especially Roger are just cruel.

tct1219 Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 11:27 am

I’m surprised not to see Walter on here. Or George, though he’s more common. I love Ralph but we named our dog that and Francis and Lewis are both nice.

Nook of Names Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Some more lovely classics here. Some, as you point out, aren’t quite so neglected here in the UK as in the US, like Harry, Hugh and Frederick, and there are plenty of little boys called Lewis across the UK, not just in Scotland. I also know not one but two little Edmunds (a name which was very high on my own personal list for years and years and of which I’m still exceedingly fond.)

I’m curious as to whether Roger has the same slang use as it does in the UK (as mentioned by henrye above), which I think has virtually wiped it out as a first name in Britain.

hayleysaunt Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I really like Roy – not so much inspired by Roy Rogers as inspired by Roy Lichtenstein, American Pop Art painter of the 50s-70s.

I also prefer Edwin to Edmund or Edward, but I am biased b/c my dad’s name was Edwin.

I high Hugh (and Hugo) as well.

corsue Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Haha, graceful_klutz! I can’t stand any EXCEPT for Roy! Which I adore! I guess that’s how we get variety in the world. Harry being unpopular isn’t surprising as every kid always goes to hairy jokes.

helloyellow5 Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Good list. I like Alfred (Alfie), used Edmond as a middle name for my son, like Roy and Harry too. I love Frederick but would go with Fritz as a nickname.

skizzo Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Meh, not a fan of these, I guess I like Ralph the best. Still, none of them are as annoying as John, William, Daniel, Michael, Jacob, Robert, Charles or Richard, which are so grating and overused.

rollo Says:

October 15th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I would cringe if I heard of a child named Ralph pronounced as Ralf, it is my brother’s name and unless it is said as Rafe it is not cool at all. I prefer Raphael much more dashing although Rolf has some charm.

And please everybody embrace Harry and it is not said as hairy! It is the most gorgeous name and in its own right. I find the popular Henry rather stuffy and old fashioned in comparison.

Frederick on its own has charm but Freddie and Fred leave me crying ugh!

I love Gilbert and the nn’s of Gib and Gibby surely one for a big comeback?

Roger is a sissy name one and Roy is boring, best left alone.

Alfred still has the old man feel.

Can’tagree that Robert and Richard are overused they are well and truly due for a comeback and the nn’s of Robbie and Richie are very cool.

ilovenames Says:

October 15th, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I actually much prefer Gil or Gill over Gib and Gibby. Couldn’t tell you why.
And in Canada, I don’t think of any bad connotations with Roger. It’s not a popular name but it is an accepted proper name.
Freddie is cute but Fred makes me cringe and Frederick would surely get it by the time he was 15.
I like Alfie but the full Alfred seems still very out of style to me.
I agree with Ralph. The Rafe pronounciation is much more attractive though I fear everyone I know would not get it. They would probably refuse to call him Rafe because it “wouldn’t make sense” to call him Rafe.
As British boybands are my guilty pleasure (I’m a 17 year old girl haha), I’m quite used to hearing Harry on young men a la Harry Styles and Harry Judd from One Direction and McFly respectively. Harry seems completely rejuvenated in the UK.
I’m not a huge fan of Roy but Edmund nn Eddie is a little endearing.
Hugh Jackman and Hugh Grant make Hugh much more appealing though I still just don’t like the name all the much. Too short for my liking but I’m warming to it.
I can’t get on board with Francis or nn Frank. They just make me shudder. Sorry!
And as for Lewis, I do much prefer Louis pronounced Louie. Much cuter.
I think that about covers it though the pictures of attractive celebs are definitely making me like the names more an usual.

anniebee Says:

October 17th, 2011 at 8:59 am

I love all of these except Roy and Ralph. Maybe I can come around to them in time, but I agree that Ralph still makes me think of barf.

I ADORE a lot the rest though. Ernest for having the earnest meaning, Gilbert for Anne of Green Gables, Harry just in general. These names are right up my alley and great alternatives to my love Theodore which is starting to get a bit popular for my taste.

lemon Says:

October 17th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I had no idea about the Roger connotation – I’m in the US. I still don’t know that it’s ready for revival, though!

I grew up with a Harry, and I think it’s fine nowadays. Frederick? A little heavy, but Freddie and other nicknames jazz him right up! I also like Alfred for Alfie and Freddie. Adorable!

For some reason, Hugh feels lackluster to me. Or it reminds me of hue. I prefer Hugo. Lewis is neat, but Louis looks, uh, cleaner? Not sure. I adore Edmund, but I think Edmond is even cooler!

Fetching Names: Ends in -r | Appellation Mountain Says:

October 20th, 2011 at 3:03 am

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kyemsma Says:

September 14th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I love Hugh! Handsome.

mariahsweet Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Ernest is pretty rad. Hugh was on my list for awhile, since I have Hughes blood on my mother’s side.

Jamesina66 Says:

September 17th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I agree with a number of others that Walter should be here. I think it definitely is revivable (is that a word?). Roy is a great name with a grounded, homey feel. Albert, listed with Alfred, was my father’s name so it is a favorite, and Louis is his middle name, so again I am prejudice. Edmund and Gilbert have dignity without an imperious feel. I do like Hugh, though I would not use the name. I can’t stand the thought of Huey/Hughie, or a chubbie lad being call Huge Hugh.

Not a big fan of the F’s – Alfred, Frederick, Francis. I don’t care for Frank at all. Ernest is also I name that need not return, just not fond of the sound or the nickname Ernie (unless it’s a muppet.)

I know a lot of Roger’s in their 40’s and 50’s; I can’t see a little boy with the name.

Fox Says:

October 2nd, 2013 at 3:47 am

Personally I think most of these haven’t been on the bench long enough to come back yet. Especially Frederick – Fred, is a terminally fat, goofy name in my mind (sorry Freds!), and Freddy will always be the awful name that EVERY talking animal storybook gave to its fox or fish character. Give it another ten or twenty years, and maybe it can be unbanished.

BabyNameCrazy95 Says:

January 22nd, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Lincoln and Edison are classics in my opinion and I wish people woudn’t give me that omg really look when I say I might consider using them x

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