Nameberry Picks: 12 neglected girls’ classics

In the search for appealing vintage girls’ names, parents have dusted off a number of charming old-fashioned treasures that have found their way to the top of the list—from Ava to Sophia to Olivia to Isabella. But there’s an ample supply of other, less obvious examples up for reevaluation, and here are twelve of the best.


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Some names suffer from nickname overkill and this is a good case in point. There were so many Debbies around in the fifties and sixties, when at one point (1955) Deborah was the Number 2 name, that the nobility and beauty of the original was all but lost. The Biblical Deborah was one of the strongest Old Testament heroines—a poet, judge and prophet, and would make an admirable namesake. (ill: Deborah Kerr)

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28 Responses to “Nameberry Picks: 12 neglected girls’ classics”

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evil_laugher Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 1:22 am

These are the names of a lot of my close family and friends (I’m mid-20s).

Abby Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 5:57 am

Every single one of these names is fabulous! If we ever had a second daughter, Rosemary, nn Romy is my top choice. Oh, and my other grandmother’s name is on this list, too – the smashing Irene!

GidgetMom Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 7:01 am

I love ALL of these names and am just hoping not too many people read this and get to these gems before I do! 🙂

lindseyjordan Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 8:05 am

two of my favorites are on this list. Louise and Agatha.

ana7428 Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 8:13 am

I absolutely adore the names on this list! They all seem so elegant! The only one I can’t decide on is “Florence”…if it ever does become mainstream, I worry that it would take off with the same crowd that used “Paris”,
“Brooklyn”, and “London”. What does everyone else think?

shinysarah11 Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 8:22 am

I love this list. I love Old Hollywood anything and I think the names of that era are totally usable today and very interesting.

I like that Martha is in there. My 16 year old cousin is a Martha Ruth. She’s named after family, but her name is certainly unique in high school next to Alexa and Mackenzie. And I totally didn’t realize that picture was Martha Stewart. She was beautiful when she was young!!

Lola Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 9:24 am

Elsa & Florence are my favorites from this list. Elsa would be the nickname of choice for Elspeth and Florence would answer to Flora (or Florrie, but not Flossie, that makes me think of dental floss & string bikinis!)

I also like, but probably would never use: Irene, Martha, Rosalind & Rosemary. They’re all family names for me (cousins & Aunts) but they’re still alive, putting their names off limits for me.

Deborah is the only one I waffle on. It’s the name of my 53 year old sister in law and I know LOTS of Deborah/Debras in their mid-50’s. I can’t picture a tiny Deborah for anything! 🙂

I would love to meet a little Agatha or Dorothy though, even Virginia’s sweet. (Aggie, Dot & Ginny? adorable!)

Mischa Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 9:40 am

I am quite enamoured with vintage names. Agatha, Dorothy, Florence, Rosalind and Rosemary are among my favourites from this list. I knew that Ida was popular in Scandinavia at the time when Rocky star Dolph Lundgren named his daughter Ida but No#1 in Denmark was a surprise. Wow, I learn something new everyday here on Nameberry! My 100-year-old grandmother is named Irene and my mother’s name is Louise so these names mean so much to me. I’m not yet ready to say that Deborah is ready for her comeback as I’ve known too many of them over the years so the name has lost its appeal for now. Martha is still too strongly associated with Ms Perfectionist Stewart for me to seriously consider it for a daughter. I do believe that Elsa is ready for her close-up as the name follows a couple of popular trends: it’s two-syllables and ends in an “a”. Watch out Ava, Ella, Emma and Mia!

emmyk12 Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 9:56 am

I’m in love with Dorothy nn Dot/Dottie! So adorable. I just hope it doesn’t take off in popularity before I get a chance to use it! I also think Florence, nn Flora and Ren is very nice. I don’t think the same crowd that used London, Brooklyn, and Paris will be attracted to Florence–for me, I think of it as a name first, and a place second.

Flick Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 10:25 am

I love Rosemary (Rosemarie), Dorothy, Florence, and Rosalind. I don’t really think Deborah is ready to be revived. Every other one of my mom’s friends is named Deborah and I think it just sounds dated. Deborah, Barbara and the like should probably wait another generation.

ilovenames Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 11:34 am

I absolutely love Rosalind. It’s beautiful. I don’t mind Rosemary, Agnes, Martha, and Louise. The others still hold too much of an old image in my mind.
Rosalind is definitely on my list with nn Rose, Rosa, Rosie or even Lindy!

CountryLizB Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I don’t think Deborah belongs on this list. It’s a name from the 60’s or 50’s and the rest are older.

shieldsc Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Agatha, Florence, Rosemary, and Rosalind were all on my list for our new baby girl, but hubby nixed them. At least he agreed to the classic but not so “old-ladyish” (in his words) Genevieve!

Nook of Names Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Here in the UK, Florence and Martha are already re-embraced and both in the top 100 — and going up. If Florence doesn’t make the top 50 next year, I will be very surprised.

I also know a little Ida and a little Elsa. It won’t take much to see them both rise again, I’m sure.

These are all fabulous names, and I agree, are ripe for use. I’m certain they will be, if not in the next few years then with the next generation. My Small Child really likes Agatha and Dorothy, for example.

Rosemary was my mother’s favorite name, though she never actually used it. I came the closest to receiving it, apparently. I’ve always wished I had!

rollo Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Shock horror, don’t let these names out of the closet! Slam the door closed and leave them there, with the exception of Deborah and Rosalind.

All the others are fusty old, uninteresting, boring names that I am sure my grandmother wouldn’t even have been interested in using.

How could you not love Jessica one of the most beautiful vintage names but who has been much maligned over the last few years and yet want to bring out Ida or Dorothy?

No thank you!

agirlinred Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I don’t think Ida is very usable anymore. It’s far too easy to tease. I da (insert insult here). None of these really appeal to me. I think Barbara is much nicer than Deborah.

encore Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I love Agatha! And Dorothy and Elsa are cute. The rest aren’t great.

corsue Says:

October 13th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I’ll pass on Agatha, Martha, Deborah, Florence, Irene, and Ida (as an earlier poster said I duh _insult_, though I do like Ina). Dorothy is cute, but I don’t think kids will ever get past the Wizard of Oz and that would get annoying for a little girl. I’m okay with Rosalind, but I like Elsa, Louise, Rosemary (is the horror movie connection still too recent?) and Virginia (always liked it since I was born there, but I have a 20-something cousin with the name so it’s a no go for me).

littlebrownpony Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 9:44 am

I ADORE Virginia and Ginny as a nickname. I also love Louise for a middle name. Elsa and Irene are also lovely, although I probably wouldn’t use them myself. However, I prefer Rosalie to Rosalind and Rosemary, and believe it or not, Agnes to Agatha.

My all time favorite neglected girl’s name is Althea.

mynameisrachael Says:

October 14th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I adore Virginia, Louise, and Florence. Rosalind and Rosemary (nn Romy!) are nice.

I can’t imagine saddling a sweet little baby with Agatha or Ida (the latter of which is just begging for “Idaho,” etc. jokes). Dorothy is all right but doesn’t strike me as particularly substantial — too cutesy for me, I guess. Elsa is covered in cobwebs. Deborah and Irene are unappealingly dated. Martha is plain, but I like the nickname Martie.

titch Says:

October 16th, 2011 at 7:31 am

I named my sweet little baby Agatha and I can assure you she is anything but “saddled” with such a beautiful and charming vintage name. She suits it, and the nickname Aggie, perfectly. Needless to say I love lots of the names on your “neglected names” list!

hayleysaunt Says:

October 16th, 2011 at 9:05 pm

In elementary school my best friend was Dorothy (we’re in our mid-30s now) and I never once associated her name with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, even though I loved the movie as a child.

I also know two Virginias who are in the early-mid 30s; one goes by Ginny and the other doesn’t abbreviate her name at all. Since I met them (in the past 5-8 years), I no longer think of Virginia as old-fashioned at all.

lemon Says:

October 17th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I know so many 20-somethings named Deborah! And, it honestly still surprises me. The thing is, while many born in the 50s and 60s go by Debbie, not a 20-something Deborah I know goes by a nickname. That being said, the name has a bit of a fusty sound to me, even if it is the name of my aunt. (I also know two 20-something girls named Virginia, one of whom goes by Ginny).

Oh, Abby, I’ve got a Grandma Irene, too! But, I just don’t want to use Irene. Hm. Iris? Is that close enough? Ha.

I actually think Agatha has a really cool sound to it. Aga and Aggie are sweet, too! My favorite on this list? Rosalind! So romantic! Rosaline feels a bit softer, but Rosalind is still fab. I also like Elsa, though Eliza wins.

calinai Says:

November 26th, 2011 at 11:16 pm

some of there are nice, but if you have ever had chinese friends IRENE IS VERY VERY VERY VERY COMMON its likely a cognate of their actual chinese name but STILL thats what would be used in schools

emilymaryjane Says:

December 27th, 2011 at 4:29 am

Agatha is the name of the mean principal in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I love Florence and Rosemary the rest are too old lady for me

Lis09 Says:

January 3rd, 2012 at 1:41 am

My favorites are Agatha, Irene and Elsa. I think Agatha is so spunky and Aggie is a great nickname. I think Irene is spunky too and I love the meaning. I don’t like Florence (or Flo or Flossie) but I love the nickname Florrie. Dorothy, Louise and Virginia have vintage charm to me and I think they are ready to make a comeback. I like the similar Dorothea, Louisa and Eloise even more.

Divine1 Says:

April 11th, 2013 at 11:51 pm

A very close friend of the family just had twin gorls and named them Rosemary & Kira. (To me the styles are totally opposite which I think don’t flow well but anyway…)
I like Louise.
I have a 20 something friend named Deborah.
I have to say Rosalind was my fav frm the list!
Also, Agatha was the first name of Miss Trunchbull (pricipal) from Roald’s Dahl’s Matilda! Goodness I love that movie!

CsprsSassyHrly Says:

June 30th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

My name is Irene… And I HATED my name growing up. I was born in the late 80’s so people in my school were always Brittney’s, Stephanie’s, Kimberly’s or Ashley’s, but I was always the only Irene. I was never teased in the conventional way (I got called “urinator” and “rhino” because they sound like Irene, but those were always stupid to me and honestly never bothered me), but when they agreed with me that it was an “old-lady” name, I would get upset. I was named after my mom’s favorite aunt, so I understood the family significance of the name, and I never actually wanted to be an Ashley or Stephanie, but I didn’t want a name that was so terribly old sounding. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t mind the sound of it as much but it’s not a name I would use on my daughter. My great-aunt’s nickname is “Nena” and mine tends to be “Winnie” (unfortunately pronounced weenie -_- )

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