New Geek Chic Names For Girls
By Emma Waterhouse
Answer: These stylish vintage girls’ names — which already feel like modern classics — have all rejoined the US Top 100 in just the last decade (or less!)
Fashion moves fast, and some of the original names on our popular Geek Chic Girls list were no longer feeling quite so fresh. So we’ve recently added a whole host of quirky new options for cutting-edge namers to consider: all outside of the current Top 1000, and all with that cute, classic, clunky-cool appeal.
Albertine: It may have fallen almost completely out of use since it last ranked back in 1925, but Albertine no longer feels completely out of style. Names with that chic -ine ending are becoming increasingly fashionable: think Adeline and Emmeline, Madeline and Josephine, Clementine and Evangeline…
Aphra: A feminist choice par excellence, thanks to the literary pioneer Aphra Behn: the first female professional writer in English. With its soft yet sturdy sound and vowel-rich shape, this rare name — which has never charted in the US — nevertheless feels like the perfect stands-out-fits-in choice today.
Blythe: Combining a sweet sound with a joyful meaning, Blythe seems like the quintessential quaint old-fashioned girl name — straight out of an Enid Blyton book. So you might be surprised to learn that this charming choice has never been more popular than in the last ten years. It’s certainly a stylish pick: sweet yet strong, feminine but not frilly, and given to fewer than 100 baby girls last year!
Clemency: Celebrity favorite Clementine is a rising star: up from just 18 births in 1998 to 425 in 2018. But Clemency, her more staid sister, has never featured on the US list. With word and virtue names on trend right now, this could make for an appealing alternative to popular picks like Grace, Harmony and Serenity.
Enid: Even a decade ago, today’s clunky-cool vintage picks — like Margot and Mabel, Frida and Florence, Opal and Zelda — seemed like unlikely candidates for revival. Now, all are Top 1000 names — some even Top 500! And there’s certainly something cute and characterful about Enid which has seen it already starting to get some attention across the pond…
Eugenie: Eugene is still hanging on in the Top 1000 for boys, partly thanks to cool retro nickname Gene, which has been chosen by several high-profile parents of late. But this rare French feminine form — famously borne by a British princess — was given to just six baby girls last year.
Ida: The most popular name on this list, Ida feels like a natural successor to fashionable vowel-rich mini names like Ava, Ada, Isla and Ivy. It’s already wildly popular in Germany and Scandinavia, where it’s pronounced “EE-dah”. Hollywood actress, filmmaker and feminist icon Ida Lupino is a very noteworthy namesake.
Lavender: Blending several stylish categories — from nature names, to storybook names, to names with that energetic -er ending — lovely Lavender is one of those options that feels like it should be much more popular than it is. But with only 101 births last year, this fragrant floral pick is still as fresh as ever.
Millicent: Sassy nickname Millie is trending in a big way, rising from just below the Top 1000 to just below the Top 300 names for girls over the past decade. But if you’re looking for a long form beyond the usual Amelia, Emily or Camila, sweet and strong Millicent makes for a delightfully distinctive choice.
Myrtle: Vintage botanical names are blooming right now: think Lily and Ivy, Hazel and Violet, Rose and Iris. But here’s an old-fashioned floral option you might not have considered. Myrtle was a Top 50 choice until the 1910s, and is just beginning to feel fresh again.
Peggy: This gutsy retro nickname made a surprise return to the Top 500 girls’ names in England & Wales last year, no doubt spurred on by two feisty fictional namesakes of recent years: Mad Men’s Peggy Olson, and Agent Peggy Carter of Marvel fame.
Prudence: Cute nicknames aside (how adorable is baby Prue?!), with Alice and Beatrice trending, and Florence and Constance also on the rise, could Prudence be the next soft yet substantial vintage girl name to stage a modest comeback?
Theda: In just the last five years, Thea has leapt from well outside the Top 1000 to inside the Top 300 girl names in the US. But add a single letter and you get the lovely, lively Theda. Originally a short form of Theodora or Theodosia, it has a long tradition of use as a name in its own right, yet has never ranked above the #300 mark.
Sybil: Downton Abbey has certainly given a boost to this underused vintage gem, with its intriguing meaning of “prophetess”. It’s a streamlined, sophisticated choice with a rich mythological backstory, and Sybbie or Billie would make for super cute short forms!
Winifred: Nameberry favorite Winifred joins several other d-ending choices (Astrid, Ingrid, Marigold and Isolde) in the Top 300 most searched girls’ names on this site. Could we be on the verge of a pushback against the popular uber-feminine sounds of recent years? Either way, fabulous retro nicknames Winnie, Freddie and Freda make Winifred a winner in our books.
Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from pregnancy and birth to unique baby names from fiction and fantasy. As Nameberry’s head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England‘s smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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on October 23rd, 2019 at 8:25 am
Millicent makes me think of a combination of millipede and maleficent. No thanks! I love Aphra, however (it’s also the surname of a badass archaeologist in Star Wars comics, which is a cool namesake IMO), and Lavender would make a nice middle.
on October 23rd, 2019 at 8:48 am
I once had a cat called Myrtle. She lived to be 20 years old.
on October 23rd, 2019 at 11:31 am
I know two baby Millicents, and both go by Millie, which is adorable. Of course, Melisande is an interesting option.
Could Mildred, Berta, and Beryl be far behind? Berta, given its Scandinavian pronunciation like Ida, can lead to retro nickname Bertie, and Beryl Markham is a feminist icon. Mildred is a family name and a another vintage way to get to Millie.
Love Winifred (Winifred Holtby a great English author) and Enid (another author, Enid Bagnold).
on October 23rd, 2019 at 3:50 pm
I always think Lavender is so sweet… until I think of the nickname Lavvy… which sounds nice, BUT.
on October 23rd, 2019 at 3:56 pm
I absolutely 100% adore the name Theda! I’ve seen it here and there on this site and think it’s so cute. I was really hoping to see the name Ernestine on this list. I knew a woman in college with the name and she worked at the campus preschool. Hearing the littles who couldn’t pronounce their r’s say Ernestine in their tiny voices was the sweetest thing. It really softened the name to me and made it very endearing.
Emma Waterhouse Said
on October 24th, 2019 at 2:57 pm
@DawnitaSunshine Ernestine is a great shout! There were so many underappreciated -ine names I could have added here, such a cool sound.
on October 25th, 2019 at 3:52 pm
I’ve adored Blythe for ages now and, though I’m not sure I’d use it, I’ve long loved Myrtle because it makes me think of the song Mairi’s Wedding. Enid, Winifred and Lavender are also strong favourites!
on October 25th, 2019 at 4:35 pm
I like Lavender and Sybil and could get on board with Theda and Winifred.
on October 25th, 2019 at 5:00 pm
I love Enid, Winifred, Prudence, Millicent, Ida, and Albertine.
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