Old Man Names Get a New Lease of Life
Old man names are the new old lady names.
They’re the next frontier of vintage baby names, that is. Old-fashioned girl names – from sweet Alice and Violet to sparky Beatrix and Zelda – have felt almost unilaterally cool for several years now.
But old man names have traditionally found it harder to break back into favor. A few, like Sydney and Aubrey, have seen a surprise early revival for girls over the past two decades. Others, like Theodore, Ezra and Jasper, now rank higher than they did at their historical peak.
But we think now’s the time to take a fresh look at the full range of old man names out there. We’ve split them into three tiers, depending on where you want to shoot for on the cool-clunky continuum.
Read on for our pick of the 20+ best in each category!
Cool Old Man Names
These are the early adopted grandpa names, already back in fashion and now paving the way for their crustier counterparts.
Although they still retain an air of old-school cool, these choices are rapidly losing their “old man” credentials. We now picture cute little kindergarteners when we hear these names, and you’ve probably met at least one or two of them!
Next Wave Old Man Names
These are our top contenders for next vintage comeback kid. They still feel old-fashioned, or even a little fusty – but charmingly so.
Several of these names are already popular elsewhere in the English-speaking world. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent choice of Wilfred is a Top 150 pick, joining other old man names like Reggie, Albert, Stanley, Ralph and Chester near the top of the popularity charts.
Edgy Old Man Names
These are the boldest of the grandpa names: the choices that still make a strong “old man” style statement.
Not that they’re unusable for a baby boy born in the 2020s – in fact, we’ve deliberately chosen ones we think work – but they’re not for everyone.
Clunky-cool or just plain clunky? Your call.
Which of these categories best fits your old man name style? What are your favorite grandpa names for babies? Tell us below!
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on October 25th, 2011 at 12:29 am
I love old/vintage names 🙂 People always say that they can’t see these names on young children, but they will only be children for a short time. On the flip side, I cannot imagine a nursing home full Aidan’s and Kayleigh’s. So I think almost all vintage-old man names are fair game 🙂
on October 25th, 2011 at 12:47 am
I don’t see Grover! My son’s middle name is Grover. Most of our family couldn’t believe we would give our baby such a crusty old man name. lol We love it though! I love Mortimer too!
on October 25th, 2011 at 7:57 am
Nooooo! Perry on a girl, please, no!
I love Arthur, Barney (forget the purple dinosaur, think Rubble!), Eugene (Gene is cool!), Harvey!, Harold (adore Hal!) Gordon (I’ve liked Gordon since I was a kid watching Sesame Street. He was a solid grown up figure for me) and Julius (no Jules on a girl, it’s the logical nn for Julius & Julian!)
And I know 3 girls that go by Mel: short for Melanie. If there was a girlier nn choice for Melanie, I might like it better.
on October 25th, 2011 at 8:49 am
These are some of my favorite names. Classics that aren’t all that overused.
I’m with Caty Beth, I ADORE Grover. Also love Theodore, Gilbert, Lewis, Frederick, Calvin and Arthur.
I’m not so sure about using old man names for girls though….
on October 25th, 2011 at 9:05 am
Oh so many of my favorites. I don’t have any children yet but I’m sure I will get some crazy reactions from my family when I begin discussing names. I even like those girl suggestions, especially Wallace/Wallis and Claude. I am SWOONING over Humphrey but I just don’t think it would be fair to name a child that these days 🙁
Abraham or Abe
on October 25th, 2011 at 10:08 am
Love! Theodore, Elliot, Monroe (my husbands mn pick of which he is so very proud), Arthur. So many great names, but those 4 are names I hope to still use one day!
on October 25th, 2011 at 10:15 am
I like these. Felix, Levi, Leo, Oscar and Silas are probably the only ones I would consider, though.
on October 25th, 2011 at 10:39 am
I think you’re absolutely right about the time factor. (Although, I have always loved Laurence!)
I have lamented many times about how I wish that Arthur and Edmund (my “future sons’ names”) won’t get too popular, but maybe I should just give up. At least they won’t be made fun of?
on October 25th, 2011 at 11:12 am
I can not imagine Harvey ever crossing over here and being popular.
I’m a fan of most of these names, Arthur and Roy, are on my lists.
I do hope a lot of the baby boomer names stay dormant for a while, especially Richard. I’ve never cared for that name. The sound is too hard and the nicknames aren’t the greatest, Dick and Rick.
on October 25th, 2011 at 11:19 am
While I would love to honor a future son by naming him after my grandfather, Grandpa was saddled with 2 old man names: Melvin Elton. He made everyone swear that we would never name a child after him. So, yes, some names are too crusty, even on an old man it seems.
on October 25th, 2011 at 11:23 am
Haha, LadyCap. I love it when Grandpa or Grandma forbids the family to use their names — I guess that’s one way to tell that a name really truly does not play out well in real life. I have to say that in the case of Melvin and Elton, I think Grandpa was right.
on October 25th, 2011 at 12:35 pm
Hooray for Walter!
on October 25th, 2011 at 12:42 pm
I am imagining some hard-up (or I guess they would say “on-trend”) grad student presenting a paper at the MLA on the emasculation of America through appellation appropriation.
on October 25th, 2011 at 12:51 pm
Here are two family names–I wonder which list they fall into? “Irving” (great meaning, popular origin, but name seems trapped in “crusty” to me); “Marvin” (crusty or cool?); and “Jerome” (again, I love the scholarly link & meaning, but this name seems to be moving toward “crusty”–if not crusty already).
on October 25th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
I agree – Here in the UK I know lots little boys named Harvey and Stanley, as well as Archie, and LOADS of Alfies. I could never see any of these becoming even vaguely popular over in the US.
The 2008 Top 10 most popular names for boys practically all count as Old Man names:
And in the rest of the top 100, there is also:
I also know of a Dexter, 2 Lyles, a Wilbur, 3 Vincents, 2 Reubens, 5 Albies, a Billy, 2 Louie/Louiss, 6 Charless, an Arthur and an Edmund.
on October 25th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
If this baby were a boy he would have been named Percival Edmund Cian nn Percy. Instead she will be Agatha.
I adore a lot of these names:
Henry (too popular)
Eliott (too popular)
I think Rueben would be hideous on a girl.
on October 25th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
I adore Walter! I actually know a girl named Perrie, and although it does suit her it’s definitely a little bit out-there for me on a girl. I know a male Perry too, and it definitely seems more masculine than feminine to me.
on October 25th, 2011 at 4:22 pm
Not gonna lie – I think Humphrey is the coolest! It’s got a nice meaning, too. But, it’s probably best in the middle name spot. Just to be safe… 🙂
on October 25th, 2011 at 4:26 pm
i guess i’m all about the old man names, cause i love many of these- but i also didn’t think of leo or max or nathan or elliott as old manish at all! i was trying to convince my husband that sidney was so great for a boy! sid as a nn is so cute/tough and sidney has a seriousness to it. oh why is it so feminized now? but i guess it doesn’t matter cause i’m having a girl. and i’m not a fan of ‘old lady’ names that are so popular on girls lately ex. rose, violet, sophia, ella, emma. of course with some exceptions.
on October 25th, 2011 at 5:47 pm
First, I totally aggree w/ dillonsfon01. Can NOT see Aiden Kyleigh, and all the rest of them in a nursing home.
I LOVE alot of these names:
Edmund and Victor especially. I’m not sure why Victor is on the bottom tier. I may be bisedthough. I am currently writing a novel and I named a three year old Victor. I don’t tlike most of these on girls AT ALL!
on October 25th, 2011 at 6:29 pm
Every now and then I will read something on this site that will make me utterly question the “expertise” of its founders:
Murray or Laurence or Reuban as “cute” on a girl? But somehow Melvin is too crusty for a boy? Sorry, Pam, but I just absolutely can’t get my head around THAT logic!
If we have a boy his middle name will be Melville, after my father’s middle. Sort of the ultimate nerd name but when I hear it I think warm thoughts of family and also hear the “frenchness” of it (not that its french translation helps to redeem the name any).
I definitely don’t consider Ethan an old man’s name b/c I first heard it on young boys. Where I grew up it isn’t a traditional name for the older generation of men however Calvin absolutely was and so that is a name that is hopelessly crusty and fuddyduddy to me although I know people are re-embracing it.
Forced to choose a name for a son from this list I would clearly and happily choose Silas. I love that name (and Silas Melville kinda works). All the other names? Definitely not my style.
on October 25th, 2011 at 6:43 pm
Moxielove, we welcome different viewpoints, but not rudeness, and that comment crosses the line. This post is all about how interpretation of these names is up for grabs, so one person’s crusty is another person’s cool, and family meaning trumps all. I think that’s clear here and throughout the site.
on October 25th, 2011 at 6:53 pm
About Laurence: That name is actually a “legit” girl’s name in French (indeed you’ll see it up in the rankings in some francophone areas). On the other hand, to be fair if we say Laurence is okay for a girl than Camille or Dominique (often considered too feminine to English-speaking ears) should be okay for boys as well.
on October 25th, 2011 at 8:53 pm
I think these “crusty” names are actually quite cool:
Abraham (Abe and Bram are very cool)
Floyd (Pink Floyd)
Gordon (so similar to Jordan)
Harvey (maybe it’s because I’m younger but Harvey is very edgy to me)
Julius (I know a guy who really pulls this off)
Marshall (ditto Julius – could go by Mars)
Monroe (this isn’t girly to me at all)
Otis (if Ezra, Lionel, and Jasper can be cool, why not Otis?)
Otto (I’ve always associated this with the character from Rocket Power)
Percy (Percy Jackson)
Sidney (ditto Julius and Marshall – nn Sid is very cool)
I think that Roscoe and Grover belong somewhere on this list too.
So many of these are either on my list or guilty pleasures. I’ve used the “crusty” names Floyd, Frank, Harvey, Otis, and Wilbur on characters in my writing. My Wilbur goes by his nickname Wilbie.
on October 25th, 2011 at 8:57 pm
Homer, George, Hiram, and Jesse are a few more I think should be on here.
on October 26th, 2011 at 5:18 am
My sincere apologies. I am clearly a huge fan of the site and meant it as an affectionate teasing that I disagreed. Clearly the tone I heard in my head didn’t translate to the page. Rereading I see that by mentioning your name I made it personal and the use of quotes made it sacrastic.
There was a whole thread dedicated to berries listing names where they completely disagreed with the characterization given in the nameberry definitions. I meant my comment in that vein, and apologize that it came across mean-spirited to you.
on October 26th, 2011 at 6:20 am
Thanks for that, Moxielove. I appreciate it. I always like reading your comments and enjoy chewing over your opinions, even (and sometimes especially) when they’re different from mine. I’m glad to hear you feel the same way. You’re a valuable part of nameberry and I’m happy we’re back on solid ground.
on October 26th, 2011 at 11:07 am
I can’t stand most old man names, they seem so uncool to me. Harold, Alfred, Herman, Edmund, Horace, Gordon, and Arthur I find kinda hideous actually. But not nearly as much as I dislike popular names that are never out of usage like John, Robert, Richard, Charles, Michael, Matthew, James, William, Christopher, Jonathan, Nathaniel, Jacob, Daniel, I wish they would just bugg off to oblivion.
Some of them do have some modern appeal, like Max, Levi, Felix, Ralph, Sidney and Harvey I feel.
Also, the “old man” names suggestions for girls, is just wrong. You don’t see people suggesting Ruth, Margaret, Ada and Gladys for boys, so let’s just cut the insanity.
Overall, I just wish parents would search for newer names that were never popular in the first place, to give the boys list a bit more variety than the usual bunch of names at the top, and the same ones coming back into style.
on October 26th, 2011 at 6:20 pm
I think there’s hope yet for Monroe as a boy’s name, and I think Gordon, Otis, and Otto might still have some life in them. I’d also classify Orson as an Old Man Name on trend.
I think that, in general as more old-fashioned female names find use, male names will inevitably follow.
on April 4th, 2012 at 11:16 pm
INSULTS!! 🙁 My ferret was nearly named Marshall. I LOVE THAT NAME!!
on April 25th, 2012 at 10:07 am
There’s a baby Cliff at my son’s daycare, a friend named her toddler Elliot, and I know little boys named Isaac (“Ike”) and Walter (“Walt”). I met a baby named Clyde, which I think would fit in with this group well. I grew up with a Calvin and an Elliot, so they doesn’t feel old-man to me.
on July 3rd, 2012 at 7:53 am
I love Henry, Arthur, Frederick, Louis and Alfred.
on May 27th, 2020 at 10:34 pm
I have always loved vintage names, as many of them are family names:
Louis, Waldo, Alfred, Bertram, Irving, George.
I also like Albert, Humphrey, Harvey, Wilfred, Ira, and Clare (common French Canadian older generation name).
I had a dear friend named Chet (Chester) and really love that name.
on May 28th, 2020 at 8:56 am
My favorites are Byron, Ellis, Everett, Silas, Wesley and Roderick! And it may be more popular for girls right now, but I also love Sidney since it’s a family name.
22 'old man' baby names to add to your list right now | Tell Me Baby Said
on June 22nd, 2020 at 11:33 pm
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