Old Names That Sound New: Ione, Nova and Archer

Old Names That Sound New: Ione, Nova and Archer

by Angela Mastrodonato , Upswing Baby Names

Some of my favorite names are those that come across as modern but end up having a big past. These names hide their age well, giving them versatility.

Simply put, these are old names that sound new. If you are torn between the imaginative and the established, these names could be for you.


Delphi – An alluring name dating back to ancient Greece, and also a modern Greek town. Has contemporary flair from the i-ending and seems familiar due to its similarity to Daphne.

Hope – dates back to the Puritans. Its timeless meaning and minimalist one-syllable style continues to appeal to parents from all walks of life.

Ione – Here’s a name with trendy style that, amazingly, isn’t trendy at all (based on modern usage). A stylish Greek name that shares a meaning with modern favorite Violet, has the distinction of only four letters but three syllables, and hasn’t seen the US top 1000 since the ‘40s.

Lanie – is a variation of Lainie, the diminutive for Elaine. In the late 19th century Lanie was at the very bottom of the US top 1000. With its similarity to modern vintage favorites Lily, Lucy and Lacy, it clearly fits in, yet maintains a low profile.

Marina – A nautically inspired choice that boasts Shakespearean clout, and hits that “fitting-in without blending-in” sweet spot.

Nova – has the astrological appeal similar to the up-and-coming Luna, and the va-ending like super-hit Ava. It’s no wonder Nova has come back in style, but the name is no modern discovery, it was also in the top 1000 from 1885-1938.

Zara – was first spotted back in the 17th century as an African Queen in William Congreve’s The Mourning Bride, but hasn’t been widely used until the late 20th century, possibly inspired by Princess Anne who choose the name for her daughter in 1981.


Archer – is the ultimate break-out name that is growing in birth numbers and heard all over the baby name world. But this occupational surname was also used on a few boys in the late 19th century, and possibly before then.

Elihu – Similar names such as Eli, Elias and Elijah are on the rise, but Elihu remains under the radar. This now obscure Biblical name appears on a few notable historic figures from the 18th and early 19th century, among them a former U.S. Secretary of State.

Fletcher – is familiar and has not left the US top 1000 ranks too many times since 1880, the earliest year US name rankings are available.

Jasper – appears as one of the Three Wise Men in the Bible, was a passenger on the Mayflower, and most recently appeared in the popular Twilight Series. The name has been rediscovered by fashionable parents in a big way.

Upton – peaked in 1881 but its daring first initial (U), and familiar n-ending give it revival potential.

Weston – This name’s growing numbers is no surprise considering that it’s a surname and has the popular n-ending. What may be surprising is that Weston appeared on a few newborn boys as early as the 19th century, and possibly before then.

York – This place name for a city in northern England has a succinct, rugged sound that gives it modern potential. The name only hit the US popularity chart once, back in 1881.

There’s something fascinating about a name with history and contemporary style. Most of these names are stylish, yet pragmatic.

Except for Elihu. That one isn’t pragmatic at all. But its history, style and obscurity earned it a spot on the list. If you are intrigued by Elihu, you can read Upswing Baby Names Spotlight on Elihu.

About the Author



Angela Mastrodonato created Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.