Old People Names: Predicting the Next Wave
Old people names are those edgy old-fashioned choices that make a real style statement.
Popular vintage baby names like Violet and Ezra certainly don’t make the cut, and nor do retro rising stars like Winnie and Zelda, Franklin and Otis.
No – to truly qualify, a name needs to be languishing much further down the popularity charts, all but forgotten by recent generations of baby namers.
Like the perfect vintage sweater, the coolest old people names retain the spark and vibrancy that appealed to parents all those decades ago, but feel compatible enough with modern tastes that they stand out for all the right reasons.
Below are 14 under-the-radar choices we think could – or should – be in the next wave of vintage revivals. We’ve limited the field to those currently given to fewer than 50 babies per year in the US, so you can be sure your vintage find is (almost) unique.
If these names are right up your style street, browse our full list of Old People Names here.
Next Wave Old Lady Names
Jazz baby names are trending in a big way, and the name of the great Alberta Hunter has a seriously clunky-cool appeal. If the likes of Alba and Alma feel too trendy, this under-the-radar geographical option is worth considering. Or, take it to the next level: Albertine.
Strong feminist namesakes have boosted other girl names in recent years, from Ada (Lovelace) to Maya (Angelou) to Emmeline (Pankhurst). The name of the first professional female writer in English, Aphra Behn, could appeal to literature-loving parents.
Clarice combines the clear sound of popular choices like Claire and Clara with the soft-but-sturdy ending of fashionable vintage girl names like Alice, Grace and Beatrice. British children’s book heroine Clarice Bean lends it a spunky storybook charm.
Until recently considered terminally outdated, the -da ending is back for girls’ names! Think Ada, Matilda, Vada and Zelda. Hilda is the intrepid blue-haired heroine of a hit new Netflix kids’ show, based on a popular graphic novel series of the same name.
Maude and her even sparer sister Maud already make regular appearances in birth announcements from the upper-crusty British broadsheet The Telegraph. Simple, strong, no-frills but unmistakably feminine, this ancient queen’s name possesses regal poise.
Already making a comeback among the chic Parisian set, Thelma is a clunky literary coinage whose charm you either get… or you don’t. Cult classic film Thelma and Louise lends the name a feisty edge. Other old-school Th- names on our watch list: Thora, Theda and Thirza.
Retro nicknames are going to be big, and Trudy is one of the sweetest and most surprising of the bunch. Parent name Gertrude still feels too harsh even for the most hipster of namers, but Trudy treads the line between clunky and cute with midcentury flair!
See more Old Lady Names here.
Next Wave Old Man Names
The Brits embraced Barnaby’s bouncy appeal several decades ago – it peaked there at #199 in 2014 and remains steadily popular today. But in the US, this Dickensian pick has never been given to more than 20 baby boys per year.
Suave Claude has all the strength and brevity of smart surname names like Clark and Reid, with a dash of European panache.
One of the most storied of the vintage nicknames for boys, Hal is widely used in literary criticism to refer to Shakespeare’s portrayal of the young Henry V, played by Timothée Chalamet in the recent Netflix film The King. Benedict Cumberbatch chose the name for his second son, brother to Kit and Finn – two more on-trend micro names.
Laurie peaked for girls in the sixties, but has since sunk back out of sight and is now starting to feel fresh again for boys. Actors Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead chose it for their son, born last month, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson used the Lawrie spelling for his son Wilfred’s middle name last year. Theodore “Laurie” Laurence from Little Women lends the name a sensitive literary charm.
Weighty ancient boy names like Augustus, Cassius and Valentine are back – as is Perseus, thanks to the popular Percy Jackson series. Percival is an elaborate antique name from Arthurian mythology which could get you to old-school cool nickname Percy.
With the recently announced Gossip Girl reboot coming up, we predict that names from the series – past and present – will get more time in the spotlight. Rufus is a rugged yet refined choice, in the Top 300 in the UK and just outside the Top 200 on Nameberry. Another rugged Ru- starting option poised for a comeback: Rupert.
Hear us out! Arlo, Hugo, Leo, Milo, Otto and Theo are all hot. And the likes of Cosmo, Ivo, Jago, Ludo and Viggo are also starting crop up in cutting-edge birth announcements. Maybe “Where’s Waldo?” is a question you’ll be hearing on the playground soon...
Browse more Old Man Names here.