What's a Classic Name?

What's a Classic Name?

What makes a name classic?

Anyone who has done a quick search for names has likely come across a variety of lists of "classic names". While some names, such as John, Michael, and Mary, make consistent appearances on these lists, the other names are more variable.

So what is a classic name? Classic names may be defined as names with ancient roots, dating back centuries or even millennia. These may include Florence and Susannah, Abram and Augustus.

Others may define classics to be names that have been used consistently over a long period of time, limiting the list to names such as Anna and Elizabeth, William and Joseph. While this definition seems to do the trick at first glance, this eliminates staples such as Ethan, Oliver, Isabella, and Abigail from the lineup.

To settle any discrepancies, the Nameberry team quantified the definition, settling on two categories of classic names: Deep Classics and Modern Classics.

Deep Classic Names

Deep Classic names are defined as those that have been consistently used — staying within the US Top 500 — since 1900. Importantly, the Deep Classics have fluctuated less than 100 spots in popularity since the turn of the millennium.

Including the more obvious staples such as Benjamin and David, Emily and Grace, these traditional names reign supreme at the top of the charts not just in recent years, but consistently since name data has been recorded.

If you are looking for a truly timeless name that is not tied to any specific generation and will never feel dated, look no further. Here is the official list of the Deep Classics:

Deep Classic Girl Names

Deep Classic Boy Names

Modern Classic Names

While the Deep Classic Names are indisputably classic by nearly any standard, there is a new era of classic names upon us: The Modern Classic Names.

These traditional names have been staples of this generation, consistently in the Top 500 since the year 2000, and moving neither up nor down more than 100 spots in the last two decades.

The name classics of the modern era include more predictable names like Jackson and Ryan, Chloe and Madelyn, but also some wildcard picks that may surprise you. Zane, Kyler, Aaliyah, and Summer, for example, have been steady in their high popularity standings for long enough to qualify as a Modern Classic.

See the full list of Modern Classic Names here:

Modern Classic Girl Names

Modern Classic Boy Names

Did any names surprise you? How do you personally define a classic name? Share your thoughts on our forum discussion here.

About the Author

Brynn McKeon

Brynn McKeon

Brynn McKeon joined the Nameberry team in August of 2022 as an editor, and has written about topics such as the Ultimate Guide to Goddess Names and Redefining Classic Names. As Head Moderator, she also oversees our active Nameberry forums community. Brynn also writes the daily Name of the Day newsletter.

Outside of Nameberry, Brynn lives in New York State with her dog Raven, where she is working towards her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy. You can reach her at brynn@nameberry.com