Category: old-fashioned boys’ names

The Lost Names of 1913

It’s a fallacy that, in the sweet old days, baby names were conventional and “normal” — children were named Mary and John or, at the outer fringes of adventurism, Ethel and Irving.

The truth is that a century ago there were scores of invented names, names with kreeative spellings, surnames and words turned first names, gender crossovers, and trendy choices that were there today and gone — very very gone — tomorrow.

The Top 1000 list of 1913 — go here to find it — is full of such unconventional baby names: Girls named Joseph and boys (lots of ’em) named Mary, boys named Prince and girls named Queen.

Among the most popular names are choices rarely heard today — Edna and Gladys, Elmer and Floyd — along with rising stars of the baby name world such as Ruby and Hazel, Oscar and Everett.

And then down toward the bottom of the Top 1000, below such oddities to our ears as Milburn and Mafalda, are names that seem eminently “normal,” even cool, in the modern world like Lilah and Reid, Lexie and Reese.

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How About Harvey? What About Walter?

The Nameberry Question of the Week: Would you name your baby boy Harvey or Stanley or any of the other up-and-coming oldies appearing on the recently released British pop list?

Is this another case where the Yanks will follow the Brits in baby-naming trends and revive such previously verboten Grandpa names as Harvey, Arthur, Leon, Walter and Stanley— all once considered distinguished in their day?  Or similar in style name like  Gilbert, Murray, Ralph, Howard or Ernest?

Which, if any, of the names of this genre would you consider?

Would you choose it only to honor a relative with that name?  And/or only as a middle name?

If you did use one, would you consider it cutting-edge or pleasingly retro or perenially stylish?

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Boys’ Names: A New Generation

While girls’ names are arguably more interesting – there are more of them, with more variations, and they move up and down the popularity ladder more nimbly – boys’ names are where the real baby-naming story lies today.

Parents are virtually reinventing the genre, abandoning traditional masculine names that have ruled for centuries in favor of a new brand of names for boys.  These might be ancient names resurrected from the Bible or mythology, established surnames reconstituted as firsts, ethnic choices newly imported to our shores, or – most frequently – names invented to suit the current style.

All these different types of names yield the same result: They identify a new type of boy.  He’s decidedly masculine, yet not conventionally so.  He’s strong, yet individualistic; he nods to tradition, but doesn’t necessarily follow it.

Our sons, parents seem to be saying via these new boys’ names, are neither sissified nor the same old Dicks and Johns to be shoehorned into some outmoded macho mold.  These names herald a quiet revolution in the way parents view their little boys and, by extension, in the way they’ll raise them.

Are we putting too much stock in the power of names to affect a change in something as fundamental as gender roles?  Actually, we think it’s the other way around: The vision of gender is changing, for boys as well as girls, and the new boys’ names reflect that.

This week, we’ll look at some of the new masculine choices moving up the popularity list.  The first group are the old names made new again.












Jadon (though it’s used less often in this original form than as the nouveau Jaden, Jayden et al)
















Tomorrow: Surname names, real and synthetic, for the new brand of boy.

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