Category: old-fashioned names

In the search for appealing vintage girls’ names, parents have dusted off a number of charming old-fashioned treasures that have found their way to the top of the list—from Ava to Sophia to Olivia to Isabella. But there’s an ample supply of other, less obvious examples up for reevaluation, and here are twelve of the best.

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Do you love vintage names but want to move beyond the usual classics and Biblical choices?  We looked at the popularity lists of 1910 to uncover hundreds of vintage boys’ names that are no longer in use — but could be revived.

It’s odd that there seem to be more terminally-antiquated boys’ names from 1910 than girls’ names.  After all, girls’ names change more quickly and dramatically than do boys’, which tend to hinge more on tradition and less on fashion.

Yet beyond the Johns and Williams that have always predominated for boys (and still do today), there are dozens, even  hundreds of names that filled the Top 1000 list a hundred years ago and now are lost to time.

They include hero names, surname-names, nickname-names, androgynous names, and even regular old first names that few people seem to use any more.

Sure, some parents who love vintage names might revive Chester or Homer or Julius or Oswald.  But many of these popular names for boys in 1910 are rarely heard today

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Do you want a vintage name for your daughter but are hoping to uncover a hidden treasure from the past?  We combed the popularity lists in search of cool vintage names you may not have heard before.

We’ve written a lot about the names of 1910 that are coming back, thanks to the Hundred Year Rule: Alice and Florence, Lillian and Hazel and Ruby.

But what about the names in the Top 1000 of 1910 that are virtually unknown now? A hundred years ago, Helen was the number 2 name for girls, right behind Mary. Mildred was number 8, Ethel number 13, and the dubious Gladys hot on her heels at 15. You don’t meet many Ethels and Gladyses (Gladysi?) anymore outside the nursing home.

And I’ve never heard of a Ceola, Ozella, or Exie, yet those names and dozens of others now lost were in the 1910 Top 1000.

Several months ago we looked at the Lost Names of 1880, and were surprised by how many there were. We declare ourselves surprised anew by how many lost names we’ve located on the 1910 roster that are different from those we listed in the 1880 story.

The first group are not lost, exactly, as they’re still heard from time to time. A few — Blanche, Lula, Viola — may even make a comeback. But most of these names, popular in 1910, have been in mothballs for decades now and may never make it out.

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Golden Girl Names

When The Golden Girls hit the small screen in 1985, the names of its leading ladies—Rose, Dorothy and Blanche—were late middle aged, and Mama Sophia was old enough to have already been in and out of  the Shady Pines Nursing Home.  That was 25 years ago, a period of major change in the name world.  Sophia is now the seventh most popular baby name (and #1 in some places), Rose is America‘s favorite middle name, and Dorothy is one of the belles of the nameberry name boards.

Not only that: other Golden Girl names, names that were virtually written off just a couple of years ago, are back in play.  Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, for example, named one of their twin daughters Marion, Julia Roberts chose Hazel for hers and Molly Ringwald picked Adele.  And nameberryites are cool with similar period names like Clara and Cora, Vivian and Vera.

Here are some other alternative names that might have been used for the Golden Girls ladies—are any of them ready to join Rose and Sophia?







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Family Names: Naming from the Heart

Today’s guest blogger, Ilya Welfeld, describes her journey towards the perfect–and inevitable –name for her daughter.

Is it wrong to admit that I sometimes want another child just to name it?  That at times, that desire is so powerful as to supersede memories of chafed breasts, sleepless nausea and the exhausting reality of carefully raising a precious child?

The awe-inspiring and all creative opportunity to put a name to a life has seduced me like a secret lover – a passion you cannot acknowledge despite the obsessive hold it has upon your every thought.   After each child, I have wondered… will I ever name again?

When pregnant, I pour over books, bookmark websites, read messages boards, post and poll as I consider what to call each child.  I can’t resist the urge to utter new names, explore meanings and sounds from languages and family lore. The names of our children have all been inspired by a relative who has passed away. This, a Jewish tradition, not only adds beautiful meaning to the act of naming, but honestly helps narrow the focus. I can’t imagine having A-Z available to me.

When I became pregnant with our daughter, our third child, my naming obsession went into over-drive. My husband begrudgingly played a game night after night just before we closed our eyes. I would ask – “If you had to pick a name right now- what would it be?” Sometimes he managed a measure of enthusiasm – and names like “Jana” or “Samara” emerged. Other times, befuddled by my obsession, he would grunt “Brunhilda” and flip his head around to face the other wall while I lay frustrated that he didn’t share my passion for finding the perfect name.

But all the while, we knew there was one name to reckon with, a name that might make moot all ten thousand entries in baby name books.

My grandmother was a magical person, a warm, loving beacon to those around her.  We called her “Grandma” – a word that meant love and comfort, chicken soup, chocolate ice cream, ivory soap and freshly swept carpets.   But of course, we were not going to name a little girl “Grandma.”  My grandmother had a given name.  As a matter of fact, it was one of the most popular names of the century.  The previous century, that is…. Her name was Dorothy.

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