TV Baby Names: Granny names rejuvenated– Sophie, Sophia and Violet

If you don’t have a beloved Gran of your own to name your baby after, how about looking for some outside inspiration from a pop culture Nana?  Here’s a list of TV grandmothers, from the maternal to the monstrous (looking at you, Livia Soprano), the chic to the crotchety, whose names were seen as elderly at the time of their shows’ creation—from the 1950’s to the present—but which have become totally baby friendly today.

Here, the Nameberry picks of the 20 best Grandma TV baby names:

Adele   True Blood

Thanks in large part to the single-named British singer, Adele popped into the Top 1000 last year at Number 627 and we expect to see it ranking considerably higher on the new list to be released next month.  Molly Ringwald used it for her daughter in 2009.

Bea  That ‘70s Show; Bee  The Andy Griffith Show

Bea and Bee have come a long way from Opie’s Aunt Bee (who was actually a surrogate Grandma, but let’s not get technical), because of the newfound popularity of Beatrice and Beatrix

Celia/CeCe  Gossip Girl

CeCe, the name of Serena’s conservative grandmother on Gossip Girl, has already appeared as a baby on The Office—though in that case her full name was Cecilia.

Daisy (MayBeverly Hillbillies

Daisy—especially when followed by Mae/May— has long since lost its former L’il Abner/Hillbillies image,  and has been a particular celeb fave for a couple of decades now.

Edith  All in the Family

Sitting alongside husband Archie at the piano, the ditzy Edith, reminiscing about the days Glenn Miller played, was grandmother to daughter Gloria’s son Joey.  Nowadays Edith, her dignity and elegance restored, is seen as much more Wharton than Bunker.

Estelle  Family Matters

Following Stella and other names of the ella/elle persuasion, Estelle has become one of the fastest rising names on Nameberry.

Esther  The Waltons

Long out of fashion, the classic Old Testament Esther is now back on the ascent, as is also the case of Ruth (Six Feet Under).

EudoraThe Addams Family

Euphonious Eudora has a Greek mythological heritage, and has in recent times made appearances in films like The Princess and the Frog.  Not to be confused with Endora, the witchy grandparent of Tabitha on Bewitched.

Evelyn  Dawson’s Creek, Two and a Half Men

A common TV character name for women of a certain age, Evelyn is currently on a winning streak: in 2009, Evelyn jumped fifteen places to reach the Top 40 for the first time since 1939–and last year leaped even further to Number 24.

Hattie  Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Hattie’s  back in the nickname name game, especially since being chosen by Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott for their third child.

Ida  Malcolm in the Middle

We’ve gone from Eva to Ava to Ada—could Ida be the logical next step in this progression?

Livia  The Sopranos

More substantial than Liv, less trendy than Olivia, Livia is a completely independent name that dates back to ancient Rome.

Lucille  Arrested Development

Lucille is one of the latest of the Lucy-related names to be making a comeback;  it was the choice of hip couple Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson for their second daughter.

Maxine  Judging Amy 

The whole extended Max family is everywhere these days, from Max itself to Maxfield to Maxwell to Maximillian—so can Maxine be far behind?  Musician Nick Hexum named his daughter Maxine Vita in 2011.

OliviaThe Jeffersons.

Could cranky old Mother Jefferson have ever imagined that there would be 17,000 babies given her name in 2011?

PearlThe Flintstones

Pearl Pebbles Slaghoople was the animated prehistoric grandma of Pebbles (her other grandmother being Edna Flintstone)—who was played in the 1994 live action film version by Elizabeth TaylorPearl is another revival story jump-started by Maya Rudolph, in 2005.

Penelope  Charmed

This classic Greek name is suddenly hot, thanks to its use by Tina Fey and then Kourtney Kardashian and the Taylor Hansons for their baby daughters.

Sophia  The Golden Girls

The current Number 1 name in the US was still seen as a plausible character name for a befuddled senior immigrant from Sicily when The Golden Girls launched in 1985.

Sophie  The OC

The third most popular name in England and Wales is moving on up in this country as well, though still nowhere near our top-rated Sophia.

Violet, Downton Abbey

The name of the acerbic Granny of the Crawley girls, dressed in pale mauve silks and satin, is one of the great vintage name revival success stories, especially since used by Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck for their daughter in 2005.


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17 Responses to “TV Baby Names: Granny names rejuvenated– Sophie, Sophia and Violet”

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geeknamezyo Says:

April 3rd, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Um…”Granson?” I think you mean Grantham, which is their father’s title. Their actual last name is Crawley.

ScarlettSensibility Says:

April 3rd, 2013 at 11:40 pm

So many of these are gorgeous, and while I definitely think of some as having a distinct vintage feel (Ida, Estelle, Pearl), Livia, Sophia, Violet and Penelope don’t feel at all grandmotherly.

By the way, the Downton Abbey girls would be the Crawley girls, or at the very least the Earl of Grantham’s girls, not Granson (however Lady Sybil Crawley did become Lady Sybil Branson, maybe that’s where the mixup happened.)

Netta5187 Says:

April 3rd, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I love Cecilia, Pearl, Penelope, Sophie, Lucille and Sophia! So beautiful!

liviajoan Says:

April 3rd, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Some names that didn’t make the list, but are definitely very old are Ione (eye-own), Bernadette, and Philomena. My grandmother’s name was Ione, and her sister’s name was Bernadette. I plan on honoring both of them, hopefully! As for Philomena, its a beautiful, earthy, feminine sounding name that I love… I guess grandma Ione had a best friend in school named Philomena!

I also pictured Henry as an elderly man until I met one in the daycare I worked at. He was a redheaded bundle of energy, so my views on it have completely changed. Edmund has more of an older feel than Edward. Henrietta, Opal, Edna, Alma, Elmo, Elmer, Donald, and Gretchen also have an older feel.

sarahmezz Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 1:02 am

Hattie was the grandma in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, not The Fresh Prince of Beverly Hills!

AmelieAmour Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 1:17 am

So many gorgeous names!

I love;

sarahmezz Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 2:21 am

I love almost all of these names! My baby list is full of old lady names. My favourites are Lucille, Pearl and Penelope (but I really like them all!).

Mclevine Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 3:33 am

Beautiful names! Thank you much for this blog!
And, BTW, I have decided to name my baby girl Hattie Beatrice. What an amazing coincidence:)
I also like:
Bea itself or as a nickname

However, I don’t like Violet but I don’t find it old-fashioned either. It’s more like a classic hitch never goes out of style. And I believe Sophia with its popularity will be tied to this decade more than to our grandmother’s times.

cannebella Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 3:54 am

I am really starting to love vintage girls names. Evelyn and Violet are probably the ones I like the most.

TheFutureMrsB Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 8:19 am

Both of my sister-in-laws’ names are here. Edith and Lucille.
The only name that I really like on here is Violet and DH immediately thinks of American Horror Story so that’s out.

maggiemary Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 9:50 am

I absolutely love:

Hattie (as nn for Harriet)

I like most of the others too.

LuMary Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

My maternal grandmother’s name is Lottie Leona L. (3 l’s) I’m not quite warmed to vintage diminutives as formal names. She named my mother Irene Leona L. When I was little, I pointed out to her that her initials spelled ‘ill.’ She quickly returned that they stood for Illinois (we live in Chicago), states formerly having three-letter abbreviations.

alphabetdem Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Love Cecelia, Livia, Daisy, Penelope, Adele and Violet. I love Olivia and Sophia as well, but they’re obviously too popular to use!

I honestly didn’t even know Penelope was a Kardashian baby until like last month, so it doesn’t seem like an issue for me.

Edith is my grandmother’s name! And my mother’s as well, but she goes by her middle name. It’s never seemed anything but old ladyish to me.

lisar Says:

April 4th, 2013 at 7:46 pm

This is a wonderful list! My grandmothers are Edith and Esther. And my baby girl is Harriet:)

frustratedauthor Says:

April 6th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I like quite a few of these. Hattie is my great grandmother’s name, Sophie and Sophia are favorites of mine (it makes me sad that they are so popular. I love Daisy, Pearl, Penelope, and Violet, and I am developing a soft spot for Esther.

tori101 Says:

April 7th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I love…

Basically most of them, I’m all for Granny chic 😉

taliesin Says:

September 7th, 2014 at 1:21 pm

My grandmothers were Clara and Rose-Marie (called Mae). Their sisters and contemporaries were Lillian, Rose, Mary, Gertrude, Alice, Jane, Emily, Maerose, Beatrice, Frances Agatha. Most of these are used now.

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