Unique Vintage Names for Boys: Roscoe, Cosmo & Clive

25 hidden treasures from the past

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Continuing our series on you-don’t-have-to-be-youneek-to-be-unique names, here are 25 vintage appellations for boys that are hardly heard today.

Since boy names tend to stay on the popularity lists, these names are quite unusual in that, unlike vintage classics like William and James, most of them were in common use at one time but then slid into obscurity. See which ones you think are ripe for revival.

Alaric—An ancient regal name that sparks with electricity—more quirky and distinctive than Alfred or Frederic, it starred in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series and in The Vampire Diaries. Emeric is a similar possibility.

Aldous—Associated with Brave New World’s Aldous Huxley, more recently seen in Orphan Black, Aldous boasts the popular s-ending for boys

Ambrose—As rosy as Rosie, as amiable as Amelia, this early Latin name has loads of history, both religious and literary. A real winner.

Art—Sure it’s familiar as a vintage nickname for Arthur, but there’s a lot more to Art. In Ireland it’s the stand-alone name of a pagan High King (probably why Chris O’Dowd chose it for his son), and of course it’s a culture-saturated word name as well.

Burl—A long lost nature name related to trees, Burl has a down-home feel, and was in the Top 1000 for 81 years, ranking as high as #381. A notable namesake: folk singer/Oscar-winning actor Burl Ives.

Clive—If you’re looking for a sleek and polished one-syllable name with a refined British accent and the charisma of Clive Owen—consider Clive.

Cosmo—A name with cosmic breadth and a stylish o-ending; as long as you can banish all thoughts of cocktails and Kramer.

CrispinHarry Potter-related, crisp and curly-haired (its literal meaning), Crispin is now ranked #518 on Nameberry—always ahead of the crowd.

Cyprian—A rare and noble ancient Latin saint and Harry Potter name (such a treasure trove!) related to the island of Cyprus.

Doyle—This friendly Irish surname, which hasn’t been heard from since 1980, was a well-used choice for about a hundred years, peaking at #195 in 1931. Doyle McCalister was a recurring character on Gilmore Girls—one of his few modern appearances. Could make a cool choice for Sherlock Holmes aficionados.

Eben—Most of us are not ready for Ebenezer, but short, stand-alone Eben has lots of appeal, it was as high as 528 in the 1880s but hasn’t been used much since then.

Esmond—An interesting alternative to Edmond or Desmond with a distinguished air and literary cred via Thackeray’s novel The History of Henry Esmond.

Eustace—The monocled New Yorker magazine symbol and, curiously, the middle name of both Ross on Friends and the female Paris on Gilmore Girls.

Florian—Shares the gentle floral quality of Flora and Florence, with solid saintly and literary cred (HP once more!). Number 55th ranking in Germany right now.

Garland—A generic floral name that isn’t primarily female: it was used for boys through the 1980s. Garland was a military name in Twin Peaks.

Giles—The G is pronounced as J in this single-syllable British aristo appellation; another one with lots of literary connections.

GreenBlue is now an accepted unisex name, as are many shades of green. And Green itself actually ranked on the popularity list for at least 32 past years, reaching as high as #254 in the 1880s.

Guthrie—Now that Arlo has taken off, how about surname Guthrie? It has a nice cowboyish feel, a la Wylie, and even hit the Top 1000 for one year, back in 1895.

Hardy—A name with a solid, strong yet spirited Hardy Boys image, Hardy fell off the list in 1960, but in this era of word names, deserves a new look. British fashion designer Hardy Amies (born Edwin), official dressmaker to the Queen, was its most notable bearer.

Ignatius—The ancient Roman name of several saints, it was used in the US in the early decades of the 20th century, primarily by religious families. Actresses Cate Blanchette and Julianne Nicholson both chose it for their sons; and if you’re wondering about Iggy Pop and Iggy Azalea, he was born with the name James, while she grew up with jewel name Amethyst.

Ives—A cool single-syllable surname with lots of cultural cred, via composer Charles Ives, singer Burl (see above), and James Merritt Ives, half of the renowned Currier & Ives printmaking duo.

Jennings—Looking for a distinguished but unusual surname ending in ‘s’? This one, which ranked at #244 in 1897 (the William Jennings Bryan influence) could make a neat namesake for a Grandma Jenny.

Morley—A pleasant surname name that has never ranked. Now that Marley has gone to the girls, this could make a nice boy option. It was long associated with 60 Minutes’s Morley Safer.

Roscoe –If you’re looking for a forgotten o-sound-ending name, Roscoe may be your boy. It’s got a slightly quirky but warm and friendly feel. Once a Top 200 name, it’s now given to fewer than 75 boys a year.

TeddyYes, I know Theo is the current nickname du jour for Theodore, but there’s something so irresistibly warm and cuddly about Teddy. Used on its own in the US until the early 1990s (peaking at 239 in 1933), its one of the enthusiastically revived nicknames in England and Wales—now at #42! And don’t forget those admirable Roosevelt and Kennedy namesakes.


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8 Responses to “Unique Vintage Names for Boys: Roscoe, Cosmo & Clive”

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beynotce Says:

March 21st, 2017 at 8:40 am

NB that Ted(dy) Kennedy got his nickname via the given name Edward, which also might appeal to parents who like this style.

BluebirdBlossom Says:

March 21st, 2017 at 9:59 am

I love Roscoe so much.

mill1020 Says:

March 21st, 2017 at 10:55 am

I think Florian, Guthrie and Roscoe have potential.

I know a Teddy who’s about two. He’s a Theodore, though.

ARead Says:

March 21st, 2017 at 1:03 pm

I love so many of these! Especially Alaric, Ambrose, Cyprian, Crispin, Esmond, and Doyle.

I’d never heard of Edmond before–thanks, nameberry!

ARead Says:

March 21st, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Never heard of *Esmond* before

Madelyn Says:

March 21st, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Such timing! I’m finishing up Twin Peaks again in preparation for the new season, and I was just thinking how nice Garland sounds. I also really like Ambrose, Cosmo, Eustace, and Green.

Maggiestew Says:

March 23rd, 2017 at 10:51 am

I love Ambrose, Cyprian, and Florian! I’m liking Crispin too, even though I used to dislike the sound. Cosmo is nice but I think I prefer Cosmas.

lesliemarion Says:

March 24th, 2017 at 12:37 am

Wonderful list – love them all!:)

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