Vintage Baby Names: Lost Boys of 1916
By Abby Sandel
In April, we looked at the vintage girl names of 1916, rarities still lingering in the attic. Now it’s time for vintage boy names from 1916! These choices weren’t chart-toppers one hundred years ago, but they were in the Top 1000, and in steady, regular use. Today, they feel surprisingly fresh, even modern. If you’re looking for a rare name with a history of use, these names could be the perfect pick for a son.
Archibald – If you love long names like Alexander and Sebastian, this Germanic choice might be for you. It carries a great meaning: true and bold. Once big in Scotland, it has been unranked in the US since the 1920s. Archibald is the name Amy Poehler and Will Arnett chose for their older son in 2008. Archie makes an upbeat nickname.
Booker – Originally a surname name for a bookbinder, Booker is now associated with early Civil Rights leader Booker T. Washington. It fits in nicely with popular ends-in-r names for boys like Carter, Hunter, and Parker.
Dorsey – This surname name charted as a boy’s given name in the US every year into the 1950s. Derived from the French d’Orsay – from Orsay, a town outside of Paris – it’s most famous as the surname of The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. Brothers Tommy and Johnny became major stars in the 1930s and 40s, but Dorsey feels very 2016.
Doyle – Looking for an Irish name much less expected than Liam? Dark horse Doyle left the US Top 1000 after 1981. Namer extraordinare Joss Whedon gave the name to a character in Angel, but parents have continued to pass this one by, favoring the more familiar Riley, Brody, and Brady instead.
Grover – If not for the fuzzy blue Sesame Street character, Grover might be big right now. It’s presidential, ends-in-r, and has an EcoVintage vibe thanks to the meaning “grove of trees.” If you’re crushed that Oliver is so popular, maybe Grover is worth a second look.
Hamilton – The Founding Father surname name charted in the US Top 1000 into the 1930s. Now that Lin–Manuel Miranda has transformed the first Secretary of the Treasury’s biography into an acclaimed musical, can Hamilton be revived as a baby name?
Hardy – Associated with the fictional detective brothers Frank and Joe, Hardy was used as a boy’s name into the 1950s. It comes from an Old French word meaning bold or brave, and sounds just like the similar hearty. An on-trend sound and positive meaning make Hardy prime for rediscovery.
Ike – Love Jack and Max, but want something more rare? Consider Ike, associated with the 34th President of the United States, as well as musicians Ike and Tina Turner. The name last appeared in the US Top 1000 back in the 1950s, and remains rare, though Isaac – often shortened to Ike – is a favorite with parents today.
Jules – Originally a French form of Julius, Jules brings to mind science fiction writer Jules Verne and Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer. With –s ending boy names like Miles and Brooks in vogue, Jules might make a great alternative to Top 100 choice Julian.
Leopold – Love Leo, but looking for a longer name? There’s Italian-by-way-of-Hollywood Leonardo, the Spanish Leonel, or the ancient Leonidas, all Top 1000 picks. But Leopold remains overlooked. Royal and literary, Leopold would make a surprising choice for a boy in 2016.
Lucius – Luke and Lucas are in the current US Top Thirty, while Luca comes in at Number 157. The Biblical, literary Lucius is known to today’s generation as Draco’s dastardly dad, Lucius Malfoy, of Harry Potter fame. Spelled Lucious, it’s the name of Empire patriarch Lucious Lyon. If ancient names like Augustus and Cassius appeal, Lucius could be one to consider. It hasn’t ranked in the US since the 1960s.
Noble – A virtue name used into the 1950s, Noble would fit right in with bold boy names like Royal and Legend. Ultimately from the Latin nobilis, meaning excellent, high-born, or famous, it was first applied to well-known families in Rome. 144 Nobles were born in 2015 – but back in 1916, that number was 158. Either way, it’s much less common than King.
Willis – A surname name seldom heard since 1980s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes went off the air, Willis brings to mind the original maker of the Jeep (spelled Willys) and Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). It’s an interesting alternative to the evergreen William.
Would you consider any of these names for a son? Are there other boy names from 1916 on your list?