Vintage Boy Names: How To Find A Cool Old Name
Do you love vintage names but want to move beyond the usual classics and Biblical choices to cool names from history? We looked at the popularity lists of 1910 to uncover hundreds of vintage boy 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.
- Orville (or Orval)
When we looked at the lost names of 1880, one major focus was on nickname-names that had faded away. Without repeating any of the names on the 1880 list, choices in use in 1910 and not often heard today include the following. (And yes, we realize that Ike has a lot of hipster cachet, but it’s usually short for Isaac and not given on its own as it was in 1910).
Surname names were also highly fashionable in 1910. Names of heroes of the day that were in widespread use include:
Other surname names frequently heard a hundred years ago, but not so much today, are:
Hundreds of boys in 1910 were given names that would now be considered for girls only. Used for boys back then but now lost from the male side of the ledger are:
Looking for vintage names for boys that are in style now? Check out this list of Vintage Boy Names
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on August 27th, 2010 at 5:18 am
I like these naes:
*On my list.
on August 27th, 2010 at 7:28 am
June? Bonnie? RUTH???
on August 27th, 2010 at 8:37 am
*Bernard — I have an uncle named this, but he says it more like BERR-nerd, than the typical Bur-NARD
*Cecil — I could really fall for this.
*Chester — Don’t like this, but do like Chet!
*Clayton — I see this from time to time, and often hear it discussed on people’s list of options.
*Guy — I hate this name with such a passion. I know that it can be pronounced more like gee than guy, which at least makes it sound like a name, but naming your child guy just seems awful. Like naming them kid or baby or person.
*Herbert — While my dad has the lovely name of Stephen Randall, he has gone by Herb most of his life. My grandmother calls him Herbert Leander Jones (and no, their last name isn’t Jones either). My mom calls him Herb or Herbie Lee. His brothers and best friends call him Herb and Herbie. It’s only at work and church that he goes by Steve.
*Jerome — I have a great-uncle Jerome! I think it’s a cool name
*Morris — Big family name in my family
*Percy — Wonder if we will start seeing this more, if Percy Jackson gets to be more popular?
*Vernon — Had a great uncle Vernon who changed his name to Peter when he grew up
*Virgil — I love Virgil. I’d never use it because of the Virgin thing, but I think it’s a cool name, and I love the nickname Virg. I never thought much about it until Tombstone, but Sam Elliot makes me swoon. 😉
I know lots of old men with many of these names. Lots of my grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and great uncles on here. Very few that I know young people with!
*Coy — I knew a Coy! He’d be in his mid-30s now.
*Booker — Cute
*Morgan — So wish the girls hadn’t taken this
*Ulysses — Love it!
*Woodrow — Love it!!
*Brooks — My daughter had a Brooks in her pre-school class last year.
*Fletcher — One of my favorite names. I think it’s awesome!
*Grady — I’ve seen this on babies a few times.
on August 27th, 2010 at 8:50 am
I know a 6-week-old named Jones, actually!
My brother (31) is named Clayton and I’ve met several in my life, so I don’t think it’s at all unusual. My husband’s middle name is Eugene, although he’s a junior. He hates it, though. My uncles are Jerome and Stanley and I’ve never thought of them as particularly unusual, either.
I’ve also always had a soft spot for Claude and Edgar. I also knew a Clyde in college, although I believe he was a III. I also like Arnold, Bernard, Ernest, Franklin, Irving, Julius (I think this will defintely come back via Julian), Lloyd and Wallace.
I think many of the surname names on the first list are ripe for revival. On the second list of them, I see Burnett, Felton, Fletcher, Gardner, Grady (via Brady and Brody), Haskall, Oakley (possibly for girls!), Preston, Stanton, Thornton and Warner coming back.
Of the lost names, our daughter is Vivian, so we’re contributing, and Evelyn was on our list, too. My grandfather was Leslie and I have a female cousin named after him.
on August 27th, 2010 at 8:58 am
Some of the names on the “gone girl” list (e.g. Audrey, Ruby) are probably more on there due to the prevalence of errors by the SSA back then rather than actual boy usage. Other names from that list are still being used for boys although in smaller numbers (e.g. I am a 20-something guy named Kelly and I’ve heard of at least a couple of male Kellys who are currently children; in fact it’s closer in gender usage now than it has been since the 1970s, although mostly due to attrition on the girl’s side).
on August 27th, 2010 at 9:21 am
On my discussion about Kelly, I forgot to mention Holly Marie Combs’s son Kelley (albeit spelled differently) born last year. I like how she’s willing to use unisex names for boys in spite of their usage on girls (her other sons are Finley and Riley).
From the other unisex names, I know of a male Shelby who when I was in school was a grade behind me.
on August 27th, 2010 at 9:30 am
I’m feeling especially drawn to Dewey and Murray today. Dewey is spunky and quirky without being too nerdy, and Murray just sounds like a nice guy.
on August 27th, 2010 at 9:40 am
namefan, Audrey is still in use for boys. I know a male one my age. Rube = Ruby? I also know a Rene, Gale, Myron, Virgil, Bernard, Clayton, Franklin, Lloyd, Maurice, all male, all my age (20s) except for Lloyd, the name of my uncle and grandfather.
Lonnie is on my list (it is the name of my father in law who is 80).
on August 27th, 2010 at 10:02 am
Stella: I checked the 2009 list, and there were 7 boys named Audrey. However, when comparing it to non-unisex girl names of similar ranking that’s probably mostly errors. Did you mean Aubrey? If so, than that has certainly been (and still is but in smaller numbers) used for boys. I have heard of Ruby being used as a nickname for Reuben, but not very often.
on August 27th, 2010 at 10:18 am
Morris is my mother’s maiden name – it’ll definitely be our baby’s middle name if it’s a boy. I really want Grady as the first name (another family name) – but my husband thinks it sounds girly?!
Hard to believe Jewel (my great-grandmother’s name) was ever used on a boy…we might use it for a girl middle name.
on August 27th, 2010 at 10:32 am
OK…maybe southerners are different but a lot of these names are still in use down here. Clayton, Brooks, Clintons, Jerome, Maurice, Evan (without an s), Stanford, Woodrow,etc… All still very much in use down here. I know multiple people under 32 with each of those names. Granted, maybe they aren’t used for babies much anymore. I am getting older. Oooh…I know a couple of male Laverns as well. And I had an Uncle Tracy and cousin named Tracy Jr. I don’t see that as a strictly girl name. I don’t know why people keep insisting that names “go girl.” I would name my son Tracy. I loved both my uncle and my cousin and they’re both deceased. Admittedly my grandmother would have named her daughter Tracy had my uncle been born a girl. She viewed it as a unisex name in 1949.
on August 27th, 2010 at 10:57 am
So straange that just 100 years ago Meredith was decidedly a male name… I don’t think anyone would put it on a boy now.
on August 27th, 2010 at 11:03 am
Clayton should definitely not be on the list. I know like six of them, and none of them are over 45. I wouldn’t even consider it for my kid because it feels overused to me.
on August 27th, 2010 at 11:29 am
Wow… Elex is a fantastic name. Keep your eye on that one.
on August 27th, 2010 at 11:44 am
You’re right about Clayton, Whit — I deleted it.
on August 27th, 2010 at 1:05 pm
I’ve known several male Avery’s — one in his 20s and one that’s about 6 — and I think it’s a lovely name. Maybe it’s just where I live, but it seems like a modern unisex to me, not so much an unused or girl-only name.
I’m shocked at some of the male names that are only for female use now though. Like Ruth! I mean, really?! If it was a feminine name in the Bible how could it ever be considered masculine? I sure hope it was a typo…
on August 27th, 2010 at 2:13 pm
I plan to use Ernest (as a middle name) and Rene is all boy to me. I also really like Cornelius, Eugene, Ira, Irving, Jerome, Murray, Percy, Sherman, Vernon, Wendell, Morgan, Doyle, Freeman, Haskell, Lawson, Warner, and Wiley.
Brooks seems downright trendy to me–for both genders; I know a man in his late twenties and girl in grade school. I could also see these coming back: Alvin, Murray, Vernon, Mac, Clinton, Edison, Jefferson, Wilson, Harley (girls, unfortunately), Warner, Wiley
These I don’t see reentering general usage, but they could be name nerd favorites: Percy, Virgil, Morgan, Haskell, Stanford, Thornton
on August 27th, 2010 at 2:59 pm
Vikki: I agree with you – Many of those “gone to the girls” names (at least the ones that are actually unisex/masculine and not probable coding errors) are still suitable (and maybe a bit “hipster” in some cases, like Kelly and Tracy) for a boy. On your mention of the South and name trends there, I think that there (as well as many of the other “red state” areas of the country) “unisex” names for boys are more prevalent (and that’s maybe one reason among some others that you and I see them differently than the blog author). (From my minor reasearch the region they seem least likely to be used is the Northeast, where people are in general more conservative with boys’ names than the rest of the country.)
on August 27th, 2010 at 3:16 pm
I am not loving most of these names. Ones I could see using are: Elex (people would assume it was a creative spelling of Alex though), Ossie (what name would give you this cutenn? I grew up with a girl named Aussie Elliot as.her first name), Edison, Watson, Levy, Shelby.
Ones I don’t feel belong on these lists: Morgan (one of the most common unisex names after Jordan), Brooks (semi popular in the eighties along with femme Brooke, I have met a handful of little Brooks’ along with their hipster parents.), Fletcher (maybe not mainstream common, but not unusual.), Grady (met quite a few in Colorado, not to mention my cousin.), Preston (maybe relegated to the eighties, but not unheard of.), Avery (very much a boys name.), and Rene (a French masculine name. I know more male Rene’s than females.)
on August 27th, 2010 at 8:10 pm
I especially like the name, Columbus. It is sort of out there though, but I suppose one could get away with using the nickname “Col(e)”. : )
on August 27th, 2010 at 8:50 pm
I adore Percy and Ulysses, and also thought I’d mention that Connie is still used on boys in Scotland, although much less frequently than on girls. Also, Junior is surprisingly popular as a stand alone name here in Britain; I’ve personally never met one, though, and am not such a fan. Junior what? Junior who?
on August 27th, 2010 at 10:08 pm
Does Hiram fit anywhere here?
on August 27th, 2010 at 10:09 pm
I would totally use:
Another cool list.
on August 28th, 2010 at 10:11 am
Boy names are a lot more volatile than we think. These are names that have dropped out of the top1000 since their ranking in 1994, 15 years ago:
on August 28th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
My maternal grandfather had a younger brother named Guy Arlington. The family story was that his mother had been reading some book with a character named Guy Arlington just before he was born. I’ve always wondered what the book would have been. Maybe it impacted the name’s popularity. He would have been somewhere around 1910.
on August 28th, 2010 at 2:43 pm
I know people with most of these names!
These are the ones I like!
Ernest ( I would use because it was my gpas name!)
Fletcher ( really like this one but thr r alot of car dealerships in my area with this name 🙁 )
Jones ( really like this one!)
Murray ( kinda like but not sure yet! Lol)
on August 29th, 2010 at 11:29 pm
By the way, the 1994 ranking was taken from this blog:
So that Skye doesn’t come after me for copyright issues hehe.
Boston Girl Said
on August 30th, 2010 at 5:50 pm
Bonnie, Ivy, Jewel, June and Ruth…for BOYS? Who’d have thought! (Three of the Pointer Sisters are named Bonnie, June and Ruth; if they’d been around back then, people might have thought they were the Pointer Brothers, LOL)
My grandfather was among the records under Horace (he would have turned 100 this coming Saturday, Sept. 4). When he and my grandmother had my father, Grandma firmly nixed naming Dad after his father; she couldn’t stand the name! That’s one name I think is just too far out to ever be back in again.
I like some of the heroes-of-the-time names and some of the surname names, but most of them I’d just shake my head at. Ulysses? Really? To me, that’s the ugliest male name in existence, with Eugene and Herbert following close on its heels. And forget Junior; that’s not even a name, it’s an appellation. I don’t even like seeing boys named So-and-so Junior after their fathers! 🙂
on September 10th, 2010 at 6:41 pm
My grandfather’s name is Eugene Wiley! (although he’s always gone by Gene) Love that they are both on here, I plan on using Wiley for a girl though…
Leslie Owen Said
on May 7th, 2011 at 12:21 am
My great-uncle was Waldo Bertram and I love both those names, Waldo is especially common in Maine because of Gen Waldo. I also like Ira, Edgar, Percy (for Percival), Brooks, Chester, Dewi (it’s Welsh), and Maurice. I had a colleague named Chet and he totally changed the name for me. I prefer the Norwegian Erling to Earl, though. Many of these names are still common here in Florida and are names of students of mine.
on February 3rd, 2013 at 6:26 am
Chick names still used for dudes:
I can think of examples of several men with these names.
on February 3rd, 2013 at 6:29 am
Also, I have an uncle Lorin.
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