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Where To Find A Cool Vintage Boy Name

January 24, 2020 Emma Waterhouse

Following on from yesterday’s post about where to find a cool vintage girl name, today it’s the turn of the boys!

The good news for lovers of old-fashioned baby boy names is that they’ve never been hotter. Hello, Arthur and August, Jasper and Felix, Leo and Theodore!

The bad news? Well, they’ve never been hotter — which means that it can seem increasingly difficult to find the perfect “I wish I’d thought of that first!” baby name. You know: the sweet but strong, retro-cool, fresh yet familiar choice that no one else has thought of yet.

But never fear: we’ve been combing through the US popularity charts from 1920 to uncover one hundred rare vintage boy names — all outside of the current Top 1000 — which are just starting to feel baby-ready again in 2020.

Gone But Not Forgotten

If you’d asked us about Elmer a decade ago, we’d have had just one word for you: Fudd. But now, with its old-school flavor and fashionable beginning and ending sounds… well, we’ve got to admit it’s kind of adorable! Whether it’s an on-trend sound, an eminent namesake, or cool nickname potential, there’s a certain something about all of these names that has our eye on them for 2020 and beyond.

Those style-savvy Brits are already ahead of the game on several of these: Casper, Chester, Percy, Rufus, Sidney and Wilfred all rank in the current Top 500 boy names there.

Ambrose
Bernard
Casper
Cecil
Chester
Clarence
Claude
Edmund
Elmer
Ferdinand
Hiram
Homer
Leander
Linus
Percy
Rufus
Sidney
Sylvester
Virgil
Wilfred

Retro Nickname Names

It’s got to be said: the Roaring Twenties are a gift for lovers of quirky nickname names for boys!

Until recently the reserve of the family pooch, adorably clunky old-school nicknames have been creeping back onto birth certificates in recent years: think Archie and Gus, which both cracked the US Top 1000 last year. And with recent starbabies named Gene (Fischer), Hal (Cumberbatch) and Teddy (Murray), it seems that celebrity parents are starting to cotton onto this trend, too.

Abe
Art
Barney
Buck
Buddy
Buster
Clem
Dewey
Fritz
Gene
Hal
Ike
Jules
Monte
Ned
Obie
Perry
Sandy
Sol
Teddy

Surprising Surname Names

With the vast popularity of fashionable favorites like Mason, Logan and Jackson (all in the current US Top 20 for boys), you’d be forgiven for thinking that surname names are a peculiarly modern success story. But in fact, a whopping 20% of the boys’ names on the 1920 list are surname-style choices.

A notable theme is presidential names: Cleveland, Garfield, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Monroe and Washington, to name but a few. But if you’re after something a little more unexpected, here are twenty of the most intriguing (and wearable) options from a century ago.

Arley
Chauncey
Dempsey
Elwood
Foster
Foy
Grover
Harland
Irving
Jones
Kirby
Merritt
Meyer
Noble
Norwood
Odell
Roscoe
Thornton
Vaughn
Willis

Intriguing International Names

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the original baby namer’s book: borrow from another language. Does Louis feel too safe for you? Try Aloysius, Clovis, Ludo, Luigi… or the handsome German and Czech form Alois, as over seventy sets of parents did back in 1920.

The best part about borrowing from abroad is that you can choose a traditional, long-established name with none of the popularity of local equivalents. The worst part? Prepare for some eyebrow-raising spelling and pronunciation attempts of your carefully chosen gem!

Agustin
Alois
Alphonse
Aurelio
Bertrand
Casimir
Donal
Emile
Evert
Fernand
Florian
Gaston
Guido
Gustave
Lloyd
Olin
Pierre
Regis
Sigmund
Vito

Hidden Gems

When it comes to baby names, “cool” is a notoriously tricky balance to get right. Go too cool, and you risk being ahead of the curve on the latest hipster favorite. But too far the other way, and baby Caractacus may not thank you when he’s older!

None of these names has ever ranked above the Top 250 boy names in the US. All tumbled out of the Top 1000 well before the turn of the century, and they don’t look likely to return any time soon. In other words: these unique picks look set to stay under the radar… for a while, at least.

Abner
Albin
Angus
Archibald
Basil
Bertram
Cary
Clement
Cyril
Eloy
Giles
Hershel
Ignatius
Isidore
Leopold
Mortimer
Rupert
Sylvan
Urban
Vester

What are your picks for the coolest vintage boys’ names? Want to make a case for Caractacus? Tell us below!

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from pregnancy and birth to unique baby names from fiction and fantasy. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

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