Unusual Antique Baby Names

Unusual Antique Baby Names

If you're looking for truly unusual antique baby names, super rare names with a solid history and vintage charm, these cute and classic baby names fit the bill. Dating back to Great-Grandma (or Grandpa)'s day, these historic names been retired long enough to feel young and fresh again.

None of these unique antique baby names currently rank within the US Top 1000, though some are popular internationally. Carmel ranks highly in Israel, for instance, while Chester is popular in England.

In addition to with fashionable vintage names like Alva and Aurelius, Phineas and Philomena, there are some truly unique old-fashioned baby names on this list, like Barnabas, Hester, Jethro and Pandora, which adventurous parents might want to consider reviving.

Discover more quirky and unique old-school vintage baby names in the list below, ordered by their current standing on Nameberry.

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Unique Names

  1. Cordelia
    • Origin:

      Latin; Celtic
    • Meaning:

      "heart; daughter of the sea"
    • Description:

      Cordelia is exactly the kind of old-fashioned, grown-up name for girls that many parents are seeking for their daughters today. The name of King Lear's one sympathetic daughter, Cordelia has both style and substance along with its Shakespearean pedigree.
  2. Aurelius
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "the golden one"
    • Description:

      Since Aurelius was given the supermodel seal of approval by Elle Macpherson, this is one of the Roman emperor names, like Augustus, now in the realm of possibility. Like the female Aurelia and Aurora, Aurelius has a particularly warm golden aura.
  3. Lavinia
    • Origin:

      Latin, from ancient place name Lavinium
    • Description:

      Lavinia is a charmingly prim and proper Victorian-sounding name which actually dates back to classical mythology, where it was the name of the wife of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who was considered the mother of the Roman people.
  4. Linus
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "flax"
    • Description:

      Can Linus lose its metaphorical security blanket and move from the Peanuts page onto the birth certificate? We think it has enough charm and other positive elements going for it for the answer to be yes.
  5. Agnes
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "pure, virginal"
    • Description:

      Agnes is the Latin variation of the name Hagne, which itself derived from the Greek word hagnos, meaning "chaste." In medieval times, St. Agnes was a very popular saint, leading to its popularity as a girl's name. Agnes Grey is the title of one of the two novels written by Anne Brontë.
  6. Edmund
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "fortunate protector"
    • Description:

      The sophisticated Edmund and its nearly-identical French twin Edmond are coming out of mothballs now that Edward, inspired by Twilight, is once again a hot name.
  7. Cecily
    • Origin:

      Feminine variation of Cecil
    • Meaning:

      "blind"
    • Description:

      Cecily is as dainty as a lace handkerchief. Cecily has a wide assortment of namesakes. One Cecily was the mother of King Richard III, whose beauty gained her the title "the Rose of Raby," Cecily Parsley is a Beatrix Potter bunny, Cecily Cardew is a character in The Importance of Being Earnest, and the author of the Gossip Girl books is Cecily von Ziegesar.
  8. Phineas
    • Origin:

      English, Egyptian
    • Meaning:

      "the Nubian"
    • Description:

      Phineas is the English variation of Phinehas, a Hebrew name likely derived from the Egyptian name Pa-nehasi. Pa-nehasi, meaning "the Nubian" can also be translated as "the bronze-colored one." The Egyptians distinguished themselves from their Nubian neighbors through differences in skin tone.
  9. Sybil
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "prophetess"
    • Description:

      The image of the lovely Lady Sybil, tragic youngest daughter of the Crawley family on Downton Abbey is likely to go a long way towards reviving this almost forgotten name, off the list since 1966 and most popular in the 1920s and '30s. Sybil is currently Number 253 on Nameberry;
  10. Ignatius
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "fiery"
    • Description:

      Ignatius? Good gracious! This is a name making a truly surprising return, sparked by its selection by not one but two celebrities--Cate Blanchett and Julianne Nicholson.

      Ignatius, the name of several saints including the founder of the Catholic Jesuit order, was considered more apt to be borne by churches and schools than babies in the recent past, though it was not unusual from the late nineteenth century to 1930; it ranked as high as Number 602 in 1913.

  11. Lazarus
    • Origin:

      Latinized Greek variation of Hebrew Eleazar
    • Meaning:

      "God is my helper"
    • Description:

      Lazarus is a name that looks as if it could possibly be raised from the dead, just like its biblical bearer. Look for it in the next wave of Old Testament revivals that transcend their long-bearded images, the way Noah, Moses, and Abraham have for this generation.
  12. Aloysius
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "famous warrior"
    • Description:

      This name is a classic example of an underused golden oldie that ticks so many boxes - unusual yet traditional, heaps of cute nicknames, a statement name that exudes retro cool. Aloysius is the Latin form of many more common names like Louis, Luis, Luigi and the uncommon but symphonically familiar Ludwig.
  13. Basil
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "royal"
    • Description:

      Although Greek in origin--in the fourth century, a bishop by that name established the principles of the Greek Orthodox Church--Basil for years took on the aura of aquiline-nosed upper-class Britishness of Sherlock Holmes portrayer Basil Rathbone, then spiced with the fragrant aroma of the herb that entered with the Pesto generation.
  14. Rufus
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "red-head"
    • Description:

      Rufus is a rumpled, redheaded (it was the nickname for red-haired King William) ancient Roman name popular with saints and singers (e.g. Rufus Wainwright); now, Rufus is on the cutting edge of cool.
  15. Percival
    • Origin:

      French
    • Meaning:

      "one who pierces the valley"
    • Description:

      There are several Percivals scattered through the Harry Potter series, which might help transform the old-fangled, fussy image it has accrued. Actually, the original Percival was the one perfectly pure Knight of the Round Table, a worthy hero. The name was invented in the twelfth century by a poet named Chretien de Troyes, for his ideal knight in the poem Percevale, a Knight of King Arthur.
  16. Wilhelmina
    • Origin:

      German, feminine variation of Wilhelm
    • Meaning:

      "resolute protection"
    • Description:

      Wilhelmina was long burdened with the Old Dutch cleanser image of thick blond braids and clunky wooden clogs, but that started to be changed somewhat by the dynamic Vanessa Williams character on Ugly Betty, and even further by the choice of Wilhelmina by ace baby namers Natalie and Taylor Hanson. For the less adventurous, Willa is, for now, still a more user-friendly female equivalent of William.
  17. Chester
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "fortress, walled town,"
    • Description:

      Chester is a comfortable, little-used teddy-bear of a name that suddenly sounds both quirky and cuddly.
  18. Wilbur
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "resolute, brilliant"
    • Description:

      Wilbur is a stylish name in the UK whose merits are just starting to be discovered in the US. Wilbur, the loveable pig who Charlotte of the Web called Some Pig, is an inspirational hero. And Wilbur and Orville Wright were early aviationists.
  19. Clement
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "mild, merciful"
    • Description:

      Clement, the name of fourteen popes and several saints, has a pleasantly, positive, slightly antiquated feel, like the phrase "clement weather."
  20. Marius
    • Origin:

      Latin, from a Roman family name related to Mars, the god of war
    • Description:

      Marius, frequently heard in Germany and France, is a slightly fusty yet accessible name that has (Les Mis) to Anne Rice. With the rise in interest in such Latin names as Maximus and Atticus, Marius might start attracting more attention. Mario, the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese version of Marius, is much more widely used.