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Mad Men Names

The TV show Mad Men, set in JFK-era New York, got all the period details right, including the names.

Many of the key characters were born in the 1920s and ‘30s, which, according to the 100-Year-Rule, makes their names ready for revival. Among the names already on their way up the charts are Clara and Jane, Harry and Lane. The children on Mad Men were born in the 1950s and ‘60s, making their names — including Sally, Bobby, Gene, Glen, and Tammy — today’s grandparent names.

Are parents ready to adopt some of the show's quainter monikers as baby names? Maybe not quite yet, but don't be surprised if you have grandchildren named Don and Betty.

Mad Men Names
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HenryHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Henry was derived from the French Henri, which ultimately comes from the Germanic name Heimrich, made up of the components heim, meaning “home” or “estate,” and rich, meaning “ruler.” The most famous wearer is Henry VIII of England, best known for having six wives—two of whom he beheaded for not bearing him sons. It’s been used in the British royal family many times since.

ClaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bright, clear"
  • Description:

    Long relegated to an Olde World backwater, the European-flavored Clara has been speeding up the charts on sleeker sister Claire's coattails for the past few decades. Now, many would say the vintage chic Clara is the more stylish of the two names. Actor Ewan McGregor was an early celebrity adopter of the name for one of his daughters.

JaneHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    No, we don't consider Jane too plain. In fact, for a venerable and short one-syllable name, we think it packs a surprising amount of punch, as compared to the related Jean and Joan.

AnnaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Hannah, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Anna is the Latin form of Hannah, a Hebrew name that derived from root chanan, meaning “grace.” European Christians embraced the name for its associations with the Virgin Mary’s mother, Saint Anna—known in English as Saint Anne. While Hannah and Anna are the most common forms of the name, variations including Annie, Annalise, Anya, Anika, Nancy, and Anais also rank in the US Top 1000.

WilliamHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    William is derived from the Germanic name Wilhelm, composed of the elements wil, “will,” and helm, referring to a helmet or protection. The name was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, with William being the Norman variation of the name. In Central and Southern France, it was translated as Guillaume.
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MichaelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "who is like God?"
  • Description:

    Michael was derived from the name Mikha’el, which comes from the rhetorical question mī kā’ēl, meaning “who is like God?” in Hebrew. In the Bible, Michael is the archangel who led the other angels to victory in a war against Satan, one of only two archangels (the other is Gabriel) recognized by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. The widespread popularity of Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan were major contributors to its long-running success.

RebeccaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "servant of God"
  • Description:

    Rebecca is a name representing beauty in the Bible, an Old Testament classic that reached the heights of revived popularity in the seventies but is still a well-used choice. It derives from the Hebrew name Rivkah, from the verb ribbqah, meaning “noose.” The biblical Rebecca was the wife of Isaac and the mother of Esau and Jacob. Rebekah was a common spelling of the name in the Bible.

MargaretHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Margaret is derived from the French Marguerite, which in turn came from Margarita, the Latin form of the Greek Margarites. Margarites was based on the Old Persian word margārīta, meaning “pearl.”

CarolineHeart

  • Origin:

    French, feminine variation of Charles
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    Caroline is a perennial classic, in the Top 100 since 1994. Caroline is elegant, calling to mind the Kennedy Camelot years and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

RachelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "ewe"
  • Description:

    Rachel was derived from the Hebrew word rāchēl, meaning “ewe.” In the Old Testament, Rachel was the favorite wife of Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. International variations include the Spanish Raquel and Israeli Rahel.
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MeganHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh diminutive of Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Megan originally evolved from Meg, which itself derived as a nickname for Margaret. Margaret ultimately comes from the Greek word margarites, meaning “pearl.” Megan is no longer a common nickname for Margaret—it is most often used as a full name. Other spellings include Meghan, Meagan, Megyn, and Meaghan.

IdaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "industrious one"
  • Description:

    Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.

SylviaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from the forest"
  • Description:

    The musical, sylvan Sylvia seems poised to join former friends Frances and Beatrice and Dorothy back in the nursery.

HarryHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Henry
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Harry is the medieval English form of Henry, which derived from the Germanic name Heimrich, meaning “estate ruler.” Harry was the nickname of all eight King Henrys; it is also a diminutive of Harold and Harrison.

HelenHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "bright, shining light"
  • Description:

    Helen is a name that has connoted beauty since ancient times – Helen of Troy was the the mythological "face that launched a thousand ships," over whom the ten-year Trojan War was fought.
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PaulHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "small"
  • Description:

    To the thousands of girls who screamed the name of their favorite Beatle in the 1960s, the boys' name Paul had a thrillingly unique image, but to the rest of the world, then and now, it's a name that's so simple and yet so widely diffuse that it could belong to almost anyone. Paul is an ancient name for boys -- popular in Roman and medieval times -- that's not very fashionable now, which can work in its favor, scarcity balancing simplicity.

LoisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "most desirable"
  • Description:

    The eternal fiancee of Superman turned sweet gray-haired lady who's always available to babysit her grandkids. Lois is actually a New Testament name of Greek origin: she was converted by Paul and was the grandmother of Timothy, who became one of Paul's disciples. Other s-ending names are making a comeback, as is Louise, so why not Lois?

BobbyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Robert
  • Meaning:

    "bright fame"
  • Description:

    Bobby is the quintessential mid-century nickname, the name of the son on Mad Men and overused to the point of cliche. Though Robert is still a highly popular choice, most Roberts today are called by their full name or Rob or Robbie rather than Bob or Bobby.

SallyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Sarah
  • Meaning:

    "princess"
  • Description:

    Sally is a cheerful, fresh-faced girl-next-door name that was originally a nickname for Sarah, but has long been used independently. Sally was popular in the eighteenth century and then again from the 1920s to the 1960s--it was just outside the Top 50 around 1940. Though it hasn't been heard as a baby name for decades, we can see Sally bouncing back, especially after her exposure as young Ms. Draper on Mad Men--the Nameberries rank it at Number 621, and it's a Top 100 name in Sweden.

LaneHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "a small roadway or path"
  • Description:

    Lane is a recent hit name, that could be used for either gender, but is much more popular for boys. It's a surname that projects the pleasant picture of narrow, tree-lined country roads.
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DickHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Richard
  • Meaning:

    "dominant ruler"
  • Description:

    Dick was a once-common short form of Richard; replaced by Rick or Richie, and finally by the full name itself. Rude meaning -- make that two rude meanings -- pretty much knocks this one out of consideration.

BettyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Combine the popularity of Betty White and Mad Men's glamorous Betty Draper Francis, with the residual sweetness of Ugly Betty's Betty Suarez, and the result is an impending return of the name. It's got presidential cred via Betty Ford and feminist history through Betty Friedan.

DawnHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    There are more substantial names with the same golden meaning: Aurora (Latin), Zora (Arabic), and Roxana (Persian).

SalvatoreHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian variation of Salvator
  • Meaning:

    "savior"
  • Description:

    For every Tio Salvador in a Latino family, there's a Zio Salvatore in an Italian one. Having always ranked in the US Top 1000, it is in danger of falling off the charts very soon.

JoanHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Johanna
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Joan was the perfect name choice for one of the leading characters on Mad Men, being a quintessential girls' name of the period. A Top 10 name in the 30s, a Top 50 name from the 40s through the early 60s, it was the fifth most popular name in the country for three years running and ranks as one of the most common names for girls in the 20th century. But alas, Joan hasn't even appeared in the Top 1000 for a dozen years, and these days it's primarily associated with Joans of the generation of Joan Crawford, Joan Collins and Joan Rivers--just a few of the noted Joans whose ranks also include the singers Joan Sutherland, Joan Baez, Joan Armatrading and Joan Jett. But it's possible that modern parents who are reviving Jane might move on to Joan, inspired by Joan Hollaway Harris.
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AnitaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish diminutive of Ana; Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "grace; unguided"
  • Description:

    Once a Top 100 name, this Spanish diminutive of Ana still retains some of her Latin flair. A notable namesake is noted attorney Anita Hill, another is the great jazz singer Anita O'Day. Plus there's Disney cred via the lead human character in 101 Dalmatians.

RogerHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "famous warrior"
  • Description:

    In the World War II era, Roger had nothing but the most positive associations, actually used by military personnel to mean 'Received and understood'--or A-OK, and though it is now on extended furlough, it does have a long and distinguished history. Introduced to England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, Roger soon became very popular there, with nicknames Hodge and Dodge, and had a long run later in the U.S, remaining in the Top 100 for 55 years.

TedHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Theodore or Edward
  • Meaning:

    "gift of god; rich guard"
  • Description:

    Like Ed, Eddie and Teddy, Ted is rarely used as an independent name – in the US, at least. In the UK, Eddie ranks just outside the Top 200, Teddy ranks just outside the Top 30, and Ted is a Top 200 pick. With Theodore rising, Ted may have new life among parents who don't want to use the short form Theo.

LouHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Louis or Lewis, French and German
  • Meaning:

    "renowned warrior"
  • Description:

    Lou, all by itself, is become fashionable for girls, which usually makes a name LESS fashionable for boys. But Lou, like Bill or Jim, is rarely used on its own for boys anyway. (You wouldn't name a boy Frederick Lou the way that girls are named Mary Lou or, in the case of Keri Russell's new baby, Willa Lou.) Long form Louis is getting cool again and, with the Lewis spelling, is the Number 2 name in Scotland.

PeggyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Margaret, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Just when we had written off Peggy as the eternal perky, pug-nosed prom-queen she projected from the 1920s into the fifties, along came Mad Men, with intriguing mid-century characters with names like Joan and Betty--and Peggy, causing a bit of a re-think. MM's proto-feminist Peggy Olson was followed by Amy Adams's strong Oscar-nominated Peggy Dodd character in The Master.
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NigelHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dark, black-haired"
  • Description:

    A name that Yanks might see as overly British, but combined with the right surname, it does have a measure of Sherlock Holmesian dash via Nigel Bruce, who played the original Dr. Watson to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes.

FrancineHeart

  • Origin:

    French diminutive pet form of Francoise
  • Meaning:

    "from France or free man"
  • Description:

    With the advent of Pope Francis, all forms of this ancient and saintly name came up for a fresh look. Along with most other -een and -ine (when pronounced like -een) names for girls, Francine has a dated midcentury Mad Men feel. But its choice for their daughter by modern glamour couple Casey Neistat and Candice Pool, respectively a video star and a jewelry designer, has made Francine chic again.

KenHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Kenneth; Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "born of fire or handsome; healthy and strong"
  • Description:

    In many minds this one belongs to Barbie, but with such positive meanings and international connections, can Ken make the transition to usability again?

CarlaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Carl
  • Description:

    While Charlotte and Caroline are considered stylish and classic members of the Charles family, this somewhat severe Germanic form is fading. It reached its apex at Number 76 in 1965.

TrudyHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "spear of strength"
  • Description:

    Innocent, sincere, and bright-eyed, and as outdated as its mother name, Gertrude.
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MonaHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "noble good"
  • Description:

    Mona had more than a moment in the sun, peaking in 1950 at Number 230 but falling off the Top 1000 completely in the late 1980s. Its similarity to the word "moaner" undercuts the appeal of its simplicity. In one recent year, fewer than 100 baby girls received the name, and we don't see it reviving any time soon.

TammyHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Tamara
  • Description:

    Made famous in fifties movies as a wholesome backwoods gal, Tammy was a Top 10 choice from the mid-60s to early-70s, but is now given to fewer than 100 babies per year in the US.

JimmyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of James
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Every other little kid's name in 1957 but few Jameses are called Jimmy today; they're more often James or Jamie.

StanHeart

  • Origin:

    Short form of Stanley
  • Meaning:

    "near the stony meadow"
  • Description:

    One of the old-school nicknames -- think Ray, Vince, Frank -- that's on the brink of coming back into style. Name him Stanislav or Constantine and he'll have a groovier long form to fall back on.

AbeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Abraham
  • Description:

    Old-time nickname that may follow in the fashionable footsteps of cronies Jake and Sam.
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DonHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Donald, Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "proud chief"
  • Description:

    Short form of Donald -- or more stylishly, Donahue or Donovan -- that's acquired a new sixties-era suaveness thanks to Mad Man Don Draper. The name also carries a Sopranos or Godfather-style double entendre.

FreddyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Frederick
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful ruler"
  • Description:

    Another old-school nickname getting new attention thanks to TV's Mad Men. Names like Fred, Pete, and George have been out so long it's time for them to come back in. It reentered the US Top 1000 in 2015 following a two-year absence from the list. It currently ranks Number 199 in England and Wales.

GlenHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "a narrow valley"
  • Description:

    Former cool-boy name now in middle-aged limbo, but with a nice naturey meaning to endear it to modern parents.

MidgeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Sixties-style nickname which is also the name of a small biting insect, particularly prevalent in Scotland.

SuzanneHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Susan
  • Meaning:

    "lily"
  • Description:

    Suzanne became popular along with Susan but has just dropped out of the Top 1,000. Wait a generation (or two) in the US, though in France Suzanne is once again tres chic.
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GeneHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Eugene
  • Description:

    Like Ray, a formerly funky nickname name that is newly cool; used for rocker Liam Gallagher's son.

PeteHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Peter
  • Meaning:

    "rock"
  • Description:

    Sixties-style short form that sounds cool again -- though the unscrupulous Pete on "Mad Men" is not a character to emulate.

JudyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Judith
  • Description:

    Judy was the nickname of choice for almost all the Judiths born in the 1940s and 50s; today's little Judiths are much more likely to be called Judith -- or, possibly, Jude.

BobbieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Roberta, Barbara
  • Description:

    Dated nickname of the 1930s and 40s; Barbie without the wasp waist.
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