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Traditional Baby Names

Traditional Baby Names
Traditional baby names, by our definition, are those that have been used consistently in English-speaking countries for centuries — and are still in widespread use. While traditional names are often popular, that's not always true. Choices such as Emma and James have always been among the top baby names, while those like Antonia and Theresa have fallen off the popularity charts.

Along with Emma, Traditional girl names among the current Top 10 in the US include Olivia, Sophia, Isabella, and Charlotte. In addition to James, the traditional names at the top of the popularity list for boys include William, Oliver, Henry, and Benjamin.

Traditional baby names might not be the most exciting choices in the book, but they are the most reliable. Here are some of the most traditional baby names for both boys and girls.

Traditional Names for Babies
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LeoHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "lion"
  • Description:

    Leo was derived from the Latin leo, meaning “lion.” Thirteen popes have carried the name, including St. Leo the Great. In Germanic languages, Leo has historically been used as a nickname for names including Leon and Leopold. In Latinate languages, Leonardo is considered a full form for Leo.

OliviaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    Olivia is one of the top US baby names as well as one of the top girl names in English-speaking and European countries around the world.

TheodoreHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Theodore is a derivative of the Latin Theodorus, a variation of the Greek name Theodōros. The components are from the Greek words theos, meaning “God,” and dōron, meaning “gift,” giving Theodore the meaning “God-given” or “gift of God.” Names with similar origins include Theodora, Dorothy, and Dorothea.

ArthurHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    " bear"
  • Description:

    Arthur, once the shining head of the Knights of the Round Table, is, after decades of neglect, now being polished up and restored by some stylish parents, emerging as a top contender among names for the new royal prince.

EleanorHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of French Provencal Alienor, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    While some think Eleanor is a variation of Helen via Ellen, it actually derives from the Provencal phrase alia Aenor, meaning "other Aenor," used to distinguish the original Eleanor, who was named after her mother Aenor. Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine brought it from France to England in the twelfth century. Other spellings include Elinor and Eleanore.
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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.

AliceHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "noble"
  • Description:

    Alice was derived from the Old French name Aalis, a diminutive of Adelais that itself came from the Germanic name Adalhaidis. Adalhaidis, from which the name Adelaide is also derived, is composed of the Proto-Germanic elements aþala, meaning “noble,” and haidu, “kind, appearance, type.” Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland popularized the name in modern times.

JackHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Jack is a derivative of John that originated in medieval England. The name went from John to Johnkin to Jankin to Jackin to Jack. The name was so common in the Middle Ages that Jack became a generic term for a man.

CharlotteHeart

  • Origin:

    French, feminine diminutive of Charles
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    Charlotte is the feminine form of the male given name Charles. It derived from Charlot, a French diminutive of Charles meaning “little Charles,” and the name of Charlemagne’s son in French literature and legend. The name was popularized by England's Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of King George III.

ThomasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "twin"
  • Description:

    Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.
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RoseHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "rose, a flower"
  • Description:

    Rose is derived from the Latin rosa, which referred to the flower. There is also evidence to suggest it was a Norman variation of the Germanic name Hrodohaidis, meaning “famous type.” In Old English it was translated as Roese and Rohese.

JamesHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Jacob, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    James is an English derivation of the Hebrew name Jacob. James is biblical (the name of two apostles in the New Testament), royal (kings of both England and Scotland), presidential (with more U.S. Chief Executives named James (six) than any other name), and it is shared by countless great writers and entertainers.

JacobHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Jacob comes from the Latin name Iacobus, which was ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Ya’aqov. In the Old Testament, Jacob was one of the most important patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. He was the youngest son of Isaac and Rebecca and the twin brother of Esau, as well as the husband of both Leah and Rachel. The 12 tribes of Israel evolved from his 12 sons.

LucyHeart

  • Origin:

    English, variation of Lucia
  • Meaning:

    "light"
  • Description:

    Lucy is the English form of the Roman Lucia, which derives from the Latin word "lux" meaning "light." Lucy and Lucia were at one time given to girls born at dawn. Lucy can alternatively be spelled Luci or Lucie.

ClaireHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Clara
  • Meaning:

    "bright, clear"
  • Description:

    Claire is the French form of Clara, a feminine derivation of the Latin masculine name Clarus. The French word for “clear,” Claire’s meaning, is clair, and was traditionally a male name. Now the spelling is used mainly for girls, along with Clare, and occasionally Klaire or Klare.
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OliverHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    Oliver derives from Olivier, the Norman French variation of the Ancient Germanic name Alfher or the Old Norse Aleifr, which comes from Olaf. Olivier emerged as the dominant spelling for its associations with the Latin word oliva, meaning “olive tree.” Oliver was used as a given name in medieval England after the spread of the French epic poem ‘La Chanson de Roland,’ which features a character named Olivier.

GraceHeart

  • Origin:

    English, virtue name
  • Description:

    Grace is derived from gratia, the Latin word for “grace.” It existed as Gracia in the Middle Ages but was not in common use until the Puritans adopted it along with other Christian attribute names in the sixteenth century. It was used as a virtue name, in reference to divine grace—the love and kindness of God.

CharlesHeart

  • Origin:

    French from German
  • Meaning:

    "man, free man"
  • Description:

    Charles derives from the Germanic name Karl, meaning "man" or "freeman", and is a royal name in multiple European countries. A famous early bearer is Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and then Roman Emperor in the 8th-9th centuries. The word for “king” in several languages came from Charles, including Slavic, Russian, and Polish.

IsabellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and Italian variation of Elizabeth, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Isabella is the Latinate form of Isabel, a variation of Elizabeth which originally derived from the Hebrew name Elisheba. Variations Isabelle and Isabel are also popular, with the Scottish spelling Isobel another possibility. Newer alternatives include Sabella and Isabetta.

LouisHeart

  • Origin:

    German and French
  • Meaning:

    "renowned warrior"
  • Description:

    Kate and William shocked the world when they announced that they'd named their third child Louis -- Prince Louis Arthur Charles, to be more precise. But we've been predicting a comeback for this classic name for a long time.
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NathanielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Nathaniel was derived from the Hebrew name Netan’el, meaning “gift of God,” composed of the elements natan, meaning “to give,” and ’el, in reference to God. The name is featured several times in the Old and New Testaments, typically spelled Nathanael. In the New Testament, Nathanael is also known by his other name, Bartholomew.

JuliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "youthful or sky father"
  • Description:

    Julia was an ancient Roman imperial name given to females in the house of a Julius, as in Caesar. Its origin is shrouded in history, but possible roots include Latin iuvenis, meaning "youthfu"; Greek ioulos, meaning “downy-bearded”; or Jovis, a form of Jupiter, which means "sky father".

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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SamuelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "told by God"
  • Description:

    Samuel was derived from the Hebrew name Shemu’el, meaning “told by God.” In the Old Testament, Samuel was one of the great judges and prophets of the Israelites, destined for a holy life from birth. He established the Hebrew monarchy, anointing both Saul and David as kings.

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.

DanielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my judge"
  • Description:

    Daniel was derived from the Hebrew name Daniyyel, from the elements din, meaning “judge,” and ’el, “God.” The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament describes the Jewish prophet’s life of captivity in Babylon and visions of the last days of Earth. Dan and Danny are common short forms of Daniel.

AndrewHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Andrew is a variant of the Greek name Andreas, ultimately derived from the element aner, meaning “man.” In the New Testament, Andrew was one of the twelve apostles and the first disciple to be called by Jesus. Although the origins of the name are Greek, Andrew is the patron saint of both Scotland and Russia, as well as Greece. It has associations with two of America's most famous artists, Wyeth and Warhol.

AlexanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "defending men"
  • Description:

    Alexander is derived from the Greek name Aléxandros, composed of the elements aléxein, meaning “to defend,” and aner, meaning “man.” According to Greek legend, the first Alexander was Paris, who was given the nickname Alexander by the shepherds whose flocks he defended against robbers. He was followed by Alexander the Great, aka Alexander III, who conquered much of Asia.
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EmmaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "universal"
  • Description:

    Emma originated as a diminutive for Germanic names beginning with the ermen root. A very old royal name well used throughout the centuries—Queen Emma married King Ethelred the Unready in 1002—Emma is also historically associated with Lady Hamilton, the mistress of Lord Nelson and muse of painter George Romney.

IsaacHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "laughter"
  • Description:

    Isaac evolved from the name Yitzchaq, derived from the Hebrew word tzachaq, meaning “to laugh.” In the Old Testament, Isaac was the long-awaited son of the elderly Sarah and 100-year-old Abraham, so old that their news provoked laughter, giving the name its meaning. Isaac is used as a given name among Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.

ElizabethHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Elizabeth is derived from the Hebrew name Elisheva, formed by the components ’el, meaning “God,” and shava’, “oath.” In the Bible, Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist, and two of England's most notable queens have been Elizabeth I and II. Another memorable bearer was Elizabeth Taylor—who hated to be called Liz.

EstherHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • Meaning:

    "star"
  • Description:

    Esther was derived from the Old Persian word stāra, meaning “star.” In the Old Testament, Esther, originally named Hadassah, was the captured Jewish wife of the King of Persia who risked her life to save her exiled people from annihilation. This story is celebrated by Jews on the holiday of Purim, so that it has traditionally been given to girls around that time.

SimonHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the listener"
  • Description:

    Simon is pure and simple (not in the nursery rhyme sense), and an appealingly genuine Old and New Testament name that's not overused -- making Simon a stylish choice. In the Bible, Simon was the second son of Jacob and Leah and the original name of Saint Peter, as well as the name of several New Testament figures. Historically, Simon Bolivar is known as The Liberator of Latin America.
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EmilyHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Emil, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "rival"
  • Description:

    Emily was derived from the Roman name Aemilia, which may have evolved from the Latin word aemulus, meaning “hardworking” or “rival.” Amelia, although similar, has separate origins — it was derived from the Germanic name Amalia. Emilia, however, has the same Latin root as Emily.

WesleyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "western meadow"
  • Description:

    Wesley is one of a group of W-starting surname names reminiscent of the Old West that are making a comeback -- though it's not as well used as it was in the 1970s, when he ranked as high as Number 66.

JohnHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    John is an English derivative of the Hebrew name Yochanan via the Latin name Iohannes, itself coming from the Greek Ioannes. John was a key name in early Christianity, borne by John the Baptist, John the Apostle and John the Evangelist, plus 84 saints and 23 popes, as well as kings and countless other illustrious notables. Contrary to popular belief, the names John and Jonathan are unrelated, the latter being an elaboration of Nathan.

DavidHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "beloved"
  • Description:

    David is derived from the Hebrew name Dawid, which evolved from the element dod, meaning “beloved.” It is the name of the Old Testament second king of Israel who, as a boy, slew the giant Philistine Goliath with his slingshot. He grew up to become a wise and highly cultivated leader who enjoyed music and was a poet, later providing inspiration to such great sculptors as Michelangelo and Donatello.

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.”
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JoshuaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord is my salvation"
  • Description:

    Joshua was derived from the Hebrew name Yehoshu’a, from the roots yeho, referring to God, and yasha’, meaning “to save.” Joshua shares origins with the name Jesus, which comes from the Aramaic variation Yeshu’a. An important figure in the Old Testament, Joshua was the successor to Moses who finally led the Israelites into the Promised Land, inspiring the hymn "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho."

BenjaminHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "son of the right hand"
  • Description:

    Benjamin is derived from the Hebrew name Binyamin, from the elements ben, meaning “son” and yamin, “right hand.” In the Old Testament, Benjamin was the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob and Rachel in the Book of Genesis, and he was one of the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Nicknames for Benjamin include Ben, Benny, Benji, and Benno.

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.

SophiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "wisdom"
  • Description:

    Sophia was derived from sophia, the Greek word for wisdom. The name was first famous via St. Sophia, venerated in the Greek Orthodox church—St. Sophia was the mother of three daughters named Faith, Hope and Love. It was first used in England in the seventeenth century and was the name of George I's both mother and wife.

MadelineHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Magdalen
  • Meaning:

    "high tower or woman from Magdala"
  • Description:

    This lovely name with a soft and delicate image is an old-fashioned favorite that returned to favor in the 1990's, combining a classic pedigree with a cute nickname option: Maddy.
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NicholasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "people of victory"
  • Description:

    Nicholas is derived from the Greek Nikolaos, a name that evolved from the components nikē, meaning “victory”, and laos, “people.” It shares origins with Nike, the name of the Greek goddess of victory. Nicholas is also a New Testament name that is well-used in literature, such as in Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby.

AaronHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "high mountain; exalted, enlightened"
  • Description:

    The origin of the name Aaron is debated—some say it was derived from Hebrew, while others claim it originated in Ancient Egypt. In the Old Testament, Aaron, the older brother of Moses who was appointed by God to be his brother's spokesman, was the first High Priest of the Israelites. The Hebrew version is Aharon—in Yiddish it can be Aaran—and the name appears in Arabic as Haroun or Harun.

IsabelHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish variation of Elizabeth
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Isabel derived from Elizabeth in southwest Europe during the Middle Ages. It was originally written as Elisabel, but the first syllable was dropped as it spread across the continent. In Spain and Portugal, Isabel and Elizabeth are considered to be variations of the same name, but they are treated as separate names in other European countries and the US.

NaomiHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "pleasantness"
  • Description:

    Naomi was once a primarily Jewish name from the Old Testament that referenced the mother-in-law of Ruth. Because of this, it is a symbolic name given to girls on Shavuot when the story of Ruth is read in the synagogue. The French version is Noemie, in Italian Noemi. Naomi also has separate Japanese origins as a unisex name meaning “straight and beautiful.”

VincentHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "conquering"
  • Description:

    Vincent is a name with a complex image. After being quietly used for centuries, it is suddenly seeming stylish, along wih other V names. Even the nickname Vince has been given a reprieve via actor Vince Vaughn and country singer Vince Gill. Vin Diesel was born with the more prosaic name Mark Vincent.
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