Old Man Names Back in Style
Old man names have been fashionable for baby boys for so long now that many of them have morphed into popular baby names: Henry and Samuel rank among the top names in the US, while in the UK, Harry, Leo, and Oscar are all among their most popular baby names.
But don't worry, there are plenty more Old Man Names where those came from! To qualify as a cool Old Man Name, a name has to feel both classic and slightly moth-eaten, like the perfect vintage cardigan.
Along with Henry and Samuel, other Old Man Names in the US Top 500 include Arthur, Cyrus, Theodore, Otto, Silas, Harvey, Victor, and Frederick. Old man names more common in the UK than in the US include Albert, Ralph, Stanley, and Wilfred.
Like Biblical boy names, antique old man names are constantly being revived by parents. Today's newest old-fashioned boy names include such relics as Herbert, Harold, and Clyde.
Here are the names for boys we're watching as the next wave of retro Old Man Names ready for revival, ranked according to their current popularity on Nameberry.
Meaning:"gift of God"
Description:As unlikely as it may seem, Theodore is a hot new hit name, vaulting into the Top 10 in 2021 for the first time ever. Friendly nickname Theo may be responsible for some of that, though there are plenty of baby boys given Theo as their full name too. Add their numbers together, and the two names jump to Number 6.
Origin:Aramaic, Latin, Greek
Meaning:"of the forest; or prayed for"
Description:Silas is both a mythological and Biblical name, hitting its highest popularity point ever in the US last year. Now ranking firmly in the Top 100, Silas is a longstanding favorite with Nameberry visitors.
Description:Otto is cool again. Long a quintessential Old Man Name, Otto has been promoted to trending darling of adventurous baby namers.
Description:Cyrus is one of those surprising names that have always ranked among the Top 1000 boy names in the US. On an upward trend since the mid-90s, Cyrus now sits in that comfortable place between too popular and too unusual.
Origin:Variation of Otto, German
Description:Otis has real appeal for parents attracted to its catchy O initial and combination of strength and spunk. The appealing hero of the British TV show Sex Education has done much to propel Otis into the forefront of cool names.
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 stylish parents, inspired perhaps by the new generation of royals. Arthur has led the list of possible names for the young British princes, chosen as a middle name for Prince Louis, son of William and Catherine, Prince and Princess of Wales.
Origin:German and French
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.
Origin:Diminutive of Archibald, Teutonic
Description:Archie made global news as the surprise first name of the newborn royal baby, son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aka Harry and Meghan. Archie has now officially transcended Archie Bunker and Riverdale's Archie to take the, um, throne as the quintessential retro nickname name.
Meaning:"hewer; or, having a stump for a hand"
Description:Gideon is a no-longer neglected Old Testament name, but still makes an excellent choice for parents looking to move beyond such overused biblicals as Benjamin and Jacob. In the Old Testament, Gideon was a judge called on by God to rescue the Jews from the Midianites, and the name was popular among the Puritans.
Origin:Dutch form of Jasper, Persian
Meaning:"bringer of treasure"
Description:This ancient name, also spelled Caspar, is finally shedding its ghostly image and moving into the 21st century. Popular in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where it's sometimes shortened to Cas, Casper could ride the style coattails of cousin Jasper. Casper was one of the Three Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus along with Melchior and Balthasar.
Harvey, which was brought to England by the Normans and is a version of the French name Herve, is a genial, old-timey name that has been much more popular across the pond. It has been a Top 100 choice in England & Wales since 1997.
Description:Ezekiel is derived from the Hebrew name Yechezqel, composed of the elements chazaq, meaning “to strengthen,” and ’el, referring to God. Ezekiel is a prominent prophet in the Old Testament and the author of the Book of Ezekiel, predicting the fall of Jerusalem and eventual rehabilitation of Israel.
Meaning:"behold, a son"
Description:Reuben is derived from the Hebrew words ra’a, meaning "to see, to understand," and ben, "son." As a phrase it translates to "behold, a son." In the Bible, Reuben is Jacob's first-born son by Leah and the founder of one of the tribes of Israel.
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.
Description:Calvin is a slightly quirky but cozy name that has a fashion edge thanks to Calvin Klein. It has been steadily on the popularity list since records were kept, never lower than Number 250, peaking in the 1920s, the era of the Calvin (originally John Calvin ) Coolidge presidency.
Origin:German variation of Robert
Description:Rupert is a charming-yet-manly name long more popular in Britain (where it's attached to a beloved cartoon bear) than in the U.S. Yet we can see Rupert as a more stylish, modern way to honor an ancestral Robert.
Meaning:"son of the furrow"
Description:Bartholomew is an apostle's name that's been out of favor for centuries but might appeal again to the parent in search of an old but rare choice. The challenge could be to avoid the Simpson-ish nickname. That character, by the way, has the full name of Bartholomew JoJo Simpson, and creator Matt Groening came up with Bart as an--uh oh--anagram for brat. Two old alternate nicknames are Barty and Tolly.
Description:Frederick, and friendlier nickname Fred, seemed almost to have disappeared, leaving just the memory of Freds past such as Astaire, Mr. Rogers and Flintstone. But today's parents are beginning to recognize it as a strong classic and one of the top royal baby boy names.
Origin:English from German
Description:Ralph has two diametrically different images: there's the suave Ralph Fiennes-type Brit (often pronounced Rafe), and then there's the Jackie Gleason blue-collar, bowling blowhard Ralph Kramden bus driver. It's all in the eye of the beholder, though its hip factor did rise when it was chosen for his son by cool U.K. actor Matthew Macfadyen.
Origin:Latin and English
Description:Orson has had in the past a rotund teddy-bear image, a la Orson Welles, who early on dropped his common given name of George in favor of his more distinctive middle one, and who seemed to own it during his lifetime. No longer a single-person signature, it's now an interesting possibility for any parent seeking an unusual yet solid name. It's started to appear to the celeb set--both Paz Vega and Lauren Ambrose have little Orsons.