Old People Names

Old People Names

Old people names are at the cutting edge of the vintage baby name spectrum. Still considered too fusty for mainstream use, unique old people names are being dug out and dusted down by adventurous baby namers looking for rare choices that are still rich in history.

Are these ugly girl names and ugly boy names? We don't think so! It's all a matter of perspective. Names such as Barbara and Roland are still used for babies today, meaning some parents think they are cool enough to use on their children.

Along with Barbara and Roland, other old people names that rank in the US Top 1000 include Alfred, Eileen, Harold, Joyce, Maurice, and Patricia. Old people names starting to come back into style in the 2020s include Betty, Basil, Clarence, Loretta, Ned, Percy, Thora, and Winifred.

Like a loud vintage sweater or a pair of granny-chic glasses, the coolest old people names make a strong retro style statement but feel close enough to contemporary trends that they stand out for all the right reasons.

Some of these old people names seem like they’ll never feel youthful again, but who knows? Maybe your grandchildren will be called Nelda and Norman, Velma and Vernon.

Below, a selection of choices widely considered to be old people names – but possibly soon ripe for revival, ordered by current rank on Nameberry.

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Old Lady Names

Old Man Names

  1. Percy
    • Origin:

      French surname from place name Perci-en-Auge
    • Description:

      Percy is an adorable old name that is finally shedding its pampered Little Lord Fauntleroy image in this new era of boys with soft yet traditionally male names like Jasper and Elijah. Originating as an aristocratic Norman name, Percy became fairly widespread in England--and to some extent in the US--as an offshoot of the fame of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
  2. Rupert
    • Origin:

      German variation of Robert
    • Meaning:

      "bright fame"
    • 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.
  3. Winifred
    • Origin:

      Welsh
    • Meaning:

      "blessed peacemaking"
    • Description:

      One of the few remaining unrestored vintage gems, with a choice of two winning nicknames--the girlish Winnie and the tomboyish Freddie. Winifred, the name of a legendary Welsh saint, was a Top 200 name into the mid-1920's.
  4. Sol
    • Origin:

      Spanish
    • Meaning:

      "sun"
    • Description:

      Although pinochle-playing partner Sam came out of retirement, we don't see it happening to Sol. Near soundalike Saul has more of a shot.

  5. Ernest
    • Origin:

      English from German
    • Meaning:

      "serious, resolute"
    • Description:

      Ernest is one of those sober, so-far-out-they're-beginning-to-be-reconsidered Great Uncle names. Ernest recently received a big style boost when Britain's Princess Eugenie chose it for her second son.
  6. Barnaby
    • Origin:

      English variation of Barnabas, Aramaic
    • Meaning:

      "son of consolation"
    • Description:

      Barnaby, a genial and energetic name with an Irish-sounding three-syllable lilt, is an ancient appellation that manages to be both unusual and highly attractive and deserves to be used more than it is. A sweet-spot name that's a real winner.
  7. 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.

  8. 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.
  9. Alfred
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "wise counselor; elf counsel"
    • Description:

      Alfred is up off his recliner! If you're looking for a path to Fred, you can go directly to Frederick or take the long way around with the so-out-it's-in-again Alfred. Alfred is quite popular in several European countries, especially England and Wales, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Guy
    • Origin:

      French
    • Meaning:

      "wood"
    • Description:

      The patron saint of comedians and dancers (also known as St Vitus) has a name that is both the ultimate everyman, and has a hint of British aristocracy. In the States, Guy was most popular in the 1950s. Now he hovers steadily below the Top 1000, in the sweet spot of familiar but not overused. With the meteoric rise of Kai, Guy may have potential with parents looking for a more classic name with a similar sound.
  13. Albert
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "noble, bright"
    • Description:

      Albert has acquired a new gloss as one of the top royal baby boy names, a considerable upgrade from its serious, studious image (think Einstein, Schweitzer).
  14. 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.
  15. 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."
  16. Claude
    • Origin:

      French from Latin
    • Meaning:

      "lame; enclosure"
    • Description:

      Claude is a soft-spoken French name that conjures up the pastel colors of Monet and harmonies of Debussy. In France, it is used for girls as well, in fact in the Tracy Chevalier novel Lady and the Unicorn, the protagonist is a female Claude.
  17. Eileen
    • Origin:

      Scottish variation of Evelyn
    • Meaning:

      "desired; or water, island"
    • Description:

      The Scottish Eileen was a midcentury darling that was on a long downward slide for decades. And then, in 2012, it took an unexpected pivot and has been inching upward in the US. The unrelated but similar-sounding Isla may have revived the taste for Eileen. Isla along with Lee and Lena might be nicknames for Eileen. Eileen is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Eibhlin or Aibhilin, which is technically a form of to Evelyn/Aveline, but is also sometimes considered part of the Helen family of names. Aileen is the Irish version, less popular now than Eileen.
  18. Cecil
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "blind"
    • Description:

      Once a powerful Roman clan name, Cecil has lost much of its potency over the years, though it retains a strong presence in the sports and jazz worlds. Past bearers include film giant Cecil B. DeMille, poet Cecil Day Lewis, father of Daniel, and photographer Cecil Beaton. Fictional Cecils appear in Oscar Wilde's play, Lady Windemere's Fan, E. M. Foster's A Room With a View and the film Lee Daniel's The Butler.
  19. Sidney
    • Origin:

      French
    • Meaning:

      "Saint Denis"
    • Description:

      A contraction name, Sidney comes from Saint Denis and is related to Dioynsius, the Greek god of fertility and wine, although another theory is that it derived from an Anglo-Saxon place name, meaning 'at the wide island.'
  20. Patricia
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "noble, patrician"
    • Description:

      Patricia still sounds patrician, though its scores of nicknames definitely don't. Wildly popular from the forties (alternately Number 3 and 4 throughout the decade) to the sixties, Patricia has been fading ever since. But a comeback in its full form is definitely conceivable—just look at Penelope.