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.
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.
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.
Description:One of the few remaining unrestored vintage gems, with a choice of two winning nicknames--the girlish Winnie and the tomboyish Freddie--as well as the slight stretch Freda. Winifred, the name of a legendary Welsh saint, was a Top 200 name into the mid-1920's.
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.
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.
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.
Description:Albert has acquired a new gloss as one of the top royal baby boy names, a serious upgrade from its serious, studious image (think Einstein, Schweitzer). Albert remained popular for 80 years, and though it's far less fashionable today, it's still a widely used choice. Still, along with such stalwarts as Walter and George, it could now make an unusual yet classic choice. It became especially popular in Britain following the 1840 marriage of Queen Victoria to the German Prince Albert. Enlivening nickname Bertie is popular on its own in England.
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.
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.
Origin:English from German
Description:Ernest is one of those sober, so-far-out-they're-beginning-to-be-reconsidered Great Uncle names. It was a Top 40 name from 1880 to 1926, and has never been completely off the Social Security list.
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.
Origin:Scottish variation of Evelyn
Meaning:"desired; or water, island"
Description:Irish Aileen continues to be more popular than Scottish Eileen, though both names have seen an unexpected resurgence since 2012. Nicknames for Eileen include Isla, Lee and Lina. 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. It was quite popular in the early part of the twentieth century.
Origin:Scottish from German
Description:The short form Archie is so open and friendly --and very trendy in the British Isles--that some parents are now beginning to consider the formerly fusty Archibald as well. SNL comedians Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are one couple who made this breakthrough choice.
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.
Description:Eugene is a classic that has rather lost its way. On the one hand, it's a grandpa, even great-grandpa name that hasn't been one of the cool kids recently—or to quote Jim Carrey, who bears this name in the middle spot, "You can never get too cool with a name like Eugene." The hero of Disney's Tangled felt the same way, when he changed his birth name of Eugene to the more romantic Flynn.
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.
Meaning:"lady of sorrows"
Description:Though it's related to the Virgin Mary, this name was once perceived as the height of sensuality, a role since taken over by nicknames Lola and Lolita.
Meaning:"famous throughout the land"
Description:Roland is a chivalrous old name made famous by the supposedly eight-foot-tall romantic hero and nephew of Charlemagne, celebrated in medieval poetry and song. It is more widely heard in the US now in its Spanish form, Rolando. You might want to consider rollicking short form Rollo, either on its own or as an abbreviation of Roland. Orlando is the graceful Italian form.
Description:Clement, the name of fourteen popes and several saints, has a pleasantly, positive, slightly antiquated feel, like the phrase "clement weather."
Description:A major figure in the Old Testament, Enoch was the son of Jared, the father of Methuselah, and the great-grandfather of Noah whose Book of Enoch provides a focal point for ancient Jewish mysticism. Another Enoch was the son of Cain. "Enoch Arden" is a famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. On the negative side, British politician Enoch Powell gave the infamously racist Rivers of Blood anti-immigration speech, taking the name out of consideration for many parents in the UK.