Cool Vintage Baby Names
Along with Emmett and Elsie, other cool vintage baby names in the US Top 500 include Ada, Calvin, Georgia, Hazel, Otto, Roman, Ruby, and Walter. More unique vintage names for babies that fall outside of the popularity charts include Barnaby, Tess, Leopold, and Winifred.
Coolness can be fleeting – maybe one day Elmer and Eunice will become fashionable again. Here are some of the coolest vintage names for babies – at least by popular agreement – right now.
Origin:Flower name; also Greek
Description:Iris is directly derived from the Greek word iris, meaning “rainbow.” In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger for Zeus and Hera who rode the rainbow as a multicolored bridge from heaven to earth. In ancient times, the Iris was considered a symbol of power and majesty, the three petal segments representing faith, wisdom and valor. This colorful image led to the naming of the flower and to the colored part of the eye.
Origin:French and English variation of Heloise
Description:To some, Eloise will forever be the imperious little girl making mischief at the Plaza Hotel, while the original version Heloise recalls the beautiful and learned wife of the French philosopher Peter Abelard, admired for her fidelity and piety.
Along with many other names with the El- beginning and featuring the L sound in any place, Eloise is newly chic. Eloise jumped back onto the popularity list in 2009, possibly thanks in part to the Eloise Hawking character on the popular TV series Lost. Eloise was the name of Jennifer Aniston's character in Love Happens. Denise Richards named one of her daughters Eloise.
Origin:English from Latin
Description:Silas is based on the name Silvanus, and the two are used interchangeably in the Bible. In the New Testament, St. Silas was a leading member of the early Christian community who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey. Sylvanus was the Roman god of trees and his name was originally bestowed on people who lived in wooded areas or who worked with wood.
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.
Origin:English or Irish
Meaning:"God spear, or deer-lover or champion warrior"
Description:Oscar has Irish and Norse roots—Norse Oscar comes from the Old English Osgar, a variation of the Old Norse name Ásgeirr. The Irish form was derived from the Gaelic elements os, meaning “deer,” and car, “loving.” In Irish legend, Oscar was one of the mightiest warriors of his generation, the son of Ossian and the grandson of Finn Mac Cumhaill (MacCool).
Description:In classical mythology, Cora—or Kore—was a euphemistic name of Persephone, goddess of fertility and the underworld. Kore was the name used when referencing her identity as the goddess of Spring, while Persephone referred to her role as queen of the Underworld. Cora gained popularity as a given name after James Fenimore Cooper used it as the name of his heroine, Cora Munro, in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.
Origin:German form of Latin Augustus
Description:August is THE celebrity baby name of the moment, chosen by both Princess Eugenie and Mandy Moore for their baby boys in early 2021. Before that, August had been heating up in Hollywood – used by Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann, Lena Olin, Dave Matthews and Jeanne Tripplehorn for their sons, and is rapidly becoming the preferred month of the year for boys' names. The month of August was named after the Emperor Augustus.
Description:Ivy is derived from the name of the ivy plant, which got its name from the Old English word ifig. Ancient Greeks presented an ivy wreath to newlyweds as a symbol of fidelity. In the language of flowers, Ivy signifies faithfulness.
Origin:Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
Meaning:"bitter or pearl"
Description:Mae is derived from May, the month name that was chosen for its connection to Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and motherhood. Mae can be used as a nickname for the names Mary and Margaret — actress Mae West was born Mary. Alternate spellings include May, Mei, and Maye. The May spelling makes it more of a month name, while Mae makes it an antique nickname name. Both can stand on their own, as seen by Hilary Duff's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.
Meaning:"bringer of treasure"
Description:Jasper originated as a variation of the Latin Gaspar, which ultimately derived from the Persian word ganzabara, meaning "bringer of treasure." As a given name, Jasper’s etymology is unrelated to that of the gemstone, which comes from a Semitic word meaning "speckled stone." Jasper is the usual English form for one of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the infant Christ according to medieval tradition and appears in the Bible as a reference to the stone itself in Revelations 4:3.
Origin:Diminutive of Theodore
Meaning:"gift of God"
Description:Many modern parents use Theo as the short form for Theodore rather than the dated Ted--including some celebs, such as Dallas Bryce Howard-- but others bypass the Grandpa name Theodore entirely and skip right to the hip nickname Theo. Short and ultra-chic, Theo's a cool, contemporary baby name choice.
Description:One of the most romantic of appellations, as well as being a geographical name of the large salty sea between Asia and Europe that probably inspired C.S. Lewis to use it for the name of the hero of his children's novel, Prince Caspian, part of the Chronicles of Narnia series.
Origin:English from Latin
Description:Violet is soft and sweet but far from shrinking. The Victorian Violet, one of the prettiest of the color and flower names, was chosen by high-profile parents Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, definitely a factor in its rapid climb to popularity. Violet cracked into the Top 50 for the first time ever in 2015.
Origin:English masculine variation of Emma, German
Description:Emmett, honest and sincere, laid-back and creative, is on the rise as a male cognate of the megapopular Emma and Emily, not to mention being a character in the popular Twilight series.
Description:Cutting-edge parents have revived this German name a la Oscar.
Description:Otis has a double image: it's cool and bluesy a la Otis Redding, but also an upscale, high-society name of the past. Otis has real appeal for parents attracted to its catchy O initial and combination of strength and spunk.
Origin:French from Latin
Description:The name of a fifth century saint and one of a new generation of French names being discovered in the US, Remy sounds particularly modern and attractive. The name Remy is being revived for both boys and girls, sometimes as Remi. It entered the popularity list in 2009 and has quickly become one of the fastest-rising names on the list.
Origin:French feminine variation of Joseph
Description:Josephine is the feminine form of Joseph, a name ultimately derived from the Hebrew Yosef, meaning "Jehovah increases." In French it has an accent over the first E, which was omitted in the English, German, and Dutch translations of the name. Empress Joséphine du Beauharnais was born Marie-Josephe-Rose, but called Josephine by her husband, Napolean Bonaparte.
Origin:Latin from Greek
Meaning:"person from ancient city of Sebastia"
Description:Sebastian is derived from the Greek Sebastianos, meaning “from Sebastia.” Sebastia was a city in Asia Minor—modern day Sivas, Turkey. Sebastian is a name with a substantial history, first as the third-century martyr whose sufferings were a favorite subject of medieval artists, then as the name of memorable characters in such varied works as Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Tempest and Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
Origin:French feminine version of Clement, Latin
Description:Clementine is a Nameberry favorite that has finally broken back into the US Top 1000 after more than half a century off the list. Still, its style value may mean there are more Clementines than you might guess in your neighborhood—it may be a name that raises Mom's eyebrows, but it won't surprise your friends.
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.
Origin:English from French and German
Meaning:"desired; or water, island"
Description:Evelyn derives from the French feminine given name Aveline, which is from an obscure Germanic root which may mean "desired, wished for" or "water, island". The name Aveline was brought over to England by the Normans, but it first became popular as a masculine name – a transferred use of the surname Evelyn, which comes from the same source. Variations include Evaline, Evalyn, Evelin, and Eveline.
Meaning:"God supports, heals"
Description:Josiah is derived from Yoshiyahu, a Hebrew name from the components yoshi, meaning “support,” and Yahu, referring to the Hebrew god. In the Old Testament, Josiah was an upright king of Judah from the age of eight, after his father Amon was murdered. Josias is a related Latin variation that is found in some biblical translations.
Description:Florence is back, returning to the US Top 1000 girl names in 2017 after a nearly 40 year absence. Other English-speaking countries have been quicker to welcome Florence back into fashion.
Description:Ada is derived from the German name Adelaide, which came from the ancient name Adalheidis. The root, adal, is a Germanic word meaning "noble." Ada can also be considered a variation of the biblical name Adah, pronounced AH-da, one of the first girls’ names mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
Origin:Greek from Hebrew
Meaning:"God is good"
Description:Tobias is the Greek form of the Hebrew Tobiah, which was derived from the name Toviyah. Toviyah was created from the elements tov, meaning "good" and yah, representing the Hebrew God. Tobias is the name of several biblical figures but is primarily associated with the story of Tobias and the Angel.
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.
Origin:Diminutive of Elizabeth via its Scottish variation, Elspeth
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Not so long ago, Elsie might have been on a list of Names Least Likely to Succeed—but look at her now! She is currently ranked very highly in the U.K., and in the US, she's widely used as well, having returned to the popular names list in 2005 after a thirty-year hiatus. Elsie is now one of the fastest-rising girl names starting with E.
Meaning:"the hazelnut tree"
Description:Hazel is a name applied from the English word hazel, referring to the hazelnut tree. The word was derived from the Old English hæsel of the same meaning. Historically, a wand of hazel symbolized protection and authority.
Meaning:"deep red precious stone"
Description:Ruby, vibrant red, sassy and sultry, has definitely outshone the other revived vintage gem names, with its sparkling resume of cultural references.
Origin:Feminine variation of William
Description:Willa has become increasingly fashionable, with its combination of Willa (born Wilella) Cather-like pioneer strength and the graceful beauty of the willow tree.
Description:Lucian is a sleeker, more sophisticated version of Lucius that is climbing in tandem with other Lu-starting names.
Meaning:"woman from Lydia"
Description:Lydia is a very early place name, that of an area of Asia Minor whose inhabitants are credited with the invention of coinage and of having strong musical talent—as well as great wealth.
Description:Jonah, the name of the Old Testament prophet who was swallowed by the whale, only to emerge unharmed three days later, is increasingly appreciated by parents looking for a biblical name less common than Jacob or Joshua, yet not too obscure. Plus, Jonah comes with a ready-made nursery-decorating motif.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:Persephone is the esoteric name of the Greek mythological daughter of Zeus by Demeter, the queen of the harvest. After she was kidnapped by Hades to be Queen of the Underworld, it was decreed by Zeus that she would spend six months of the year with her mother, allowing crops to grow, and six in mourning, thus accounting for the seasons.
Description:Flora, the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and spring, who enjoyed eternal youth, is one of the gently old-fashioned girls' flower names we think is due for a comeback--alongside cousins Cora and Dora. Also the name of a saint, Flora has long been a favorite in Scotland where it was the name of the young heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie make his way to France. Florence, Fiorella, Fleur, and Flower are translations, but we like Flora best of all.
Meaning:"citizen of Rome"
Description:Roman -- a surprise hit name of recent years -- owes much of its popularity to Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing, who almost simultaneously chose Roman for their sons, as Molly Ringwald did later.
In fact, several relatives of Roman are also newly stylish, from Romy to Romilly to Romeo. Definitely a romantic name, however you use it.
Origin:Latin, meaning unknown, possibly "title of honour"
Meaning:"title of honour"
Description:Titus, once seen as a slightly forbidding Roman, New Testament, and Shakespearean name, was brought back to contemporary life in the USA by the TV series Titus 2000, increasing in popularity along with other revived ancient names like Linus and Silas.
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.
Origin:Flower name, from Old English
Description:Clover is a charming, perky choice if you want to move beyond hothouse blooms like Rose and Lily, and it's recently become a new celeb favorite, chosen by both Neal McDonough and Natasha Gregson Wagner, who used it to honor her mother, Natalie Wood, one of whose most iconic films was Inside Daisy Clover.
Meaning:"she who brings happiness; blessed"
Description:Beatrix has a solid history of its own apart from Beatrice, with that final x adding a playful, animated note to the name's imposing history.
Origin:French variation of Latin Sylvia
Meaning:"from the forest"
Description:Although Sylvia seems to be having somewhat of a revival among trendsetting baby namers, we'd still opt for the even gentler and more unusual Sylvie. Despite being dated in its native France (where it was popular during the 1950s and 60s), in English-speaking regions it still feels fresh and international without being unfamiliar and has a cosmopolitan, international air. It debuted on the US Top 1000 in 2016.
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.
Description:Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.
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.
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.
Meaning:"good fortune, happy"
Description:Felicity is as accessible a virtue name as Hope and Faith, but much more feminine -- and dare we say, happier. The hit TV show did a lot to soften and modernize the once buttoned-up image of Felicity, and it got further notice as the red-haired Colonial doll, Felicity Merriman, in the American Girl series. A current bearer is actress Felicity Huffman.
Meaning:"healer; born in the morning"
Description:A short but strong biblical name with multicultural appeal, Asa is enjoying new visibility thanks to hot young actor Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame.
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.
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.