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Old-Fashioned Baby Names

Old-Fashioned Baby Names
Baby names tend to follow hundred-year cycles of popularity. The old-fashioned names here were last popular a century ago. Some of these names, such as Emma and Henry, were recently considered to be vintage names, but are now so popular among babies that they’ve shed any lingering dustiness.

Along with Emma and Henry, other old-fashioned baby names in the US Top 500 include Abraham, Arthur, Edith, Frederick, Josephine, Olive, Philip, Rosemary, and Walter. Other old-fashioned names that are up-and-coming include Amos, Ida, Lucinda, and Ralph.

Vintage baby names are always a popular category among parents, but the names in this category shift over the years. Some of the old-fashioned boy names and old-fashioned girl names recommended for your consideration today include:
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HazelHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • 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.

AugustHeart

  • Origin:

    German form of Latin Augustus
  • Meaning:

    "great, magnificent"
  • 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.

CoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • 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.

OscarHeart

  • 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).

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.
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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.

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.

TheoHeart

  • 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.

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.

SebastianHeart

  • 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.
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ClaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bright, clear"
  • Description:

    Long relegated to an Olde World backwater, the European-flavored Clara has been speeding up the charts on sleeker sister Claire's coattails for the past few decades. Now, many would say the vintage chic Clara is the more stylish of the two names. Actor Ewan McGregor was an early celebrity adopter of the name for one of his daughters.

JasperHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • 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.

LeviHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "joined, attached"
  • Description:

    In the Old Testament, Levi was the third son of Leah and Jacob, from whom the priestly tribe of Levites descended; in the New Testament, Levi was Matthew's given name before he became an apostle. It is suspected that Levi derives from the Hebrew word yillaweh, meaning “he will join.”

ElijahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Yahweh is God"
  • Description:

    Elijah is derived from the Hebrew name Eliyahu, composed of the elements ’el and yah, both of which refer to God. In the Old Testament, Elijah was the prophet who went to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elias is the related, Greek variation of Elijah.

JosephineHeart

  • Origin:

    French feminine variation of Joseph
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah increases"
  • 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.
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AdelaideHeart

  • Origin:

    Variant of Adelheidis, German
  • Meaning:

    "noble, nobility"
  • Description:

    Adelaide is now heading straight uphill on the coattails of such newly popular sisters as Ava, Ada, and Audrey, and in the company of Adeline and Amelia. It was chosen by actress Katherine Heigl for the name of her second daughter.

MatildaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "battle-mighty"
  • Description:

    The comeback of this sweet vintage name, one of the most stylish girls' names starting with M, has been prompted by a boomlet of starbaby Matildas, beginning with chef Gordon Ramsey's in 2002 and Moon Unit Zappa's two years later. But the renaissance of this name of the charming Roald Dahl heroine was assured when Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger chose Matilda for their daughter.

JosiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • 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.

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.

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.
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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.

FlorenceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "flourishing, prosperous"
  • Description:

    Florence, which has been neglected for decades, has a lot going for it, both for its floral feel and as a place name connection to the lovely Italian city (after which Florence Nightingale was named—it was her birthplace). The association to the city seems to be helping Florence stir back to life, along with cousin Flora.

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.

ElizaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Eliza originated as a diminutive of Elizabeth and eventually became used as a name in its own right. Despite its similarity to the Hebrew name Aliza, meaning “joyful,” the two are unrelated. Eliza Schuyler Hamilton was the wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, recognizable today as one of the lead characters in the musical “Hamilton.”

BeatriceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness; blessed"
  • Description:

    Beatrice is derived from Beatrix, a Latin name meaning “she who brings happiness.” Beatrice was the name of Queen Victoria's youngest child. And in Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, Beatrice is his guide through Paradise and is idealized as the embodiment of the spirit of love. In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice is the witty, high-spirited heroine. Other variants of the name include the French Béatrice and the Spanish and Portuguese Beatriz.
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EllaHeart

  • Origin:

    German; English
  • Meaning:

    "all, completely; fairy maiden"
  • Description:

    Ella has parallel derivations, first as the Norman variation of the Germanic Alia—itself a nickname for names containing the element ali. It’s also a Hebrew name, referring to a tree in the pistachio family or in modern Hebrew, “goddess.” In English speaking countries and Scandinavia, Ella developed as a diminutive for names beginning with El-, such as Eleanor and Elizabeth.

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.

LydiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • 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.

EdithHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "prosperous in war"
  • Description:

    Edith was a hugely popular name a hundred years ago that's being revived among stylish parents in Stockholm and London. It's currently beginning to gain traction in the US among those with a taste for old-fashioned names with a soft but strong image.
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JulianHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin, variation of Julius
  • Meaning:

    "youthful, downy-bearded, or sky father"
  • Description:

    Julian was derived from Iulianus, which in turn came from Julius, a Roman family name. 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".
    ,br/>Julian was a 4th century Roman emperor, and St. Julian the Hospitaller is the patron saint of travelers. In Medieval England, Julian was considered a unisex name, eventually giving rise to the feminine given name Gillian.

CatherineHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    Catherine is one of the oldest and most consistently well-used girls’ names, with endless variations and nicknames. The Catherine form feels more gently old-fashioned and feminine than the more popular K versions. Most stylish nickname for Catherine right now: Kate...or Cate, a la Blanchett.

OliveHeart

  • Origin:

    English, from Latin, nature name
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    Though greatly overshadowed by the trendy Olivia, Olive has a quiet, subtle appeal of its own -- and is now enjoying a remarkable comeback. Olive is one of only four girl names starting with O on the US Top 1000. Cool couple Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen chose it for their daughter, reviving the name to stylishness, and now Drew Barrymore has a little Olive too, as has country singer Jake Owen.

CalvinHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bald, hairless"
  • 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.

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.
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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.

PhineasHeart

  • Origin:

    English, Egyptian
  • Meaning:

    "the Nubian"
  • Description:

    Phineas is the English variation of Phinehas, a Hebrew name likely derived from the Egyptian name Pa-nehasi. Pa-nehasi, meaning “the Nubian” can also be translated as “the bronze-colored one.” The Egyptians distinguished themselves from their Nubian neighbors through differences in skin tone.

WalterHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "army ruler"
  • Description:

    Walter was seen as a noble name in the Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Walter Scott era, but it then spent decades in baby name limbo. Now quite a few independent-minded parents are looking at it as a renewable, slightly quirky, classic, stronger and more distinctive than James or John, second only to William among the handsome classic boy baby names starting with W. The recent popularity of Breaking Bad has brought us Walter White, conferring on the name Walter a new kind of cool and prompting a fresh wave of popularity.

ThaddeusHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic, meaning unclear, possibly from Theodore
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Thaddeus, a distinguished, long-neglected name, has several areas of appeal: a solid New Testament legacy, a nice antique feel, and the choice of several more modern nicknames and international variations.

WinifredHeart

  • 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--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.
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HarrietHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of French Henriette
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Harriet has long been considered a stylish, upscale name in England, but it's still waiting to be revived in the US—though some parents seeking a solid, serious semi-classic are beginning to consider it.

FrederickHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful ruler"
  • 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.

AmosHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "carried by God"
  • Description:

    Amos is a robust biblical name that's being discovered by a new generation of parents in a major way.

IdaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "industrious one"
  • Description:

    Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.

LaviniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, from ancient place name Lavinium
  • Description:

    Lavinia is a charmingly prim and proper Victorian-sounding name which actually dates back to classical mythology, where it was the name of the wife of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who was considered the mother of the Roman people.
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ChesterHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "fortress, walled town,"
  • Description:

    Chester is a comfortable, little-used teddy-bear of a name that suddenly sounds both quirky and cuddly.

CecilyHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Cecil
  • Meaning:

    "blind"
  • Description:

    Cecily is as dainty as a lace handkerchief. Cecily has a wide assortment of namesakes. One Cecily was the mother of King Richard III, whose beauty gained her the title "the Rose of Raby," Cecily Parsley is a Beatrix Potter bunny, Cecily Cardew is a character in The Importance of Being Earnest, and the author of the Gossip Girl books is Cecily von Ziegesar.

RalphHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "wolf-counsel"
  • 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.

PhilipHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "lover of horses"
  • Description:

    Philip, the name of one of the 12 apostles, is still favored by parents in search of a solid boys' classic that is less neutral than Robert or John and more distinctive than Daniel or Matthew and has many historic, royal ties.

GeorgeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "farmer"
  • Description:

    Iconoclasts though we may be, we like Fred, we like Frank, and we like George, which was among the Top 10 from 1830 to 1950, when the number of little Georges started to decline. Solid, strong, royal and saintly, yet friendly and unpretentious, we think that George is in prime position for a comeback, especially since it was chosen by Britain's royal couple.
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