Cool Midcentury Baby Names
Cool baby names from the middle of the 20th century are coming into style on the heels of midcentury houses and furniture. True, some baby names popular from the 1940s through the 60s may feel like dowdy, overplayed Baby Boomer names just heading into retirement and not due back in style for another generation or two. But some cool guy and girl midcentury names, with their sleek lines and no-nonsense feel, are starting to feel fresh again to the adventurous baby namer.
Meaning:"rose, a flower"
Description:Rose is derived from the Latin rosa, which referred to the flower. There is also evidence to suggest it was a Norman variation of the Germanic name Hrodohaidis, meaning “famous type,” and also Hros</>, "horse". In Old English it was translated as Roese and Rohese.
Meaning:"God is gracious"
Description:No, we don't consider Jane too plain. In fact, for a venerable and short one-syllable name, we think it packs a surprising amount of punch, as compared to the related Jean and Joan.
Origin:English from Latin
Meaning:"from France; free man"
Description:Frances is the feminine form of Francis, the English variation of the Latin name Franciscus. Franciscus, meaning "Frenchman," was taken from the Germanic tribe the Franks, which got its name from the francisca, the axe they used in battle. Until the seventeenth century, the spellings Frances and Francis were used interchangeably for both sexes.
Origin:English variation of French Henriette
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.
Origin:Latin, month named for goddess Juno
Description:June, a sweetly old-fashioned month name derived from the goddess Juno, was long locked in a time capsule with June Allyson (born Ella) and June Cleaver, but is rising again especially as a middle name.
Description:Eve, the oldest name in the Book, is now coming back into style, having the virtues of simplicity and purity, yet with more strength and resonance than other single-syllable names like Ann. British actor Clive Owen chose Eve for his daughter, as did Jessica Capshaw.
Origin:Diminutive of Raymond
Description:Ruth, with its air of calm and compassion, was the third most popular name in the 1890s, remaining in the Top 10 through the 1920s. It's still in use today as some parents tiring of Rachel and Rebecca are giving Ruth a second thought. Some see such Old Testament girls’ names as Ruth and Esther rising on the heels of boy equivalents Abel and Moses.
Origin:Diminutive of Francis or Franklin
Meaning:"Frenchman or free man"
Description:A Top 10 name from the 1880s until the 1920s, Frank has fallen from favor but still has a certain warm, friendly real-guy grandpa flavor that could come back into style, like other such choices as Jake and Jack. Maybe thanks to Sinatra, it's become a new hipster favorite with such couples as Diana Krall and Elvis Costello.
Origin:English, diminutive of Edith
Meaning:"prosperous in war"
Description:Edie is part of the Evie-Ellie et al family of cute and friendly short forms that sometimes stand on its own. Briefly popular in the 1960's, it could well be due for rediscovery.
Origin:French and English, feminine variation of Louis
Description:Louise has for several decades now been seen as competent, studious, and efficient—desirable if not dramatic qualities. But now along with a raft of other L names, as well as cousin Eloise, Louise is up for reappreciation—sleek and chic, stylish in Paris, and starting to become so in the US as well. Louisa is perhaps more in tune with the times, but Louise has more edge. Louise has been on the rise lately, and reentered the US Top 1000 for the first time in a quarter century in 2016.
Meaning:"torch; shining light"
Description:Helen is a name that has connoted beauty since ancient times – Helen of Troy was the the mythological "face that launched a thousand ships," over whom the ten-year Trojan War was fought.
Origin:Diminutive of Beatrice
Meaning:"she who brings happiness"
Description:Bea is a former old lady name that's cute again as a short form -- and is now beginning to stand on its own. Bee is a variation that, like Bea, can work as a diminutive for any name that starts with the letter B, or in the middle. Bea actually stood alone on the popularity lists for four years at the beginning of the twentieth century--and it could happen again.
Description:Dean may sound to some like a retro surfer boy name, but it is once again climbing up the popularity chart in the USA. For decades it was associated with Dean (born Dino) Martin; more recent representatives include Dean Cain, Dean McDermott and Dean Koontz -- not to mention Jared Padalecki's dreamy Dean Forester in Gilmore Girls.
Origin:Scottish or Irish
Description:Mack, when "formalized" with the final k, makes an engagingly amiable choice, a far more
Origin:Diminutive of Elizabeth
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Combine the popularity of Betty White and Mad Men's glamorous Betty Draper Francis, with the residual sweetness of Ugly Betty's Betty Suarez, and the result is an impending return of the name. It's got presidential cred via Betty Ford and feminist history through Betty Friedan.
Origin:English, diminutive of Wilhelmina, Wilma
Description:Billie is a tomboy nickname name, part of the growing trend for using boyish nicknames for girls and now destined for stardom along with its most famous contemporary bearer, music sensation Billie Eilish.
Origin:English diminutive of Ann
Description:Nancy originated as a contraction of “mine Ancy,” with Ancy being a nickname for Annis, a Medieval English variation of Agnes. In the 18th century it began being used in its own right, as well as a nickname for Ann. Related names include Nan, Nance, Nanette, Nanny, and Nanou.
Origin:English, diminutive of Katherine
Description:Kit is a crisp, old-time British-accented unisex nickname that sounds fresh and modern today. Kitty is another so-retro-it's-cool nickname.
Origin:Diminutive of Henry, German
Description:Hank is a midcentury guy nickname (which actually dates back to the seventeenth century) of the Al/Hal/Dick school, which has been on recess from the playground for decades. Now it's just beginning to be given on its own again, appreciated for its earthy, sportsguy cool. Hanks Aaron and Greenberg (born Henry) and Hank Williams (born Hiram) Sr and Jr. are worthy namesakes.