1930s names took a serious turn along with the mood of the country during the Great Depression, with many names popular in that decade feeling decidedly out of style today. But given the Hundred Year Rule, we see names from the 1930s starting to feel more appealing over the coming decade
We may be in for a new generation of girls named Barbara and Joan and boys called Ronald and Howard. Along with Ronald and Howard, other 1930s boy names that remain in the US Top 1000 include Alice, Arthur, Francis, Marvin, and Walter. 1930s girl names still in the Top 1000 include Dorothy, Irene, and Patricia.
Other 1930s names are fading from sight. Among those 1930s baby names with the greatest drop in popularity are Wanda and Phyllis for girls, and Fred and Earl for boys.
These 1930s names may be familiar to you via grandparents or great-grandparents or other older relatives born in the first half of the 20th century. If you are interested in exploring names from the 1930s for your baby, browse the selection here drawn from the Top 50 for that decade but relatively rare today.
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 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 name Aliénor, of highly-debated meaning. It may come from the Germanic name Adenorde, meaning "ancient north" or "noble north". Another theory is that it derives from the Latin phrase alia Aenor, meaning "other Aenor," used to distinguish some 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.
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.
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 variation of Jacob, Hebrew
Description:James is an English derivation of the Hebrew name Jacob. James is biblical (the name of two apostles in the New Testament), royal (kings of both England and Scotland), presidential (with more U.S. Chief Executives named James (six) than any other name), and it is shared by countless great writers and entertainers.
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.
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.
Description:Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.
Origin:English, diminutive of John
Meaning:"God is gracious"
Description:Jack is a derivative of John that originated in medieval England. The name went from John to Johnkin to Jankin to Jackin to Jack. The name was so common in the Middle Ages that Jack became a generic term for a man.
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:German and French
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.
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Elizabeth is derived from the Hebrew name Elisheva, formed by the components ’el, meaning "God," and shava’, "oath." In the Bible, Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist, and two of England's most notable queens have been Elizabeth I and II. Another memorable bearer was Elizabeth Taylor—who hated to be called Liz.
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.
Description:Margaret is derived from the French Marguerite, which in turn came from Margarita, the Latin form of the Greek Margarites. Margarites was based on the Old Persian word margārīta, meaning "pearl."
Origin:Variation of Hannah, Hebrew
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.
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.
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.
Description:William is derived from the Germanic name Wilhelm, composed of the elements wil, "will," and helm, referring to a helmet or protection. The name was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, with William being the Norman variation of the name. In Central and Southern France, it was translated as Guillaume.
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.
Meaning:"who is like God?"
Description:Michael was derived from the name Mikha’el, which comes from the rhetorical question mī kā’ēl, meaning "who is like God?" in Hebrew. In the Bible, Michael is the archangel who led the other angels to victory in a war against Satan, one of only two archangels (the other is Gabriel) recognized by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. The widespread popularity of Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan were major contributors to its long-running success.
Description:Anthony is derived from the Roman family name Antonii, and was initially used as Antony, without the “h.” The name evolved into Anthony in the 17th century, when it was speculated that it derived from the Greek word anthos, meaning “flower.” In England, whether it's spelled Anthony or Antony, the name is often pronounced as the latter, while Americans typically utter the “h” if present.
Meaning:"God is my judge"
Description:Daniel was derived from the Hebrew name Daniyyel, from the elements din, meaning "judge," and ’el, "God." The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament describes the Jewish prophet’s life of captivity in Babylon and visions of the last days of Earth. Dan and Danny are common short forms of Daniel.
Origin:English, diminutive of Ann
Description:Annie is one of the most open and optimistic, the-sun'll-come-out-tomorrow type of name, having been celebrated over the years in song (Annie Laurie), comic strip (Little Orphan Annie), folklore (Annie Oakley, born Phoebe), and film (Annie Hall). It strikes a nice old-fashioned-but-jaunty chord that still has appeal, but we do suggest that you consider putting a more formal version on her birth certificate.
Origin:Diminutive of Henry
Description:Harry is the medieval English form of Henry, which derived from the Germanic name Heimrich, meaning “estate ruler.” Harry was the nickname of all eight King Henrys; it is also a diminutive of Harold and Harrison.
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.
Origin:English from German
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.
Origin:French and Scottish
Meaning:"bright, shining light"
Description:This old Scottish form of Helen has had quite a history, going from appearing as one of the shining heroines of the Arthurian legends, the princess who fell in love with Sir Lancelot and became the mother of Sir Galahad, referred to as 'Elaine the fair' and 'Elaine the lovable', to being the name of the most famous of New York's celebrity restaurants, to being the archetypal New York neurotic on Seinfeld.
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:English variation of Greek Dorothea
Meaning:"gift of God"
Description:In the 1930s, Dorothy left Kansas and landed in the Land of Oz; by the '80s she had become a Golden Girl, living in Miami with roommates Blanche and Rose, giving her a decidedly older image. But parents today seeking a quiet classic are bringing Dorothy back—she reentered the Top 1000 in 2011 after almost completely disappearing.
Meaning:"Frenchman or free man"
Description:Since this was the name chosen by the current Roman Catholic pope, Francis has come into the spotlight.
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:Hebrew or Egyptian
Meaning:"drop of the sea, bitter, or beloved"
Description:Mary is the English form of Maria, which ultimately was derived from the Hebrew name Maryam/Mariam. The original meaning of Maryam is uncertain, but theories include "drop of the sea" (from Hebrew roots mar "drop" and yam "sea"); "bitter" (from Hebrew marah "bitterness"); and "beloved" (from the Egyptian root mr).
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.
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.
Description:Serene Irene, the name of the Greek goddess of peace and one of the most familiar Greek goddess names, was hugely popular in ancient Rome and again in the United States a hundred years ago.
Description:Unlike perennials William, John and James, Edward is a classic that moves in and out of fashion. This royal Anglo-Saxon standard has benefited in recent years from the popularity of the hot hero of the vampire sensation Twilight -- Edward Cullen -- who has given his name a new infusion of cool.
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.
Description:Lawrence has survived from Roman times, when Laurentium was a city noted for its laurel trees (the laurel is a symbol of wisdom and achievement). It was in the Top 50 from the 1890s through the 1950s and the Top 100 for decades longer, always among the most popular boys' names starting with L, but Lawrence is now used less for babies than Landon or Lorenzo. Nickname Lauro perks it up while Larry feels terminally dated. The Laurence spelling was popularized by Sir Laurence Olivier and is also attached to fellow actor Laurence Fishburne.
Description:To the thousands of girls who screamed the name of their favorite Beatle in the 1960s, the boys' name Paul had a thrillingly unique image, but to the rest of the world, then and now, it's a name that's so simple and yet so widely diffuse that it could belong to almost anyone. Paul is an ancient name for boys -- popular in Roman and medieval times -- that's not very fashionable now, which can work in its favor, scarcity balancing simplicity.
Origin:Scottish and Irish
Meaning:"born of fire, handsome"
Description:Kenneth may have lost much of its luster now, but Kenneth has had its moments of glory. The first king of Scotland was Kenneth, and Sir Kenneth, a Christian crusader, was the hero of the Sir Walter Scott novel The Talisman.
Meaning:"God is gracious"
Description:John is an English derivative of the Hebrew name Yochanan via the Latin name Iohannes, itself coming from the Greek Ioannes. John was a key name in early Christianity, borne by John the Baptist, John the Apostle and John the Evangelist, plus 84 saints and 23 popes, as well as kings and countless other illustrious notables. Contrary to popular belief, the names John and Jonathan are unrelated, the latter being an elaboration of Nathan.
Description:Now that the show has gone into reruns, does anybody still love Raymond? Though it's been long dormant, some parents -- including Jack Nicholson -- are finding its cool name component, largely through the nickname Ray.
Description:David is derived from the Hebrew name Dawid, which evolved from the element dod, meaning "beloved." It is the name of the Old Testament second king of Israel who, as a boy, slew the giant Philistine Goliath with his slingshot. He grew up to become a wise and highly cultivated leader who enjoyed music and was a poet, later providing inspiration to such great sculptors as Michelangelo and Donatello.
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:French from German
Meaning:"man, free man"
Description:Charles derives from the Germanic name Karl, meaning "man" or "freeman", and is a royal name in multiple European countries. A famous early bearer is Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and then Roman Emperor in the 8th-9th centuries. The word for “king” in several languages came from Charles, including Slavic, Russian, and Polish.
Description:A classic old Norman name popular for a thousand years and favored for kings (Richard Nixon was named for Richard the Lionhearted), as well as the hoi polloi (as in every Tom, Dick and Harry), Richard was the sixth most popular US boys’ name in 1925, and was still Number 8 in 1950, but is now much less popular.
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.
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.
Description:Joseph evolved from the Hebrew name Yosef, which was derived from the verb yasaf, meaning “to increase.” In the Old Testament, Joseph is the 11th and favorite son of Jacob and Rachel; in the New Testament, it is the name of the carpenter husband of the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. Joe and Joey are common nicknames for Joseph, and Josephine is the feminine form.
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.