Top 1940s Baby Names

Top 1940s Baby Names

Names from the 1940s' Top 100 may be one generation shy of sounding cool today. Today’s grandparent names such as Brenda and Barbara, Roger and Ronald, each peaked in this decade.

Along with Barbara and Ronald, other 1940s baby names that remain in the US Top 1000 include Bonnie, Dorothy, Eugene, Frank, Judith, Larry, Roy, and Virginia. The names from the 40s that have dropped the farthest in popularity include Phyllis, Gail, Peggy, and Cheryl. Many of the names from this decade are classics that were revived for the first generation of post-World War II babies, the oldest Baby Boomers. Expect to start hearing them on babies again in 20 years, when baby names from the 1940s will be a century old and so ready to return to style.

The 1940s names here are ordered by their current popularity on Nameberry.

RELATED:

Popular Names

Vintage Baby Names.

  1. Henry
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "estate ruler"
    • Description:

      Henry is back. The classic Henry climbed back onto the Top 10 in the US in 2021 for the first time in over a century, and now stands at Number 8.
  2. Alice
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "noble"
    • Description:

      Alice is a classic literary name that's both strong and sweet, ranking in the US Top 100 and popular throughout the western world. Alice is derived from the Old French name Aalis, a diminutive of Adelais that itself came from the Germanic name Adalhaidis, which is composed of the Proto-Germanic elements aþala, meaning "noble," and haidu, "kind, appearance, type."
  3. Arthur
    • 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 stylish parents, inspired perhaps by the new generation of royals. Arthur has led the list of possible names for the young British princes, chosen as a middle name for Prince Louis, son of William and Catherine, Prince and Princess of Wales.
  4. Thomas
    • Origin:

      Aramaic
    • Meaning:

      "twin"
    • Description:

      A solid classic with plenty of history, Thomas strikes the balance between strength and gentleness. A favorite in the UK, a staple in France, and Australia, and never absent from the US Top 100, Thomas feels like a safe bet and a name that fits into any era.
  5. Jack
    • Origin:

      English, diminutive of John
    • Meaning:

      "God is gracious"
    • Description:

      Jack may have fallen from its Number 1 place in England, but in the US it's as popular as it was at its height in the 1920s and 1930s. A durable, cheery, everyman form of John, Jack ranks as one of the most popular boy names starting with J.
  6. Jane
    • Origin:

      English
    • 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.
  7. Margaret
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "pearl"
    • 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."
  8. Louis
    • 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.
  9. George
    • 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.
  10. John
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "God is gracious"
    • Description:

      John reigned as the most popular of all boys' Christian names for 400 years, from the time the first Crusaders carried it back to Britain until the 1950s. Then American baby namers finally seemed to tire of this straight-arrow, almost anonymous John Doe of names, replacing it with fancier forms like Jonathan and the imported Sean and Ian.
  11. David
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "beloved"
    • Description:

      David is an enduring worldwide classic, used from ancient times to the present day.
  12. Edward
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "wealthy guardian"
    • 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.
  13. Charles
    • 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.
  14. Bonnie
    • Origin:

      Scottish
    • Meaning:

      "beautiful, cheerful"
    • Description:

      Bonnie is an adorable nickname name, heading back up the popularity list after a 50-year nap. A Top 100 girls' name throughout the rest of the English-speaking world, Americans are later to jump on the Bonnie bandwagon but now it's trending here too.
  15. Peter
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "rock, stone"
    • Description:

      Peter is derived from the Greek Petros, meaning "rock" or "stone." One of the most important figures in the Christian hagiography is Saint Peter, keeper of the Gates of Heaven. Born Simon bar Jonah, he was given the nickname Peter by Jesus, to signify that he would be the rock on which Christ would build Christianity. Centuries later, there was Peter the Great, the czar who developed Russia as a major European power.
  16. Walter
    • 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.
  17. Frances
    • Origin:

      English from Latin
    • Meaning:

      "from France; free man"
    • Description:

      Frances, a soft and gentle classic last popular a hundred years ago, is trending again. The cool nickname Frankie is one reason for the revival of Frances, adding lightness and sass to a serious name. 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.
  18. Diana
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "divine"
    • Description:

      Diana, the tragic British princess, inspired many fashions, but strangely, not one for her name. For us, Diana is a gorgeous and still-underused choice.
  19. Lawrence
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "from Laurentium or bay laurel"
    • 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.
  20. Catherine
    • 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.