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Unique Vintage Baby Names for Girls

Unique Vintage Baby Names for Girls
Unique names don't have to be new and invented: They can also be vintage names revived from either the near or distant past.

Unique vintage girl names on their way back into style include Sybil, Isadora, Cordelia, and Olympia. Names such as Lois, Polly, Constance, and Wilhelmina are attracting attention among the hipsters and the tastemakers, but still have a generation or two to go before they will be seen as fashionable among the mainstream.

These unique vintage baby names for girls all lie outside the Top 1000 but have deep roots and rich histories. In case you're wondering how unique is unique, these names were given to 250 or fewer girls in the US last year. Check current statistics to make sure the name you like hasn't hopped back on the list.

Unique Vintage Girl Names
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ImogenHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    Imogen seems to have originated as a Shakespearean printer's misspelling of the traditional Celtic name Innogen, used by him for a character in one of his last plays, Cymbeline. The Innogen of legend, who Shakespeare’s character was based on, was the wife of Brutus of Troy, the first king of Britain. Her name was derived from the Gaelic word inghean, meaning "daughter" or "maiden."

CordeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin; Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "heart; daughter of the sea"
  • Description:

    Cordelia, the name of King Lear's one sympathetic daughter, has style and substance, and is exactly the kind of old-fashioned, grown-up name that many parents are seeking today. If you're torn between Cordelia and the equally lovely Cora, you can always choose Cordelia for long and then call her Cora for short—or Delia, Lia, Del, or even the extremely different Cordie. Cordelia is a Nameberry favorite—Number 106 on the site—and it reentered the US Top 1000 in 2014 after a 60+ year absence.

JunoHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "queen of the heavens"
  • Description:

    Juno is an ancient name that feels as fresh as if it had been minted — well, not yesterday, but in 2007. Since the release of the popular indie film Juno, this lively but strong o-ending Roman goddess name has become more and more prominent as a potential baby name — Coldplay's Will Champion chose Juno for one of his twins (whose brother is the kingly Rex).

IsadoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gift of Isis"
  • Description:

    Why is Isabella megapopular while Isadora goes virtually ignored? Too close a tie with tragic modern dancer Isadora Duncan (born Angela Isadora), who was done in by her long flowing scarf, perhaps, or with fusty male version Isidore. But we think Isadora is well worth reevaluating as an Isabella alternative. Quirky couple singer Bjork and artist Matthew Barney did just that and named their daughter Isadora. Isidora would be an alternative, just as proper but not quite as charming spelling--the one used as the spelling of a fourth century saint's name.

AltheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "with healing power"
  • Description:

    Althea is a poetic, almost ethereal name found in Greek myth and pastoral poetry, associated in modern times with the great tennis player Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win at Wimbleton.
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AgnesHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pure, virginal"
  • Description:

    Agnes is the Latin variation of the name Hagne, which itself derived from the Greek word hagnos, meaning "chaste." In medieval times, St. Agnes was a very popular saint, leading to its popularity as a girl's name. Agnes Grey is the title of one of the two novels written by Anne Brontë.

MinervaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "of the mind, intellect"
  • Description:

    Minerva is the long-neglected name of the Roman goddess of wisdom and invention, the arts and martial strength, one of the mythology names for girls that might appeal to adventurous feminist parents.

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.

GuinevereHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "white shadow, white wave"
  • Description:

    Guinevere was the name of the beautiful but ill-fated queen of Camelot, for so many years eclipsed by its modern Cornish form Jennifer. Today, Guinevere could be a cool possibility for adventurous parents intrigued by this richly evocative and romantic choice.

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.
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KeziahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "cassia tree"
  • Description:

    This lively Old Testament nature name (belonging to one of the three beautiful daughters of Job) may be missing from the current US Top 1000 list, but it ranks highly here on Nameberry — making it one to watch!

AmaryllisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "to sparkle"
  • Description:

    If you love both unique baby names and flower names for girls, Amaryllis might be a perfect choice for you. A showier flower name than Lily, but in the same botanical family, Amaryllis is not as outre as it might at first sound. It was used in Greek poetry as the appellation of pure pastoral beauties; Amaryllis is the heroine of Virgil's epic poem Ecologues, after whom the flower was named. Other references are characters in the George Bernard Shaw play Back to Methuselah and The Music Man. James Bond-creator Ian Fleming had a half sister named Amaryllis Marie-Louise Fleming, who was a noted British cellist.

FernHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    Of all the botanicals, Fern has been one of the slowest to move back from the front parlor into the nursery, despite the appealing girl character in the children's classic Charlotte's Web. Fern was most popular from the turn of the last century through the 1940s, reaching a high of #152 in 1916. We can certainly see her rejoining the long list of popular greenery names.

PetraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine variation of Peter
  • Meaning:

    "rock, stone"
  • Description:

    An exotic Greek name with something of a Slavic feel, Petra is a relatively recent feminization of Peter, though it relates back to an incredible ancient city in Jordan that was rediscovered in the early nineteenth century.

PippaHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Philippa
  • Meaning:

    "lover of horses"
  • Description:

    Pippa, a peppy condensation of Philippa that turns it from serious to sprightly, has come into the public eye in a big way via the former Kate Middleton's sister. Heard far more in the UK (where it's currently just outside the Top 100) than the US, Pippa has been used on its own since the nineteenth century, popularized by Robert Browning's dramatic poem, Pippa Passes. A recent book and film was titled The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.
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ConstanceHeart

  • Origin:

    English version of Latin Constantia
  • Meaning:

    "steadfastness"
  • Description:

    Constance is one of the more subtle of the virtue baby names, but still has quite a prim and proper image. One impediment to its revival has been the decidedly dated nickname Connie, though modern parents might well opt for using the strong and dignified name in full.

InesHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian, Portuguese, Slovene and Croatian variation of Agnes
  • Meaning:

    "pure, virginal"
  • Description:

    This form of Agnes, Ines has always been popular since the true story of the thwarted lovers Queen Ines of Castro and King Peter of Portugal. This has to be one of the most heartbreaking and bloody true romances in history!

WilhelminaHeart

  • Origin:

    German, feminine variation of Wilhelm
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    Wilhelmina was long burdened with the Old Dutch cleanser image of thick blond braids and clunky wooden clogs, but that started to be changed somewhat by the dynamic Vanessa Williams character on Ugly Betty, and even further by the choice of Wilhelmina by ace baby namers Natalie and Taylor Hanson. For the less adventurous, Willa is, for now, still a more user-friendly female equivalent of William.

VerityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "truth"
  • Description:

    If you love Puritan virtue names and want to move beyond Hope and Faith and Grace, this is a wonderful choice, both for its meaning and its sound. A rare find here, though occasionally heard in England. It was used in Winston Graham's Poldark novels, was Madonna's name as James Bond's fencing instructor in Die Another Day, and made a brief appearance in Harry Potter. Not to mention being a fixture on British and Australian soaps. Verity also appears in one of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries.

RosalindHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "pretty rose"
  • Description:

    Rosalind has a distinguished literary history --it started as a as a lyrical name in early pastoral poetry, probably coined by Edmund Spenser. It was further popularized by Shakespeare via one of his most charming heroines, in As You Like It --and, along with a bouquet of other Rose names, might be ready for a comeback.
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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.

SybilHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "prophetess"
  • Description:

    The image of the lovely Lady Sybil, tragic youngest daughter of the Crawley family on Downton Abbey is likely to go a long way towards reviving this almost forgotten name, off the list since 1966 and most popular in the 1920s and '30s. Sybil is currently Number 253 on Nameberry;

AlbaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "white"
  • Description:

    Alba is quietly making a behind-the-scenes comeback, perhaps thanks to actress turned baby-product mogul Jessica Alba. Last on the Top 1000 a century ago, the name was given to more than 150 baby girls in the US last year. Alba might be tomorrow's successor to Ava and Ella. In Spain, Alba ranks among the Top 10 girls' names. Alba is the name of a character in The Time Traveler's Wife.

MayHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Margaret and Mary; month name
  • Description:

    May is a sweet old-fashioned name that hasn't been on the national charts in several decades, but is definitely sounding fresh and springlike. Parents are beginning to see it once more as one of the prettiest middle name options. May was as high on the list as Number 57 in the 1880s; it's now 228 on Nameberry.

ViolaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "violet"
  • Description:

    Viola has several positive elements going for it: the rhythm of the musical instrument, the association with the flower, the trending 'Vi' beginning and its leading role in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
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AgathaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "good woman"
  • Description:

    Agatha until recently summoned up visions of martyred saints, mauve silk dresses, and high lace collars, but now that some dauntless excavators have begun to resurrect it, we're sure more will follow their lead. Actor Thomas Gibson used it for his daughter in 2004.

TabithaHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "gazelle"
  • Description:

    Though never as popular as the name of her Bewitched mother, Samantha, Tabitha has its own quirky, magical charm. The name of a charitable woman who was restored to life by Saint Peter in the Bible, it was a popular Puritan choice. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick chose it for one of their twin daughters, which gave it a slight boost. Nonetheless, Tabitha remains in decline.

OonaHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, variation of Una
  • Meaning:

    "lamb"
  • Description:

    Oona is a name made famous by Eugene O'Neill's daughter, who became Charlie Chaplin's wife. One of the original Oona's granddaughters was named after her, and is now an actress famous in her own right for playing Talisa of Volantis in HBO's "Game of Thrones." The double-o beginning gives their name a lot of oomph.

DeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "born on the island of Delos"
  • Description:

    Delia is a somewhat neglected seductive southern charmer that stands on its own but also might be short for Adelia or Cordelia.

LeonoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian diminutive of Eleonora or Eleanor, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    Its mellifluous sound makes Leonora--which has a rich history and a tie to the popular Leo names-- a keen possibility for revival. Though it's been hiding below the Top 1000 since the 1940s, Leonora is being rediscovered by stylish parents in the US and Europe.
    Leonora has the distinction of being three major opera characters, including the heroines of Beethoven's Fidelio and Verdi's Il Trovatore. It was also the name of two characters played by Elizabeth Taylor--in Secret Ceremony and Reflections in a Golden Eye.
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LoisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "most desirable"
  • Description:

    The eternal fiancee of Superman turned sweet gray-haired lady who's always available to babysit her grandkids. Lois is actually a New Testament name of Greek origin: she was converted by Paul and was the grandmother of Timothy, who became one of Paul's disciples. Other s-ending names are making a comeback, as is Louise, so why not Lois?

AllegraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "joyous"
  • Description:

    In music, the term allegro means "quickly, lively tempo," which makes this quintessential Bohemian ballet dancer's name all the more appealing. Allegra is one of the most distinctive yet accessible girl names starting with A.

SallyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Sarah
  • Meaning:

    "princess"
  • Description:

    Sally is a cheerful, fresh-faced girl-next-door name that was originally a nickname for Sarah, but has long been used independently. Sally was popular in the eighteenth century and then again from the 1920s to the 1960s--it was just outside the Top 50 around 1940. Though it hasn't been heard as a baby name for decades, we can see Sally bouncing back, especially after her exposure as young Ms. Draper on Mad Men--the Nameberries rank it at Number 621, and it's a Top 100 name in Sweden.

DorotheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Dorothea is a flowing and romantic Victorian-sounding name which was popular in the early decades of the twentieth century, but has been off the charts since 1970. Definitely on the brink of a revival!

PollyHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Molly
  • Description:

    An alternative to the no-longer-fresh Molly, the initial 'P' gives Polly a peppier sound, combining the cozy virtues of an old-timey name with the bounce of a barmaid.
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AidaHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "happy"
  • Description:

    Aida is a melodic name largely associated with the title character of the 1871 Verdi opera, an enslaved Ethiopian princess who dies to save her people. In the past, her name was rarely heard outside the Latino community, but in the current time of love for all A-starting girls' names, this could very well change.

PhilippaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine variation of Philip
  • Meaning:

    "lover of horses"
  • Description:

    Philippa is a prime example of a boy's name adapted for girls that was common as crumpets in Cornwall, but rarely heard stateside, never having appeared in the Top 1000. That was before the advent of royal sister-in-law Philippa Middleton, who goes by the lively nickname Pippa.

TessHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Theresa
  • Meaning:

    "to harvest"
  • Description:

    With its solid Thomas Hardy background, Tess has a lot more substance, strength, and style than most single-syllable names, with an efficient yet relaxed image.

MillicentHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "strong in work"
  • Description:

    Combining the mild and the innocent, this sweet and feminine name is worthy of a comeback, in the mode of Madeline and Cecilia. Its original, also attractive form is Melisende, which came from Germany to France and was borne by a daughter of Charlemagne.

OlympiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "from Mount Olympus"
  • Description:

    With its relation to Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods, and to the Olympic games, this name has an athletic, goddess-like aura, making it the perfect Olivia substitute.
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JemimaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "dove"
  • Description:

    Jemima, the name of a strong and beautiful Biblical daughter of Job, has long been among the chicest choices of aristocratic Brits, most recently ranking at #231 there in 2017. But despite its lovely sound and peaceful meaning, this attractive name hasn't ranked in the US Top 1000 since 1893, no doubt due to the problematic association with racial stereotyping, exemplified by the Aunt Jemima brand of pancakes.

PhaedraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "bright"
  • Description:

    This name of a tragic figure in Greek mythology, the daughter of King Minos, sister of Ariadne and wife of Theseus, has a mysterious and intriguing appeal, and would make a dramatic choice.

LenoreHeart

  • Origin:

    German variation of Leonora, Italian derivative of Eleonora, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    A "modernization" of Leonora that has suddenly come back on the radar along with the many other Leo names--both male and female. With literary cred via a famous eponymous poem by Edgar Allan Poe (and also in his even more famous The Raven,) Lenore was steadily in the top half of the popularity list until the mid-fifties, falling off in 1973. Cameron Diaz played a Lenore in The Green Hornet.

EvelinaHeart

  • Origin:

    English from French
  • Meaning:

    "desired; or water, island"
  • Description:

    A popular name in the Middle Ages, Evelina was eclipsed by Evelyn in the last century, but has a chance at a well-deserved comeback now, fitting right in with the other Ev-names. Like Evelyn, it derives from the Norman name Aveline.

BernadetteHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "brave as a bear"
  • Description:

    Although feminizations ending in "ette" are not particularly popular now, Bernadette is a pleasant, feminine, but strong name that doesn't feel prohibitively dated. And though strongly associated with the saint who saw visions of the Virgin Mary—Saint Bernadette of Lourdes—it is now no longer strictly inhabiting the Catholic diocese.
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AntoniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "priceless one"
  • Description:

    Antonia is stronger than most feminized boys’ names, reflecting the pioneer spirit of Willa Cather's classic novel My Antonia. Antonia is hovering near the bottom of the US popularity list, which may be an excellent reason for you to use it.

RoxanneHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • Meaning:

    "dawn"
  • Description:

    Has a touch of the exotic from its Eastern origins, best known as the beautiful heroine to whom Cyrano de Bergerac says, "Your name is like a golden bell".

LulaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of any Lu name
  • Description:

    Lula is one of the livelier nickname-names with the fashionable double-L sound: It joins Lulu, Lila, Lily, and Lou among the trendiest names today. Lula might be short for Talula and sisters or for Lucy or Louise, or may stand on its own two adorable feet. Lula was actually a Top 50 name in the late 1880's and continued in the Top 100 for a couple of decades more.

PortiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "pig, hog or doorway"
  • Description:

    Portia is a perfect role-model name, relating to Shakespeare's brilliant and spirited lawyer in The Merchant of Venice, and is now also a Hunger Games name .

DawnHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    There are more substantial names with the same golden meaning: Aurora (Latin), Zora (Arabic), and Roxana (Persian).
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