These extinct names that were commonly used for babies decades ago, but today have faded from use for reasons that may in most cases be obvious. While there are a few possible choices in this collection of names given to zero babies in the US in 2021, most are off the table for now.
Perhaps it was not difficult to be named Nimrod or Elmo in 1920, but those names would be difficult for any child to carry today. Some of these baby names are no longer used because of changes in slang, some because of changes in values or unpleasant associations.
And then there are the extinct names that are simply way out of style, often extinct spelling variations of once-popular names or antiquated names that have acquired such a thick layer of dust it's hard to imagine them ever feeling shiny and baby-ready again.
Whatever the reason, many of these extinct baby names should probably stay extinct. Read this list of extinct baby names for a laugh -- did people really do that?!? -- but if you're looking for a lovely antique baby name, try this big list of Vintage Baby Names instead.
Origin:English, diminutive of Katherine
Description:This endearing nickname name is one Katherine pet form that predates all the Kathys and Katies, having been fairly common in the eighteenth century. With the current mini-craze for animal-related names, Kitty is sounding cute and cuddly again—she's already jumped back onto the U.K. list, at number 199.
Origin:Irish, variant of Diarmaid/Dermot
Description:Kermit was a Top 500 name until the 1960s, not coincidentally the decade in which Kermit the Frog became well known, proving that it isn't easy being green, even for a name. But we think it's time for some of those appealing Sesame Street names--Kermit, Elmo, Grover--to be taken out of that context and be considered on their own.
Origin:Medieval variation of Esther, Persian
Description:The disgraced heroine of The Scarlet Letter's name, after long neglect, just might have a chance at revival, following in the wake of sister-name Esther. We've characterized her elsewhere as an eccentric aristocrat, much more accepted in the U.K. than she has been here.
Description:With other fruity names like Clementine, Olive and Plum ripe for the picking, sweet Cherry remains remarkably underused: just 27 baby girls received the name in 2017, down from 343 at its peak in 1948. The unsavory slang meaning no doubt goes a long way towards explaining its fall from grace.
Origin:Diminutive of Richard
Description:Dick was a once-common short form of Richard; replaced by Rick or Richie, and finally by the full name itself. Rude meaning -- make that two rude meanings -- pretty much knocks this one out of consideration.
Origin:Variation of Barnabas
Meaning:"son of comfort"
Description:The name Barney is hot among hip Londoners and it has been above the Top 500 in the UK since 2012. You can see why - it's got a friendly happy sound and a lovely meaning and is more easily worn than Barnabas. However, Barney is a more difficult sell in America, due to Barney the Dinosaur and Barney Gumble, the loveable lout from The Simpsons. In the positive column for Barney are jazz clarinetist Barney Bigard and guitarist Barney Kessel. For those who love the name but can't get past the dinosaur, may we suggest the related names Bernard or Barnaby?
Origin:Italian from German
Description:Elmo, like fellow Sesame Street characters Kermit and Grover, has a hard time being taken seriously. (It isn't easy being red either.)
Origin:Greek botanical name
Description:Long in our category of so-far-out-it-will-always-be-out category, once seen as a gum-cracking 1940's telephone operator, we think it's time to reassess Myrtle, and look at is as a nature name, a plant with pink or white aromatic berries. Ruled by Venus, myrtle is a plant associated with love, peace, fertility and youth.
Description:Adolf may have been a Swedish royal name but the terrible dictatorship of Adolf Hitler has ruled out this name Adolf for any sensible parent. In the US last year, there were more than 100 boys' given the Spanish variation Adolfo and a handful given the old school Adolphus, but none named Adolf or Adolph....thank goodness.
Origin:Spanish, diminutive of Lola and Dolores
Description:In Nabokov's notorious novel, Lolita is the pet name given by the pedophilic narrator, Humbert Humbert, to his victim: a young girl called Dolores and nicknamed Lola or Lo by her mother. Still, it seems that a few parents are prepared to look past this problematic association, seeing this as a offbeat option for those who defy convention. We would recommend thinking seriously about the background of this name before bestowing it on your daughter.
Origin:English, diminutive of Robert
Description:Kids love Bob the Builder, but do they want to be Bob the Builder? Bob and Bobby have been out of style since the 1960s, but as vintage nickname-names -- Fred, Archie -- come back into vogue, Bob may tag along. Charlie Sheen used it for one of his twin sons.
Description:Dated British favorite that never caught on in this country, where Jade remains the green gem of choice. Interesting namesakes: British writer Beryl Bainbridge and British aviatrix Beryl Markham.
Origin:Latin, female form of Lucretius, meaning unknown
Description:A pretty and plausible Latin name that's gotten a bad rap through the years via a link to Lucrezia Borgia, who, though long considered a demon poisoner, was actually a patron of learning and the arts.
Origin:French, diminutive of Josephine
Description:Fifi is a perfect name -- for a French poodle. But Fifi may seem more child-friendly as names like Coco and Lulu rise. Fifi in its fluffiness also balances the seriousness of such full names as Josephine or Federica.
Description:The quintessential midcentury nickname, famously found in Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman."
Description:A traditional Nordic name, Helga was extremely popular throughout Scandinavia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In Germany, it was a Top 10 pick from 1924 to 1943. And it still ranks in the Icelandic Top 50 today.
Description:Gale for boys is more a storm name than a short form of Abigail. Since Gale has resurfaced as the name of Liam Hemsworth's daring character in The Hunger Games, it has new force for boys.
Origin:English, diminutive of Dorothy
Description:Old-fangled nickname could make dot.com era short form or middle name.
Origin:American fruit name
Description:Lemon is one of the more unique names related to fruit, compared with sisters Clementine and Apple. That may be because lemon is also a word that's slang for a clunker, something that doesn't work very well. No baby wants to feel like a Lemon, so this is one of those unusual names that is best avoided.
Meaning:"of the garden"
Description:Hortense is actually the French feminine form of Hortensia, the name of a strong, politically active early Roman woman. Hortense began to be used in the English-speaking world in the nineteenth century. Napoleon had a stepdaughter named Hortense, it was the name of one of the main characters in the film Secrets and Lies and is also associated with novelist Hortense Calisher. As unappealing as it might be to most American parents, Hortense is now Number 311 in France.