Old Fashioned Boy and Girl Names
Some things get better with age: wine, wisdom‚ and baby names? That’s right! To name future generations, parents are increasingly looking to the past to find old-fashioned baby names.
As a result, vintage baby names like Evelyn, Emma, Hazel, Theodore, Henry, and Leo have started to feel totally modern as they’ve climbed to the top of baby-name lists. But these old-fashioned names are just a small sampling of the many adorable vintage baby names that can be found in decades gone by. In addition to combing the highest branches of your own family tree for inspiration (Grandma and Grandpa’s names have never been more relevant!), peep our list of the best vintage baby names for some overlooked gems.
While these25 old-fashioned baby names may have peaked well before you were born, we think they’re poised to make a comeback.
Old-Fashioned Baby Names for Girls
Old-fashioned baby names for girls are some of the prettiest-sounding names around (for proof, look no further than names like Adeline, Sylvia, and Eleanor, which just roll off the tongue!). These retro names are also a sweet way to pay tribute to Grandma (or Great-Great Grandma) and legendary figures from the past.
Clara: A twist on the more conventional Claire, the name Clara means “bright and clear.” Clara reached peak popularity in 1901, but in recent years has cracked the list of top 100 baby names.
Della: While the similar-sounding Stella and Ella have recently landed among the most popular baby names of the last decade, Della is still decidedly under-the-radar. In German, Della means “bright and noble”—two qualities you probably won’t mind your little one inheriting!
Dorothy: There’s no place like home…and there’s no baby name quite like Dorothy! Not only does this name connote a whirlwind tour of Oz, it also means “gift of God.” Dorothy was one of the most popular girl baby names in the 1920s…and it’s ripe for a resurgence in the 2020s.
Florence: In 1900, Florence was the 7th most popular girls’ baby name, but was rendered almost obsolete by the ’80s. However, in the past two years, Flo has been making a slow-and-steady comeback. Florence means “to flower,” making it a sweet name for your blossoming babe.
Lillian: There’s a reason why the name Lillian has become almost as popular today as it was during its height in 1900: It has the same soft elegance and timeless appeal as the flower name it’s derived from (the lily).
Lena: Lena has Latin roots in the word alluring, which certainly fits this irresistibly appealing moniker. This old-fashioned baby name is associated with words for light and evokes the late, great jazz singer and civil rights activist, Lena Horne.
Louise: Don’t be deceived by this demure, grandma-esque name—it has a killer meaning. The name Louise takes root in the old German word for “famous warrior.” (That’s right, little Louise has the potential to kick major butt!)
Mabel: There were barely any Mabels born between 1965 and 2013, but recently, parents have rediscovered this darling baby name (which happens to mean “loveable”…aww!).
Mae: Lately, the old-fashioned name Mae has become a go-to for girls’ middle names, but it holds up as a first name, too—or as a nickname for Margaret or Mary. It’s associated with Maia, the Roman goddess of growth.
Pearl: This hidden gem of a name dominated baby-name lists in the early 1900s, only to fall out of favor until the 2010s. It’s an especially apt baby name for little ones born in June, as pearl is the month’s birthstone.
Sadie: Meaning “princess,” the name Sadie is fit for royalty! It’s no wonder why this oldie-but-goodie is a rising star of a baby name.
Old-Fashioned Baby Names for Boys
Parents often find boys’ names trickier to pick than girls’ names. But these old-fashioned baby names for boys help strike a balance between the timeless and unique.
Alvin: For at least one generation, this name is probably synonymous with a certain animated chipmunk. But if you can get past your memories of that squeaky-voiced cartoon crooner, it’s a pretty cool and unique baby name for boys.
Arthur: This noble name calls to mind the King of the Round Table or the patriarch of the Weasley clan, depending on your choice of Brit lit. It also means “bear” (grr!).
Felix: When we think about what we want for our kids, above all, it’s happiness. So why not endow your little one with a blissed-out baby name that means happiness and good fortune?
Franklin: For a vintage baby name with presidential flair, look no further than Franklin. It comes with an equally adorable vintage nickname built in: Frank.
Harold: Harold means “army leader.” If you think your little one needs time to grow into the name—or the meaning behind it—try Harry for short. (Hey, it’s good enough for royalty…actual royalty, wizarding royalty, and boy-band royalty.) Hank and Hal are cute nicknames, too.
Harvey: We’re a little biased, but we think there should be more Harveys in the world. To boot, the name means “eager for battle, strong and worthy.”
Leon: The name Leo has been making its way up the baby-name charts in recent years, but the equally fierce Leon—a popular pick in the early 1900s—has managed to stay more under-wraps.
Wiley (or Wylie): The name Wiley has not made the list of top 1,000 baby names since 1973—which means there’s a good chance that your little bundle will be the only Wiley in his class! Plus, the name means “crafty,” which might feel especially apt when you reach the toddler years.
Walter: Walter is a noble baby name meaning “army ruler.” It enjoyed a decades-long run in the top 100 baby names during the 20th century, and is just now starting to pick up a little steam again, perhaps as expecting parents are looking to their fathers and grandfathers for baby-name inspo.
Old-Fashioned Gender Neutral Names
Of course, there are plenty of throwback names that work for all genders. Take, for example, these old-fashioned gender neutral names.
Billie: Despite being perfectly gender-neutral, the name Billie has surprisingly dropped off baby-name lists for both boy and girl names in the past 35 years (it peaked on both lists in the 1930s). It works as a nickname for William or stands on its own.
Ellis: The name Ellis reached its most popular in 1902—right around Ellis Island’s peak immigration period. (Coincidence? We’re not sure.) The name Ellis derives from the more recognizable Elijah, a name with Hebrew roots.
Ira: Three-little letters pack a punch when it comes to this name! Ira has Hebrew origins as a boy’s name (it means “watchful”) and has Sanskrit roots as a girl’s name (it means “the earth”).
Marion: Even though Marion may be more commonly thought of as a girl’s name, it was a popular boy’s name back in the day (fun fact: it’s John Wayne’s given name!). It means “star of the sea.”
Perry: The name Perry has nearly gone extinct in the past 15 years, but it enjoyed steady popularity in midcentury America. Though the meaning of the name may not speak to you (it means “dweller by the pear tree‚”—specific, we know), it’s a solid pick that would work for a boy or a girl!
Conclusion: Old Fashioned Names for Boys and Girls
Sometimes the best way to move into the future is to take a peek at the past—and nowhere is that more evident than with baby names. Which old-fashioned baby names are you considering for your bundle-to-be? Let us know in the comments!
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