Like fashion, home decor, travel destinations and even food, names go in and out of style, gaining popularity over the decades or completely falling off the charts. When looking for beautiful baby name ideas, it's not a bad idea to look to the past for a hidden gem that's been forgotten and ready for a revival.
To see what old-fashioned baby names should be back in style in the decade ahead of us, we combed through data from the Social Security Administration on the most popular names from the 1900s through the 1950s to see which names no longer even appear in the top 250. Using information from popular baby name website Nameberry and digital parenting resource BabyCenter to find out information about name origins and meanings, we found the names from yesteryear that we thought would fit in well in the modern era.
Most famously associated with the legendary King Arthur of Britain, head of the Knights of the Round Table, Arthur is a name of Celtic origin that means "bear." Peaking as the 14th most popular boys' name in 1901, Arthur fell out of the top 100 names in 1970 and has become less and less popular since. Famous people with this strong, solid name include British writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel, French poet Arthur Rimbaud and Arthur Guinness, founder of the beloved Irish brewery.
One of the top 10 most popular girls' names in America from 1904 to 1939, Dorothy has largely fallen out of fashion despite the timeless popularity of Judy Garland's Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." Other well-known Dorothys include Catholic activist Dorothy Day, writer and critic Dorothy Parker and actress Dorothy Dandridge. The name comes from the Greek name Dorothea, a less classic alternative that means "gift of God."
Helen is another name of Greek origin, meaning "bright, shining light." It has long held a connotation for beauty due to the Greek myth of Helen of Troy, the "face that launched a thousand ships" in the Trojan War. Consistently one of the five most popular girls' names in America through the early 20th century, Helen has fallen more and more out of favor in the decades since, despite a few inspiring women who sported the moniker. Famous Helens include deaf-blind activist Helen Keller, esteemed British actress Dame Helen Mirren and English children's author Helen Beatrix Potter, who wrote under her middle name. Beautiful variants of the name to consider are Helena, Ellen, Elena and Eleanor.
Malcolm is a Scottish name that means "devotee of Saint Columba" and because Columba means "dove" in Latin, it has come to mean that as well. The name of four Scottish kings, Malcolm is a strong name with notable bearers including civil rights leader Malcolm X, English writer and poet Malcolm Lowry, Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell and the late rapper Mac Miller.
Deriving from Old English, Beverly comes from a surname taken from the English town of Beverley. Beverly Sills was a famous opera singer, while Beverly Cleary and Beverly D'Angelo are a beloved children's author and acclaimed actress, respectively. There is also, of course, the city of Beverly Hills near Los Angeles, where you're likely to spot many celebrities.
Although used for any gender until the 17th century, today, Francis is considered the proper spelling for a boy while Frances is seen as a female variant. The name, which originates in Latin, connotes a person from France or can mean "free man." Notable people with the name include "Lost Generation" novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, award-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and legendary singer Frank Sinatra. Pope Francis chose it as his papal name rather than his birth name, Jorge, while actresses Judy Garland and Dinah Shore both stopped using their birth names of Frances.
An English name meaning "wise counselor," Alfred is a name that often invokes associations with Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and King of the Anglo-Saxons. Alfred is a wonderfully flexible name with Al, Alf, Alfie, Fred and Freddie all as great nickname options. Famous Alfreds include legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, British poet Alfred Tennyson, comedic musician "Weird Al" Yankovic, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel and Alfred Pennyworth, butler to Batman.
Gloria simply means "glory," but the name didn't get much use until the 1890s when Bernard Shaw gave it to one of the main characters of his play "You Can Never Tell." Gloria is a strong woman's name, with namesakes including iconic silent film actress Gloria Swanson, Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan, women's rights attorney Gloria Allred and feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Gloriana is an alternative name from which Gloria actually derives.
Clementine is the French feminine form of Clement, a name of Latin origin that means mild and merciful but could also be a delicious food reference. It's most recognized as the name mentioned in the 1884 American western folk ballad, "Oh My Darling, Clementine" but was also the name of Kate Winslet's character in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Leonard is a name with Germanic roots that means "brave lion," and it doesn't get as much love as the similar and popular Leo or Leonardo. Notable Leonards include singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz, singer and poet Leonard Cohen and "Star Trek" star Leonard Nimoy, known for his portrayal of Spock.
While it can be a reference to the fragrant and evergreen herb (a symbol of remembrance), Rosemary is a Latin name that means "dew of the sea," though it can also just be a combination of both Rose and Mary. It has belonged to singer/actress Rosemary Clooney, English children's author Rosemary Sutcliff and Rosemary Kennedy, oldest sister to Jack, Robert and Ted.
Philip is a classic name with Greek roots and a lot of history. There have been plenty of high-profile Philips throughout history, including one of Jesus's original 12 apostles. The name is also quite regal; multiple Macedonian, French and Spanish kings among other European royalty throughout the centuries have been Philips. Its current royal association is largely with that of the Duke of Edinburgh, however. Other prominent people with the name include British musicians Phil Collins, novelist Philip Roth, composer Philip Glass and the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Philip has many nickname options such as Phil, Pip and Flip.
A German name meaning "industrious one," Ida is a great alternative for more popular names such as Ava or Ada. It's currently very popular in Scandinavian countries and became known in the English world thanks to Gilbert and Sullivan's late 19th century comic opera "Princess Ida." Notable people with the name include investigative journalism pioneer Ida Tarbell and civil rights leader Ida B. Wells as well as the wives of President William McKinley and Macy's co-owner Isidor Straus, the latter of whom refused to leave the Titanic without her husband, thus dying with him as the ship sank.
The name Bernard is Germanic in origin and means "strong and brave as a bear." Also a surname, one that is particularly prevalent in France, Bernard was the name of several saints, including Saint Bernard of Montjoux, an 11th century Italian monk who lived in the Alps where he helped pilgrims to Rome make their way safely over a dangerous pass. The dogs of the breed that were used for rescue operations at that pass became known as St. Bernards. A wonderful alternative to popular names like Benjamin and Brayden, Bernard is also the name of French cyclist Bernard Hinault, film composer Bernard Herrmann, late comedian Bernie Mac and Irish playwright Bernard Shaw (who actually went by his middle name instead of his given name, George).
More common as a surname, Russell is a French name that means "red-haired" or "fox-colored." There are plenty of non-redhead Russells, however, such as comedian Russell Brand, New Zealand-Australian actor Russell Crowe, and the adorable 9-year-old main character of the animated movie "Up." Russell comes with many nicknames for little boys, including Russ and Rusty.
Louella is a combination of Louise, a French name meaning "renowned warrior," and Ella, a name that means "beautiful fairy woman" in English and "completely" in German. A charming name that can also be spelled Luella for a more stylish vibe, it belonged to pioneer movie columnist Louella Parsons, born in 1881, and Luella Bates, the first female truck driver, who was born in 1897. It's also a distinctive name for the modern era compared to more popular monikers such as Ella, Luna, Isabella and Lucy.
Silvanus was the Roman god of woodlands and fields, and so the Latin name Sylvia (also spelled Silvia) means "from the forest." Rhea Silvia was also the name of the Vestal Virgin who gave birth to Remus and Romulus, the mythological founders of Rome. Some other famous Sylvias include novelist and poet Sylvia Plath, Queen Silvia of Sweden and Sylvia Robinson, a record label executive known as "The Mother of Hip-Hop."
Frederick is a Germanic name that means "peaceful ruler" and is commonly shortened to Fred or Freddie. The name of countless European royalty throughout history, from Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I in the 12th century to Frederick IX of Denmark who ruled until 1972, the name also belonged to abolitionist Frederick Douglass and dancer/actor Fred Astaire.
Marjorie is a Scottish variant of Margaret, which is in turn a name with Greek and Persian roots that means "pearl." Also spelled Margery or Marjory, the name dates back to the Middle Ages, and nicknames include Marge, Margie, Maggie, Jorie and MJ. Famous Marjories include pioneer pilot Marjorie Stinson, socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post and beloved cartoon character Marge Simpson.
A name with Latin roots, Chester means "fortress" or "fortified camp," giving a softer and friendly name a strong meaning. Some people with the name Chester go by the nickname "Chet," such as country musician Chet Atkins, while other famous Chesters include U.S. President Chester A. Arthur, Chester Cheetah of Cheetos fame and Chester Bennington, the late lead singer of the rock band Linkin Park.
Although its meaning is not known for certain, Virgil is a name of Latin origin that is believed to mean "strong" or "staff bearer." Also spelled Vergil, it is the modern English name for the ancient Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro, most well-known as the author of the epic "Aeneid."
Gaelic in origin, Glenn means "valley" and is traditionally a boys' name, although acclaimed actress Glenn Close presents a notable exception. Other prominent Glenns include classical pianist Glenn Gould, big band leader Glenn Miller, Glenn Frey of the rock band The Eagles and Hollywood Golden Age actor Glenn Ford.
Combining the names Mary (a Hebrew name that means "bitter" but is typically meant to honor the Virgin Mary) and Lynn (a Welsh name meaning "lake"), Marilyn is a name that is strongly associated with pop culture icon Marilyn Monroe (although her birth name was actually Norma Jeane Mortenson). The name was a top choice from the 1920s through the 1950s, but despite Marilyn Monroe's lasting legacy, her name isn't popular like it once was. Marilyn is an adorable alternative to some of today's more prevalent names including Evelyn, Madelyn and Madison.
Harry is a variant of both Henry and Harold, English names which mean "ruler of the home" and "army leader" respectively. Despite being the third-most popular name in Britain, Harry doesn't even crack the top 500 most popular names in America, which is odd considering the popularity of Great Britain's Prince Harry, One Direction's Harry Styles and, of course, everyone's favorite boy wizard, Harry Potter.
Clyde is a name of Scottish origin, coming from the River Clyde that travels through Glasgow. While many think of the male half of the infamous duo Bonnie and Clyde, the name has also belonged to many esteemed figures such as R&B legend Clyde McPhatter, 10-time NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler and Clyde Tombaugh, the American astronomer who discovered Pluto. Clyde is a more unique alternative to more popular monosyllabic boys names such as Jack, Luke, Jace and John.
Great things await any child named Roland, a Germanic name that means "famed throughout the land." Possibly the most famous Roland is the legendary military leader who fought under Charlemagne and was featured in medieval poetry, but others include German filmmaker Roland Emmerich (who wrote and directed blockbusters such as "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow") and jazz musician Roland Kirk.
Vera is a name that means "faith" in Russian or "true" in Latin, based on the Latin word "verus" which means "verity." The name didn't appear in the English-speaking world until the late 19th century and had quite a bit of popularity in the early 20th century. Well-known individuals with the name Vera include Chinese-American fashion designer Vera Wang, Ukrainian-American actress Vera Farmiga and Dame Vera Lynn, a hugely popular World War II-era British singer.
Stemming from Latin, Lucille means "light" and is a formal alternative to the more common Lucy as well as a great option among the current trend of names starting with "L" such as Luna, Lily and Leah. A top 50 girls' name from 1905 through 1927, Lucille fell off the list of top 100 most popular girls' names in 1938. The most famous Lucille, of course, is comedian Lucille Ball, known for her hit television show "I Love Lucy." Little Richard and Kenny Rogers have each released chart-topping songs called "Lucille" and B.B. King also has a song, "My Lucille," about his guitar of that name.
An English name that comes from either the songbird of the same name or from the Germanic Robert, meaning "bright fame," Robin is a great unisex option. Pop culture Robins include Batman's sidekick and legendary outlaw Robin Hood, but real-life people who have beared the name include late comedian Robin Williams, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees and award-winning actress Robin Wright.
In addition to being an amazing bucket list destination in Italy, Florence is a lovely name of Latin origin that means "blossoming" or "prosperous." It is the name of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale (who was named after the Italian city where she was born), as well as Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson, British singer Florence Welch and Canadian-American actress Florence Lawrence, widely considered to be the first movie star. Flora, another Latin name that means "flower", is a similar, shorter option if you're still looking for a great name that was popular a century ago.
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