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What's Old Is New: 150 Old Fashioned but Trendy Baby Names

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Old-fashioned baby names are all the rage. Now it’s trendy to name your baby after old Uncle Chester or your great-grandmother Sophia.

Gone are the days of trying to come up with yet another spelling of Kaylie or Brittany. These days, new parents are resurrecting old-fashioned baby names. Many of these classics have not been used for many years and now have a fresh, modern sound to them.

Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Guide to Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby, said old names such as Abigail, Sadie and Emma “are definitely coming back.” Like fashion – think skinny jeans and spiral perms – everything eventually comes back in style. For old-fashioned monikers, it’s a long wait – Wattenberg reports that typically 90 years pass before we are willing to revive old names.

If you’re looking for an old name for your new arrival, there are countless places to look for inspiration. Here are just a few to get you started:

American History

Pick up a book about the colonists or the pioneers to find names with the appeal of Americana. You’ll discover beautiful, traditional names as well as some hip handles, such as Myles.

• Clara Barton
• William Bradford
• Daniel Boone
• Sarah Plain and Tall
• Benjamin Franklin
• Samuel Adams
• Martin Luther

Or honor your child with the name of a beloved US President or First Lady:
• Theodore
• Calvin
• Dwight
• Warren
• Eleanor
• Nancy
• Mamie
• Jacqueline

Venture beyond American borders and you’ll find a world (literally) of historical names from which to choose, including Leif (Norse), Winston (Great Britain), Marco (Italy), and Charles (France). Be sure to steer clear of Adolf, Genghis, and Napoleon.

Royal Families

If your own family tree falls short in the name department, check out the royal families. No one is better at preserving the purity of family tree names better than royals. A quick search of the Internet will take you back through the generations for a look at some truly regal names.

• Henry
• Elizabeth
• Edward
• Isabel
• Margaret
• Marie
• Alexander or Alexandra

Take a chance on Constantine or Frederica, but avoid the never-trendy Beatrice or Eugenie.

Literary Characters

Do you have a favorite book? Think about the characters in that story who most appeal to you. 

• Scarlett – Gone with the Wind
• Anna –
Anna Karenina
• Jane –
Jane Eyre
• Estella –
Great Expectations
• Marianne – Sense and Sensibility

Sometimes the author’s name is even cooler than his or her characters’:

• Leo Tolstoy
• Louisa May Alcott
• Walt Whitman
• Hans Christian Anderson (all three can work)
• Emily Dickinson
• Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Bible

You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything older that these classics:

• Paul
• Eve
• Abraham
• Mary
• Isaac
• Rebekah
• Mark
• Martha
• Noah
• Levi

As with the above categories, there are some biblical names to avoid, such as Judas or Cain.

The Silver Screen

There is something magical about old movies. Both the movie stars themselves as well as the famous characters they played provide a terrific source of fabulous cinematic names:

A Streetcar Named Desire:  Characters Blanche and Stella, actors Marlon and Vivien, and writers Tennessee and Oscar.

An Affair to Remember: Characters Nicky and Terry, and actors Cary Grant (either works as a first name) and Deborah.

Psycho: Characters Norman and Marion, actors Anthony and Janet, and writer Alfred (Hitchcock, of course).

The Wizard of Oz: Characters Dorothy and Zeke, actors Judy and Frank, and director Victor.

Citizen Kane: Characters Susan and Jedediah, actors Agnes and Everett, and creator Orson.

Hello, Dolly!: Characters Dolly and Minnie, actors Walter and Barbra, director Gene Kelly.

TV Land

If you prefer TV sitcoms to movie classics, these character names are for you:

The Brady Bunch: Mike, Carol, Alice, Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy
I Love Lucy: Ricky, Lucy, Fred and Ethel
The Beverly Hillbillies: Jed, Jethro, Elly May and Milburn
Gunsmoke: Matt, Kitty, Chester and Festus
All in the Family: Archie, Edith, Gloria, Lionel and Irene
Leave it to Beaver: Ward, June, Wally and Eddie
Petticoat Junction: Josephine (every daughter’s middle name), Roberta and Willimena
The Andy Griffith Show: Andy, Opie, Bea and Barney

Famous Musicians

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart probably isn’t the best name for a kid, but check out the names of these other classical musicians:

• Claude Debussy
• Antonio Vivaldi
• Johann Sebastian Bach
• Ludwig van Beethoven

The men don’t have the music category sealed up. These all-time greats offer memorable female monikers:

• Lena Horne
• Billie Holiday
• Ella Fitzgerald
• Rosemary Clooney

Name Only, Please

An old-fashioned name doesn’t have to be famous to be trendy. Here are some oldies but goodies to round out the list:

For girls:


For boys:


Whatever name you choose – whether is based on a favorite book or musical artist – your child will make it her or her own.

Read More:

The most unique literary baby names

Names of American Presidents

10 Ways to Find the Perfect Baby Name

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Comments (8)Add Comment
I Like...
written by Teresa, November 10, 2008
Old Girl Names:

Grace, Lily, Lucy, Sadie, Annabelle, Isabella, Madelyn, Ella, Elly, Eva, Emma.

Old Boys Names:Hmmmmm?

swinging the other way?
written by Leigh, November 25, 2008
it's fine and dandy to name our children these "old-school" names, but we'd better be careful or they will become over-used! on the other hand, i DO believe that names like "Kaylee" and "Logan" are a bit over-used as well. how do you decide? i like the idea of tracing back through the family tree. for example, my husband's great-aunt is named Alice. just keep in mind, what will the name be like for a baby, a pre-teen, a high schooler, in the work force, as a parent themselves, etc? my husband and i consider all life stages when deciding a name. would a 50-year-old woman really be named Kaylee?
written by JO, January 24, 2009
I like Freddy Billy Archie Frankie old english names
written by Christina, July 25, 2009
We already have our names...for a boy it's Theodore Davis(named after my grandfather and my husbands grandmothers last name) for girl it's Haley Pauline(my grandmothers maiden name and my husbands grandmothers name). Both have family meaning and not because they are popular or celebrities names.
written by Becky, July 26, 2009
i also choose family names. maybe even combine some to get a name. Kaylee Rose is my oldest. Kay(Kathy, my mom) lee(my dad) Rose(in-law.) my son also has my husbands initals and same middle name. my third i also want a family name, and if a girl also a flower name.
my kids
written by Willow, February 13, 2011
my twins names are
Demetria clementina & Annarabellouise Tangireni
do you like
what about Lilah?
written by brittany wood, June 05, 2011
does anyone like the name Lilah?
written by Adele, June 09, 2011
I love the name Lilah!!! :)

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