Time-tested, classic baby names are anything but basic. Names that have been popular for decades and even centuries have staying power for a reason, they’re awesome. While we might get excited by trendy names that some parents are using like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Apple or Ashlee Simpson’s Bronx, traditional names are a safe, smart choice for a child that you won’t have to worry about her putting on her resume as an adult.
We looked back at favored pre-twentieth-century baby names to find out which names have been popular with American parents for at least 100 years. We were expected to be surprised by our findings, but it turns out classic baby names lend little to sensationalism. Here are 25 classic baby names that will never go out of style and sound as good as they did 100 years ago. Weathered, worn, unflappable, and resilient these 25 names for boys and girls are timeless.
In 1890, Kate was one of the most popular names. It still is. 100 years later and the name is still in the top 200 most popular names for girls. At the time, Kate was viewed as the short, hip version of Katherine or Caitlyn. Kate has Greek origins and means “pure.”
Noah was the most popular name for boys throughout the previous decade. Noah has been around so long it’s Old Testament. The name, of course, has origins in Hebrew and means “rest.”
Another name that’s enjoyed favor for over 100 years is Amelia. Amelia has German origins and means “industrious.” Born in 1897, Amelia Earhart was an aviation pioneer who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She’s a great example and an inspiration.
Matthew made the top 200 names for boys at the turn of the last century. It’s even more popular today, landing in the top 20 most popular names for boys. Matthew is an English name with Hebrew origins. Matthew means “gift of God.”
Sara and Sarah have both appeared in the top 200 most popular names for girls for over 100 years now. It’s easy to understand, Sara has such ease and sophistication. Sara has origins in Hebrew and means “princess.”
Guy was one of the most popular names for boys in the US during the 1880s, 1890s, and 1900s. The name has since fallen out of fashion in the US but has remained a dominant name across Europe. Guy shares the same root as the Italian name Guido and it means “guide.”
In the 1880s, Naomi was a rising name that made the top 200 list. Today, the name is one of the very most favored names for girls in the US. Naomi has Hebrew origins and means “pleasantness.” While the name has enjoyed favored for a very long time, its pronunciation has evolved over time. Originally the name was pronounced with emphasis on the “O,” but today it’s commonly said with emphasis on the “Mi.”
Archie was one of the top 100 names for boys at the beginning of the 20th Century. It has since fallen from the charts, but we foresee its fortune changing. After Megan Markle and Prince Harry named their firstborn son, Archie, we expect the name to spring back. Over 100 years ago, parents were already shortening Archibald to Archie as a given name. It means “bold” and has Teutonic origins.
Eva is one of the most popular names for girls today and it was even more popular in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Eva shares the same root as Eve and means “life.” This is truly a timeless beautiful name.
Oscar is another name that’s still very popular but was all the rage 100 years ago. Oscar and its variations are found in many languages. Oscar as many English speakers know it comes from Irish and means “deer friend.” The name is even more popular in Scandanavia and in Sweden, it’s the third most popular name for boys right now.
Cora is a classic name for girls that’s still widely used. So much so that it’s currently the 118th most popular name for girls. Cora has Greek roots and means “daughter” or “maiden.” The name is closely associated with Spring and would be the perfect name for a springtime baby.
You might think Ollie is a contemporary name, but it’s actually a very old one and was widely used over the last 100 years. Ollie is a shortened form of Oliver and means “elf army” from Norse and “olive tree” from French.
Hazel has been in the top 100 names for girls for 100 years now. Hazel is popular because it conjures visions of a hazelnut tree and the color commonly seen in irises. The name predates the US and was in use in Old English.
Like Guy, Gus is a name that’s been popular in Europe forever but had a moment in the US 100 years ago. Short for Augustus or Augustine, Gus has long stood on its own. It has Latin origins and means “venerable.”
Isabel is a medieval Spanish form of the name Elizabeth. It’s been an extremely popular name for girls for a very, very, long time now. Classy and charming, Isabel is a great choice for a little girl. The name means “God is my oath.”
While Emmanuel might be the more popular form of the name today, Manuel was thought of as even more fashionable at the turn of the 20th Century. This biblical name means “God with us.”
Olive and Oliver have been mainstay baby names for over a century. We love the name Olive for a girl and although it was popular in the 1900s it has since fallen from fashion, slightly. Let’s bring Olive back! The name, of course, means “olive tree.”
Everett is a quintessential English name that’s been around forever. It still manages to sound fresh and stately and is just as popular today as it was 100 years ago. Everett comes from the Old English name Eoforheard which means “brave as a wild boar.” An intriguing name meaning for brave little boys.
Floral names were all the rage in the Victorian Era. Daisy is a name that’s also been popular for the better part of a century. The name Daisy comes from Old English and means “day’s eye” and was given to the flower because of the way its petals opened at daylight.
Vincent is a storied name that has never gone out of style. From the Latin name, Vincentius, Vincent means “conqueror.” Vincent is more popular today than it was in the last century. It’s a handsome and winning name for baby boys.
Frieda is a classic name that’s ready to come back! Frieda belonged to famed Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo and it’s a favorite for independent thinkers and artsy types. The name Frieda has German origins and means “peaceful ruler.”
Benjamin is more popular than it has ever been. This classic name conveys friendliness and good vibes. Benjamin has Hebrew roots and means “son of the right hand.” There are too many excellent Benjamins to name!
Anna is a popular name for girls around the world. The name is found in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and means “favor” or “grace” or “beautiful.” This simple yet elegant name is not going anywhere.
James is a top 10 baby name today and it has been since the Social Security Administration has been keeping naming records. It’s a classic name that manages to sound strong and effortless at the same time. James has Hebrew origins and means “supplanter.”
Throw a rock into a crowd of 100 children and there’s a good chance you’ll hit an Elizabeth. 11 out of every 100 baby girls is given the name. It is the only name that has remained in the top ten US girls’ names list from 1925 to 1972. Elizabeth is found in the Bible and is considered to have Hebrew origins. It means “my God is abundance.”
While we tend to lean heavily on popular English names in the US, it’s also a good idea to look at popular names in other countries and languages for inspiration. Irish baby names, Italian baby names, and Spanish baby names are all good jumping-off points. If you love a classic name, don’t feel bad. Not everyone needs to be naming their children Zuma. Traditional names are always in style.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Kate
- 2 24. Noah
- 3 23. Amelia
- 4 22. Matthew
- 5 21. Sara
- 6 20. Guy
- 7 19. Naomi
- 8 18. Archie
- 9 17. Eva
- 10 16. Oscar
- 11 15. Cora
- 12 14. Ollie
- 13 13. Hazel
- 14 12. Gus
- 15 11. Isabel
- 16 10. Manuel
- 17 9. Olive
- 18 8. Everett
- 19 7. Daisy
- 20 6. Vincent
- 21 5. Frieda
- 22 4. Benjamin
- 23 3. Anna
- 24 2. James
- 25 1. Elizabeth
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