In the whimsical world of naming newborns, trends come and go like the tides. Yet, classic names are undeniably charming – those that have stood the test of time graced historical figures and continue to resonate with parents today. Their timeless appeal is making a solid comeback as more parents reject fleeting fads in favor of names steeped in tradition and elegance.
In this era where the old is new again, the wheel of fashion has turned, bringing a wave of vintage charm to the nursery. These baby names, once popular in our grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ time, are now experiencing a resurgence. They offer a touch of nostalgia, a nod to the past, and provide a unique yet familiar identity for the newest members of our families. Let’s delve into these twenty-four classic choices that are making a grand re-entrance into the baby naming scene.
Classic Baby Names for Girls That Have Come Back
In general, there is a “100-year rule” for baby names. They come back into fashion every 100 years or so. Josephine saw its most popular years ever in the 1910s and 1920s. The name has grown in recent decades after falling from favor in the 1970s and ’80s. It now ranks as the seventieth most given name for girls. Josephine is a name from French derived from a Hebrew root that means “Jehovah increases.”
Eleanor is another classic that’s made a huge comeback. In the most recent tally, Eleanor ranks number sixteen. One hundred years ago, the name ranked number 28. This appellation for girls is more popular today than ever before! Eleanor is of French and English origin, with an unclear meaning.
Streamlined classic Cora is a name of Greek origin that means “maiden.” This name was most popular in 1880, the first year data was recorded for baby names in the US. It ranked fifteenth then. After nearly falling out of the top 1000 most popular names for girls in the late 1980s, the name is back, ranking seventieth.
We might have the musical Hamilton‘s Schuyler sister, Eliza, to thank for the resurgence of this classic baby name. It has jumped 100 spots over the last decade. It sits just outside the top 100 today, but just 60 years ago, the name did not even rank in the top 1000. Eliza is a short, standalone form of Elizabeth, a name of Hebrew origin, meaning “pledged to God.”
Technically a unisex name, Hazel has always been a classic for girls in the US. The name follows the “100-year rule.” Today, Hazel ranks at number 27. One hundred years ago, it was at 37. Beginning in the late seventies, Hazel dropped out of the top 1000 for over two decades. We’re glad she has returned. Hazel is a name of English origin, meaning “hazelnut tree.”
The history of Amelia in the US is a tale of a modern classic. In the 1880s, Amelia was a top 100 baby name until the twentieth century, when it began to plummet. Today, the name is more popular than ever, which has been true since the early aughts. Amelia is an appellation with a German root that means “work.”
Clara is a name that is so timeless and classic that it has been in use since Antiquity. The name contains a Latin root that means “bright” and “clear.” Clara was a top 500 name until the late sixties when it fell from favor. She’s back and going strong today!
Lucy reached an all-time low in 1978. Most of us thought this classic would be a goner. But, against all odds, it has staged a remarkable comeback. Today, it’s matching its highs from the 1880s and 1890s. Lucy is the English form of Lucia, from Latin, meaning “light.”
Baby name experts have long known that Rose is a trendy middle name for baby girls. Until recent decades, the appellation got a bump as a given name. After dropping over 300 spots, Rose is tracking to crack the top 100 in the next couple of years.
Ruth has a very similar story to tell as Rose. After tanking in the late 1990s, Ruth jumped over 200 spots, putting it firmly in the top 200. Ruth is a classic Hebrew name that means “compassionate friend.”
Lydia, a name that has become quietly fashionable, is of Greek origin and means “from Lydia.” The appellation enjoyed its most popular year in 1880 at number 77. Today, it’s number 93. Keep showing this name love, parents, and it will stay in the top 100 for decades to come.
Violet, a name that once enjoyed popularity a century ago, fell into a quiet slumber for many decades. It hit rock bottom in the early 1980s but began its ascent back up the popularity charts towards the end of the 1990s. The name’s resurgence gained even more momentum when Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck selected it for their daughter in 2005. Now, Violet is more popular than ever before. Violet comes from a Latin root that means “purple.”
Classic Baby Names for Boys That Parents Are Turning to Again
Circa 2010, the character played by Courteney Cox in “Cougar Town,” expressed a fondness for the boy’s name Arthur. Not long after, in 2011, Selma Blair chose this name for her son, christening him Arthur Saint. Since then, the classic moniker has been ascending in popularity, leaping an impressive 15 spots to secure its place at number 140 on the popularity charts. Arthur comes from a Celtic root that means “bear.”
The Persian classic Jasper is now more popular than ever in the US. The last time the name was remotely this prevalent was 1880, ranking at number 139. Now, it’s 130. The Persian root of Jasper means “bringer of treasure,” a reference to the Three Wise men who visited the infant Christ.
Miles cemented its place among modern classic baby names in recent years. Prior, the name had fallen out of fashion, hitting its lowest spot in the 1970s. It is more popular today than ever before, ranking at number 54. Before its recent surge, the name had last hit its highs in the early 1880s. Miles comes from a Latin root, meaning “merciful” or “soldier.”
Miles and Milo have a remarkably similar trajectory. Obviously, the appellations come from the same root, but they are distinct names. In 1892, the name hit a high ranking at number 314. In recent years, Milo bested that number and now ranks 120. Like Miles, Milo is a modern classic.
Ezra is a name of Hebrew origin that means “help.” Like Miles and Milo, Ezra was sailing high at the end of the nineteenth century before plummeting in popularity. Beginning in the late 1960s, Ezra began to climb. Now, the appellation is more popular than ever, ranking at number 25!
Atticus is an appellation that sounds the most classic, as it comes from Greek and Latin and has been in use for centuries. The Greek root of the name means “from Attica.” The Romans adopted the name, which was made famous by the Roman literary figure Titus Pomponius Atticus. Atticus made the top 1000 in the 1880s before going extinct for over 100 years! Now, Atticus is more popular than ever before, ranking number 275.
Otto was a very beloved name in the US before WWI and WWII. For obvious reasons, German names fell from fashion for decades. Otto’s fortunes began to change in 2011 when it came out of nowhere and ranked in the top 1000 for the first time in three decades. It ranks 309 and is tracking to best its previous high in the next few years. Otto’s German root means “wealthy.”
Asher is a classic Hebrew name commonplace in the US until the start of the twentieth century. It took almost 100 years for new parents to rally around Asher again. After rocketing the charts, Asher is now a top twenty baby name: a modern classic.
Theodore is one of America’s most cherished appellations for boys. However, it took a real hit in the late 1990s and early 2000s before staging a quiet comeback. This classic name jumped 200 places to rank in the top ten today. No small feat! Helped along by the enviable nickname Theo, Theodore is of Greek origin and means “gift of God.”
August is the German form of the Latin name Augustus, meaning “greatest.” Despite its meaning, new parents did not think this name was the greatest from around the 1970s to the early 2000s. The appellation has been climbing at a fantastic clip since then. August is tracking to best its high ranking (from 1880) next year!
Henry is a true classic, beloved in many countries around the world. The appellation has been in the top 200 in the US since recording began; however, it did slip in the 1970s through the 1990s. Now, the name is as popular as ever. You can’t go wrong with this name that means “estate ruler.”
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Louis was a top-100 name for boys from 1880 to 1958. Then, it slowly slid down the charts for decades before turning around in the early aughts. Louis’s success is not as dramatic as others on this list, but it’s been on the way up for several years. Louis is a French name from a German root that means “renowned warrior.”
It’s clear that classic baby names have a special allure that never truly fades. Their enduring charm lies in their history, their familiarity, and the elegance they effortlessly exude. Whether you’re an expectant parent seeking inspiration or simply a name enthusiast, we hope this list of 24 resurgent classics has provided some food for thought. Remember, choosing a name is a deeply personal decision, but opting for a classic ensures your child will have a name that stands the test of time, just as it has done for generations before.
- 1 Classic Baby Names for Girls That Have Come Back
- 2 Classic Baby Names for Boys That Parents Are Turning to Again
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