Old man baby names come wrapped in a vintage cardigan with a charming sense of wisdom. Many baby names for boys have been fashionable for decades like Henry and Samuel while others like Jethro and Homer have fallen out of favor. The ones that have slipped in popularity over the years sound like retro artifacts but they do deserve your attention as they could sound very much alive and fresh today. These baby names for boys hold a certain je ne sais quoi that we will dare to call Grandpa-chic.
Grandpa baby names are simply appellations that have not appealed to new parents for decades but should absolutely be considered today as they are ready for a renaissance. These classic baby names for boys sound timeless and often have a storied past with dignified namesakes throughout history. We decided to take a deep dive into yesteryear to discover which of these old baby names will appeal most to parents today. Here are 25 grandpa baby names that we adore and think many other new parents can get behind as well. Get ready for some golden oldies!
Vernon reached its height of popularity for new parents in 1920 when it was a top 100 baby name. It slowly declined over the years before it fell off the US top 1000 baby names for boys in 2003. Vernon is an English surname-name that sounds very British and means “place of alders.” If you’re after a distinguished and subtle nature name, this would be a perfect choice.
Sylvester was at its height in the 1920s, when it was in the top 200, and hung on in the lower rungs until 1994. Today, very few new parents are choosing this classic grandpa name. Sylvester is a name with Latin origins and it means “wood” or “forest.”
Winston became most popular in the US in the 1940s and 50s, no doubt as a tribute to Winston Churchill. Surprisingly this old man name has been on the rise over the last ten years and it could see its most popular year ever in the next five years if trends hold. Winston is an English name that means “wine’s town.” Cheers!
Homeric hero Ulysses is the Latin variant of the Greek name Odysseus which means “wrathful.” The most popular year for the name in the US in recent memory was 1999 when it hit the 694th spot on the US top 1000. Since then, the name has practically fallen from use. The name of a celebrated novel by James Joyce, Ulysses could act as a literary tribute or as a hero name inspired by Ulysses S. Grant.
Mortimer sounds like a quintessential old man name because it has not been widely used in the US since the 1920s. Mortimer has English origins as a variant form of Moses. The name means “dead sea.” Mortimer is a playful name that’s so ugly it’s cute and we would love to encounter this grandpa name more often today.
Eugene is a classic that has unfortunately lost its way. On the one hand, it’s a grandpa, even great-grandpa name that hasn’t been one of the cool kids recently. However, Eugene has had a long history of popularity, as a top 50 name from 1880 to the 1940s. It is still a top 1000 baby name for boys but it pales in comparison to its previous heights. British actor Billie Piper named her son Eugene Pip when he was born in 2012.
Amos is a robust biblical name that’s being discovered by a new generation of parents in a refreshing way. The name was exceedingly popular with Puritans which could explain how the name lingered on and enjoyed its most popular year in 1880, the first year baby naming data was released by the US government. Amos has Hebrew origins and means “carried by God.”
Bertram is an Old German name with Norman roots that means “bright raven.” This treasure was last fashionable in the 1930s as it was a favored vehicle to get to the nickname, Bert. This old man name has not been popular at all since the 1960s and we think that it is due for a renaissance.
In Ireland, Art is used as a name on its own, separate from Arthur. There, the name comes from an ancient word for “a bear,” and used in the sense of “outstanding warrior” or “champion.” Art was a legendary Pagan High King of Ireland who was so true that angels watched over him when he fought in battle. In the US, we often consider the name a short form of Arthur which is English and means “noble one.” Sadly, this old man name has not been widely chosen since the 1960s.
Homer is a grandpa name that has traveled from the ancient Greek writer of the great classical epics to a long-running animated comedy in the US. Homer fell from favor in the 1980s and it is rarely used today by new parents. We think that should absolutely change. Homer has Greek origins and means “security.”
Jethro, though the biblical father-in-law of Moses, has suffered for a long time from a Beverly Hillbilly image, even though it was used as a name for a popular sixties rock band in Jethro Tull. Jethro has not been popular in the US since 1913! A hundred years later, and we feel it could be a real possibility for adventurous parents. Jethro has Hebrew origins and means “excellence.”
Johnny Mercer was a talented and charming songwriter-singer who wrote the lyrics for more than 1,500 songs, including “Moon River.” He could be an inspiration for this old man name or you might just be attracted to its handsome sound. Mercer is a French occupational surname for “a merchant.” This name has not been popular as a given option since 1881.
The name Otis will forever make us think of the smooth voice of Otis Redding. Thankfully, this name has been on an upward trend over the last few years with a ranking of 707 at last count. However, it is nowhere near its height of popularity in the early 1900s when it was a top 100 pick. Otis has German origins and means “wealthy.” Cha-ching!
Linus has never shaken its Peanuts image in the US and thus, has not been popular since 1940. However, if you look to Germany, Norway, and Sweden, you will find the name is a top 50 choice. It’s clear it does not carry the old man image there. Linus has Greek origins and means “flax.”
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Leland is a rare example of a name that completely turned around in its popularity in the 1990s. After falling from the US top 1000 for years, it has rebounded and become a top 500 name again. This name is a great way to get the attractive Lee nickname. Leland has English origins and it means “meadowland.”
While you could go full-on old man with Barnaby or Barnabas, we love the amicable sound of Barney. Barney has unfortunately been absent from a lot of birth certificates since the 1970s. Barnabas, the name from which Barney derives, is one of the world’s oldest names coming from Aramaic. It means “son of consolation.”
Gus is a homey grandpa nickname name that can work as a short form for Augustus, Angus, Gustave, Augustin, Augusten, Augustine, and August. The name has effectively been of the US top 1000 since 1978 with a random blip in popularity in 2006. Gus is a blunt and casual name with Greek or Irish origins and can mean “one strength.”
The time has come for parents to dust off the stately English name, Edmund, as it has been absent from the top 1000 for nearly 30 years. Edmond is the French form of the name and you get to choose which way you want to take it. Edmund means “fortunate protector.” We think any baby boy would be fortunate to receive this name.
Hiram is the kind of forgotten biblical name that adventurous parents who wish to move beyond David and Daniel are beginning to reconsider. The name belonged to an Old Testament king of Tyre who helped David and Solomon plan and build the temple in Jerusalem. The most popular year for this name in the US was 1880 and it has declined ever since and is no longer found in the top 1000. Hiram has Hebrew origins that mean “brother of the exalted one.”
Ephraim is a boy’s name of Hebrew origin meaning “fruitful, fertile, productive.” The name has been rediscovered by a few parents but it has not received its rightful attention since before 1914! In Genesis, Ephraim is the second son of Joseph who was the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. You might also consider the simplified spelling, Efrem.
Basil was on the U.S. popularity list quite regularly up till 1970, reaching a high of number 328 in 1904. Its history includes several rulers of the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Orthodox saints. We think it’s past time to take a fresh look at this aromatic name. Basil has Greek origins and means “regal.” What’s not to love about this appellation, parents?
Once a powerful Roman clan name, Cecil has lost much of its strength over the years, falling off of the US top 1000 in the 1990s. Past bearers include film giant Cecil B. DeMille, photographer Cecil Beaton, and poet Cecil Day Lewis. Those forebearers could all serve as worthy inspiration for your baby’s name. The only downside of this name is its meaning, “blind.”
Cy is a diminutive of Cyrus and both seem like monikers from a bygone era. While Cyrus has been mildly popular since 1880, Cy has never shaken its old man image. Cyrus has Persian origins and means “sun.” In fact, the name belonged to the founder of the Persian Empire. We love Cy for its casual nature and breathy weightlessness.
Percy is an adorable old name that is finally shedding its pampered image and is now being considered with other names like Elijah or Jasper. Percy has historically been more popular in England and France as it comes from an old Norman surname that refers to the place, “Perci-en-Auge” and meaning “one who pierces the valley.” This name has not been popular in the US since the 1980s and we want it back!
The name of Jacob’s twin brother, son of Isaac and Rebecca, Esau could make an ideal option for parents looking for a unique biblical name. You will have to turn back the clock to 1902 when the name was popular in the US to hear this forgotten gem of a name. Esau has Hebrew origins and it does indeed mean “hairy.” However, this old man name is so elegant and beautiful we think many can look beyond that.
There you go! We hope you enjoyed and feel inspired by this vintage old man names fit for grandpa and maybe your son as well. These names are so retro we find them charming and alluring today and hope that new parents agree! These classics will all likely make a comeback at some point, so get ahead of the trend and choose one for your little man.
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. Vernon
- 2 24. Sylvester
- 3 23. Winston
- 4 22. Ulysses
- 5 21. Mortimer
- 6 20. Eugene
- 7 19. Amos
- 8 18. Bertram
- 9 17. Art
- 10 16. Homer
- 11 15. Jethro
- 12 14. Mercer
- 13 13. Otis
- 14 12. Linus
- 15 11. Leland
- 16 10. Barney
- 17 9. Gus
- 18 8. Edmund
- 19 7. Hiram
- 20 6. Ephraim
- 21 5. Basil
- 22 4. Cecil
- 23 3. Cy
- 24 2. Percy
- 25 1. Esau
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