A vintage name is ready to be rediscovered when it manages to sound fabulously retro, with sweet, nostalgic, or cutting-edge undertones. Recently, antique finds have experienced a spectacular surge in popularity. Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, and Ava are the five most popular girls’ names in the country, and Biblical favorites such as Ethan and Noah are in the top 10 for boys.
Among the vintage and heirloom names in the top 100 are Amelia, Charlotte, Owen, Julian, and Sebastian. As with most hand-me-downs, you can adjust and adapt your family treasures and personalize them with a unique spelling, a foreign translation, a nickname, or by borrowing elements and letters. For instance, Lily is at the height of its popularity at #27, closely followed by the more formal Lillian. (The last time Lillian was this popular was in 1925.) In addition to Lillian, there’s Liliana, Lilianna, Lillianna, Lilyana, and Lilly.
These oldies but goodies often come with a cool set of cheerful nicknames. Your little Matilda can be called Mattie, Tilda, or Tillie. Both Francis and Frances can sound playful as Frank or Frankie. Oliver sounds cute as Ollie, and Dominic can be called Dom.
If you have your heart set on using names that are only in your family tree, you might have to jump back more than one generation. The trick is to go back far enough to eclipse any namesakes in recent history, which is why great-grandmother’s names like Beatrice and Ada can sound new and appealing again. Still you don’t have to have a Penelope or Vivienne or Ezra in your family to name one.