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The Comeback Kids: 16 Vintage Baby Names We Want to See in 2012

By babblejillian |

In baby names, like fashion, everything old is new again. Just as the acid-wash jeans and babydoll dresses of the ’90s are “vintage” enough to be trendy again, the names of our grandparents and great-grandparents are becoming cool, too (it takes a little longer for generations, rather than jeans, to cycle through the trend machine). Names that once sounded old-fashioned, like Ella, Hazel, Henry and more, now add a nice, hip patina to a fresh baby face.

Not all of the names of the 1890s, 1900s, and 1910s are quite in vogue yet, but here are 16 we’d like to see climb the charts this year and beyond. They’re great picks for trendsetters and parents who want an old-school sound without being too mainstream with their monikers. See our picks after the jump! — Jillian Capewell

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The Comeback Kids: 16 Vintage Baby Names We Want to See in 2012


Origin: Sanskrit; Meaning: gem
A great pick for your precious jewel, the name Opal came into vogue during the late Victorian era, along with other gemstone monikers such as Pearl. From 1900 to 1920, this name remained among the top 100 and stuck it out in the top 500 names until 1950. This is a rock-solid pick for parents who dig the sound of today’s popular name Olivia but want something more original.
Photo source: Flickr user j3net

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Looking for our 2013 update? Click here for 10 more vintage baby names with retro flair!


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About babblejillian



Jillian Capewell is an editor and graduate of SUNY Geneseo in upstate New York, where she was an editor for the college newspaper. Jillian started at Babble as an intern and returned after spending a year teaching Beatles songs to French children. She has wanted to write for a living since completing the construction-paper classic Penguin Surprise Do Stuff at age four with the help of her mom, who had to spell all the words. Aside from Babble, Jillian’s work has also appeared on xoJane and Nerve.

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52 thoughts on “The Comeback Kids: 16 Vintage Baby Names We Want to See in 2012

  1. Evin Cooper says:

    I love ‘em all! My girls are Marian and Josey, two old fashioned names.. both, surprisingly, named after well known Hollywood MEN. John Wayne’s real name was Marion Morrison, and of course, Clint Eastwood starred in The Outlaw Josey Wales!

  2. leah says:

    We named our daughter born this past October Frances and Felix was on our short list for boys :) .

  3. Taz says:

    Frances is the only girl one I like. I like Beatrice, but not so much Beatrix. I like Leland and Felix though!

  4. Heather says:

    We named our daughter Naomi Faye after both her great grandmothers. I think it fits together perfectly.

  5. jessy says:

    we named our daughter DahliaMae

  6. Hayley Stevens says:

    My nieces’ names are Lucy(4) and Ira(almost 2) and they get told all the time “wow what old fashioned names”… I love the Opal, Pearl, and Hazels and I think they are definitely coming back!!!!

  7. Dianna Haught says:

    Wow. I hate all of these names. Many of them are associated with famous psychopaths and pedophiles. Interesting choice for a kid, hmm? There are old names I like very well -Aine, Rose, Doncha, Aramis – come to mind right off, but I wouldn’t subject a child to any of the above names.

  8. Tragic Sandwich says:

    I know someone whose first name is Ethel and she absolutely hates it. I agree with a lot of your choices, but Ethel? That doesn’t sound like anything but a grouchy old lady, or a type of alcohol. Pass.

  9. Lisa says:

    My mom is an Ethel, I had an aunt named Frances, and my daughter is Rebekah.

  10. Gina says:

    why would I click so many times? Babble, you seriously need to change this format.

  11. heather says:

    um….no thanks! i hate all those names. i think my daughters names might be old too though, Emma and Elizabeth.

  12. stephanie says:

    We named our son Cy and alot of people say that it is an old fashioned name as well. We didn’t know that at the time we just liked the name.

  13. Rachael says:

    We named our B/G twins Temperance (Tempi) Noel and Tucker Benjamin. We def like the old timey names! ;)

  14. esther says:

    i’m very surprised not to see ‘esther’ on this list!

  15. Lindsay Q. says:

    Yep! I named my daughter Beatrice, and if we have another daughter, Eleanor is definitely going to be her name.

  16. Charleen Beatty says:

    I love Opal, but the name I love most of all isnt on your list. I love Leona, thats a beautiful name.

  17. Christy says:

    I love those names, and the idea of bringing back names from other eras. We are naming our baby girl after both our maternal grandmothers. She will be June Margaret, which isn’t quite as vintage-y as these, but still old fashioned:)

  18. melissa says:

    Love them all, Ellis was on my boy name list for some time until we went with family names.

  19. Mary Chris says:

    I named my daughter Hadilyn, which I thought I made up, so that I could nickname her Hadi (Hattie)…I had friends with babies Adison (Adi) and Madison (Madi) My daughter is only 5 months and “baby Hadi” has stuck for her so far…When I take her to visit my 94 year old Nana in her retirement community, most the other residents comment on how old fashion her name is…I had no idea at the time…

  20. Brooke says:

    My five year old is Beatrix (everyone calls her Bix) two year old sister is Fiona (we love the old fashioned and the British)

  21. Tracy says:

    My 2 year old is Genevieve Pearl – love Hattie and Beatrix too :)

  22. anne says:

    Those are the most horrible names ever lol

  23. Jessica says:

    when i was pickin names for my baby, i had Ellen Marie using both my grandmothers middle names and for a boy i was completely lost til i found Beau and Hank! FOund out i was have a boy soo, i am the proud mother of a 6 month old son named, Hank Aron!

  24. Sarah says:

    We just found out we’re having a boy and he’s going to be named Henry. As a teacher, I haven’t seen that name, EVER.

    If we were having a girl, her name was going to be Eleanor. Such a sweet pretty name.

  25. Bethany Herwegh says:

    I named my daughter Ariella which means lioness of gd in hebrew, but we call her ‘Ella’ after Ella Fitzgerald- one of my favorite singers.

  26. arriana says:

    I gave my oldest daughter born in 2004 the name of Lola, old name but there seem to be a bunch born in 2006 with that name. In 2009 we named our next daughter Penny (just penny not short for penolope) we only know old people (or dogs) with that name.

  27. Courtney says:

    The only thing i dont like about old fashion names is yeah the elderly and such like them but when your child goes to school are they going to be made fun of because of the name like frances for example

  28. Kristin says:

    I’m a big, big fan of vintage names – my 2YO daughter’s name is Vivian. From this list, I love Eleanor, Beatrix, and Felix.

  29. Cec says:

    Ethel just makes me think of Ray Steven’s “The Streak”

    DON’T LOOK ETHEL! Too late she done been MOONED!

  30. Hannah Gardner says:

    I have a cousin Hattie, named after a great grandma, and my sister was a Ruth, but goes by Rudy and officially just changed her name because she hates Ruth so much! And I love Ellis, but we went with Elliott instead. Really dislike the name Beverly.

  31. Chanda Healton says:

    We chose Savannah Alysen Rayne for our daughter, but I also liked Evelyn May alot! Husband wouldn’t go for it though.Not fond of any of the girls names on here to be honest but love Amos and Felix on the boys side

  32. Alicia says:

    We like the really old names, and named our son Lucius (ancient Roman name). If we have another son, his name will be Marcus. It’s a more common name, but it’s still ancient Roman.

  33. T says:

    my 10 month old is named Ellis, we love the name and it just so happened to be my husband’s grandfather’s name too, so it worked perfectly. Our first girl will be named Margaret- not too old, but still, it’s no Zoe/Aiden/Riley blah blah blah.

  34. Meg says:

    Unfortunately none of the boy names from this list that I like go with the first name we’ve chosen – I’m on middle name hunt at the moment! There are some goodies here and some baddies out of this. Opal I love, Eleanor is a little blah and I know plenty of them my age (29) and most go by the name Ellie. Beverly sounds like a middle aged waitress with an 80s perm, Frances sounds like a stern old aunt but the nicknames Frannie and Effie are sweet (I do know an Effie whose real name’s Frances), I know 2 teenage Hatties – both are short for Harriet. Ruth is fairly dry and down to earth but not very inspired for a first name – that said I think you could be anything if you’re called Ruth. Ethel sounds very dated but I did have a doll called Ethel (they all had old names – Joan, Enid etc) and Beatrix I love – it sounds a little feistier than Beatrice with the x and I love Beatrix Potter.

    Boy wise – Leland sound very modern – too modern for me and looks like the name of a building contractor firm. Ellis I adore, I have a cousin with a boy called Ellis – it also doesn’t go with our surname. Ira I’d steer away from as it’s pronounced the same as Eira which is Welsh for snow and I’d use as a girl’s name (I am Welsh). Otto is fabulous – very characterful but still easy to say, spell etc. Amos is still a bit beyond for me – it’s also what one of my many friends called Amy gets called for a joke. Claude sounds very posh – could maybe work in the middle but I’d steer clear as it’s the name of a pub in my town. Felix I like and it’s on my sister’s favourites list but I can’t shake Felix the cat from the cat food adverts out of my head! Earl is a tad comedy to me – sounds like either a redneck in a trailer park or a dog.

  35. Alley says:

    I’ve always liked classical and mythologically-based names (i.e. Penelope). When trying to settle on a name for my daughter, I was torn between Adelaide (origin of my name) and Meredith. Wound up naming her Meredith, with Adelaide being one of her two middle names. Her other middle name is the feminine version of her father’s name. I figured that way she’d have a little bit of both of us in her name. I’ve always said that if I ever had a boy, he’d be named Nathaniel. Girl name options are Paige (not well-known, albeit not classical) or Gwendolyn. I’ve actually got a full list for both sexes, but those are what I can remember off-hand.

  36. Aimee says:

    I’m going to have to say, Adelaide(girl), and Saulas(boy). different, old, and seemingly interesting. Not on the list, but still old.

  37. Mary says:

    Love the name Earl. I wanted to have that be my son’s middle name but my husband said it sounded too redneckish.

  38. jen says:

    felix, otto, eleanor, ruth, beatrix are all names friends have named thier kids in the last 5 years!

  39. NY Phoenix says:

    Earl is my son’s middle name… it was also my grandpa’s first name and I have a thing for using family names for the middle name (being named after my grandmother and then having my FIL, dh, and stepson all have the same name as Sr, Jr, and III has just reiterated all of the confusion that there was when I was younger). My youngest son’s middle name is James (after dh’s youngest brother)

  40. V. O. says:

    I love these!

  41. Kerri says:

    We called our son Felix (in 2005) and our daughter is called Olive. I remember a friend saying, wow, what retro names!!!!!

  42. Emme says:

    So glad our family could help out on this front lol! Our little girl is named
    Phoebe Beatrix.
    “bright and shining voyager through life”

    It suits her, no one has ever commented that it’s a strange or weird name, and it rolls off the tongue. Not to mention, she’s inevitably learn how to spell early!

  43. hhp says:

    Most of those aren’t my cup of tea, but we are using Everly as a middle name. We had it picked out probably before we even got married. I think it’s beautiful – it has a vintage feel with a modern twist. Most people we’ve told the name to really like it.

  44. DutchM says:

    Might be nice to know that Beatrix is also a royal name, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands!

  45. VPM says:

    Love Betty Ann…or Bette

  46. L. Upchurch says:

    My girls are Aina Emelia (after my great great grandma) Lyla Marie (after my great aunt) and I’m due June 10th with Elenora May Leena (Elenora after both my great grandma and grandma, May after my other grandma and my husbands mom, and Leena is Finnish, which sticks to our heritage) I LOVE the old fashioned family names. My oldest is almost 10 so I kinda like to think i was ahead of the trend with my naming choices. Wouldn’t change a thing!

  47. Sai says:

    almost named my baby Leland but name him Seth instead >.< Do not regret it lol his middle name is Sirius so if I have a girl I might name her Beatrix

  48. Isabel says:

    My little girl is Frances. We love it, it’s easily recognized but not super popular. We call her Frankie, Frannie, and Francie for short.

  49. Betsy says:

    My son’s name is Wade, which I’ve loved since I was a teenager and read Gone with the Wind. His middle name is the now-ubiquitious Morgan, which is my grandmother’s maiden name and my middle name. When I was a kid, I got teased for having a boy’s name as my middle name. My father always said we gave Wade 3 last names!

  50. Maber says:

    Sorry but Pearl, Ruby, and Opal will always be old lady names! I prefer the jewels Sapphire, Topaz, and Onyx (along with Jade and Amber but those have been overused.) I don’t think Ethel was ever anything but a name for stodgy old matriarchs lol. Beatrix and Felix were both nice “new again” names.

  51. Danielle says:

    My son is 6 and we named him Leland. I loved the name because it was unique and different but now off the wall. I couldn’t imagine him being named any other name. It suits him quite well.

  52. Dave says:

    I’m sorry, but these names stink. All of them. Out of all the cool names from the turn of the century, it seems you picked the ones I hate. No, X is not cool (unless your name is Max), Earl, Claude, and Amos work for horses, not humans.

    Sorry to be so hateful, but the things people name their kids nowadays… No reason to encourage them.

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