100 vintage baby names coming back into style
What’s in a name? That question, once posed by William Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet,” is now being answered every day by parents ushering in (on average) one baby every 8 seconds in the U.S. With that welcome comes the tradition of naming a newborn—and these days, vintage names are coming back strong.
Some of these names almost disappeared from the lexicon altogether, like Audrey, whose association with the word “tawdry” nearly wiped it out of existence. In other cases, it was a single person sporting the name—whether real or fictional—that sent it skyrocketing up the ranking charts.
The Bible has inspired many parents’ naming decisions. Royalty is another common theme throughout, with names of kings, queens, and other heads of state displaying longevity. Iconic literary characters and authors helped a number of these names achieve their peak position in the late 1800s and early 1900s as well.
Stacker consulted the Social Security Administration’s Historical Baby Names database to compile a list of 100 vintage baby names now regaining popularity. The list began with 545 names ranked in the top 200 most popular for at least 10 straight years between 1880 and 1930. Of these names, Stacker selected 100 which ranked lower between 1930 and 2010 than they did in 2018. The names are ranked here by their popularity in 2018.
Along with each name, you’ll find information about where it came from, what it may translate to, some of the more popular historical figures that helped establish its first run up the charts, and why it may be making a comeback today. Keep reading to see if your name is on the list of 100 vintage baby names coming back into style.
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#100. Millie (for girls)
- Today's rank: #304 (1,087 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1880s (Rank: #143, 1,527 babies born)
A variant of Mildred and Milicent, this name is making a comeback since its 1950s popularity as the moniker for the sexy, red-headed Marvel Comic character Millie the Model, who leaves a small farm town for big-city dreams.
#99. Miriam (for girls)
- Today's rank: #302 (1,088 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1910s (Rank: #146, 11,047 babies born)
In the Bible, Miriam was sister to Aaron and Moses who led a group of women in worship after the parting of the Red Sea. Miriam Shor is famous for making melodies in the off-broadway play “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Miriam Hopkins, a legendary 1930s Hollywood actress, held a long-time notorious feud with Bette Davis.
#98. Lena (for girls)
- Today's rank: #301 (1,094 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1880s (Rank: #44, 8,691 babies born)
Between 1880 and 1920, Lena remained in the top-100 names for girls—but it was the 1930s actress and singer Lena Horne who brought the name real fame. Modern-day actresses bearing this moniker include HBO stars Lena Dunham from “Girls” and Lena Headey from “Game of Thrones.”
#97. Maggie (for girls)
- Today's rank: #292 (1,122 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1880s (Rank: #52, 7,072 babies born)
Short for Margaret, which means pearl, many A-listers share this name. Famous owners of this surname including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maggie Q, and Maggie Smith.
#96. Kate (for girls)
- Today's rank: #285 (1,156 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1880s (Rank: #97, 3,194 babies born)
This variant of Catherine has made a comeback since Prince William married Kate Middleton. Russian empress Catherine the Great ruled the empire in the late 1700s. This name, which means “pure,” is shared by actresses Kate Beckinsale, Kate Winslet, and Kate Hudson.
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#95. Elsie (for girls)
- Today's rank: #280 (1,178 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1890s (Rank: #35, 16,375 babies born)
The name Elsie means “oath to God.” Singer/songwriter Elsie Janis entertained World War I troops, Elsie MacGill became the first female architect for airliners, and Elsie Locke is a New Zealand children's author best known for “The Runaway Settlers.”
#94. Olive (for girls)
- Today's rank: #270 (1,222 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1880s (Rank: #88, 3,456 babies born)
Actresses Drew Barrymore and Isla Fisher named their daughters after this green sapling that represents peace and success. Though the name may conjure up thoughts of Popeye’s girlfriend, shortened it reads “Liv,” the name of actress Liv Tyler, daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.
#93. Vera (for girls)
- Today's rank: #257 (1,257 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1910s (Rank: #65, 28,289 babies born)
Fashion designer Vera Wang and actress Vera Farmiga keep this name on people’s minds. During its height during the late early 1920s, this Russian name, meaning “faith,” might make people think of singer Vera Lynn and actress Vera Miles.
#92. Simon (for boys)
- Today's rank: #254 (1,435 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1880s (Rank: #162, 841 babies born)
The name Simon, which means “the listener,” is prominent in the Bible and made a comeback in the early 2000s after its mid-1900s popularity spike. Simon Templar was the lead character in the popular book series “The Saint.” Modern-day Simons include rock band Duran Duran’s lead singer Simon LeBon and reality show host Simon Cowell.
#91. Ada (for girls)
- Today's rank: #251 (1,288 babies born)
- Best historical decade: 1880s (Rank: #46, 8,423 babies born)
A variant of Adelaide, this three-letter name means “noble.” Ada Lovelace was the daughter of poet Lord Byron. Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov kept the name in the spotlight in his 1969 novel “Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle.” Actresses Ada Nicodemou and Ada Maris (famous for her role on the sitcom “Nurses”) keep the name alive today.
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