Parents want to find the perfect name for their child and they drive themselves nuts in the process. They crawl the web, looking up name definitions and popularity rankings, they look through pages and pages of books until their eyes hurt, and seek advice from friends, loved ones, and even strangers! After all, naming a child is serious business, not only is it permanent (in most cases), the name parents choose for their child is supposed to say something about the character of the person they hope to see and develop in their child. You don't see any people walking around with names like Lazyno, Dumby, or Failuretta.
So, while it's recently been wildly trendy to make it up names, or even spell something backwards, (thanks Nevaeh), more and more people are discovering that there is something much more special about so called "vintage" names. Most "antique" names have fallen off the popularity charts. So, some of the names on this list are ones that most people haven’t heard in decades, but chances are if you trace your roots back far enough you may find a relative with the one of the names below. The best part about these names is not only are they from a time in the past, they also have a certain southern charm to them.
The south is known for its food, flair, and slowed down way of life. When someone mentions the south one often imagines horses, cows, long winding roads, and beautiful green grass covered plains. While the layout of the south is something to behold, the people of the south are even more culturally distinctive. Southerners are known to be loud, direct, and quick on the draw. But more than anything, they are known for their manners and friendly nature. You can’t get too far anywhere in the south without someone striking up a conversation, perhaps offering a glass of lemonade, and even inviting you home for dinner. And the chances are astronomical that you will hear a “y’all” … So, grab your quilt, and sweet tea, and cozy down in your wicker rocker on the front porch because here are 20 adorably antique baby names with southern charm:
Horace is an English baby name meaning “timekeeper” or “he who keeps time.” Resonating with southern strength and quality, the name Horace, was derived from the Roman clan name Horatius. Surprisingly, this dapper and clever southern name has not made it on the popularity charts since 1989 ranking number 954 out of 1000! It’s last peak on the charts was in 1880 at number 79. Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus. Horace the poet, is best known today for his Odes, his collection of ordinary thoughts and sentiments, which are often used to celebrate common events like proposing a drink or wishing a friend a safe journey. His work deeply influenced later writers including Robert Frost. The Spanish form of the name Horace, is Horacio; and the Italian form is Orazio.
Beulah is a Hebrew baby name that translates to “married” or “claimed as wife.” Originally the name Beulah was used in the Bible, in the Book of Isaiah, for a place not a person. The name Beulah, the place, was applied to the land of Israel by the prophet Isaiah. The name Beulah has also been used in the past to represent heaven, and in literature to represent a mythical place between earth and heaven. It began to be used as a given name in England around the time of the Reformation and it was also used by the seventeenth century Puritans. The last time Beulah made the top 1000 names chart was back in 1959 coming in at 974th place. So, the timing is absolutely perfect for this strong southern name to make a heaven sent come-back.
Otis is a German baby name meaning “wealthy.” Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeukis were on to something when they choose this soulful but spunky name for their first-born son. Although it was somewhat popular at the turn of the century, this name disappeared completely off the name charts for almost 20 years from 1995 to 2014. In America, the name Otis was used in the past to honor the revolutionary James Otis. James Otis was an American political activist and lawyer in Massachusetts during the period leading up the American Revolution. Heard the phrase “taxation without representation is tyranny”? Well, you can thank James Otis for that. Last year Otis hit number 848 on the popular name charts, so despite its pleasant southern sound and favorable meaning it’s definitely not been overdone, making it a fresh choice for a baby boy.
Evelyn is a silky soft feminine name loved by southerners for decades despite not making the popular name charts for almost a century. The name Evelyn, taken from the French name Aveline, means (grab your tissues) "wished for child." This Southern dream name was actually originally masculine. Its most famous bearer was Evelyn Waugh, a man married to a woman who was also named, you guessed it, Evelyn. Mr. Evelyn Waugh was a famed writer and to avoid confusion, people referred to the male counterpart (the husband) as He-Evelyn and his wife as She-Evelyn. Almost a century ago in 1920, Evelyn was number 12 on the popular name charts. Although for a while it all but fell off the charts completely, it has recently come roaring back up the charts. In 2015, the name Evelyn was reported to be number 15!
Tobias is a fine Greek name with Hebrew origins. Tobias, often shortened to the simple and sweet “Toby” in the Southern parts, means "God is good." This name is also popular in Germany and Scandinavia, and among Jewish people. The Greek form of Tobias is Tobiah. Tobiah is the name of the hero in the apocryphal Book of Tobbit which appears in some English versions of the Old Testament. Tobiah was said to use the help of the angel Raphael to drive away a demon who continuously plagued a woman named Sarah, who subsequently became his wife. This story was so popular during the Middle Ages that people began to name their little boys after the Biblical hero. It did not become popular in England until after the Protestant Reformation.
Clementine, a sweet and sassy southern favorite, is the feminine version of the rarely used male name Clement, meaning "gentle, mild and merciful." Clementines are also a very popular, sweet, and juicy fruit that is a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a sweet orange. “Oh my darling, Clementine” is a popular western American folk song that many people are familiar with across America, Mickey Mouse also serenaded Minnie Mouse with this song back many decades ago. If you want to be fancy, you can even use the pronunciation Clem-in-TEEN, like Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine Ogilvy Hozier. The absolutely cutest thing about this sweet name is that you can use the nickname Lemon! Clementine was number 819 in the top 1000 names last year and is currently right outside the top 100 in France.
Josiah is a Hebrew baby name meaning "God supports." In the Old Testament of the Bible, Josiah is the name of a popular king made famous for his upright nature and religious reforms. It’s important to note that Josiah became king at the age of 8 after his father was murdered. In England, the name Josiah came into use after the Protestant Reformation. This old-world name seems to take the best parts of two other male baby names, Joseph and Joshua. While the names Joseph and Joshua are wildly popular, the fresh "old west" sounding name, Josiah, has been hit or miss in its popularity until recently. This robust name for a southern prince charming has gone from placing 888 on the name charts in 1975 all the way to number 57 last year!
Gertrude is a baby name of German origin, meaning “the strength of a spear.” Gertrude peaked in popularity long ago, making its way to number 23 on the popularity charts back in 1900, and this name has all but dropped off the popularity charts altogether since 1966. Which means it’s another quaint southern classic ready for a comeback. While this name may not seem soft and sweet, its history is rich with both. From the goddess Gertrude in Norse mythology, to the gentle and mystical Saint Gertrude the Great, and not to mention Hamlet’s mother was given the name Gertrude by Shakespeare himself. The name Gertrude has a long and noble history. This name is a perfect reflection of today’s woman: full of life, full of spunk, sweet as honey, and tough as nails.
Judah is the Hebrew baby name meaning “praised.” In the Old Testament, Judah, the forth out of the twelve sons of Jacob, born to Leah (the older not so pretty sister of Rachel- Jacob’s second wife). Judah is the ancestor of the tribe of Judah which eventually formed the kingdom of Judah in the South of Israel. King David, and even Jesus are among the descendants of Judah and his wife Tamar! Another famous Judas is Judah Maccabee, a Jewish priest who revolted against the Seleucid rule in the 2nd century BC. Many people are also familiar with the handsome actor Jude Law, Judas Ben-Hur, the hero from the book turned movie Ben-Hur, or Judas Friedlander from 30-Rock. This sturdy southern name has been making a slow but steady climb on the popular name charts reaching number 235 last year.
Esther is baby name of Persian origin, and simply means "star." In the Bible, Esther, found in a chapter aptly named after her, is the heroine. She was originally named Hadassah but chose to hide her Jewish heritage. Esther, chosen to be the queen because of her beauty, is known for saving her Jewish people by revealing her hidden Jewish ancestry, and causing the plot to execute all the Jews by Haman to be overthrown. While Esther was in the top 50 names more than a century ago, it barely managed to stay in the top 1000 until 1935. It received a boost in popularity in 1893 after President Grover Cleveland named his daughter Esther. Judy Garland also played Esther on more than one occasion, once in the acclaimed Meet in St. Louis, and A Star is Born. The name Esther invokes feelings of strength and beauty.
Atticus is a name most people remember from the classic American book turned movie, To Kill a Mockingbird. This unbelievably popular book written by Harper Lee and published in 1960, follows lawyer Atticus Finch in his defense of a wrongfully accused Black man in depression era Alabama. People love Atticus Finch for his courageousness and integrity so it’s no surprise that this Roman and Hebrew name means elegant and classic. Atticus is also known as an older roman name meaning “from Attica.” Attica is a place name dating back to Antiquity, in a region of Greece surrounding Athens. Atticus is a respectable southern name that sounds crisp as an apple rolling off the tongue. For a while, Atticus did not even exist on the list of popular names, and in 1986 only 9 boys were named Atticus according to the social security registry. It has, however, recently become more and more popular.
Beatrice is a French and Italian (and Latin) baby name meaning “she who brings happiness” or “she who makes happy.” With that kind of meaning, what’s not to love about this southern fairy tale name that’s been stored away for almost a century? This soft and lovely name has a long literary and royal history and although it’s been hit or miss on the popularity charts lately, ranking number 565 last year, it's ripe and ready for a comeback. This classic name has tons of character and a fabulous set of nicknames to boot including Trixie, Trice, and Bea (or Bee)! The name Beatrice is so popular in the UK, it sits comfortably in the top 100 names. While the French form is Beatrice, the Spanish and Portuguese form is Beatriz. How posh!
Micah is the Hebrew baby name meaning “who is like God?” or “gift from God.” The name Micah also carries the American meaning: poor and humble. Whichever meaning you choose to go with this masculine but modest name has a certain southern decency to it. Micah is the contracted form of the name Micaiah. In the Old testament, Micah, one of the twelve minor prophets, authored the book of Micah which alternates between prophesies of doom and prophesies of restoration. This name was used occasionally as an English given name by the puritans after the Protestant Reformation, however it did not become a common name until the very end of the 20th century. This name has been used for both girls and boys, ranking 833rd place for girls and 108th place for boys last year.
Mirabelle is a Latin baby name meaning “wonderful” or “of wondrous beauty,” derived from the Latin word mirabilis. This sweet southern name has a lovely meaning and a soft flowy sound. While its popular sister (-bel) names, Isabel and Annabel, top the naming charts year after year, Mirabelle, the more unusual and elegant sounding name is not currently on the top 1000 names chart, but is poised and ready to be heard. Mirabelle and its Italian form, Mirabella, were both very common names used towards the end of the Middle Ages. Mirabelle is also the name of a delicate French plum also spelled Mirabelle. The name Mirabel can also be found scattered throughout early English poetry. Sweet nickname options for Mirabelle, include Mira, Millie, Belle, and Mel. In the past this feminine name was used for both males and females!
Hollis is an English baby name used for girls and boys, meaning “dweller at the holly trees.” The name Hollis was originally given to a person who lived near a group of those trees. Hollis has been off the name charts for girls and boys for decades. It’s been missing in action since 1974 for the boys, ranking 952 that year and 1955 for the girls, thus ranking 938 that year. Holly is an obvious choice for a nickname for a girl, and Hol could be used as a short and simple nickname for a boy. While this name doesn’t seem to have much going on for it in terms of history, one only needs to delve into the significance of the holly tree. Many people associate the bright green leaved Holly tree with Christmas, but many Christians associate the prickly leaves with Jesus’ crown of thorns and the bright red berries with drops of blood shed for humanity’s salvation. With that in mind, Hollis becomes a name with some major depth.
Mahalia is a Hebrew baby name meaning “tender one.” Mahalia also has the Aramaic meaning “marrow.” It is also a biblical name that was used in the 19th century. Maybe you are familiar with the soulful southern songstress Mahalia Jackson, known as the Queen of Gospel for her powerful contralto voice. Mahalia Jackson was born in New Orleans in 1911. She is heralded internationally as a singer, releasing about 30 albums for Columbia records, and is also a civil rights activist. The name Mahalia has never made it on the top 1000 baby names charts in modern history. So, it’s a perfect choice for parents looking for a rare hidden gem with a soothing sound and a beautiful meaning. A couple of super cute nickname options for Mahalia are Haley or Halie, and Lia.
Clarence is an English baby name and means "bright and clear." Clarence is also known as a Latin baby name meaning “bright, gentle, and shining.” Famous name bearers include George, Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward the Forth and King Richard the Third, as well as Clarence Thomas. The Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, Clarence Thomas, is only the second African American to ever serve on the court. Clarence is another one of those hit or miss names when it comes to top 1000 baby names charts. It has not made the list in the last five years, missing since its ranking of 985 in 2010. Its last peak in popularity was in 1905, where it placed at number 17! Clarence has also very rarely been used as a girl name.
Florence is a Latin baby name meaning “flourishing” or “prosperous.” This lovely southern name with its floral feel has been tucked into the attic for decades which is surprising with its connection to famed Italian city Florence. And who could forget Florence Nightingale born in Florence? Florence Nightingale, for those who don’t know, also known as “the lady with the lamp,” was a philosopher of modern nursing and a social reformer. Maybe folks are more familiar with the red-headed raven Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine. While Florence placed in the top ten from 1886 to 1906, we haven’t seen it in the top 1000 since 1981! Over in the UK, it seems they understand the wonderful nature of this name, where the name sits at number 26. Flo, Flossie, and Florrie are all chic nicknames for this adorable antique southern beauty.
Beau is the French baby name meaning handsome. In French, Beau suggests someone “devilishly handsome,” and in the south, they attribute that to a having a large measure of southern charm. In the past, the name Beau was solely a nickname, but recently it’s been standing firmly of its own. Last year beau ranked at number 203 on the top 1000 baby names charts which is the same place it peaked at more than 30 years ago, and Beau has stayed on the list at various rankings for almost 50 years. The name Beau famously appears in Margaret Mitchell’s novel ‘Gone with the Wind’ as the name of Ashley and Melanie’s son. In the United Stated the name Beau is usually reserved for males, but in England and Wales, Beau ranked 249 for girls.
Dorothy tops our adorably antique baby names list because of the warmth it conveys and its gentle southern nature. This name should no longer just belong to your grandmother or great-grandmother. Dorothy, a Greek baby name meaning “gift from God” or "a vision," was once one of the most popular names in the United States. Dorothy placed top 10 all the way from 1904 to 1939, and held its position at number 2 for eight years straight! Dorothy has been used in Britain since the sixteenth century and was so common there that the nickname for Dorothy, Dolly, led the world to the word doll! We all know Dorothy from Kansas, and Dorothy the Golden Girl, but the timing is perfect for parents of today to bring this gorgeous classic name back. Dorothy finally reentered the top 1000 in 2011 after almost completely disappearing. Nickname favorites for Dorothy include Dot, Dottie, and even Dory!