The names of our grandparents have become enduring classics. There's an undeniable quality about vintage names which is why they're making a resurgence. Time-honored names never sound trendy and never feel outdated. They may be traditional, but they have a modern appeal. This is why century-old names are so popular.
At first, these names may seem too mature for a baby, but say them a few times. Soon-to-be parents will notice these names sound debonair, refined, and cultured, which means they will suit a child at any age. Another nice aspect about these names is that along with their rich history, they come with a handful of contemporary nicknames. They also offer timelessness and meanings any parent would want to bestow on a child.
Almost as old as time itself, these names are well-known. Researchers have found that common names are more successful and more desired, so parents shouldn't be afraid to choose older, popular names. They have a classic beauty, a timeless charm, and an element that seems to impart nobility. All three of these attributes add to make a fitting moniker for a baby boy or a baby girl.
The names of our past generations have much to offer. It was inevitable that these monikers would be reborn, considering their loveliness. These names are not only golden oldies, but they will be chart toppers for years to come. Whether the goal is to honor grandparents or the sound of the name is just appealing, consider these 20 names for the new addition to the family.
The meaning of the Welsh name Meredith varies. Some say it derives from the Welsh words mor meaning sea and differaf meaning I protect. Others say it derives from the Welsh word Maredudd, whose root word means Lord. So, the true translation is a bit fuzzy. Nevertheless, great ruler is the modern meaning of the name, so we'll just go with that.
Meredith was first recorded as a last name. It then became a first name for boys. Since the 1950s, the name has been used mainly for girls. The name jumped in popularity for girls in the U.S. in the late ’70s and the ‘80s. At that time, it ranked as high as #140 on the girl’s name chart. Today, Meredith ranks #590 for girls and #2880 for boys.
Famous people with the name include TV personality Meredith Vieira, and actress Meredith Baxter. It’s also the name of Taylor Swift’s kitten! Alternate spellings include Meredyth, Merridith, and Meridath, and spin-offs include Merry, Edith, or Reddy. However the name is spelled and whichever nicknames are chosen, Meredith is an older name that still works for either gender today.
Every year, 11,000 American boys are named Samuel. This explains why this grandfather-like name is currently ranked #23 on the boys' name chart. The popularity could also be explained by the current trend of biblical names. In the Old Testament, Samuel was a judge and a prophet. From Hebrew origins, the name means told by God or heard God or asked of God.
The adorable nickname Sam may be another reason for its current name-fame. It’s the name chosen by several celebrity parents including Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Garner, Jack Black, and Liev Schreiber.
Other famous Samuels include Samuel Morse, the father of Morse Code, U.S. founding father Samuel Adams (for whom the Boston beer company was named), and the Nobel Prize for Literature Samuel Beckett. And, we can't forget author Samuel Clemens, whose pen name was Mark Twain.
The more this multicultural name is used today, the more it adopts a cool, retro feel. And how could you not love Samuel's nicknames? It’s vintage charm and cool dude rolled into one.
Abigail is not your grandmother’s name anymore. Though it has a classic vibe to it, Abigail is far from dated. The vintage-sounding name comes from the Old Testament. Abby is a Hebrew name that means my father is joyful. Abigail was the wife of David. She was known for her wisdom, beauty, and prophetic abilities.
The name’s prominence began in the mid-1950s. Abby started to peak in the early 2000s, but it has since declined in popularity. Abby ranks #437 in the United States but places a bit higher in the Netherlands at #393. This upbeat name is not rising in the ranks, but the name Abby has a lot going for it.
The full name, Abigail, is a little more sophisticated, but we love the condensed version. You don’t need to repeat it, and others will understand the name immediately.
Probably the most famous association with the name is the advice columnist Dear Abby, whose real name is Abigail Van Buren. Other popular versions of Abby include Abbie, Abi, and Abbey. We love the name for little girls because it’s cute, easy to spell, and just rolls off the tongue. We suggest putting this on your name list because it’s adorable!
Joseph is one of the most popular names in the United States. Currently, it sits at #21 on the American boys' name chart. We’re going to guess the popularity has a lot to do with the nickname, Joe. It sounds like a familiar friend, like G.I. Joe, or a cup of hot coffee, also known as a cup of Joe.
Historically, this name has significant biblical roots. Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ. From Hebrew, Joseph means Jehovah increases. Like Samuel, this is another biblical name that spans ethnic backgrounds, countries, and age. Although, international versions of the name are also quite popular; these include Josef, Giuseppe, and Jose.
Famous namesakes include actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, musician Joe Jonas, and baseball player Joe DiMaggio. And you can't forget Joseph Levitch. Who is Joseph Levitch, you ask? He's the comedic actor/producer better known as Jerry Lewis.
Joseph is also a popular name picked by celebrity parents, including actress Kate Winslet, and actor and comedian Ray Romano. The son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is also named Joseph.
Whether you appreciate the olden day ties, or you just like the name, Joseph will always be a solid choice for a baby boy.
What’s old is new again; this adage perfectly explains the contemporary-vintage appeal of the name Nell. The name derived as a nickname for Helen, Ellen, Penelope, and Eleanor. In fact, former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sometimes addressed his wife Eleanor as Nell—just one of his pet names for her. Today, Nell is used as a standalone name.
Since 1956, the name Nell has not appeared on the girl’s name chart in America, but it’s just waiting for a comeback. Although it has a classic vibe to it, Nell is not your nana's name anymore. We believe this is one of the sophisticated names that will catch on with parents looking for a mature name for their little girl.
This short name has a friendly sound. And perhaps this old-fashioned charmer might be the perfect moniker for a modern baby girl. For many reasons, Nell is a great choice.
It’s no wonder why parents are choosing the surname Ellis as a first name for their babies. Ellis, a Welsh name derived from the Greek name Elias and the English name Elijah, means benevolent. It also bears a striking resemblance to familiar names like Alex and Alice. With a sound as beautiful as its meaning, it makes sense that Ellis has become a favorite among modern parents.
The obvious association is with Ellis Island, the gateway to which millions of people immigrated to the United States. The name also has a connection to the world of music. The famed jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis is the father of the musical Marsalis family, which includes saxophonist Branford Marsalis and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Ellis is also familiar as the surname of fashion designer Perry Ellis.
Although the name has a classic sound, it’s more modern than ever. The more Ellis is used today, the more it adopts a new vibe.
There is something lovely about the name Rose. Much like its flower sisters Lily and Daisy, Rose is experiencing a comeback on popular name charts.
Rose is one of the most popular floral names. Like the flower, the name Rose reminds us of various emotions. The white rose signifies innocence, yellow represents friendship, pink means elegance, and red is the romantic symbol of love.
The name Rose has a classic charm. Flower names had its heyday in the early to mid-20th century. In the 1990s and 2000s, Rose became more popular as a middle name. But the name still has flower power. It’s a first name staple in popular culture, as in Betty White’s character on TV’s The Golden Girls, and Kate Winslet’s character in the film Titanic.
Rose is a short and sweet name of nature, steeped in traditional charm. It may sound old-fashioned but it may be the perfect name for your modern baby. A Rose in the family will be loved for generations to come.
This English name comes from coal, the black, hard rock used as a fossil fuel. It can also be used as a nickname for Nicolas. And, if the mom-to-be is named Nicole, it’s a nice boy’s version of the name.
Cole has steadily climbed the charts in recent years. It’s now #115 for American boys, but it’s more of a favorite in Scotland where it ranks #62. Cole with a C is the most popular, but alternative spellings include Kohl or Kole.
Arguably, the most famous namesake is composer Cole Porter. There’s also the children’s nursery rhyme Old King Cole based on a real-life English king, although there has been much debate on the identity of this merry old soul.
Hollywood brought Cole back to the modern times in the form of a young boy who saw dead people. Haley Joel Osment portrayed Cole Sear in M. Night Shyamalan’s film The Sixth Sense. Today, the name Cole is a classic winner that is sure to appeal to many expecting parents.
It’s not fair to call Elizabeth a popular name for grandmothers because it has always been popular. The name has never fallen out of the top 50 because it has a long history among royal monarchies and religious figures. The name means pledged to God.
The name's roots are Hebrew. In the Old Testament, Elizabeth (also spelled Elisabeth) was the mother of John the Baptist. Famous bearers also include queens and empresses around the world, not to mention Hollywood stars. Interesting note: actress Elizabeth Taylor disliked being called Liz. It's also the name of two American First Ladies: Bess Truman and Betty Ford, both born Elizabeth.
As a plus, Elizabeth comes with a bunch of adorable nicknames such as Beth, Liz, Lizzie, and Liza. Whether it has historical significance or you just like the sound of the name, Elizabeth is a classic name to bestow on a baby girl.
If you prefer a conventional name, Benjamin is a solid choice. Its roots are biblical. Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel. He founded the 12 tribes of Israel. Naturally, the name has Hebrew origins and means son of the right hand.
The most famous namesake is Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers. Other famous men include actor Ben Stein, actor Ben Stiller, and Benjamin Netanyahu, the ninth Prime Minister of Israel.
The name Ben is hot in Hollywood, too, picked by such celebrity parents as Rowan Atkinson (the given name of the actor and comedian Mr. Bean), actor Jeff Daniels, and singer/songwriter Neil Young.
The name is also slang for a hundred dollar bill, so bonus! And with the nickname Benji, Benjamin is beautiful.
The name William has a claim to fame. Only second to John, William is the most popular name among English-speaking people. It makes sense when you think of all the Williams in history.
There were four U.S. Presidents named William: Harrison, McKinley, Taft, and Clinton. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the name-fame. There’s also Microsoft magnate Bill Gates, the playwright William Shakespeare, author William Faulkner, and actor William H. Macy, and Hollywood hunk Will Smith. And, we can’t forget Britain’s Prince William, the Prince of Wales.
William is a Germanic name made up of two words: will meaning desire, and helmut meaning protection. The name Willahelm eventually transitioned into the lovely name we know and love today.
As a bonus, William probably has more spin-offs than any other name on this list, including Will, Bill, Billy, and Liam. For such a conservative name, William seems to check all of the right boxes.
It’s no surprise that Beverly is a girl’s name but did you know it was once commonly a boy’s name? In the late 1800s, Beverly was a popular name for males in the South.
Beverly is an English name which means dweller near the beaver stream. It also bears a striking resemblance to the name Everly. With a sound as beautiful as its meaning, it makes sense that Beverly is still in the top #1000 for girls. The name for boys, however, is currently not ranked.
The most popular association is with the ritzy area in California, Beverly Hills. The name also has a pop culture connection. Beverly Johnson was a supermodel in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It is also the name of actress Beverly D’Angelo.
Although it may sound like your grandmother's name, how pretty would it be a for a little girl today?
If you’re looking for an attractive alternative to Jason, try Mason. It’s an occupational surname-turned-baby name. As a profession, a mason was a stoneworker or a bricklayer. Today, it’s a rock-solid hit among parents.
In 2011, Mason soared in popularity, reaching #2 on the boy’s name chart. This name remains a favorite among parents as it currently sits high on the list at #3. Although it’s become a unisex name, it trends significantly higher for boys. In fact, the name is currently not in the top 1000 for girls. Still, the name is beginning to cross over.
But parents who choose Mason for their daughters tend to adopt alternative spellings such as Masyn and Maysen.
You can’t deny Mason’s impact through pop culture references. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, actor Raymond Burr played criminal defense lawyer Perry Mason in a TV series of the same name. Also, the name is red hot in Hollywood, picked by such famous parents as Cuba Gooding, Jr., Melissa Joan Hart, Kourtney Kardashian, and Kelsey Grammer.
Nature-loving parents will appreciate this name which is derived from the laurel or the sweet bay tree. Lauren is an English form of the streamlined name Laura. The name is fairly popular in the United States, but it is even more common in Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
Although Lauren was more popular in yesteryear, it’s a name that has never gone out of style. People may find it odd that this classic name had a long history as both a masculine and a feminine name. It makes sense when you think of a shortened version of the name Laurence, or the name Lorne. The male name disappeared from the charts in the 1980s but the female name grew.
One of the most famous Laurens is actress Lauren Bacall. Funny enough, her real name is Betty Joan Perske. Also, model Lauren Hutton was born née Mary Laurence Hutton. And even though the brand Ralph Lauren has a classic style, the association with the designer label gives the name a contemporary feel.
The fresh sound of the name may also have something to do with younger actresses with the name. Popular namesakes include Lauren Conrad from the reality show The Hills, and former Disney actress Keke Palmer, whose first name is Lauren.
If choosing the name Lauren, parents-to-be certainly won't run out of ways to spell it. There's Loren, Laurin, Lorrynn, among dozens of other contenders, but we think Lauren remains a lovely name for a baby girl.
Another biblical favorite is the name Elijah—a prophet in the Old Testament. In terms of popularity, this name has surpassed other biblical monikers such as David and Daniel. But even if soon-to-be parents are not spiritual, Elijah offers timelessness, a poetic style, and a meaning they will want to bestow on their child.
Elijah, derived from Hebrew, means Yahweh is God. In the Bible, Elijah was an Israelite prophet who entered Heaven in a chariot of fire. But the name isn't just a figure in the Christian religion. It's also part of Jewish and Muslim religions, too.
Actor Elijah Wood helped bring this ancient name to the modern age. Well-known parents who have chosen Elijah for their sons include actor James Spader, Cher and Greg Allman, actor Donnie Wahlberg, singer Wynonna Judd, and Bono. Along with 13,000 parents every year, they all agree that Elijah is a blessed name for a baby boy.
By a raise of hands, who knows a girl named Sarah? I’ll assume there are many hands in the air as there are Sarahs everywhere. In fact, the name has never been out of the top 100 chart for girls—ever.
In the Book of Genesis, Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac. Her name was changed from Sarai to Sarah when she was 90-years-old. God made the name change to bless her with a Hebrew name that means princess.
When thinking of prominent Sarahs, the royal connection continues with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. Other namesakes include the three-named actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Sarah Michelle Gellar. There's also jazz legend Sarah Vaughan, comedian Sarah Silverman, and the governor of Alaska Sarah Palin.
Sarah is a traditional name that is still widely used. We love Sarah because it has a feminine sound and a beautiful meaning. No wonder this name has been shooting to the top of name lists for a long time.
On the streets of London and on the sidewalks of New York, the name is pronounced Antony, without the h—just like the Shakespearean tragedy Antony and Cleopatra.
From Latin origins, Anthony means priceless one. Just like the meaning, the name continues to be cherished on American name charts. In 2015, it ranked #25 for boys. It’s a little less popular in Canada, Australia, and Ireland, but it still cracks the top 100 in these countries.
Notable namesakes include actor Antonio Banderas, actor Anthony Hopkins, chef Anthony Bourdain, pro skater Tony Hawk, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis. Plenty of other celebs chose this name for their star babies, including actress Joan Collins, actor Jerry Lewis, actor Gregory Peck, actress Angela Lansbury, and actor Alan Arkin.
She’s the newest member of the British royal family and the daughter of Chelsea Clinton. Her name is Charlotte, the feminine form of Charles. Meaning free man, this name has French origins. Along with trendy names like Sophia, Olivia, and Isabella, Charlotte is a classic girl's name currently in the top 10 list.
The name Charlotte has a royal connection. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, Queen Charlotte of England was the mother of 15 children. In the realm of pop culture, Charlotte was Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost in Translation and Kristen Davis’ character in Sex in the City.
And you can’t deny the influence of E.B. White’s classic children’s book Charlotte's Web. Celebrity parents are digging the name, too. Actor Dylan McDermott, and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. have daughters named Charlotte.
And a plus, Charlotte comes with a bunch of adorable nicknames such as Charlie, Char, and Lottie. With a feminine sound and a timeless charm, it’s understandable why parents love the name, Charlotte.
In Spanish, the name is Diego. In French, it’s Jacques. In Italian, it’s Giacomo. In Ireland, it’s Seamus. And in the English-speaking world, the name is James.
What’s James’ claim to fame? It’s the most common name of former U.S. Presidents. Six men have carried the name: Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield, and Carter. It’s also one of the most popular names of all time, maintaining a spot in the top 20 for the last century. In 2015, it ranks #7 for boys.
James is a Hebrew name that comes out of the name Jacob. Although the name originates from the Bible, it’s far from dated. It’s a classic yet modern name that is shared by countless celebs. Famous namesakes include singer/songwriter James Taylor, actor Jim Carrey, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer James Brown.
It’s a perfect name for all ages. With both style and substance, James will be fashionable for a long time.
Perhaps parents like the name John but dislike how familiar it is. It’s a great name but let’s face it—almost everyone knows, at least, one John. Jonas is an elegant alternative, and it’s a name any son would be proud to bear.
Jonas, a Greek variant of Jonah, is popular in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Norway. In America, it ranks #429 on the boy’s chart. Surprisingly, Jonah is more popular in the United States than Jonas.
The older generation may associate the name with Dr. Jonas Salk, the father of the polio vaccine. The younger generation may think of the singing trio comprised of Joe, Kevin, and Nick, better known as The Jonas Brothers.
Jonas is not your grandpa’s name anymore. Though it has an old-world feel, it has modern appeal; that’s the best of both worlds.