The trend for vintage things comes and goes, but recently the resurgence of vintage names has been quite marked. With people tiring of the more common or traditional names, parents are looking to the past to find something a little different. Whilst the trend for simply making up a name, or even just using a word or place name to give to the baby is alive and well, names from bygone eras remain popular.
Some parents may feel that older names lend an air of sophistication to their baby, and many older names certainly translate well from babyhood into adulthood. The Victorian era is famed for its names based around jewels and flowers. Girls names were sweet and feminine, whilst boys names were inspired by trades, family names, and religious beliefs. The beginning of the 20th century gives us male names that are posh beyond belief, whilst the feminine names remain very pretty.
Vintage never gets old. Names from past eras are stylish and enduring and will make other moms sigh with pleasure rather than confusion. So there’s no need to be making names up, just go vintage to bless the baby with that antique sense of charm and elegance.
In Sweden, Annalie is a ‘graceful meadow’, but in neighbouring Finland, it translates as ‘the Lord’s favour’. This may be linked with the story of the angel Annalie, who fell to Earth after falling in love with a mortal man. Sometimes the name even means ‘angelic grace’. It is a variation of the Hebrew name ‘Hannah’, or a shortening of Annalise, or even a cute lengthening of Anna. Dating back to the 11th century, Annalie is a truly vintage name.
Beverly was originally a place name and is one of those first names that have grown out of surnames. Meaning ‘from the beaver meadow’, or ‘near the beaver stream’, it came into use as a boy’s name in the 19th century, but is now more common for girls. The name comes from the Old English ‘beofor’ meaning ‘beaver’ and ‘lēac’ meaning ‘stream’. According to the Urban Dictionary, Beverly is a loud girl and a social butterfly. She is strong, positive and gifted.
The fascination with Egyptian history and the opening of many tombs in the early 20th century triggered a bit of a Cleo revival. Cleopatra was, of course, one of the most powerful women in history, being the last active ruler of the Kingdom of Egypt. However, Cleo can also be short for Cleophus. Other variations include Cleora and Cleola. Cleo, or Clio, is a Greek name, meaning ‘pride’, ‘fame’ or ‘glory’. She is the ancient Greek muse of history and heroic poetry.
If you are a fan of slapstick humour and early cinema, then this name would be an amazing tribute to Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin KBE, a.k.a. Charlie Chaplin.
If you are more interested in the history of this stylish name, then you would be interested to learn that Chaplin is a quite common surname in England, Ukraine and Belarus. In England it means ‘clergyman’, whereas in the Eastern European countries it comes from ‘chaplya’, meaning ‘heron’ or ‘stork’.
Clayton is another vintage name that actually sounds right up to date and very classy. It comes from the Old English 'claeg' meaning ‘clay’ and 'tun' meaning ‘settlement’. So this name denotes a person who lives in the old clay settlement, or near to a clay pit. It also translates as ‘mortal’.
It is currently ranked at number 312 and compliments other such vintage comebacks as Grayson, Carter, Colton, Carson and Parker. Although Clayton is officially unisex, it is only ranked at number 15,000 for girls.
Eliora makes a welcome change to similar but very well used names such as Ella, Elle, Emma and Elsa. It is a fantastically lyrical name that comes from the Hebrew meaning ‘the Lord is my light’. It is pronounced ‘El-ee-aura’ and is the feminine version of Elior, an equally unusual name. Currently ranked at number 1,586 in the baby name charts, but rising fast since 2000, Eliora is sure to make other moms wish they had thought of it first.
The beautiful Elva is the ancient Irish name for ‘elf’ or ‘good counsellor’. Girls with this super cute name love to be surrounded by family and community and like to be appreciated by others. They believe in the values of truth and justice and thrive in an atmosphere of order and discipline. Variations include Alva and Elvie. Elva is currently ranked way down at number 3,901 but its popularity is rising fast. A fantastic rare name choice for your little elf.
Another old English name, the handsome Barlow is more often heard as a surname. It is a locational name from the northern British counties of Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire, where there are several places with this title. However, it also comes from ‘bere’ meaning 'barley' and ‘hlaw’ meaning 'hill', so denoting someone who lives near the barley hill, or the bare hillside.
Whilst it is unusual enough for boys, being ranked around the 13,000th most popular name, it is even rarer for girls, being down at around 18,000.
This Anglo-Saxon baker is sure to make a stir in the playground with this stylish and unusual name. Originally ‘Baker’ was the male version of this name, whilst girls were called ‘Bakster’, but over time the name has become unisex. Variations include Bakster, Baxstar, Baxstair or Baxstare. Baxter’s popularity peaked in 1887 and since then has seen a general downturn in its use. This name is currently just outside the 2000 most popular boys names, making it an original choice for your junior baker.
Lavinia sounds a little bit Victorian, prim and proper and maybe not a great choice for a baby. But with cute and trendy nicknames such as Vinnie and Lulu, this is a name that can grow with your child.
It is a Latin name after the daughter of King Latinus and wife of Trojan hero Aeneas. Aeneas named the city Lavinium after her and she was considered to be the mother of the Roman people. Lavinia appears throughout literary history in works by Shakespeare, Thackeray, T. S. Eliot, and Ursula Le Guin.
Adelia is a beautiful French name meaning ‘noble’. The singer Adele’s superstardom has made her name and many variations of it cool again, so vintage Adelia, along with her variations Adela, Adeline and the lovely Adelina are all coming back into popularity again. Adelia is also the name of the 19th-century opera by Donizetti and a flowering plant. Girls with this name are energetic and intelligent. Their optimistic nature makes them excellent friends. Adelia loves adventure and excitement and resents being restricted by rules.
This is a very rare and ancient name, coming from Anglo-Saxon times. As a variation of ‘Alton’ it translates as ‘from the old town’. Alternatively it is a place name for various settlements in the English counties of Wiltshire and Nottinghamshire. However, it is also a version of ‘Elijah’, meaning ‘My God is Jehovah’. Elston’s popularity peaked in the hippy years of the 1960’s, but apart from that has not really been well-used since the early 20th century. It currently sits at number 8,373.
This trendy boy’s name has come from a surname but is now a unisex first name. In Ireland it means ‘descendant of Fiachna’, form the Gaelic name ‘Ó Fionnachta’. In England it is a locational name meaning ‘lives near the marshy enclosure’. Like many vintage names, it was popular in the late Victorian era but hasn’t been seen much since. Whilst Fenton has a sophisticated feel to it, nickname ‘Fen’ is short and to the point, and could well be one to watch.
The full version of this vintage treat is ‘Dolores’, which is actually a bit of a depressing name meaning ‘lady of sorrows’. It is a Spanish name and a tribute to Maria de los Dolores, the Virgin Mary, or Mary of the Sorrows. The name is becoming more popular on its own thanks to the Nabokov’s 1955 novel ‘Lolita’. Girls with this name are said to love being surrounded by beauty, peace and harmony. They like to think about the world and analyse things.
Although Maisy is becoming popular as a name on its own, it started out as a shortened version of Margaret or the Gaelic Mairead. These two names both come from ‘margarita’, meaning ‘pearl’. Alternative spellings include Maisie or Maisey. Notable ladies with this name include the figure skater Maisy Ma, the snowboarder Maisie Potter and Maisie Cowell, the British voice actress known for being the voice of Lola in ‘Charlie and Lola’. Maisy is still currently outside the top 2000 baby names but is increasingly popular.
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Heston Blumenthal is undoubtedly responsible for bringing this most dignified name back into use this century. The name means ‘one who comes from Heston’, which is an area of London. This suburb was, in turn, named as ‘brushwood enclosure’, making it sound far less stylish than it is today.
Whilst there are several notable people with the surname ‘Heston’, such as the actor Charlton Heston and American revolutionary Edward W Heston, it is rare to find anyone with Heston as a first name.
Lambert is a stylish name that is common as a surname. Originally made up the German words ‘land’ meaning ‘territory’ and ‘berht’ meaning ‘bright’, the Old English name was the slightly incredible ‘Landbeorht’. The Norman invasion of England managed to simplify this glorious name and Lambert was born. This name is so rare that the 7th century saint Lambert of Maastricht is probably still the most famous Lambert around. Born into a wealthy family, this Lambert was a bishop and a martyr and is still celebrated today in the Catholic Church.
Here is a pretty name that reached its peak in the 1920’s and has since become very rarely used. It dates back to Roman times, with its origins in Latin. Marcella is the female version of Marcello, or Mark, and means ‘warlike’, ‘strong’ or even ‘young warrior’.
It has a choice of pronunciations, with the options including ‘mar-che-lla’, ‘mar-ke-lla’ and ‘mar-se-lla’. According to the Urban Dictionary, Marcella is somewhat of a romantic beauty who can be outspoken and bossy but has an exotically beautiful air about her.
This charming vintage boy’s name is from Old English language meaning ‘from the old town’. It is literally a joining of the two words ‘ald’ meaning ‘old’ and ‘tun’ meaning ‘town’. This is a much rarer and stylish version of Elton. Alton tends to be a very successful person, achieving great material wealth and power. Competent and practical, they sometimes spend so much time on their business affairs that they sacrifice their personal relationships. Alton Brown is a celebrity chef, whilst Alton Lister plays basketball for the NBA and Alton Merrell is a pianist and composer.
This ancient Greek name is chic and beautiful, and translates as ‘all gifts’. However, in Greek mythology, Pandora was a curious lady who couldn’t resist the temptation of opening a mysterious box. Doing so released both misery and hope into the world, and Pandora’s box has been famous throughout history ever since. Pandora is now a very expensive and sought after jewellery brand, with the charms that you can purchase each having a special meaning and available to commemorate all of your special moments.
This exquisite French name originally comes from the Greek, meaning ‘defender of men’. It originates in the name ‘Alexandra’, and its male version, which is ‘Alexander’. Other variations include Sandra, Sandrilene and Sandy. Sandrine’s name indicates that she is an outgoing and creative lady, who likes an audience. She can get bored quite easily and moves on frequently between jobs and relationships. Sandrine loves travelling and escaping the ‘norm’. Famous Sandrines include Sandrine Bonnaire, the French actress and Australian singer-songwriter Sandrine.
Tilly is a deceptively soft sounding name which actually translates as ‘battle-mighty’. This German moniker is a shortening of the newly fashionable Matilda and the much more unusual Ottilie. Tilly is a popular name around the world, for instance it is the name of the Dutch runner Tilly van der Zwaard and the Canadian politician Tilly O’Neill-Gordon. But it is also found in England , with the actress Tilly Keeper and is the nickname of the Countess of Carnarvon, Tilly Losch.
This beautiful Italian name is literally a name for someone who comes from the city of Verona. In Latin, the name translates as ‘true or honest image’. Verona is a stunning medieval town in northern Italy, which has the honour of being the setting for Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
Girls with this name are creative and expressive people, who like to show off their talents in dance, music, public speaking or art. Verona is full of energy and likes to enjoy life, although sometimes she can be a bit reckless.
This vintage French treat is an elaboration of the much plainer ‘Olive’. Translating as ‘olive tree’, this is the feminine version of the popular boy’s name ‘Oliver’. The most famous Olivette in history may be the title character from Audran’s 19th-century French opera 'Les Noces d'Olivette'. Although this name was very well-used around the turn of the 20th century, it now only just makes it into the top 10,000 girl names. Olivette is a pretty vintage name that is ripe for a comeback.
A far posher sounding form of ‘Robert’, both of these names come from the Latin ‘Rupertus’. Both forms of the name mean ‘bright fame’ and have evolved from the Old High German language.
There are various famous Ruperts around at the moment, including the media giant Rupert Murdoch and the completely loveable children’s character Rupert the Bear, famous for his yellow check trousers. Very popular in the Victorian era, Rupert is not really a trendy name at the moment, coming in at number 5,143.