When researching what’s popular and current regarding baby boy names, buzz words like “vintage”, “classic” and even “old-fashioned” are bounced around, and with good reason. Time-honored boy names are appearing more and more in birth announcements yet it seems that only precious few have been granted society’s okay. Boy names like Theodore, Henry, and George are gaining ground, yet for every classic boy’s name making a return to the current name game, another 50 remain dead and buried, until now.
So, for anyone claiming to be a fan of old-fashioned boy names, the list below will definitely put this self-proclaimed belief to the test. Anyone fancying themselves a naming pioneer, ready to be instrumental in bringing one of these cobwebbed classics back to the light of day, then this list may be the perfect starting point. And for any nosy parkers out there, just wanting a peek into the dusty attic of boy names, then feel free to peruse as well.
A word of warning, though: the following boy names are not for vintage appreciating light-weights; they are meant for hardcore fans of antiquated names left moldering in the dust. Scroll through these 33 forgotten gems as all of them are itching for a comeback. One of these so-called old-fashioned classics may actually be the perfect fit for a contemporary and modern, brand spanking new baby boy.
Currently, a high-ranking and modern choice in Europe, the boy's name Albert doesn’t seem to be making any waves this side of the pond. Proving popular in present-day Denmark, Czech Republic, England, and Norway--the North American continent seems to remain oblivious to the trend.
Based on the original Germanic mouthful Adalbert, this version of the name is composed of elements “adal” meaning “noble” and “beraht” meaning “bright”. The name Albert was introduced to England by the Normans although its popularity wavered during the 17th century. It returned to favor during the 19th century when Prince Albert married Queen Victoria in 1840.
Throughout the ages, Albert has proven to be a popular option for medieval as well as modern day royalty. Nobility aside, the name also has genius association considering it is the name of brainy German physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
Once again, perhaps Europe is one step ahead of North America in terms of what is considered chic. The boy’s name Alfred is sweeping through countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway though remains somewhat stalled in the United States and Canada. That said, it was one of the top 50 boy names in the U.S. until 1933.
Meaning “wise counselor”, Alfred is comprised of “aelf” meaning “elf” and “raed” meaning “counsel”. One of history’s most famous bearers of the name is ninth century English king, Alfred the Great. He was scholarly, literary, and relentless in fighting against the Danes living in northeast England.
A couple of somewhat more modern Alfreds include British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) as well as the original “master of suspense”, movie director Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980).
Meaning “noble friend”, the boy’s name Alvin is a modernized version of several medieval Old English names: Aelfwine, Aethelwine and Ealdwine. It started out as a surname before eventually making the switch to first name status. While currently, Alvin sits at #602 within the U.S., it’s hot to trot at #45 in Sweden.
People of a certain age may have a difficult time hearing the name Alvin without thinking of character David Seville screaming “Al-Vin!” at the top of his lungs to the mischievous shenanigans of three bratty chipmunks. However, as more time passes so will the association of Alvin to a trio of naughty rodents which means the name can take back its vintage charm.
Nicknames abound such as Alvie, Vinnie or just plain Al and a couple of similar sounding variants include Elvin and Alwin.
It’s difficult to hear the name Barney without conjuring up an association to one of the myriad television characters using the moniker such as Barney Stinson, Barney Rubble, Barney Fife, Barney Miller and, of course, Barney the big purple dinosaur. But the boy’s name Barney has been around a lot longer than television. Throughout the ages, it has often been found in use as a nickname for longer biblical names like Barnaby or Barnabas.
Meaning “son of comfort”, the name Barney is apparently making the rounds as a popular choice for hip new parents living in London, England right now. And if that doesn’t up its chic factor, then consider the fact that Barney’s is the name of a posh, high-end New York department store as well.
Similar sounding names include both Bernie and Barnett.
Despite being an extremely popular boy’s name during the early 20th century, the name Bernard has taken a background role to more trendy names like Braden, Brian, and Brandon. However, thanks to the upcoming U.S. presidential election and former Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders (whose first name is Bernard), the name is back in society’s foreground.
Composed of Germanic elements “bern” meaning “bear” and “hard” meaning “brave” or “hardy”, Bernard replaced the Old English name Beornheard. It was also the name of several noteworthy European saints living in the 10th and 12th centuries.
The St. Bernard dog was actually named after an 11th century monk who was the patron saint to mountain climbers. He lived in the Alps and set up safe houses for pilgrims traveling to Rome by way of the treacherous St. Bernard pass.
The boy’s name Bertram may have last experienced some level of popularity during the 1930s but that doesn’t mean it can’t very well make a full comeback now that old is new in the baby name game.
Meaning “bright raven”, Bertram is composed of Germanic elements “beraht” meaning “bright” and “hramn” meaning “raven”. The Normans introduced the name to England and William Shakespeare took hold of it and used it as a character name in his 1603 play All’s Well That Ends Well. Fast forward another four centuries and J.K. Rowling chose it as a character name within her Harry Potter series.
If Bertram just isn’t tugging on any heart strings out there, then consider another similar oldie but goodie, Bertrand. Besides the obvious Bert diminutive, there is also Randy or Andy as available options.
Flip a coin to decide whether to pronounce this well-worn classic with either a long or short “e” sound--either is acceptable. Cecil comes from the original Roman name Caecilius and is translated as meaning “blind one” which could indicate it was once used as a name to describe a visually-impaired individual.
However, Cecil was also the name of a third century saint. And despite kicking around some during the Middle Ages, the name Cecil did not experience much popularity until the 1800s when it was used to honor the noble and aristocratic Cecil family who were prominent since the 1500s. However, in this case, Cecil as a surname had derived from the Welsh name Seisyll (a version of Sextus meaning “sixth”).
Cecil in feminine form offers up a plethora of beautiful options as well including Cecilia, Cecile, Cecily, and the less-obvious, Sheila.
If anyone’s been lying awake at night wondering where the retro boy’s nickname Chet originates, then good news: the answer is Chester. This Latin boy’s name means “fortress” or “walled town” and though it proved to be a top 100 name from the late 1800s until 1929, it virtually vanished off the list altogether as of 1995.
Chester was formerly a surname taken from the place name Ceastre (pronounced as Chester) which was an abbreviated version of Legacaestir--an ancient Roman settlement in Britain. Despite being lost in the shadows alongside shopworn sobriquets like Lester, Sylvester and girl’s name Hester, Chester may actually be on its way back in. In England and Wales, it currently ranks at #359 and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have a son named Chester (born in 1990) who goes by Chet.
A name created by a location, the English name Clifford was often given to someone living near the ford of a cliff. Comprised of elements “cliff” meaning “slope” or “river bank” and “ford” meaning “river crossing”, the name Clifford enjoyed a modicum of popularity within the United States for the better part of the 20th century before hitting its high in 1909 when it reached #57. However, it did remain within the top 100 until the 1950s.
While the Clifford family was a powerful one in England throughout the Middle Ages, the name may currently be more aligned with Clifford the Big Red Dog--an association young children may truly appreciate.
Even without the second syllable, just plain Cliff works on its own as a quirky and vintage nature name with a modern-day sound and feel.
Before automatically dismissing the name Cornelius as way too old-fashioned to ever be worthy of consideration, give it a bit of pause. If only for the ton of nickname options attached to it such as Corey, Neil, Cornell, Kai, and Connie.
Believed to be a Roman family name derived from the Latin element “cornu” meaning “horn”, the name Cornelius can be found featured in the New Testament of the Bible. It’s an interesting and unique choice for anyone looking for a boy’s name with subtle religious undertones. It was also the name of several early saints including a third century pope. Due to some Dutch influence, the name came into regular usage within England during the 16th century.
A couple more plugs for the name include the trivia that Cornelius is the birth name of comedic actor Chevy Chase. As well, it translates melodically to a girl’s name as shown by Cornelia.
Cyril is another boy’s name with two very distinct pronunciations, either as See-ril or Sur-el. Originating from the Greek name Kyrillos which is derived from the Greek word “kyrios” meaning “lord”, the name can be found throughout the Greek bible in reference to God or Jesus.
Cyril was also the name of several prominent saints throughout history including Cyril of Jerusalem (a fourth century bishop), Cyril of Alexandria (a fifth century theologian) as well as Saint Cyril (a ninth century linguist who along with his brother created the Cyrillic alphabet which is still used today).
The name Cyril came into regular use in England during the 1800s and though seemingly in hibernation at the moment, could easily come back to life under the proper circumstances.
For anyone with David as a family name but on the hunt for something a bit more unusual, then consider replacing it with its Welsh version, Dewey. This unique yet dated boy's name is also sometimes thought to be an abbreviated form of much longer name Deuteronomy.
Despite the fact that the name Dewey appears relatively uncommon, it does appear from time to time. For instance, there is the Dewey Decimal System invented by Melvil Dewey in 1876 and used by libraries in order to organize books. There are also Donald Duck’s triplet nephews Huey, Louie, and Dewey.
Dewey is also the name of the precocious youngest child (until another baby was born later in the series) of Hal and Lois on the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. A few other interesting variations of this definitely underused boy’s name include Daud, Dawood, Dawid, Daw, Dovid, and Davit.
The name Earl is not only a seldom-heard short and sweet boy’s name but also an aristocratic title. Before it was considered an acceptable first name, Earl enjoyed a long and varied history.
In use as a boy’s first name since the 1800s, Earl is believed to have derived from the Old English word “eorl” which means “nobleman” or “warrior”. Another origin story has the name taken directly from the Germanic term “jarl” (pronounced as “yarl”) which was a title reserved for warrior kings. And in 12th century England, the name was often used in reference to the servants of actual aristocratic earls.
More recently, the name Earl received some attention from the short-lived sitcom entitled My name is Earl but based on the character actor Jason Lee portrayed, it probably did no favors for the popularity of this rarely heard boy’s name.
Reminiscent of lisping cartoon character Elmer Fudd for some and of a particular brand of white glue for others, there is the possibility that for most millennials who are now procreating, the boy’s name Elmer represents a quirky yet charming choice that remains in uncharted territory by today’s standards.
Derived from a surname, Elmer comes from Old English name Aedelmaer. Later and particularly within the U.S., the name was often bestowed on boys in order to honor American brothers Jonathan (1745-1817) and Ebenezer Elmer (1752-1843) who were well-known and respected politicians.
Even though some may find it an odd and hopelessly outdated choice for a boy’s name, keep this in mind: Elmer was a top 100 boy’s name for more than 50 years until fading in the late 1930s. In the early 1900s, Elmer hit its peak at #38.
This name’s claim to fame may lie in two extremely famous literary references; the first being American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) and the second being, in part, to writer Oscar Wilde who used Ernest as a character name in his 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest.
Derived from the Germanic word “eornost” which means “serious” or “resolute”, Ernest was first introduced to England during the 18th century though it did not quite catch on until the 1800s. At that point in time, it remained a top 40 boy’s name from 1880 until 1926.
Similar variations include Ernesto, Ernst, and Ernestas with Ernie and Ern as nickname possibilities. One more factoid is that Ernest is most likely the full name of Ernie of the popular muppet due Ernie and Bert.
The boy’s name Felix has an interesting story behind it which begins with the fact that it started out life as a Latin nickname meaning “lucky” or “successful”. The name proved to be a favorite among early Christians due to its lucky meaning and was the nickname for the first century B.C. Roman General Sulla. Felix also has strong religious associations. It can be found in the New Testament of the Bible and it was also the name of many notable saints (about 67 in total) as well as four popes.
In use in England since the Middle Ages, Felix is currently highly popular throughout Europe. Presently, it clocks in at #8 in Austria and is at the top of naming lists in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Although it is much lower ranking in North America, it sits at #74 in Canada and is even lower in the U.S. where it resides at #262.
Recently, actresses Gillian Anderson, as well as Elizabeth Banks, have chosen the name for their respective sons.
Based on Old French name Guillebert which, in turn, is derived from Old German name Gisilbert, Gilbert means “bright/shining pledge”. The original version of the name is composed of Germanic elements “gisil” meaning “pledge” or “hostage” and “beraht” meaning “bright”.
The name was introduced to England by the Normans where it became a common boy’s name throughout the Middle Ages. Gilbert was also the name of a 12th century saint who founded the religious order The Gilbertines.
In 1930, the name Gilbert reached its high point of #90 although currently, it resides within the top 1000 U.S. boy names at #982. Nickname options are Gil, Bert and the more interesting Gib. And for any Anne of Green Gables fans out there, Gilbert just might be the perfect catch in terms of a fitting baby boy name.
Referring to individuals residing on a cliff near a heath (an area of low-growing shrubs), the boy’s name Heathcliff is an example of a mysterious, heroic yet rare boy’s name based on a location. It has even been suggested in certain circles that the name was actually invented by English writer Emily Bronte who used it as the name of her troubled yet masculine hero in her 1847 novel Wuthering Heights. Laurence Olivier portrayed the tortured character in the 1939 film adaptation of the book.
Although never ranking within the top 1000 U.S. boy names, the name definitely carries its own in enigmatic charm. And while Heath has enjoyed some level of popularity as a first name throughout current English-speaking society, the second half of this antiquated boy’s name seems to have jumped off a cliff into oblivion.
Apparently, a memo went out to all soon-to-be new parents that boy names ending with “bert” with the exception of Robert are banned. But why? Consider going against the grain and choosing this particular old-fashioned yet charming boy’s name, Herbert.
Typically considered a German name, Herbert is composed of elements “hari” meaning “army” and “beraht” meaning “bright”. Once the Normans introduced this name to England, it quickly replaced their current version Herebeorht. That said, Herbert seemed to die out during the Middle Ages before reviving during the 1800s. It saw its zenith of popularity during the 1920s and has been living underground ever since.
Despite Herberts being few and far between in modern society, the name has gotten great usage throughout history, from ancient Saint Herbert to several French counts living in the 900s and 1000s.
Similar in sound to Herbert and just as out-of-fashion, is the boy’s name Herman which translates as meaning “army man” due to Germanic components “hari” (army) and “man” (self-explanatory).
Introduced to England by the Normans, the name basically disappeared before rearing its unique head once again during the 19th century.
A couple of famous bearers include an 18th century Russian missionary who is revered as a saint within the Orthodox church as well as American writer Herman Melville (1819-1891) famous for his work Moby Dick. Not making any waves within most current baby name charts, Herman is sailing quite smoothly through modern-day Norway at #51.
Variations of the name are Armand and Armando with nickname possibilities Herm and Harm. A similar yet softer version of the name is hidden gem Sherman which is based on the surname “Shearman”and was originally an Old English occupational name referring to a wool or cloth cutter.
This ancient Greek name has been usurped by the head of the Simpson clan, Homer Simpson. Although before Mr. Simpson’s time, Homer was first and foremost the name of the Greek poet famous for writing The Iliad (about the Trojan War) and The Odyssey (about main character Odysseus’ journey back home after the war).
While there is still much speculation about when Homer actually lived (or even if he was real or fictional), most literary scholars peg him as living during the eighth century B.C.
Derived from the Greek word “homeros” meaning “hostage” or “pledge”, the name Homer has been in use within English-speaking society (mainly the U.S.) since the 1700s. The name comes with plenty of celebrity endorsements as well.
Actors Richard Gere (whose father was also named Homer), Bill Murray and Anne Heche all named their respective sons Homer. As for Simpsons creator Matt Groening, both his real-life father and son are named Homer.
Meaning “time keeper”, the name Horace can be pronounced as either Hoar-iss, Haw-riss or in French as O-Ross. This typically English and French name comes from the original Latin name Horatius. It has also been suggested as originating as an ancient Roman family name with mysterious beginnings, perhaps coming from the Latin word “hora” meaning “hour” or “time”.
Due to admiration for popular Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (born in 65 B.C.), the name proved very popular in the early 1900s before fading considerably soon after. Although writer J.K. Rowling snatched it up for a character name (Horace Slughorn) within her Harry Potter series.
Variations of the name include Horatio and Horacio with nicknames Hoary or Ace. This name has a few things going for it, it's easy to spell and say which is great for school aged children. If you like the name, but aren't sure whether you like it for a first name, think about using Horace as a second name.
Originally found as a surname coming from the Welsh word “llwyd” (pronounced Lhoo-eed) which means “gray”, the name Lloyd was often used as a nickname for someone with graying hair.
The early years of Lloyd as a name are shrouded in somewhat of a mystery as it is only on record as a first name within the English-speaking world since early within the 20th century.
One of the most notable Lloyds is actor Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998), father to both Beau and Jeff Bridges. What most don’t realize is that actor Beau Bridges was actually born a Lloyd. Another famous Lloyd is Welsh politician and former U.K. Prime Minister David Lloyd George (1863-1945).
The double consonant at the name’s beginning makes it a hip and unusual name for a baby boy. And the fact that it’s a one-syllable name makes it practically impossible to abbreviate.
This former surname transplanted as a first name has French beginnings despite the fact that it is most often considered to be an English or Scottish name. Meaning “island”, the boy’s name Lyle derives from the French term “l’isle” and was often used in reference to someone living off the mainland.
This simple, melodic and one-syllable boy’s name proved at its most popular during the 1920s. Currently, it is considered a quirky version of much more common names like Kyle, Miles or Tyler.
See Lyle in action as American singer (formerly married for a minute to Julia Roberts) Lyle Lovett. Or with fresh-faced Canadian actor Lyle Lettau (born in 1994) most famous for his current role as Tristan on the Degrassi series available on the Family Channel.
Meaning “sea hill”, the boy’s name Marvin is sometimes considered to be the Welsh version of Mervyn. Although another origin story has the name deriving from the now defunct name Merefin composed of elements “mere” meaning “lake” and “fion” meaning “fair” or “clear” or “finn” meaning “a person from Finland”.
For some unknown reason, this boy’s name has gone under the radar and is currently not recognized for all the awesomeness it harnesses. Currently ranked low on the totem pole of names at #548 in the U.S. and at #333 in France, the name Marvin has plenty of star power to back it up. There is late American singer Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) who is credited with helping to shape the sound of Motown during the 1960s. It is also the birth name of both American writer Neil Simon (born in 1927), as well as American singer and actor Meatloaf (born in 1947).
French in origin, Mortimer comes from an English surname derived from a place-name meaning “still water”. Rumor has it that the name comes from original French name Mortemer which literally translates into “dead sea” and is the name of a French village. Mortimer is also considered to be an Anglicized version of the name Moses.
If anyone is looking for a more roundabout way to get to Timmy as a nickname rather than taking the standard Timothy route, then Mortimer may hold the answer. It is also quite similar to another seldom heard boy’s name Morton which is derived from the words “moor town” in Old English.
An interesting piece of trivia regarding the name is that Walt Disney originally planned on calling his most famous character Mortimer Mouse rather than Mickey Mouse.
Currently ranked at #79 in the Netherlands, the boy’s name Morris derives from the Latin term “Mauritious” meaning “moorish”. Moors were ancient Muslim people of mixed Arab and Berber descent. The name Morris actually means “dark” or “swarthy”.
The name Maurice was first introduced to England by the Normans where it eventually mutated into the English version, Morris. Once considered to be a top 100 name within the U.S., Morris vanished off the list altogether as of the mid-1990s.
Variations of the name include Mauritz, Moric and Mauro. Maura is considered to be the feminine form. As for nicknames, there is Morrie or Maury and somewhat sleeker and more distinguished sounding Moss.
Similar sounding yet just as unique boy names include Boris, Horace, and Norris, and, of course, the girl’s name Doris.
A contracted form of “northman”, Norman was an ancient Germanic way to refer to Vikings. In history, Normans were Vikings that traveled to and resided on France’s coast which came to be known as Normandy. Prior to the Norman conquest in 1066, the name Norman or Normant was used as a nickname to describe Scandinavian settlers before it became used as a first name.
Following the conquest, the name Norman enjoyed some popularity before disappearing in the 1300s. It was once again resurrected during the 19th-century thanks in part to a character named Norman in British author C.M. Yonge’s 1856 novel The Daisy Chain.
Despite having similar spelling to the English word “normal”, Norman has connections with quite extraordinary individuals and characters including artist Norman Rockwell, author Norman Mailer and psychotic fictional mama’s boy Norman Bates.
Meaning “wolf-counsel”, the name Ralph enjoys a wide variety of pronunciations including Ralf, Rolf, and Rayf. Based on a contracted version of the longer Norse name Radulfr, Ralph was first introduced to English society by Scandinavian settlers before the Norman conquest.
Throughout the Middle Ages, it was typically spelled as Ralf but by the 17th-century, Rafe was the more common spelling which was how it was most often pronounced. The spelling Ralph did not appear until the 1700s.
Residing in the top 30 boy names from the 1870s to the 1920s, the name Ralph can be found throughout literature. It features in works by William Shakespeare as well as within William Golding’s 1954 novel The Lord of the Flies.
A couple of other notable Ralphs are American writer and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and more current American designer Ralph Lauren born in 1939, as well as British actor Ralph Fiennes (pronounced Rayf) born in 1962.
Possibly derived from a Norman surname associated with the French town of Saint Maur, the name Seymour means “marshy land near the sea”. As in “sea moor”, literally. While definitely not popular in terms of a boy’s first name, Seymour as a place name throughout the world has caught on like wildfire. Seymour as a city name can be found peppered across the globe especially within the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Seymour was apparently the surname of an English family of some nobility back in the 13th century. It is said that British actress Jane Seymour (born in 1951) is a current descendant from this aristocratic family tree.
Seymour is also a first name that can be found in various works by American author J.D. Salinger. But sadly, it may most be associated with sad sack donkey Seymour from Winnie the Pooh.
While it may be extremely difficult to pinpoint a boy’s name beginning with the letter “u”, it is obviously not impossible. There is Umberto, Uric, and Uriah, and, of course, Ulysses.
Pronounced Yoo-liss-eez, this old and rarely found boy’s name is actually a Latinized form of the Greek name Odysseus. One of the most famous bearer of this unusual name remains Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) who was a key player in the American Civil War and went on to become the 18th U.S. President in 1869.
Ulysses is also the title of Irish author James Joyce’s 1922 novel which is often touted as one of the greatest works of modernist literature of all time.
Former Saturday Night Live comedic actress Ana Gasteyer chose this quirky name for her son born in 2008. Interesting nicknames include Uly, Lee, and Lyss. A similar sounding yet much more common boy’s name is Julius.
For an efficient yet unique route to nickname Wally, Wallace may be the way to go over the more commonly found boy’s name Walter. Derived from a surname of Scottish or English extraction, the name Wallace was originally used in reference to someone who was Welsh or considered a foreigner.
It eventually went on to become a first name used to honor Sir William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish hero who led the rebellion in order to drive out the invading English from Scotland. William Wallace was portrayed by actor Mel Gibson in the 1995 blockbuster Braveheart. The much more recent British claymation series Wallace and Gromit has returned this retro boy’s name back into the limelight.
Ranking as a top 100 name back during the 1920s. there’s nothing stopping the boy’s name Wallace from experiencing a serious comeback.
The boy’s name Wendel is actually a shortened version of Old Germanic names starting with the element “Wandal” which means “a Vandal”. The Vandals were a fifth century Germanic tribe invading Spain and North Africa. Later in history, the name Wendel became associated with a Slavic group of people known as the Wends.
Another origin story posits the name Wendel deriving from the term “wenden” meaning “to travel”. It can also easily fit a naming situation where new parents are looking for a male equivalent to feminine names Wendy or Wanda.
The name Wendel (which is sometimes spelled with a double “l”) was a popular choice back in the 1930s but has paled in popularity since then. Although, there are many Wendels located throughout the U.S., they are mostly city names.