So many perfectly fine girls’ names are considered unusable thanks to questionable associations that have tarnished their images. You know the ones: names considered so outlandishly antiquated that you can’t help but LOL when you hear them uttered. Names that for whatever reason, call to mind an unflattering yet unjust image.
Here’s the thing--names that you initially may have laughed off as hopelessly old-fashioned, stuffy or just plain strange can take on a newfound subtle beauty after you say them out loud a few times, see them written down, and learn about their origins.
Scroll through 45 girls’ names notorious for getting a bad rap. Maybe you’ll pinpoint the perfect gem of a name for your daughter or maybe you won’t. But either way, it won’t hurt to have a look-see.
The name Agnes boasts both Greek and Latin beginnings and got its start thanks to the Greek name Hagne derived from the word “hagnos”.
Meaning “chaste”, the name was extremely popular in England during the Middle Ages due to the association to St. Agnes, the patron saint of virgins. Legend has it that she refused to marry and was martyred for her virginity in 304. The name also became affiliated with the Latin word “agnus” which means “lamb”. Typically when St. Agnes is portrayed, there is usually a lamb by her side.
Agnes reached its height of usage in the late 1800s. Currently, it is a top-rated girl’s name in Sweden and Denmark but still considered somewhat of an antique by North American standards. Although that may soon change since a few celebrities have jumped on the Agnes bandwagon for their own daughters.
A few interesting variants worth mentioning include the name Annis, Inez, and the Scottish version Senga (which is Agnes spelled backward.)
Meaning “daughter of the right hand”, this Hebrew baby name is a clear and obvious feminized version of an extremely popular boy’s name.
And while currently, it may not be making waves in the baby name department, it is the name of an extremely popular house plant called the Ficus Benjamina. The name has carved itself a small niche in galactic terms as well. 976 Benjamina is the name of a minor planet (often considered to be an asteroid) that orbits our sun. Discovered in 1922, it is named after the man who first spotted it, Benjamin Jekhowsky.
Despite these facts, Benjamina never really caught on within mainstream society, possibly because people don’t even know of its existence as a name possibility.
Presently, there are only 149 known Benjaminas living within the United States with the majority of them (per capita) residing in Hawaii.
A couple of interesting variations include the Gaelic name Bannerjee as well as the Greek form Vernamina. So, here it is–Benjamina—a secret treasure that’s yours for the taking complete with ready-made adorable nicknames such as Benji, Benny, Jamina, and Meena.
For some reason or another, girls’ names ending with “ette” fell out of favor years ago and have remained a relic lost in the past.
Meaning “brave as a bear”, the name Bernadette is often associated with Catholicism due to the fact that it’s the name of a saint who had visions of the Virgin Mary. Its popularity as a name grew significantly after St. Bernadette was canonized in 1933.
The 1940s marks the time that Bernadette was at the top of its game as a girls’ name – not only due to the saint but also because of the 1943 movie The Song of Bernadette.
Currently, it remains a strong and beautiful name ready for a comeback if you’re willing to brush away some of the cobwebs. If the name is too long for your liking, then consider a couple of nicknames such as Bernie or Benny. Other “ette” names pushed to the past include Yvette, Suzette, and Georgette to name a few.
This name calls to mind negative stereotypes for unknown reasons as it’s not all that different from the more popular (though still somewhat underused) name Denice.
Bernice is a biblical name with Greek origins slightly altered from its original form Berenice. In the bible, Bernice was the sister of King Agrippa.
Further ancient religious and royal associations exist as Berenice was the name shared both by a 4th Century saint as well as by the wife of Ptolemy I of Egypt who was ruler in 323 BC.
Sometimes spelled Berniece, this name is considered a variant of girl’s name Veronica. It means “she who brings victory” and hit its peak in the early 1900s. Ranking as a top 100 name within the U.S. for more than 30 years (from 1900 to 1936), it reached its sweet spot at #39 in 1939. Then in 1980, the name suddenly plunged off the baby name list altogether, rarely to be seen again.
Sweet diminutives abound including Bunny, Binnie, and Berry.
While we’re on the topic of negative stereotypes, the name Bertha has seemed to become synonymous with an image of an older, heavy-set woman. It doesn’t help matters that presently, it is the name most chosen when referring to overly large machines. This habit got its start during World War I when the howitzer was nicknamed Big Bertha.
Often pronounced Berta or Bair-ta, the name has both German and English origins and saw its heyday back in the 1880s. Meaning “bright” or “famous”, Bertha is the star within many ancient German legends.
The mother of Charlemagne (he ruled Western Europe from 768 to 814) was Bertrada (pronounced Bairt-rawda) and was often called Bertha Broadfoot. The ancient emperor chose to name his own daughter Bertha in order to honor his mother.
As unlikely as it may seem that Bertha will ever be a trendy name by North American standards, you have to admit that stranger things have been known to happen.
Meaning “sea-green jewel”, the name Beryl has several plausible origin stories. It may have derived from a name in Ancient Greece, or medieval England or quite possibly been translated from Sanskrit. Whatever the case, there’s no denying that this name has been left behind in the dust unlike current popular gems like Jade or Ruby.
A well-kept secret about this name is that it is actually a unisex choice and can occasionally be found as a boy’s name throughout the past. Beryl is sometimes considered to be a variant of the popular surname Burrell or another version of the Jewish male name Berel.
Once thought to be a quite stylish moniker, the name always fared better in Britain than in North America and faded altogether as of the 20th Century.
For any die-hard
Similar in style yet softer in sound is the classic name, Meryl.
You’d be correct in assuming this German girl’s name has strong and fierce connotations as Brunhilde was the name of a warrior queen in Norse mythology. But you’d be wrong if you believe it’s a witch’s name. That was Broom Hilda- a popular comic strip from the 1970s about a witch and her adventures.
Derived from the ancient name Brynhildr, Brunhilde has definitely made a name for itself within the entertainment industry. Wagner’s operatic masterpiece The Ring of Nibelungen (written over the span of 26 years in Germany during the 1800s) features a character named Brunhilde. And in the 2012 film Django Unchained, Kerry Washington’s slave character was Broomhilde which was most likely an Americanized pronunciation of the original name.
The name has an extremely low profile within the U.S. with only 648 women known to be named Brunhilde. Most of them (per capita) reside in Colorado.
Meaning “dark” or “noble”, pretty nicknames are plentiful including Nilda, Hilda, Hilly, and Nilly.
This antique girl’s name may have peaked in the 1940s but it has never truly disappeared. Currently high-ranking as a popular girl’s name in Spain, Claudia can easily regain its lost momentum as a trendy girl’s name under the proper circumstances.
An extremely common name in ancient Roman society, Claudia is the feminized version of the Latin name Claudius. It has a place within the New Testament of the bible as well. In St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, Claudia is mentioned as the name of a Christian woman living in Rome.
Sometimes considered to be a variant of the name Gladys, Claudia was the first name of the respective wives of both Nero and Pontius Pilate. It can often be found as a character name throughout a variety of literature – both mid-century and even heading into the modern day.
It is sometimes pronounced Clow-dee-ah and shares similarities to another forgotten oldie, Claudette.
Another name often associated with Catholicism, Dolores has firm roots in Spain and was a trendy choice back in the 1930s. It was actually the U.S.’s 13th most popular girls’ name back in the day.
The name came about in order to honor the Virgin Mary who goes by many titles including the Spanish one: Maria de los Dolores which translates into Mary of the Sorrows. Religious association aside, the name Dolores was also once synonymous with sensuality and while this may have faded some, nicknames Lola and Lolita both still maintain some of this sex appeal.
omething relatively unknown about this endangered name is that it is actually unisex. And despite featuring as a character name within the Harry Potter series as well as within a hilarious episode of Seinfeld, this melodic name just can’t seem to shake its dolorous reputation.
Another similar sounding name often considered to be passé is Doris.
Based on the original Greek name Dorothea, Dorothy means “gift of God”. Despite being in use as a first name since the 16th century, it’s probably most associated with the 1900 novel and 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
Once considered a super trendy girl’s name, Dorothy resided firmly within the U.S.’s top 10 list from 1904 until 1939 and held the coveted position of #2 for eight years. Today, this dust-collecting classic may be about to re-enter the popular zone once again as in 2011, it entered the top 1000 and rose a further 200 spots over the next four years.
A piece of trivia: the name Dorothy was such a common first name in Britain that it led to the nickname Dolly and that is where the word “doll” actually comes from. Another cute nickname arising from Dorothy is the sweetly vintage Dottie.
But this wasn’t always the way with this ancient Roman name. Drusilla actually appears in the bible within the New Testament as the wife of Felix.
It became adopted as a first name possibility within English-speaking nations during the 17th Century and was derived from the Roman family name Drusus which in turn may have come from the Celtic word “drausus” which means “strong”.
While pretty much always considered a rare and unique name, Drusilla is most often found as a girl’s name in the United States over any other world country.
Popular in the late 1800s, Drusilla means “fruitful” or “dewy-eyed” and is sometimes spelled with a “c” or an “sc” combination. Super cute diminutive is the short but sweet Dru.
Perhaps you’re old enough for the name Edna to remind you of a certain house mother at an all girls’ school from a popular 80’s sitcom, or maybe not. If not, then forget what you’ve just read. Make a point of rejuvenating this oldie but goodie which is fitting as the name means “rejuvenation” or “delight”.
This Hebrew name peaked in popularity sometime during the late 1800s. It was considered very fashionable at this point in time and even managed to reach #11 within top girls’ names in the United States.
It has biblical connections and is also quite similar to the name Eden if you looking for a somewhat updated version of the name.
It also carries some weight within the literary world and may appear to have a campy vibe due to character Dame Edna. That said, the original Edna has a quiet dignity to it.
This feminized version of Edwin is typically pronounced Ed-ween-ah, but Nameberry suggests the name would be more likely to experience a resurrection if pronounced Ed-winna.
Derived from Old English elements “ead” meaning “wealthy” or “fortune” and “wine” meaning “friend”, this name had an interesting start. Edwina Ashley (1901-1960) was wife to the Earl of Mountbatten and was named in honor of Edward VII, the former King of the United Kingdom. She dodged a name bullet considering the king originally wanted her name to be Edwardina.
The name Edwina also found its way into a cult classic Coen brothers movie through a character portrayed by Holly Hunter in the 1987 film Raising Arizona although she went by the abbreviated Ed.
Meaning “rich or wealthy in friendship”, Edwina peaked during the 1930s and has been left moldering in the attic since then.
Sometimes spelled with a “y” in lieu of the “i”, possible nicknames include the obvious Eddie or Winnie.
Some may consider the name Enid old-ladyish in style, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ready for a return to favor. Meaning “spirit” or “life”, the name is borne from the Welsh word “enaid” which translates into “soul”.
This short and sweet moniker features heavily within medieval Welsh and Arthurian legends. Enid was the name of Geraint’s wife – Geraint is said to have been one of the knights of King Arthur’s infamous Round Table.
Enid is also the name of the heroine within Alfred Lord Tennyson’s series of poems Idylls of the King which was published within 1859 and 1885.
If none of this is ringing any bells for you, then try this association on for size. Enid is the name of the 9th largest city in Oklahoma.
Most popular during the early 1900s, Enid experienced a more recent moment in the spotlight thanks to the Barenaked Ladies song Enid from the early 1990s.
This girl’s name, once considered out of fashion, has been on the rise since 2007. Rooted firmly with a Spanish and Portuguese origin story, the name means “emerald” and was the moniker of choice for the daughter of Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes.
Currently, the name Esmeralda sits within U.S’s top 500 girls’ names where it clocks in at #369. Although in Mexico, the name sits comfortably at #31.
Esmeralda is a major player in Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She is the gypsy girl who Quasimodo falls in love with although her actual character name is Agnes and she gets the name Esmeralda due to her necklace. Following the Disney release of the updated and animated version of this classic story in 1996, Esmeralda received a bit more press as a viable, interesting and beautiful option for a girl’s name.
Certainly, you can rearrange the letters into a number of cute nickname combos, but Esmé should be at the top of the list.
Yes, this name may be most associated with Lucille Ball’s wacky friend and neighbor in the classic sitcom I Love Lucy. It may even remind you of a type of gasoline but due to the unpredictable nature of naming trends, there’s always a slight possibility that Ethel could be ready for a comeback.
Most popular in the late 1800s, the name is derived from Old English names Aethelind and Etheldreda. It became a fashionable name choice following the fact that Ethel was used as a character name in two 19th-century novels: >The Newcomes (1855) by William Makepeace Thackeray and The Daisy Chain (1856) by C.M. Yonge.
It eventually lost its luster in the name game as currently there are just under 100,000 women named Ethel living in the United States. And 90% of them are over the age of 55.
Noble” in meaning, the name can easily be softened into the more musical names Ethelyn or Ethelinda. Ethel is sometimes translated into the name Adela in other countries.
Calling to mind a black and white image of the roaring 1920s, the name Esther has a debatable origin story. It is a biblical name sometimes considered a version of the Latin name Hester. In the Old Testament, Queen Esther is the Jewish wife of a Persian king who saves the Jews. It is also said to be a direct translation of names Hadassah and Ishtar. It may possibly mean “star” in Persian as well.
Esther as a first name has been found within English-speaking society since about the 1600s. It became popular in the U.S. due to Esther being the name of President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Esther Cleveland (1893-1980).
One hundred years ago, Esther was cocooned within the top 50 girls’ names. It remained within the top 100 until 1935.
There’s no arguing that this moth-eaten classic can easily be revived with nicknames Essie or Estie. It may also make a comeback thanks to a couple of celebrity endorsements. Madonna adopted Esther as her Kaballah name and actor Ewan McGregor named his daughter Esther Rose (born in 2001).
This lesser known biblical name comes from the ancient Greek name Eunike and is derived from “eu” meaning “well” or “good” and “nike” meaning “victory”. Pronounced “Yoo-niss”, Eunice can be found in the New Testament as the mother of Timothy. She introduced him to Christianity and as a result, this biblical reference made the name Eunice a viable name option within English-speaking society during the 1600s.
Meaning “good victory” or “victorious”, the name is sometimes spelled Unice. Most popular during the early 1900s, chances are slim that your daughter would run into another Eunice if you decide to choose this ancient and understated moniker. There are less than 50,000 women living in the U.S. named Eunice with the majority of them (per capita) living in North Dakota. And even then they are mostly over the age of 55.
Variants of the name include Eunisa, Euniece and Eunide and a couple of cute nicknames are Neese and Euni.
There’s a lot more to this name than the actress who played the mother on The Brady Bunch or tough-talking waitress “Flo” on the sitcom Alice. Florence is the anglicized version of the Latin name Florentia meaning “flourishing” or “prosperous”. It is also a popular city in Italy if you wanted to go that route.
Pronounced as either “Flaw-rins” or “Flo-rins”, the name was often used throughout the Middle Ages for boys in order to honor the Christian saint name Florentius. However, Florence has since become a mainly feminine name.
Despite hitting its peak in the late 1800s, it may be ripe for a comeback thanks to hip musician Florence Welch of “Florence + the Machine”. Currently, the name sits in at #26 in England and Wales.
If you like the name but are looking for something a tad different, check out variants Floor, Floris and Fiorenza. Sweet sounding nicknames include Flora, Flossie, and Florrie.
Another feminized name that just never caught on, Frederica can easily make the leap from stuffy, Victorian name to the trendy vintage moniker. Meaning “peaceful ruler”, the name was originally used in 18th-Century Prussia in order to honor King Frederick the Great.
Frederica has also caught on as a royal favorite as many a princess have been christened with this unique and underused moniker in Greece, Sweden, Denmark and of course Prussia.
If you’re hoping for a more current example of the name in action, then look no further than American opera star Frederica von Stade, born in 1945.
If one-of-a-kind is your main goal when selecting a name for your daughter – then you may have found your winner. There are less than 2,500 Fredericas living within the United States and none of them are under the age of 13.
A couple of interesting variants of the name are Frieda and Frederique and it also abbreviates without difficulty into Freddie, Erica or Fritzi.
A German name meaning “strong spear”, Gertrude was also the name of Hamlet’s mother in the Shakespearean play written in 1600.
Boasting medieval beginnings, St. Gertrude was the name of a 13th-century nun before the moniker then migrated to England in the 1400s where it peaked and eventually fizzled during the late 1800s.
The name Gertrude was also representative of a goddess within ancient Norse mythology. And though it may be difficult to believe, it was once a front runner for trendy girl’s name. In 1900, it sat at #23 but fast forward 66 years later, and Gertrude was nowhere to be found.
If you just can’t wrap your head around naming a cute little girl Gertrude, then take a trip down memory lane and remember how adorable seven-year-old Drew Barrymore was as Gertie in the 1982 blockbuster movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. A couple of other diminutives include Trudy and Rudy.
This golden oldie reached #11 back in 1900, but since that time, the name Gladys has all but vanished into the past. Having a Welsh backstory, Gladys is sometimes considered a derivative of the man’s name Claudius or used in place of feminine name Claudia.
Oftentimes, Gladys has been seen as a variant of the ancient Welsh name Gwladus. Possibly, the name derives from the word “gwlad” which means “country”.
Gladys started gaining ground as a first name outside of Wales after it was used as a character name in the 1870 novel Puck by Ouida. The book’s heroine was Gladys Gerant.
The name proved extremely popular in the early 1900s and was viewed as an exotic favorite among new parents. One famous bearer that comes to mind is American songstress Gladys Knight (born in 1944) of the singing sensation Gladys Knight and the Pips.
Either way, you can’t get a much happier diminutive than Gladdy.
Another girl’s name with Welsh origins, Glenda is a newbie when it comes to olden time classics considering it’s a 20th-century creation.
Comprised of Welsh components “glan” meaning “pure” or “clean” and “da” which means “good”, Glenda translates into “holy”, “fair” or “good”. The name reached its highest peak of popularity during the 1940s.
Similar in sound to the nameGlinda\, the good witch in The Wizard of Oz, Glenda is a feminine version of the boy’s name Glen. Other variants include Glenys, Glendia, Glendene and Glendora.
One renowned Glenda is Glenda Jackson (born in 1936), the British actress turned politician. Glenda has also proven to be a favorite name to use when naming tropical cyclones in the Philippines.
Despite flying low on the radar of current naming trends, there are over 126,000 Glendas living in the U.S. with most per capita residing in Arkansas. That said, the majority of them are women over the age of 55.
First recognized as a name during the 1600s, the name Harriet didn’t hit its stride until the 18th century. This extremely serious-sounding, classic name means “estate ruler” and is considered a feminine version of Harry or Henry.
Sometimes viewed as an alternative to Henrietta, Harriet is currently a trendy choice for girl’s name in England (it is #61), New Zealand, and Australia. However it has not been within the top 100 U.S. girls’ names since 1970.
f you happen to be the literary type, then you are probably no stranger to the name Harriet. You can find it smack dab on the cover of classic children’s book Harriet the Spy as well as a character name within The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and within Jane Austen’s Emma. And still keeping to the literary realm, American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) is a famous bearer of the name. She is most famous for having written Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Do the citizens of Iceland know something that the rest of the world doesn’t? Helga< currently ranks as Iceland’s #15 in top girls’ names. Replete with European roots, the name can be found in Scandinavia, Germany, and Hungary. Popular in the late 1800s, the name all but disappeared soon after.
Often seen as the feminine version to boy’s name Helge, the name Helga may have arisen from Old Norse name Helgi which in turn is derived from ancient word “heilagr” and means “holy” or “blessed”. Although the name Helga is said to mean “prosperous” or “successful”.
Before you completely dismiss the name, be aware that Helga is the name of choice for many European celebrities, athletes as well as politicians. Helga Hufflepuff is also the name of the fictional character who founded Hogwarts’ Hufflepuff house in the Harry Potter series.
If you find Helga too harsh-sounding, a couple of softer sounding variant names include Hella and Layla. Another antiquated option similar in sound is the out-dated Olga.
A popular girl’s name in Germany, Sweden and Norway during the early 1900s, Hildegard never managed to gain much ground in North American society. Comprised of elements “hild” meaning “battle” and “gard” meaning “enclosure”, the name Hildegard is said to mean “comrade in arms”.
St. Hildegard was the name of a 12th-century German mystic famous for her writing as well as her prophetic visions. And if you take a stroll through royal history, chances are you will find many Hildegards within.
If you already have a daughter and she happens to be a fan of the Disney Jr. animated series Sofia the First, she may be eager to welcome a little sister named Hildegard into her realm as there is a bit character on the show by the same name.
Sweet nicknames include Hildy or Hilly.
he name Imogene< came into existence thanks to an ancient typo – it seems Shakespeare used the name Innogen in his 1623 play Cymbeline but it was misspelled by his printer and Imogene was born. It is believed that the name Innogen was derived from the Gaelic word “inghean” which means “maiden”.
Usually pronounced “Imma-jean” in North America, the Brits are revitalizing the name with the hip and trendy pronunciation “Imma-jen”. Imogen is currently a high-ranking option in Australia and resides within the top 100 girls’ names in both Scotland and New Zealand.
If you recall the 1987 book written by Fannie Flagg followed by the movie in 1991 Fried Green Tomatoes, the main character is Imogene who opts to go by the edgier Idgie.
Choice nicknames include Immy, Idge, and Midge.
The name Iris< calls to mind flowers, eyeballs, and dusty old relics, although quite possibly that may be changing (the dusty old relics part) since several celebrities are revitalizing the moniker by naming their recently born daughters Iris. Actor Jude Law has a daughter named Iris born in 2000 and celebrity couple Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann have borne an Iris as well (born in 2002).
The name Iris is currently at its highest point in popularity since the 1930s.
Having a Greek backstory, the word “iris” translates into “rainbow” and within ancient mythology Iris was the goddess of the rainbow. In medieval times, the iris was also a symbol of power and the three petal segments represented faith, wisdom and valor. This eventually led to the naming of both the flower and eye part.
Sometimes pronounced Ee-ris in various European countries, the name is definitely picking up speed and is currently a top choice in both Iceland and Portugal.
This completely frumpy name (sorry, Mom!) may appear to be long dead and buried until you realize how closely related it is to the popular Anglo name, Emma. Hailing from countries Germany, Hungary and Finland to name a few, the name is typically pronounced Eer-ma throughout Europe.
And while the name Irma is a name unto itself, the prefix “Irm” is also often used in combination with a variety of suffixes to create a host of other names such as Irmgard, Irmine and Irmela. A piece of trivia: actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s mother is an Irma – shortened from her original name Irmelin.
Meaning “universal” or “complete”, the name Irma is derived from Old German word “ermen” and did not pick up speed as a first name in the English-speaking world until during the 1800s.
Erma is typically considered to be a more stylish spelling of the name. A famous bearer is Erma Bombeck (1927-1996), an American humorist and newspaper columnist.
Dowdy or not, the name Irma presently ranks at #68 in Bosnia.
If you like the sound of Lucy or Lucia but want something less popular, then Lucinda may be ideal. Meaning “light”, the name was the creation of Cervantes, the author of the 1605 novel Don Quixote.
The name hit its zenith of popularity back in the 1880s when it clocked in within the top 200 baby names. It spiked in acclaim once again during the 1950s and has been busy fossilizing ever since. In the past 25 years, the name Lucinda hasn’t registered on any baby name charts whatsoever.
The name is out there though – you just need to know where to look. There is American rock, folk and country musician and songwriter Lucinda Williams (born in 1953) as well as another nod to animated show Sofia the First as Lucinda is the name of a little witch featured on the program.
There is also an Australian connection as Lucinda is the name of a town located in Queensland.
Influenced by the herb called marjoram but with no concrete connection to margarine, Marjorie is the English version of the Scottish name Margery. Both are considered variants of the ubiquitous Margaret and mean “pearl”. As well, both Marjorie and Margery can be found peppering the annals of royalty.
Marjorie revelled in popularity during the 1920s as people saw it as an exotic option to the plain old standard Margaret. It was in the top 25 names from 1920 until 1927.
Currently viewed as either a relic of the past or the wife of Homer Simpson, the name is due for a comeback if even due to overlooked nicknames Jorie and Marjie. And thanks to a Game of Thrones character with the similar-sounding moniker Margaery, Marjorie is back within the U.S. top 1000, sitting at #799 as of 2015.
Sometimes spelled without the “e”, the name Maude is a variation of the name Matilda. Meaning “powerful in battle”, this name is often relegated to middle-name status despite its royal associations. The daughter of Edward VII was Maud (without the “e”) – she later became the Queen of Norway circa 1905.
It garnered some level of fame thanks to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s series of poetry entitled “Maud and other poems” published in 1855. Then in the 1970s, it was the name of the title character portrayed by American actress Bea Arthur on the hit sitcom Maude.
Maude also was representative of another Simpsons character. Maude Flanders was the animated wife to Homer’s annoying, goody-two-shoes neighbor Ned. She was killed off in early 2000.
Currently, it’s receiving attention as a trendy alternative name in the Netherlands and may even be gaining momentum in North America since director Judd Apatow and actor Leslie Mann chose it for their daughter born in 1997.
Derived from the Old English name Mildthryth, Mildred is a combination of elements meaning “gentle” and “strength”. It was the name of a 7th-century saint who was the daughter of Princess St. Ermenburga in ancient England which resulted in some level of popularity way back when.
The name then went into hiding some time after the 11th Century but flared back in a sort of comeback during the 1800s. From 1903 to 1926, Mildred sat comfortably within the top 10 U.S. girls’ names.
The name may have a mildewed reputation and the fact that it is the official first name of character Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (the book and movie) probably doesn’t help. Mildred is also the name of main character in Mildred Pierce – a Joan Crawford movie from 1945 and more recently a 2011 miniseries starring Kate Winslet.
However, the name peaked in the early 1900s and currently, it would be no easy feat to find any Mildreds milling around.
That said, Millie as a nickname is definitely a trendy option.
If you associate the name Minerva with a bespectacled, studious type – you wouldn’t be far off from the Latin-rooted definition “to remember” and “of the mind”.
First used as a given name in English-speaking countries after the Renaissance, Minerva was also the name of the Roman goddess of wisdom, arts, crafts and war–talk about having a wide spectrum of skills!
Minerva hits a nerve in a variety of literature – old and new. Minerva Pott is a character in the first novel by Charles Dickens The Pickwick Papers (1836) and it’s also the name of Hogwart’s Deputy Head Mistress in the Harry Potter
The name hit its high in the late 1800s but continued to reside within the top 500 names from the 1920s until the 70s when it basically disappeared. That said, it may be ready for resurrection based on the trend-factor surrounding super chic nickname Minnie.
Myrtle got its start as a first name back in the 1800s and that’s pretty much where it has remained. Named for a delicate plant with pink and white berries most often associated with love, Myrtle >has also made its way into man well-known literary works including as a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
And clearly J.K. Rowling likes old-timey names as Myrtle can be found as a character within the Harry Potter series. Moaning Myrtle was a muggle-born witch turned ghost whose main purpose in death is to haunt a Hogwarts’ bathroom and help Harry with his quests.
Whether botany is your passion or Myrtle Beach holds a special place in your heart, you can pretty much be guaranteed that if you dust off this old treasure for your daughter, her name will be a one-of-a-kind.
It’s hard to believe that the once pervasive girl’s name Norma will ever be considered the new normal – but you never can tell. Apparently the brainchild of Italian poet Felice Romani, the name Norma was created for the 1831 Bellini opera by the same name. It may have been based on the Latin word “norma” meaning “rule”.
Considered to be the female equivalent of Norman, the name is composed of elements “nort” meaning “north” and “man” which is self-explanatory. Norman was the word used to describe residents of Normandy and it is also thought to have been a form of Northman or Norseman.
Similar sounding to the names Noreen and the much-more popular Nora, Norma is still considered to be an extremely common female name despite the fact that it is no longer viewed as a popular option within the United States.
Actress Sally Field immortalized the name with her portrayal of working class heroine in the 1979 movie Norma Rae and Norma was also the birth name of tragic film legend Marilyn Monroe.
Based on Greek mythology, Phyllis was a woman who hanged herself out of love and was later turned into an almond tree. Meaning “foliage” or “green bough”, the name is derived from the Greek term “phyllon”, another word for “leaf”.
Phyllis came into regular usage as a first name in England during the 16th century and pulled a disappearing act soon after the 1930s came and went.
The name is often associated with loudmouthed American comedian and actress Phyllis Diller (1917-2012). And as strange as it may sound, the name Phyllis was once considered almost interchangeable with the girl’s name Felicia.
Somewhat similar in style yet having a more modern feel are the names Phyllida and Philippa. The nickname Phil works with all three names and is cute and unusual for a little girl.
This biblical name with both Roman and Latin roots has been in use in the English-speaking world since the 16th century.
Sometimes pronounced Pree-sheela, Priscilla has endured its ups and downs in the name game. It has often been considered to be a variant of the ancient name Prisca which is the feminine form of Priscus.
The name Priscilla first experienced some level of fame in 1858 with American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Courtship of Miles Standish which featured the name. The U.S. was once again reminded of the name with Priscilla Presley, the former wife of the late Elvis Presley. There is one more celebrity endorsement worth noting: English writer J.R.R. Tolkien famous for the Lord of the Rings series named his only daughter Priscilla (born in 1929).
Priscilla reached its highest peak of popularity in 1927 when it reached #127 on the U.S. baby name list and experienced another burst of popularity again in the 80s. Currently, Priscilla is hanging on to #502 within the top girls’ names in the U.S.
Nicknames include Cissy, Cece, Prissy, and Scilla.
This Hebrew name often associated with the bible is another name definitely deserving of a good dusting off and repurposing. Sometimes pronounced “Root” (in German), but most often pronounced “Rooth”, Ruth is the main character in the Book of Ruth within the Old Testament.
>As a Christian first name, Ruth has been around since the 1500s. It perked up in popularity within the United States thanks once again to President Grover Cleveland and the birth of his daughter “Baby” Ruth Cleveland (1891-1904). Sadly, she died young of diphtheria. The name reached its pinnacle of popularity in the 1910s – probably due to the President’s daughter.<
Meaning “companion” or “vision of beauty”, this sweet yet no-nonsense name is surprisingly unisex. Believe it or not, but Ruth is sometimes used as an abbreviated form of masculine names Rutger or Roger.
Presently, Ruth falls within the top 100 girls’ names in Ireland.
Swirling rumors about the name Thelma suggest several possible creation stories. The first and most likely one proposes it was a name invented by author Maria Corelli for the heroine in her 1887 novel Thelma. Another less likely tale claims the name is derived from the Greek word “thelema” which means “will.”
A third theory as to Thelma’s beginnings has it as a feminine form of the ancient Spanish boy’s name Telmo which is derived from Santelmo or St. Elmo. So if you have a thing for Rob Lowe or mediocre movies from the 1980s (specifically the 1985 film St. Elmo’s Fire), then Thelma may be the perfect fit for your daughter.
Hinting at having a Norwegian background, Thelma was a popular name choice in the early 1900s but seems to have a somewhat tarnished reputation by today’s standards. If you like it but were hoping for a modern twist – then consider Thea or Telma with nicknames Thel, Tia or Telly.If you’ve ever seen the movie Thelma and Louise, you’ll know it’s the perfect choice for a strong-willed and fierce woman–something your daughter can grow into. On an interesting side note, Thelma is also an anagram for the name Hamlet.
The name Ursula, meaning “little bear” or “she-bear” can be found within several significant literary works throughout history including the writings of Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, and D.H. Lawrence to name a few.
Having European origins, St. Ursula was a virgin princess martyred back in the 4th-century. The name was a very trendy choice in the early 1900s before taking a nose dive and then spiking to its peak of popularity during the 1970s.
Still routinely found in areas of Europe (particularly in Germany and Poland), the name is often shortened to popular nickname Uschi (pronounced in between “Ushy” and “Ooshy” – sort of like “pushy” without the “p”). Yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find an Ursula in the U.S.
Now that the name is shedding its association to the eight-legged villain from the 1989 animated Disney movie The Little Mermaid, it’s a completely viable choice to be brought back to the forefront.
This name with both German and Dutch origins is often pronounced Vilma and is sometimes used as an abbreviated form of longer name Wilhelmina.German settlers introduced the name to North America at some point during the 19th century where it gained momentum and reached its zenith in the 1920s. Wilma was actually within the top 100 girls’ names in the U.S. between 1912 and 1940.
The name Wilma means “resolute protection”, is often associated with the wife of Fred Flintstone and is currently ranked at #9 in Sweden. While it has clearly faded in trendiness within the States, it has served well as the name for many prominent American women including writers, athletes and politicians. Not to mention – it has also been the name of choice for several tropical storms.
Similar sounding names include Velma, Dilma and the more popular Selma and Salma.
The Welsh name Winifred came into general use in England sometime in the 16th century. It is believed to be the anglicized version of Gwenfrewi and was the name of the legendary St. Winefride in Wales.Meaning “blessed peacekeeping”, Winifred< reached its top level of fame in the early 1900s. During the 1920s, it was within the top 200 girls’ names in the U.S. It still pops up from time to time, but for the most part is viewed as an antique belonging in the past.
Comprised of elements “gwen” meaning “white”, “fair” or “blessed” and “frewi” which means “peace” or “reconciliation”, Winifred has proven to be a Disney fave. It has appeared in The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins and is the name of Bette Midler’s character in the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. And for those of you enamored by the animated series Arthur, the little sister D.W. on the show is actually Dora Winifred.
Cute nicknames include Winnie and Freddie.
Meaning “violet flower”, the name Yolanda has medieval French and possibly German beginnings and may be derived from Yolande, a Latin word for violet. Sometimes spelled Jolanta, many notable women throughout the 12th and 13th centuries bore this moniker.
A popular name among European royalty, the name was borne by 12th-century empress of Constantinople as well as many of her royal descendants within Hungary (where it was spelled as Jolanta) and Spain (sometimes seen there as Violante).
The royal associations don’t stop there – the daughter of Bela IV of Hungary was Jolanta as was a 13<>th-century Countess of Luxemburg. Apparently, the name proved a favorite of royalty due to its association with the color purple which often denotes the crown.
Still a somewhat popular name in Spanish-speaking countries, Yolanda saw its height of fame in the 1970s and is currently heading toward endangered species status.
This name was originally considered a diminutive form of the longer name Griselda. Meaning “gray fighting maid”, Zelda is now most often associated with the Nintendo game which is the reason cited for the late actor Robin Williams choosing it for his daughter born in 1989.
The current trendiness of names with “z” or “x” in them may give Zelda a much-needed boost. As of 2015, the name entered into the top 1000 names at #647 – for the first time in almost 50 years.
Sometimes spelled Selda, Zelda is sometimes considered to be the Yiddish version of German name Salida which means “joy” or “happiness”. Zelda has also been claimed as the feminine form of Yiddish boy’s name Selig.
As an aside, Marilyn Monroe sometimes used Zelda Zonk as a pseudonym.
Whatever the case, the name Zelda has just the right amount of je ne sais quoi to skyrocket it back into fashion.