What makes a baby name an "old lady" name can differ between parents-to-be, but there's one key similarity: These
"old lady" baby names are all lovely in their own special ways, and you could argue that by eschewing painfully hip monikers like Meadow and Logan, you're choosing something as classic and timeless as a little black dress. Still, there's no denying that these names have a whiff of a secondhand store, and to that end, they're perfect for trying to convince your unsuspecting partner.
If your baby name sounds like it once belonged to a suffragette, it might be an old lady name. Likewise if it sounds like it might have adorned a debutante in the antebellum South. Truthfully, it's hard to say why an 1800s name like Elizabeth is still popular today, while Ida has faded like yellow wallpaper, but such is life.
In defense of old lady names, She Knows kindly called titles
like Minnie and Martha "old-fashioned," "classic," and "cultured," and they're right. Any baby can grow into any name, and some of the most vibrant women I know have names that absolutely qualify for old lady-dom. In fact, I chose an old lady name for my own baby because it also happened to be my great-aunt's name. While this list is compiled with love, I totally understand if you use it to troll your partner.
Now, let the names begin.
Agnes was the
third-most common English girls' name for 400 years, and it means "pure or virginal," according to Nameberry. Today, the name has decidedly fallen out of favor. Doesn't the "Ag" sound make you think of old lace? I feel like I can guarantee your little Agnes will be the only Aggie in her class. 2 Martha
As Nameberry reminded readers, Martha was the first name of the
very first first lady. (As the site noted, Martha also means "lady.") Obviously, no name that reminds people of the Revolutionary War could possibly be considered hip, but maybe there's some retro appeal? I think it has a very sweet, wholesome feel. 3 Ida Ida means "prosperous," but the name itself sounds more old-fashioned than monied. Short, quirky names are definitely on the rise, and Ida is the kind of moniker that can work with any kind of surname. I love how spunky it sounds, and that it can carry a baby through toddlerhood to adulthood. 4 Bertha
Did you know that Bertha is both a
baby boy and baby girl's name, according to Baby Center? I know, it sounds super interesting. While 'Bertha' itself might be out, unisex baby names are definitely in, so this is a cool one to keep in your back pocket. It's also pretty unique these days. 5 Dora
Dora the Explorer, this name still sounds like something out of a black-and-white movie to me — as does its cousin, Dorothy. She Knows reported that this name means "gift of God," which is pretty perfect. It's another short, sweet name, and is just darling for your own little vintage baby. 6 Ursula
When you hear the name Ursula, do you think of the octopus villain from
The Little Mermaid? I do, and that movie came out forever ago. According to Behind the Name though, Ursula doesn't have anything to do with aquatic creatures. It actually means "little bear," so consider it if you love a nature-feel. 7 Alice
In the early 1900s, Alice was one of the most popular baby names and
was consistently in the top 10, according to the Social Security Administration. It's made a huge comeback lately and has been in the top 100 the last six years, but it still has definite "old lady" vibes. 8 Esther
With Biblical roots, Esther is actually a beautiful name. But that doesn't keep it from sounding like it belongs to another age. Esther might mean
"star" in Persian, and it has been in the top 200 baby names the last few years, according to the Social Security Administration. Even in the early 1900s, it still wasn't the most popular, ranking around the top 40. 9 Minnie
The name Minnie had its heyday in the 1880s, according to Baby Name Wizard, and it's a
nickname for Guillermina, Maximina, Dominica, Minerva, Clementine, and Wilhelmina — all of which make great old lady names in and of themselves. This is the chance to give your baby a super formal name, but call her Minnie or Min while she's little. 10 Eugenia Bunlue Nantaprom / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
Popular in the 1900s, Eugenia is now a name fit for a golden girl. That's not a bad thing, of course, but think how it will sound on the playground — and of the face your best friend will make when it tops your list.
name also means "wellborn" — and if there's a more old-fashioned value, I can't think of one. 11 Alberta
There's something a little antique about baby girls' names based on male names. (Alberta is the
feminine form of Albert, according to She Knows.) Turns out, there are tons of such names, all of which have a sepia flavor. Think Wilhemina for William, Matilda for Matthew, and Marcella for Mark. 12 Tabitha
Tabitha is a sweet, pretty name that means
beauty and grace, and there's no denying the name is graceful. If you really want to find a great nickname for Tabitha, there's also Tabby and Tab — which you could count as extra vintage since it's a retro soda. There's no escaping it — Tabitha is an old lady name. 13 Constance
To me, this name is an old lady name because it contains instructions — Constance is supposed to be constant and loyal, right? These days, constancy isn't so much of a value as creativity and ingenuity, which is why Constance lands firmly in the old lady pile. But there's always Connie if you want something less severe-sounding.
This one is super old sounding, I know. Like Constance, the name Prudence contains a personality description. A kid named Prudence (Pru or Prue for short?) is supposed to be prudent — or careful and judicious. But I don't know, in this age of start-ups and gig economy living, a name like Risky might make more sense.
The name Philomena comes from a
Greek word meaning "loved." These days, it's a very rare name, and unlike most popular baby girl names, it's so darn long. Even the nicknames derived from Philomena sound like old lady names: Meena, Mennie, Minnie. I mean, this one holds a lot of vintage charm if you think about it. 16 Edna
The roots of the name Edna are deep, even Biblical. Apparently
Edna means "delight," and it's related to the Garden of Eden. Sadly, though, my first thought when I hear this name is of Edna Crabapple, Bart's crabby elementary-school teacher from The Simpsons. So, old lady name for sure. But you can make Edna cute again. 17 Bernadette
"strong, brave, bear," but to me, it also means disco balls and the polyester 1970s — and that's what makes it an old lady name. I really do kind of love it though, and there are some cute nicknames like Bernie that can make this moniker even sweeter. 18 Agatha
Agatha has its roots in a
Greek word meaning "good, honorable," but the specter of Agatha Christie — and her famous old lady protagonist, Miss Marple — looms large over the name today. Whether you call her Aggie or Ags, this is a really darling one that I think will stay unique for some time. 19 Myrtle
Myrtle is actually a
horticultural baby name, according to Baby Center, meaning tree, or victory. Rhyming with 'turtle,' the name Myrtle doesn't exactly conjure the zip and vigor of our fast-paced times, but it is really sweet and lovely. When's the last time you ever actually heard of a Myrtle? 20 Winifred
Here's a nutty fact: according to Behind The Name, Winnifred is an anglicized version of the
Welsh name Gwenfrewi, making it a very, very old lady name. I actually knew a Winnifred who called herself Freddie for short, proving you can freshen up this name if you want. Winnie is also a super cute option.