Baby Names

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27 Unbearably Cute Baby Names You Just Don’t Hear Anymore

I mean, a baby named Ethel is pretty perfect.

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A couple months ago, I was a little upset (and extremely confused) to see all my favorite baby names on a "top 20" list online. That is, until I realized these were the top 20 names of the 1890s. I'm a sucker for old-fashioned names, and there is something so effortlessly cool about a baby with a "Grandma/Grandpa name." And yes, that phrase is totally a compliment in my book. If you're also into old-fashioned, uncommon names, look no further, because there are plenty of baby names you just don't hear anymore to consider. These names peaked a century or two ago, and it's time to bring them back again.

I definitely won't knock trendy names — different strokes for different folks — but there is something awesome about being an Edith or a Helen in a sea of Harpers, Paisleys, and Everlys. And if you want a little bit of both, why not pair an antique beauty with a modern gem for a first name/middle name combo? You can't go wrong.

If you're looking for an old-school name to dust off and steal, this list has you covered. And, if nothing on this list strikes your fancy, head over to the U.S. Social Security website and browse their top names by decade. It may or may not be one of my favorite hobbies.

1

Marion

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I'm kicking off the list with this unisex name because it's a goodie. While the name Marion used to be popular in the beginning of the 20th century, this name has been steadily dropping in popularity for both girls and boys. That's not a bad thing. It just means your own baby Marion will be one-of-a-kind, and the name means “bitter” (not so great) and/or “of the sea” (much better).

2

Dorothy

Did you know that, according to Nameberry, Dorothy was consistently in the top 10 most popular names from 1904 to 1939? I certainly didn't, because I never hear this name anymore. As long as you don't mind the occasional The Wizard of Oz or The Golden Girls reference, this is a super sweet name for your little one. Plus, the nickname "Dottie" is adorable, and Dorothy means “gift of god.”

3

Grover

I know most parents are picturing Grover from Sesame Street and therefore rolling their eyes, but picturing a chubby little baby boy named Grover is just so cute. This name reached #20 on popularity charts in 1884 and 1885, but currently sits all the way at #705. It's time for a comeback! Maybe an ode to Grover Cleveland, America’s 22nd and 24th president?

4

Effie

I first fell in love with this name while reading Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, as this was the name of Lena Kaligaris's little sister. It is Greek in origin, according to Nameberry, and reached peak popularity in the U.S. in the early 1900s. Today, it's not even close to breaking the top 1,000. In other words, revive this name and be a trendsetter, especially since Effie means “well spoken, well regarded.”

5

Augustus

This name makes me think of a little baby boy in suspenders, and I don't hate that image at all. It rose in popularity in 1880, reaching #175 in the United States, but then dropped again; today, it's #467. Choose this name, and you have sweet nicknames like "Auggie" and "Gus" to use as well!

6

Della

There are a lot of Ellas and Bellas nowadays — which makes sense, because they're both gorgeous names. But why not opt for something old-fashioned and much less popular? It's been trending downwards in popularity since the late 1800s, but I think it's due for a comeback. Della is currently ranked #805 in popularity, according to Nameberry, and it means “noble.”

7

Hugh

As Nameberry reported, Hugh was consistently in the top 100 for popularity until 1903, but as of 2017, it was only #795. It has everything I personally like in a name: easy to spell, not made-up, and there won't be six of them in your child's kindergarten class. Winner. (One would have expected Hugh Grant's star to send this one straight to the top of the list in the ‘90s, at least.)

8

Ora

Ora hovered right outside the top 100 most popular names in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but today the name isn't near the top 1,000. Short and sweet, like Ava or Mia, Ora deserves a fresh start. It's Latin for "prayer," and isn't your daughter an answer to yours? (That's just about the sweetest explanation you can ever give any kid for their name: "It's because you were an answer to our prayers.")

9

Chester

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Chester was a fixture on top 100 name lists from the late 1800s to early 1900s, but isn't in the top 1,000 today. Actually, Nameberry revealed that this name is in the top 100 for dogs... but it's a totally acceptable name for a human child, as well. Plus, "Chess" is kind of a cute (not to mention unique) nickname, don't you think?

10

Iva

Iva reached peak popularity in 1894, but you don't hear it at all today. Why not? Ava and Eva are incredibly popular, and I think quieter sister Iva deserves some of the spotlight. Short, sweet, and simple — what's not to like? With origins in Hebrew and Old English, this name means "God is gracious," according to Think Baby Names.

11

Otto

Otto has seen a recent spike in popularity, but it's still nowhere near as popular as it was at the end of the 19th century. The meaning of Otto is "wealthy" — and your baby will certainly have a wealth of love. It's currently ranked #427 and continues to rise in popularity. (Added bonus: Not many people get to say their name is a palindrome.)

12

Gladys

This was actually my grandmother's name, and I used to joke that I'd never be able to honor her because of how old-fashioned the name is. However, old-fashioned names are becoming very cool again, and I'm totally onboard. Gladys was massively popular in the early 1900s, reaching as high as #11, but now it's not even in the top 1,000. Maybe my future daughter will spearhead the revival.

13

Aloysius

The name Aloysius gained a little momentum in the late 1800s, reaching its peak popularity in 1893. Now, it's nowhere to be found. Latin for "famous warrior," this has strong baby written all over it. Interestingly, as Nameberry reported, "Aloysius is the Latin form of many more common names like Louis, Luis, Luigi and the uncommon but symphonically familiar Ludwig."

14

Edith

A decade ago, you couldn't have paid me to name a child Edith. Now, this name seems adorable. So old-fashioned that it's somehow cute again, Edith means "prosperous in war,” and is the perfect name for a powerful, independent little lady. And, when she's not dominating war, "Edie" is a super cute nickname.

15

Baxter

It is extremely trendy to put Xs in names nowadays (looking at you, Jaxon), but the name Baxter is not new. Though it never reached insane heights of popularity back in its prime (it only reached #515, according to Nameberry), I think it's an excellent option if you want an X name without having the 9th "Jaxon"/"Jaxson" in your neighborhood.

16

Helen

Helen was a top five name in the U.S. from 1894 to 1930, according to Nameberry. That's an impressive streak. Today, the name Helen is ranked #429, so it's not unheard of, but it's certainly not what it once was. It's a beautiful, classic name meaning “shining light” — plus, Helen of Troy is not a bad woman to share a name with.

17

Francis/Frances

Another unisex moniker, Francis has dropped in popularity since the early 20th century. While it's not too uncommon for a baby boy (it's currently ranked #461), Francis for a girl is not in the top 1,000. "Frances," however, is ranked #438! And it comes with the kicky nickname option of "Frankie," which is a super appealing attribute.

18

Florence

This name will always remind me of Florence Nightingale, which means this name will always represent determination, intellect, and female empowerment. What else could you possible want in a name? Florence was "top 10" status at the very end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, but is currently all the way down at #934. If you want to reenergize this name, I will support you, especially since the name Florence means “blossoming, flourishing.”

19

Wallace

Wallace is currently ranked #889 in the U.S. — that's right, it just barely made the top 1,000. It steadily plummeted in popularity beginning in 1941, dropping from the top 1,000 charts altogether after 1993. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the name Wallace to start coming back. While the name is sweet all by itself, the nickname "Wally" just makes my heart explode.

20

Beatrice

I saved one of my favorites for last. Currently ranked #562 in the U.S., Beatrice means "she who brings happiness.” How precious is that? Add the nickname "Bea" and you have, in my humble opinion, one of the best names out there. (And that's without even mentioning the Bea Arthur/Golden Girls connection.)

21

Herman

OK, I know. But hear me out on this one. Herman has a certain panache — it feels a little unique and strange, but has major staying power evidenced by the fact that it was consistently in the top 500 baby names from the 1940s through the mid-1980s. The name has a Germanic origin, which means “army man” so it feels extra strong and grounded.

22

Roger

Oh Roger. The cutest nickname for this one is Rog (pronounced like “rodge,” not “rawg”), and it just feels super firm and solid. Like, have you ever met a Roger you couldn’t trust? The name was pretty popular from the 1940s through even the early 1990s, but has since taken a dip, so chances are you won’t meet another Roger on the playground.

23

Abe

Skip the formal Abraham and go for Abe, which hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the 1960s. I think Abe is such a cute name for a little boy who’s going to grow up into a man, and if you’re thinking of Honest Abe Lincoln, that’s a pretty great legacy to leave for your little guy.

24

Martha

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Martha used to be hugely popular. For like, a really long time. But since the late ‘90s, it’s become more and more unique. I think it’s just darling, and the name Martha means “lady of the house” which is a pretty astute description of your baby girl. She’s totally going to rule the roost (and maybe the world if she takes after Martha Stewart).

25

Zeke

Zeke didn’t really become popular until 2011, and even then it stayed in the 900s of the top 1000 baby names, so you’ve got lots of wiggle room here. I think it’s a cute play on Zach or Zane, popular names in the ‘90s, and has a punch of fun to it. The name is also considered a nickname for Ezekiel, which means “God strengthens.”

26

Carol

Look, I’m not saying your baby has to have a themed name if they’re born near a holiday, but I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t name a December baby Carol, OK? Carol is just darling, and hasn’t had much popularity since the ‘60s and ‘70s. It’s high time we bring it back as it makes its way out of the top 1000 list. Carol is considered the feminine version of Charles, so it means “strong,” but is also the feminine version of Carl, which means “joy.” A win either way for Carol.

27

Ethel

Is there a cuter baby name than Ethel? From the early 1900s, this one was a very popular choice, but it has not tracked on baby name popularity lists since the 1970s. Bring it back! Ethel very sweetly means “noble,” and it’s another one that feels like the perfect little girl name and grown woman name.