If there’s one thing parents spend a lot of time thinking about before their baby arrives, it’s a name. A name is something a person carries the rest of their life, so is it any wonder we fret about it so much? Lately, there’s been a shift away from trendy baby names to throwback
monikers of yore, titles that you might have heard of in your parents’ or even grandparents’ generation more than today. And there’s nothing wrong with that. These traditional baby names are classics for a reason. Strong and sturdy, many also have lovely meanings that add an additional significance to them. Plus, if one of these happens to be a family name, you can honor a loved one by naming your newborn after them.
Sure, it’s fun to be original and give a child a
totally new and unusual name. But that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the past with traditional names that have been faithfully serving people for decades. And who knows, you must just start your own trend. Whether you’re inspired by the names in a classic novel or can’t get enough of the way “Peggy” rolls off the tongue after re-watching Mad Men, there’s no shame in taking a note from parents of the past when it comes to giving your kid their initials. 1 Eleanor Tetra Images/Tetra images/Getty Images
The name Eleanor comes from the Greek word for shining one, and what could be more uplifting than that? You could simply embrace that meaning or tell your daughter she’s named after a force of nature and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt; it’s your call.
The name James comes from Hebrew, but it’s been the title of enough famous people that you can take your pick of which person you’d like to give a nod to in naming your own child. For example: King James II of England, fourth president James Madison, or rock n’ roller James Brown.
Some shy away from the once beloved name Richard, but perhaps it’s time for us to reclaim this name that means “King” according to Old French.
If you do like nicknames, Patricia is a ripe choice. There’s Tricia or Patty, Pat or Trish. Or when you’re feeling less playful, you can remind your daughter that her name means noble in Latin.
It’s rare to find a “Peggy” these days, but why? The name is short and sweet and has an upbeat inflection. Plus, Peggy’s origin is a simplification of the name Margaret which in Greek means pearl.
It’s time to cast off the stereotype Plane Jane and recast this name for the beauty of its original meaning, which is "God is gracious" in English.
How would you like your child to walk through life knowing their name means moon goddess? You can if you embrace the name Cynthia.
The German origin of the name Jeffrey is “pledge of peace” and boy we could use some more peacekeepers these days. It also makes for a great reminder each time you child harasses their sibling. “Don’t forget what your name means, Jeffrey! Keep the peace, son!”
10 Keith Firmansyah Goma / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
Keith is Celtic for wood or forest. If you’re an outdoors lover and plan to raise your child in your image, what name could be better?
Whether you keep the formal Susan or call her Suzy Q, this timeless name comes with a lovely back story. In Persian it means "lily flower."
Robert may sound like a mid-century name, but it’s much older than that. Variations on it have been found in
Old Norse and ancient Germanic texts, according to BehindtheName.com. Regardless of the language, the meaning has stayed the same: “bright fame.” If that is indeed the case, maybe you’ll have your own Robert the Bruce, of Scottish legend, on your hands one day. 13 Robin
Robin is a great gender neutral name and incidentally, it's a nickname of Robert, so the meaning is the same. In case you’re not feeling Robert, Robin is a nice alternative.
From the Greek name Timόtheos meaning "honouring God," Timothy has been a popular name for boys for years and can be shortened to Tim or Timmy.
More and more Russell has become a gender neutral name which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that its Norse origin means “red-haired or red-skinned."
Judith was more of a way to signify one’s origin originally. The name means in Hebrew woman of Judea.
In ancient Greek, Martha meant “the lady.” Now, the first lady who might come to mind is Martha Stewart.
Less common than Katharine, Kathleen is an Irish name that means “pure.” What could be more pure than a fresh-faced baby?
There’s a sweetness to the fact that Melissa means bee in Greek. If your baby is sweet as a fresh batch of honey, then this might just be the name for them.
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As far as Biblical names go, Mary is arguably the most popular one. BehindtheName.com reports that the Egyptian version of the
name means “beloved,” though other traditions like Aramaic and Greek have a variety of different meanings including "sea of bitterness," "rebelliousness," and "wished-for child.” 21 Anne
Anne or Ann is Latin for “grace.” A lovely characteristic any parent might wish for their child, perhaps the best part of the name Ann is how you can play with it changing it to Annie, Anna, Nan, or other variations.
Spins on the name Janet can be found in multiple languages. In French there’s Jeanette. In Spanish Juanita. Even Russian has Zhanet. A derivative of Jane, the name Janet takes the same meaning: “God is gracious.”
Joan is another riff on Jane and shares the same meaning. It also recalls one of the names most famous bearers, Joan of Arc, France’s national heroine.
Gregory comes from the Latin name “Gregorious” meaning “watchful.” For an insightful kid, this name surely fits.
Dennis comes from the Greek for "follower of Dionysius.” Dionysius was a
Syrian Christian theologian in the 2nd Century, according to Britannica.com. 27 Allen
Allen comes from the Scottish surname MacAllen and in Scottish Gaelic means “little rock.” Whether you see that meaning as being solid or stalwart, it’s a wonderful foundation for a kid to have.
Fun fact: “strange” or
“foreign” is the meaning behind the Greek word “barbaros” from which Barbara is derived, BehindtheName reports. 29 Douglas
If you’re looking for a name that sets a mood, you could do worse than Douglas. The Anglo-Saxon origin means “dweller by the dark stream.” How’s that for mysterious?
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Roger originally began as a surname of Germanic origin, but eventually migrated to a first name. It maintains its original meaning however, which is “famous spear.”
As you might have guessed, the name Kent originated as denoting someone who lived in the region of Kent in England. If you’ve been to that area and loved it, this might make a great baby name.
A version of the word “glory” (which comes from Latin), Gloria can also mean “fame” or “renown,” a fitting title for a child with a larger than life personality.
Here’s a fun meaning you probably didn’t see coming: In English the name Todd (or Toddy) means Fox. Funny to think about when you consider how popular the name Fox is for boys nowadays.
In Hebrew Beth means “house.” A safe place, a comforting home, these are lovely name characteristics to give to a new baby.
If you’ve ever met a Brenda and thought “now there’s a strong, independent woman,” that might be because the Old Norse meaning of her name is “sword.”
Shirley Temple may have popularized the name, but it was around long before she tap danced her way into the audience’s hearts. Shirley was originally used to signify a person’s location and it means "bright clearing" in Old English.
In Irish, Barry or Báire means “spear thrower.” Looking to raise an Olympic javelin thrower? We’ve got the name for you.
Sometimes old fashioned names sound like their actual meanings and such is the case with Beverly. In Old English it meant "beaver stream or meadow.”
Did you know Cheryl means “darling, dear or beloved” according to the Latin tradition? There are also Persian versions of the name that
swap the ch for sh, but share similar meanings, according to Name-Doctor.com. 40 Charlene NickyLloyd/E+/Getty Images
If you want to raise a free thinker, consider the name Charlene, which means free woman in English.
In the same vein, Carol was originally traditionally a man’s name meaning “free man” in Old German.
While this royal name brings to mind images of kings and knights in shining armor, the meaning of this Celtic name is actually “bear.”
The Anglicized version of the French name Laurent, Lawrence means “bright one” and is often shortened to Larry.
The Old English took the term for “spear” and started using it as a name, calling children Gary. Whether you want your child to have sharp reflexes or a sharp wit, Gary might be apropos.
Whether you love Glenn Close or astronaut John Glenn, this gender neutral name works and means “from the wooded valley” according to the Scottish tradition.
You don’t hear the name Gerald nearly as much
as you might have in the 1950s, but it’s worth considering for its meaning alone: “rule of the spear.” At least that’s what it’s original German meaning was. 47 Dale
Originally spelled Dayl (and why not go back to that?), this name comes from Old English and means “valley.”
Whether you can’t get enough of Daryl Hall & John Oates, or you just love Daryl Hannah, Daryl is a name to love precisely because it means “dearly loved” in English.
The name Darcy might conjure up images of Regency dresses and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but interestingly, in
English it remains a boy’s name (while in Germany, it’s a girl’s name, reports charlies-names.com). 50 Carl
Popular in Scandinavia, Carl means “free man” — an aspirational title if ever there was one.
Whether you want to give a nod to the past or just want a name that’s not at the top of every Popular Baby Names list, these 50 throwback titles will get you started in making your choice.