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Old-Fashioned Baby Names

Updated on July 8, 2011

Old-Fashioned Baby Names

Are you looking for an unusual name for a baby, but don't want to follow the current trends? Why not look to the past for names? Some of the names listed below are classic names, commonly used once upon a time, but which have fallen out of fashion. Others are misspellings or mispronunciations of more common names. And some may have even been one-of-a-kind creations.

While I have occasionally had to guess at the gender of a person based solely on their name, in most cases I did know the gender of the original owner; you may therefore be surprised to see that some boys' names are now girls' names, and vice versa. Where it's uncommon to see a name used to its original gender (such as "Leslie" for a boy), I have included it, even if, on the surface, it is a common modern name.

A growing modern trend is to give children last names as first names. While some people frown on this, people are actually (in most cases, unknowingly) reaching very far back into history, when last names were often first names. For instance, the Irish last name "O'Reilly" literally means "descendent of Reilly"--which means Reilly was once a first name-just as MacDonalds are all supposedly descended from a man named "Donald," and "Thompson" is a mispronunciation of, literally, "Thomas's son." Not all last names were first names, however: Tidwell, for instance, is a place in England (Tideswell), while Smith was an occupation. Still, there are many last names which can legitimately be reverted back to use as a first name.

It must also be remembered that the original purpose of a middle name was to preserve a woman's maiden name, and there used to be social conventions about who got whose maiden name. The mother's maiden name was used as the first child's middle name, with little regard to whether it was a girl or boy (it being a last name, it was pretty gender-neutral anyway). Next came the father's mother's name, followed by the mother's mother's name and further back, if you cared to.

You'll also note that a few names are historically famous, but not as first names to common people. Ulysses, which is the Latinization of the Greek name of Odysseus, was not an uncommon name during the Civil War period, although it's hard to say if General Grant started the trend or was just one of many unrelated Ulysseses. Roosevelt, however, is a case of a last name being converted into a first name, no doubt to honor one (or both) former presidents.

I gleaned these names from medieval history, early American history, American Civil War history, the "Foxfire" book series (late 19th-early 20th century rural Appalachia), my own genealogical records, gravestones, and other sources as I encounter them.

P.S. These names are not terribly common in America; they may, however, be extremely popular in other countries.

Boys' Names

A-D

Aaron

Abelard

Abraham

Adelaide

Alan (alt. Allen)

Albert

Alfred

Alva

Alvin

Ambrose

Angus

Anselm

Anthony (Tony)

Archibald (Archy or Archie)

Ardell

Arison

Arthur

Asa

Balie

Barnard

Bernard

Berth

Blake (or Blakely)

Bruce

Buck

Buford

Burke

Buster

Butch

Caleb

Calvin (Cal)

Canute (pronounced Cuh-noot)

Carl

Carlisle

Carol

Casey

Casper

Cecil

Clarence

Claude

Clifford

Clyde

Columbus

Cordell

Cornelius

Cotton

Curley

Dale

Darnell

Darrel

Darren

Declan

Devereaux (pronounced "Dev-uh-roe")

Dexter

Douglas

Doyle

Dugall (or Dougal)

Duncan

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E-G

Earl

Edgar

Edmund

Edwin

Elcaney

Elias

Elijah (Eli)

Elroy

Elvin

Elwin

Ephraim

Ernest

Esco

Eucle

Evan

Evander

Everard

Ewan

Felix

Fletcher

Floyd

Frances (or Francis)

Franklin (Frank)

Frederick (Fred)

Gabriel

Gaylen

Gary

Gene

Geoffery (pronounced "joff-free"; "Jeffery" evolved from this older form)

Gerald

Gilbert

Godfrey

Grady

Gray

Grover

Guntram

Gus

Guy

H-L

Hannibal

Harley

Harold

Harper

Harve

Harvey (Harv)

Heathcliff

Herb (Herbie)

Herschel (or Hershel)

Hillard

Hiram

Hobe

Homer

Horace

Hoyt

Hugh

Hugo

Hume

Ignatius

Increase

Innis

Ira

Isaac

Isam

Jacob (Jake)

Janson

Jeb

Jefferson

Jennings

Jesse (or Jessie)

Josiah

Jubal

Julius

Justine

Kenny (sometimes short for Kenneth)

Kermit

Kerry

Kirby

Kit

Lake

Lamar

Lanier

Laurel

Lawrence

Lawton

Leonard

Leslie

Lester (Les)

Lewis

Lionel

Lloyd

Lon (Lonnie)

Lorenzo

Louin

Louis (alt pronunciation "Louie")

Lucius

Lum

Luther

Lynn

M-R

Mann

Manuel

Marion

Marshall

Marvin

Maurice

Maynard

Milford

Millard

Milton

Minyard

Mitchell (Mit)

Monroe

Monteen

Moses

Myles (or Miles)

Nate (sometimes short for Nathan)

Nigel (popular in the British Isles and Australia, but very rare in the U.S.)

Noah

Noel

Norman

Obediah

Oliver

Orlando (yes, this name dates back to the middle ages)

Oscar

Owen (or Owain in Welsh or Eoin in Gaelic)

Pedro

Philip (alt. Philippe)

Pierre

Pleasant

Pope

Quinn

Raleigh

Ralph

Raim

Raymond (Ray)

Rainald

Reynold

Rhett (no, Margaret Mitchell didn't make it up)

Robin

Roger

Rom

Ronald (Ron)

Roosevelt

Roscoe

Ross

Rory

Roy

Rufus

S-Z

Sampson

Samuel

Selvin

Seymour

Shelby

Silas

Sullivan

Taylor

Terrance or Terrence (Terry)

Thaddeus

Theodore (Teddy)

Tobias (Toby)

Tristan

Turner

Ulysses

Varn

Vaughn

Walter

Warneus

Warren

Wartlaw (or Wardlaw)

Wat

Wilbur

Winfield

Woodrow

Xavier

Zelhah

Zero

Girls' Names

A-D

Abelota

Acelina

Ada

Adelaide

Adelia

Adeline

Agatha

Agenilda

Agnes

Aileva

Ailith

Alba

Alba

Aldith

Aldusa

Aleene

Alesua

Alfild

Alfreda

Algie

Alice

Aline

Alison

Almedia

Alswyth

Alta

Alvina

Alviva

Amabel

America

America

Amice

Amis

Anita

Annis

Arabella

Arie

Audrey

Avarilla

Bea

Beatrice

Beatrix

Bede

Belzora

Bernice (Bernie)

Bertha

Beryl

Betty (or Bettie)

Beulah

Bianca

Birdie

Blanca

Blanch (or Blanche)

Bonne (or Bonnie)

Bura

Burnette

Caroline

Cassandra

Cecilia

Cecily

Charity

Charlotte

Charlottie

Christina (or Cristina)

Christine

Clara

Clarice

Colleen

Collette

Constance

Cordelia

Cornelia

Cristin

Daisy

Deborah (Deb or Debbie for short)

Delia (I believe this is pronounced Deal-yuh)

Delilah

Diane (or Diana)

Doris

Dorothy (Dot)

E-I

Eda

Edith

Edna

Eleanor

Elena

Elyn (a spelling variation of Ellen)

Emaline

Emma

Emma Jean (meant to be used as a conjunction name)

Estill

Ethel

Ethelene

Eula (or Eulah)

Eunice

Eva

Eve

Evie

Fanny (or Fannie)

Fay (or Faye)

Florence (Flo)

Frances

Gabrielle

Galdys

Gatha

Gay (or Gaye)

Georgia

Gertrude

Gillian

Grace

Guinevere (several alternate spellings and pronunciations; nickname "Gwen")

Gwyndolyn (or Gwendolyn)

Gylda (or Gilda)

Hannah

Harriet

Hazel

Helen

Heloise (or Helewise)

Ida

Imogene (Igie)

Inez

Ione (I believe this is pronounced I-own-e)

Isabeau (pronounced "ease-a-bow")

Isabel (alt. Isabella)

Iseult (this has a WIDE variety of spellings and similar pronunciations)

Isolda

J-N

Janelle

Janet

Jean

Jeanette

Jeanne

Jo (usually used as a middle name or as a nickname)

Joan

Joanna (or Johanna)

Josephine

Joyce

Juliana

Laurabelle

Lelia

Leona

Lettice (alt. Leticia; pronounced "lettuce" and "let-tuh-see-uh" respectively)

Liberty

Lillie (or Lily)

Lilith

Lizzie (sometimes short for Elizabeth)

Lois

Lolita

Lorena

Lou (usually used as a middle name)

Louise

Lovey

Lucille

Lucrica

Lucy (Latin: Lucia)

Mabel

Madeline

Magdelana

Margery

Marian (this is a variant of Mary, and can be an alternate to Mary-Ann)

Marinda

Marita

Martha

Matild (or Matilda)

Maud (or Maude)

May (or Mae)

Mimmie

Minnie

Mitzi

Myrtle

Nannie (yes, this used to be a name it its own right)

Naomi

Nora

Norma

O-Z

Oma

Opal

Ophelia

Patience

Pearl

Petunia

Philippa

Phyllis

Polly

Quinn

Ragnild (pronounced "Ruh-kneeled")

Rita

Rosamund

Rosanna (or Rosannah)

Rose (or Rosa)

Ruby

Salome

Serina

Sheila

Sibilla (alt. Sibyl)

Stella

Steveanna

Sue (sometimes short for Susan; sometimes used as a conjunction name, such as Brenda Sue)

Tedra

Thelma

Thomazin (or Thomasine)

Uma

Velma

Velva (Vel)

Vina

Violet

Virginia

Vivian

Wilella

Willie Lou

Wilma

Winifred

Zelda

Zelma

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    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 22 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      And hello once more (last one tonight, promise). Another interesting piece from the keyboard of MediaevalNun.

      When I was at school back in the mists of time we had a small army of 'Geoffreys' and 'Normans' (the name meaning 'Northman'). We also had the odd 'Edwin', 'Alan' and 'Christopher'.

      My grandad's name was Alfred Stanley, his older brother was Arthur, both named after kings. My late Dad, Robert Stanley had a brother, Ian Wisden (named after a Cricket almanac), their younger sister Lorna was named after the book 'Lorna Doone', their older sister was Audrey May, the reverse of her mother, May Audrey.

      By the time it came to us breeding, my wife and I opted for Robert James (after his two grandads) for the boy, 'Joanne Katherine' for the elder daughter (before JK Rowling became famous) and 'Suzanne Lesley Cecilia' for the younger, the last name as a sop to my Ma whose grandmother's name was Cecilia. It didn't work.

      Funny business, naming our offspring, eh?

    • profile image

      Frances M 2 years ago

      The spelling of Francis with an E, is only for girls and should not be included as an option for boys. The traditional boy's name is with an I, and the spelling was changed to make it more unisex.

    • profile image

      Twinsielove28 4 years ago

      I am currently pregnant with my SECOND pair of twins (Girls) who I am naming, Genevieve Sapphire, and Emmaline Cossandra. I had boy and girl twins 5 years ago, I named Rosette Penelope and Leonardo Demetri-Levi.I named my son Leonardo after my favorite person ever, Leonardo DiCaprio.

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      Interesting lens!

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      Great lens! I almost had my husband talked into naming our son Oliver! Greaat list of names!

    • chft55 lm profile image

      chft55 lm 5 years ago

      Nice list! I like it a lot.

    • profile image

      kingbalou 5 years ago

      Old fashioned will always be back in style...well not all the time. I have wrote an artcile on the subject. http://www.eoldfashionedbabynames.com/2012/07/05/w...

    • IntoMars LM profile image

      IntoMars LM 5 years ago

      Wow, thank you for using your skills to put together this awesome lense! :)

    • profile image

      xisniel lm 5 years ago

      I love old-fashioned and a bit unusual names, great lens! :)

    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 5 years ago

      Lovely list of names. I like that most of them can be spelled and pronounced easily. Blessed.

    • profile image

      slotowngal 5 years ago

      Great list of baby names! My favorite names from your list? Darren and Liberty! Fun lens, angel blessed.

    • Nany Palacio profile image

      Nany Palacio 6 years ago

      love your lens, lots of old fashion names!

    • profile image

      Beepopalula 6 years ago

      Love your lens ! :)

    • profile image

      DaveHiggsVis 6 years ago

      Great list!

    • javr profile image

      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      My daughter's name is Sheila. That turned out to be quite an old fashioned name. It is rare to encounter someone else with that name.

    • chocsie profile image

      chocsie 6 years ago

      wow what an interesting lens! especially the part at the beginning about where some of these names came from! keep up the great work!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      That's a great collection - lot of them are popular even now.eg

    • profile image

      bobbymington 7 years ago

      umbasa

      your lens is awesome bathroom furniture