The New Antique Generation

Jul 18th 2013

If you've ever heard a favorite song of your youth pop up on an "oldies" station, you know the facts of fashion life: the past doesn't sit still. That holds as true for antique-styled names as it does for grunge rock.

Ten years ago, you could count on the top "antique revival" names drawing U-shaped curves on the NameVoyager, which tracks name popularity since the 1880s. That means that their previous peaks had been in the 19th Century. Grace and Emma are excellent examples:

Parents are still mining the fashions of the 19th-century, but the times are starting to change. Many of the hottest new antique revivals had their heydays in the first quarter of the 20th Century. These new antiques still sound decidedly old-fashioned, but their style is shifting away from the Victorian sweetness of Emma and Grace. Names like Lola, Ruby and Leo are decidedly sassy. Everett, Adeline and Evelyn have a jaunty formality, like a straw boater hat.

The following names with previous peaks from 1900-1925 have risen sharply in the past decade, and now rank among the top 400 names for boys or girls:

GIRLS
Evelyn
Adeline
Genevieve
Ruby
Sophie
Violet
Lillian
Lola
Hazel
Vivian
Eleanor
Josephine

BOYS
Everett
Theodore
Leo
Felix

Here's the curve they trace, more of a tilde than a U:

[graphs created with the Expert Edition NameVoyager]

What’s next? Some names from the early 20th Century with up-and-comer potential:

Potential:
Adele
Beatrice
Cleo
Corinne
Estelle
Leona
Nola
Reva
Viola

Alton
Arlo
Bruno
Ellis
Jules
Truman

Then stay tuned for another 10-20 years, until the generation of Lois, Gene and Betty comes back around.

Comments

1
July 20, 2013 2:41 PM

I'm curious to see if the girls names ending in -ie will make a comeback. Names like Bessie, Nellie, Nettie, Jessie, and Hattie were huge in the early 20th century. I know names like this are already gaining traction in the UK and wonder how long it will be before they arrive here.

I just met a baby Everett yesterday. His big sister is named Emma.

2
July 23, 2013 10:03 AM

I think some of the names on your list are already well on their way back up the charts (e.g. Adele, Beatrice). Jules hasn't made the top 1000 in a very long time, but interestingly the variant spelling Juelz appears in the top 1000 for 2012, presumably thanks to hip-hop artist Juelz Santana. It would be neat if the original spelling came back into vogue thanks to a pop culture reference - in the US I mostly hear it used as a nickname for feminine names such as Julie and Julia.

3
July 23, 2013 12:34 PM

Oh, man, you just perfectly pegged our naming style. We called these "Jeeves and Wooster" names, and about half of the ones you listed up top were on our list.

4
July 23, 2013 4:56 PM

I love posts like this: so simple, but so clearly showing how predictable and logical naming patterns can be.

This post also showed me that I'm not among those interested in the majority of names from this era. Especially the girl names. My issue is that the era of 1900-1925 includes my grandparents' contemporaries, meaning that most are still firmly old lady names to me. (Though funnily, I like all four of the currently-popular boy names, but none of the potential up-and-comers. I wonder what the difference between the two list of boy names is.)

And Gussie Fink-Nottle is by far my favourite of the Jeeves and Wooster names!

5
July 23, 2013 9:03 PM

Our 6 month old daughter is an Adeline, my husband and I went poring through family trees looking for names and found out we both had great-great Aunt Adelines who lived about a hundred years ago. It was the first time we'd heard the name but we loved it. Most people like it and I still haven't met another Adeline. I totally reccomend it as a baby name!

6
By PJ
July 24, 2013 12:15 AM

That totally looks like the roster for my son's preschool. 

7
August 24, 2013 7:13 PM

Trend cycles are a funny thing. It seems so unlikely to me that names like Donna and Janet will come back around, but I bet there are people who thought the same thing of Hazel and Ruby!

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By pama
June 30, 2014 4:15 AM

That holds as true for antique-styled names as it does for grunge rock.

10
June 30, 2014 5:42 AM

Some cool and pretty baby names. nice!

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June 30, 2014 6:03 AM

These names are kinda common. Can you please post names which are unique in this generation please? thanks in advance.

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By pama
July 12, 2014 9:27 AM

That holds as true for antique-styled names as it does for grunge

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July 15, 2014 5:59 AM

It's quite unfair that there are more girl names than for boys in the list. Oh well, that's good enough rather than nothing. Linde

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