The Timeless Baby Names You've Overlooked

Jan 28th 2015


If you could shop for baby names in the grocery store, today's parents would all flock to the produce aisle. Everyone's looking for the freshest, most colorful options. Yet baby name shopping is a future-looking business. The name you choose has to stand the test of time, sounding as good thirty years from now as it does today.

That means "shelf life" may be as important as freshness. What would be the naming equivalent of a jar of honey -- long-lasting and eternally appealing? The answer is names that have already stood the test of time for generations. Names like James and Elizabeth don't go in and out of fashion like hem lengths. They're timeless, and happily, they're not alone. You can find timeless names at all levels of popularity, even some with the potential to surprise.

All of the names below have been given to at least 5 American babies per year every year since 1900, without any sharp popularity peaks that would date them. [For you hardcore name geeks, my criterion was SQRT(maximum normalized frequency)/SQRT(minimum normalized frequency) ≤ 3.] These names are all over the style map but they're all timeless, and not a James or Elizabeth in the bunch.

Timeless Boys You Might Have Overlooked:

Alden
Alfonzo
Angus
Anton
Benedict
Byron
Calvin
Clark
Clayton
Coleman
Conrad
Dallas
Denver
Edgar
Elliott
Evans
Felix
Grant
Harris
Jay
Jefferson
Judson
Jules
Julius
Leander
Lionel
Mahlon
Malcolm
Marshall
Murphy
Neil
Nelson
Noel
Oscar
Preston
Raphael
Reuben
Rocco
Simon
Solomon
Sterling
Thaddeus
Theodore
Theron
Ulysses
Van
Vance
Vaughn
Victor
Vincent
Wesley
Winston


Timeless Girls You Might Have Overlooked:

Adela
Amalia
Antonia
Camilla
Camille
Carmen
Caroline
Cecilia
Celeste
Clare
Claudia
Coral
Corinne
Elisa
Eloisa
Eve
Georgina
Greta
Gretchen
Helena
Hope
Iris
Johanna
Josefina
Libby
Lucia
Luisa
Lydia
Magdalena
Marianna
Martina
Miriam
Naomi
Nina
Petra
Portia
Priscilla
Rhea
Susanna
Veronica

Comments

1
January 29, 2015 5:54 PM

Such a great post - timeless names are exactly what I am looking for! So many great choices here. have baby number two coming in just a few weeks, and the name will most likely be coming from this list!

2
January 30, 2015 10:16 AM

Mahlon?  I had to look that one up ... ;o)

Mahlon (מחלון) and Chilion (כליון) were two brothers mentioned in the Book of Ruth. They were the sons of Elimelech of the tribe of Judah and his wife Naomi. Together with their parents, they settled in the land of Moab during the period of the Israelite Judges. On foreign soil, Mahlon married the Moabite convert Ruth (Ruth 4:10) while Kilion married the Moabite convert Orpah.

3
February 3, 2015 3:15 PM

Interesting. I only know of a couple boys or men with names on this list, and yet on the girls' list I know someone with almost every single name (including my own).

I also had not heard of Mahlon.

4
February 3, 2015 3:23 PM

So, why isn't my favorite, Bertha, on this list? Years without five christenings?  Too popular 10 years ago?

I have seen Mahlon in early American genealogies. But far less often than Bertha. 

5
February 3, 2015 3:46 PM

As someone who has daughters named Adela and Lydia, i love this list. :)

6
By lbap
February 3, 2015 6:07 PM

It's not often that a list on this site lines up closely with my own, but this one is very close! :)

7
February 4, 2015 9:41 AM

We have a new baby Camilla in our family. I suggested the name because her mom Catrina was looking for a name beginnning with C, like her name, to balance out the two M-names in their family -- slightly older sister Mabel and Dad Matthew. Camilla is an almost namesake name for Mom's name Catrina and a "linking" name for their family because it also has an M nickname, Milla or Millie. (Milla isn't heard much in the USA, but is a Top 100 name in Australia).  So far 2-month-old Camilla is called by her full name. Her parents have received many compliments on it. Camilla reminds me of Isabella, but with the advantage of being more unique. 

These parents didn't find out the gender of their baby ahead of time, and their names for a boy are also on this list: Marshall or Theodore.

8
February 4, 2015 12:48 PM

It made my day to see Iris on this list. I am due any day with a little girl we are calling Iris. I think it is such a lovely, underused name (at least in Alabama) and grows well. I love it even more knowing that it's considered "timeless"!

 

9
February 15, 2015 5:24 AM

My name is never on any listing... "Karma"

10
February 16, 2015 8:53 PM

My daughter's name is never on any list either and I think it is classic and overlooked. It's Isadora.

11
February 26, 2015 7:52 AM

I agree! Isadora is definitely classic and overlooked. Perhaps it hasn't been registered for at least 5 births every year, which is why is wouldn't have made certain lists such as this one. 

Execellent choice of name. What is Isadora's middle name? Does she have any siblings?

12
April 12, 2016 12:41 PM

Libby is a nickname, which is perhaps why it is uncommon and overlooked -- it's Elizabeth.

13
July 16, 2017 11:37 AM

I'm surprised the name Olivia is not listed here.

14
July 26, 2017 3:06 PM

I'm so charmed to see Theron (my father's name) on this list. We didn't give it to my son, and I have mixed feelings about that, but I'd be so delighted to ever meet another Theron in the world.