Vintage Names on the Verge

Mar 23rd 2015

 baby name roundups by theme

Newsflash: Old-fashioned names are getting an update! While we don't expect to say goodbye to Chloe and Noah anytime soon, we're looking to names that hit a peak in the 1920s and 30s instead of pioneer-era names for a little jazz appeal. These are baby names that were fashionable in the flamboyant times of the '20s as well as the hard times of the depression that followed.

A few names from this era in American history are already making major waves, including Annabelle, Calvin, Jack, Lila, and Vivian. They are ahead of the style curve, though some got a head start by never truly fading from use altogether.

That's why we've got our eyes on the names that are filled with potential and just starting to find fresh life. They are the next generation of old-fashioned names, loaded with unexpected charm. If you're looking for an up-and-coming vintage choice, look no further.

Arden: In the 30s, the name Arden was known and passed along to boys as an English surname that arose from several places in the UK. Today this name is rare, but when it's used we see it more often for girls, as it brings to mind not only cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden, but the word "garden." Mary Arden was the name of Shakespeare's mother, and he set As You Like It in the Forest of Arden. There were 235 girls given this name in 2013, and 68 boys.

Arlo: We love the perfect raindrop sound this boys' name creates, and it has a dapper feel to it after some fledging use in the first third of the 20th century. But today Arlo is poised to leap above its previous position from that era, and even though we wouldn't call this name popular, it's rising quickly. Folk singer Arlo Guthrie was born in the 40s, while celebrities including Johhny Knoxville, Toni Collette, and Natasha Kaplinsky chose this name for their children recently.

Corinne: This lovely French form of Corina was thrust into the spotlight with the popularity of singer-songwriter Bailey Rae. Despite her chart-topping songs, Corinne remains a unique choice after hitting a high point in the 30s. Corinne is the name of one of Jamie Foxx's daughters, born in 1995.

Eloise: It may have hit a high point in the '20s, but we predict this gorgeous, vintage French name can find new life today. Eloise's growing popularity signals that our fear of the "wheeze" sound is coming to an end; instead, it sounds exotic and dignified all at once. Helped in part by names like Ella and Lucy, the time is right for Eloise as a fresh choice that happens to work well in honor of a Louise. This name started to gain attention after the release of Love Happens, a movie starring Jennifer Aniston as Eloise. Eloise was chosen by Denise Richards for her daughter (in honor of her mother).

Geneva: Once a star in the 1920s, the name Geneva could definitely use a fresh look again today. It has a lot going for it: it's a place, in the form of an ultra-glamorous Swiss city, and it has the "eva" sound we've grown so fond of. On the downside, we're wary of names that feel like Jen spinoffs, but have no fear! Geneva is a cosmopolitan throwback name with a personality of its very own.

Harlan:This Old English surname got a boost with Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911), though parents weren't ready for his name until the 1930s. These days, Harlan is showing a teensy bit of life as it appeared in the top 1,000 again in 2013. It's got similarities to Harlow (favored for girls), and is worn by authors Coban and Ellison.

June: Flappers loved this name at a time when short and sweet nature-inspired choices were fashionable for girls. But the sassy image the moms of the '20s may have wanted this name to bear went by the wayside when they grew into the happy homemakers of the '50s, personified by TV mom June Cleaver. Today this name feels fresh and young again, like its meaning, which comes from the Roman goddess Juno.

Leon: Leon is showing signs of life once more after it hit a peak in the roaring '20s. Helped along by the hit rock band Kings of Leon as well as a protagonist in the Resident Evil video games, this name strikes us as surprising and bold, with antique sensibilities.

Marjorie: In the roaring '20s, Marjorie was stylish and fashionable. But it's been a long time since this name felt that way, which actually gives Marjorie a lot of potential among parents seeking something vintage and unique. For the nickname conscious, Marj/Marge is far from on-trend, but Jorie and Jo have plenty of appeal. Marjorie just appeared in the top 1,000 girls' names in 2013 after a long absence, making it impossible to tell if a trend is brewing.

Rosalie: This charming variation of Rose was last popular in the late '30s. We love it today for those wanting a longer take on Rose that feels fresh. A Twilight character helped this name considerably, but we like to think it would have been rediscovered regardless.

Royce: In the '30s, this boys' name was at a high point, fueled by the success of Rolls-Royce luxury cars. Today this surname-turned-given-name is a fitting choice to communicate an appreciation for the finer things in life, much more so than Reese or Jayce.

Truman: This stand-up name has an obvious meaning and a sturdy feel, helped by its presidential namesake Harry S. Truman. While he gave this name a temporary boost when he took office in 1945, the given name Truman was really doing its best in the decades before. Either way, it's been a struggle for Truman to break out of the 900s today, but it has a great sound, and could almost pass for a virtue name. Chosen by actor Tom Hanks, and TV host Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha Stewart).

Willa: A feminine form of William that makes us think of the untamed prairie featured in My Antonia (and other novels by Cather), this name was actually at its most popular in the '30s. We love its sweet, simple sound and easy charm. Chosen by Keri Russell and Shane Deary for their daughter, born in 2012.

If you love these names, take a look at The New Antique Generation, Glamorous Baby Names Inspired by Old Hollywood, and 20 Roaring 20s Names Making a Comeback.


March 24, 2015 3:26 PM

"Marjorie just appeared in the top 1,000 girls' names in 2013 after a long absence, making it impossible to tell if a trend is brewing."

Marjorie seems to be one of the names enjoying a bump from Game of Thrones. The character in the show is Margaery, but the pronunciation is the same. If you look at the numbers from the last 10 years, Marjories more than doubled in absolute numbers in 2013 — the character was introduced in the spring of 2012. It's no Arya, but I'd be surprised if the vintage style and the appealing character don't keep it climbing for the next couple of years.

Marjories in the US

2003: 123

2010: 127

2011: 115

2012: 130

2013: 279


March 24, 2015 11:06 PM

Arden is the female protagonist in a great new book I just read called "The Magician's Lie." She is the magician and she goes by the stage name The Amazing Arden. I had never thought of it as a woman's name before but I really liked it in the story. She had picked it as a stage name based on the Forest of Arden.

March 25, 2015 4:25 AM

When you consider the name Harlan, be aware of the film producer Veit Harlan, (in)famous for Nazi Proganda films like "Jud Süß".

March 25, 2015 11:14 AM

I have a one year old son. In his daycare class there is a Vivian, a Corinne, and an Eloise.

March 26, 2015 2:39 PM

I doubt that Geneva is ready for a comeback due to the simple fact that when you say "Geneva" I say "Conventions" and from there it's a quick stop to torture.

On the other hand, I named my daughter Genevieve and when people hear her name I get gasps and 'oooh's. Everybody recognizes it, everybody appreciates it as a beautiful name (even people whose naming taste runs to other styles) but almost no one uses it.

It is on the way up (#219 in 2013), which may take it out of the running for some people, but if youl ike 'Geneva' but not 'Conventions,' Genevieve may be the name for you.

March 26, 2015 6:20 PM

We named our girl (born March 2014) Marjorie! I expected a trend but it really was for a lovley aunt. Before she was born we called her Gigi (like the movie) but now we use her full name. It's also nice that her name is also Greek like my husband. In Greek its pronounced something like Maah- e- orie .

June 18, 2016 3:51 PM

Funny! I am pregnant with baby #3 and if it's a girl, we're naming her Viviyn Elinore. 

June 20, 2016 10:57 PM

Have you considered spelling it correctly?  Vivian Eleanor is beautiful!

August 6, 2016 6:09 PM

Uhm it's not incorrect. There was a reason we decided to spell it that way. But we are having a boy, so it doesn't matter in the long run. Its beautiful both ways. 

By Aiea
January 5, 2017 7:48 PM

I fell for Rosalie in the movie "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!"