Girls' Names With Throwback Elegance

Jan 19th 2017

The past has as many moods as the present. Old-fashioned names can be sturdy, quirky, or playful. But if there's one feeling that's best captured by an antique, it's elegance – like the elegance of a long gown back in the days when gowns were still more clothing than costume.

That throwback elegance is starting to reappear in modern baby names. Its standard-bearer is Olivia, the graceful Shakespearean invention that has become a new American classic. More throwbacks like Arabella, Valentina and Genevieve have followed. Now a new group is rising and pushing the opulence and literary style even further.

The names below hold little back. They are grandes dames, not shrinking violets (make that Violettas). Even the most modest of them have a drawn-out grace, while the showier could fairly be called sumptuous or imposing. They've all risen in popularity, but none ranked among the top 200 names for American girls last year. That means that individually they still have the power to surprise, and collectively they point in a blossoming fashion direction. 

Alethea Evangeline Octavia
Althea Evelina Odessa
Amalia Geneva Olympia
Apollonia Georgiana Ophelia
Araminta Henrietta Parthenia
Ariadne Hermione Philomena
Aurelia Hildegard Rafaela
Beatrice Honora Renata
Beatrix Isadora Rosalia
Camilla Jessamine Rosalind
Catalina Juliette Salome
Celestina Lavinia Sophronia
Celestine Leonora Theodora
Corabelle Linnea Theodosia
Coralie Louisa Valentina
Cordelia Madeleine Violetta
Delphine Magnolia Virginia
Dorothea Marceline Vivienne
Eleanora Marianna Wilhelmina
Emmeline Marjorie Winifred
Estella Minerva Zenobia





January 19, 2017 11:11 AM

Araminta! Paging JnH's mom! It's finally happening.

January 20, 2017 10:56 AM

Tons of my favorites are on this list. One of my daughter's names, plus several front runners during my pregnancies. 

January 21, 2017 2:31 AM

While only 2 of these have a place in my favourites, they are really cool...and I know many people with one of these names.

January 21, 2017 1:16 PM

Several of my top favorites made this list; Beatrice, Emmeline, Georgiana, Delphine, Magnolia, Evangeline and Juliette. 

January 21, 2017 10:57 PM

Not only is my daughter's name on here, but so are three of the four other names on our short list, so clearly this name style is in my wheelhouse. However, there are also several names that I'd never, ever use, so clearly this category has a mix of styles within it. But I must say that elegance is exactly the vibe that I was going for, so you're right on :)

January 26, 2017 12:52 PM

Evangeline and Honora are both in my top 10 for girls! Many of these I also love variations of. Nice list!

February 1, 2017 10:20 PM

Old school is cool! I still wonder why some people think otherwise. Anyway, thank you for the list. I've always loved Georgiana and Celestine. :)

February 6, 2017 4:57 PM

I have an Isadora.  There are certainly many names on this list that I adore and find lovely.   There are a few that I find quite clunky though. ;)

February 14, 2017 1:47 PM

Many of these are names I proposed for our youngest daughter. My husband was in love with a very different name, which we decided to use, but I still love these names also. 

February 23, 2017 10:16 AM

Evangeline and Georgiana are two of my favorite names.