Old Lady Names - Specifically Dorothea

I posted a while back (quite a while back!) about my thoughts on naming a potential future sibling to Lewis and Eleanor. Future sibling is still not imminent (i.e.  I am not pregnant yet) but I am still thinking about names. For a boy I think we would probably go for Edmund, but for a girl I am not sure. These are some 'old-lady' names that I been tossing around in my mind:


Dorothea (particularly like this one for the nn Thea)

Harriet or Henrietta






I also like Natalia (nn Natasha) but think this may be too different in style from Lewis and Eleanor.


What are your thoughts on the old lady names? Usable? Any other suggestions? Thanks!


August 18, 2016 7:39 PM

I love all of your old lady names, and I think Edmund is fantastic!

Other old lady names that I've always had a soft spot for include Agatha, Helen, Cordelia, Martha, Claudia & Augusta.

I'll also throw out Margaret, which really strikes me as more timeless than the others, but would still be a good fit.

August 18, 2016 7:51 PM

I think that Natalia goes with Eleanor and Lewis but it then translate to more of a "British" set than "old." Of the other names, I like Winifred (i LOVE the nickname Winnie) and Georgina. I love the nickname Thea but I Dorothea is not my style. 

August 18, 2016 8:27 PM

I love Edmund and Dorothea.  I like Harriet, Henrietta, Georgina, and Patience just fine.  I'm less enthused about Winifred (Winnie is super cute, but -fred leaves something to be desired) and Millicent (Millie is cute, but the full name reminds me of Maleficent).

If you're taking suggestions...Ada, Adelaide, Mercy, Marian, Maxine...apparently i'm into Ms...

August 18, 2016 11:33 PM

I'm on the fence about old lady names, loving some and really not having come around to others. Your list has both types. I love Dorothea and Millicent, while Harriet/Henrietta, Winifred, and Georgina are not my cup of tea. Patience feels like an entirely different category to me and, while I like the sound, I feel like it would be a difficult name to live with, practically begging for obnoxious comments any time the child (and later adult) is anything less than a paragon of patience.

Related, I do love (love) Georgia, and my other favourite route to the nickname Thea is via Theodora.

August 19, 2016 6:38 AM

I know a first-grader named Dorothea, and her mother has remarked that older people, women especially, always gush over her name, while her age-mates don't find it at all remarkable. I think this is true of just about any name: there will be one age group who loves it, other age groups who don't but are sufficiently grown-up and polite not to complain, and then the under-20 age group, for whom it'll be just another name among many.

I think Natalia goes with your other two just fine, although it does de-emphasize any remaining "old" quality of Eleanor. (In my area or social circles, Eleanor is a young girl name: everyone I know by this name is under 15.)

I love almost all of the names on your list. The only one I'd quibble about is Patience: I agree with a previous comment that it'd be a difficult name to live with -- its rarity as a name emphasizes the word's meaning.

August 19, 2016 4:17 PM

I love old lady names, so I'm happy to do some research

I like Edmund– it goes well with Lewis and Eleanor.

I really love the name Dorothea.  I like the nickname Thea, but would also throw in the nickname Dotty/Dottie.  It feels old fashoned, but then also feels a llttle trendy, like Poppy.  Dorothea, with either nickname, would be my favorite of your list.

Harriet/Henrietta: I prefer Henrietta, but Im think Harriet might sound better with Lewis and Eleanor.  I like the nickname Hattie with either name, and Henny is cute, if a bit farm-ish

 Millicent: I don't love Millicent as a name, but that might just be me.

Winifred:  Winnie is a really cute name, but I do think Winifred sounds a little clunky, especially compared to the other names

Georgina: cute; feels a little less unusual than the others

Patience:  I like virtue names from afar– I think that in real life they might have some "I have to live up to my name" issues.  

Other ideas: Birdie, Adelaide (nn Addie?), Adela/Adele (could also have the nickname Addie), Beatrice (Bea) 


August 19, 2016 11:15 PM

All the Henny's I know (of) are 60+ year old men named Henrik. But they all live in the one Donauschwabisch village in Hungary where my father grew up, so I guess it's not terribly relevant. :)

August 20, 2016 9:27 PM

I have not heard of that!  Although it makes sense since both Henrietta and Henrik come from Henry.

I know of the nickname from the character in Sydney Taylor's children's series, The All-of-a Kind Family. It takes place in the early 20th century, so Henny as a nickname for Henrietta feels a little extra old-fashioned to me.

August 19, 2016 4:56 PM

I really like Dorothea, Millicent, and Winifred and like their nickname options. I prefer the nicknames Dottie and Dot for Dorothea, but Thea is nice, too. I think Henrietta is ok, but I've always been on the fence about Harriet. I think it still has too much of the "Harry" sound for my liking. I don't care for Georgina, but I like Georgia and Georgiana alright.

I don't really think of Patience as old, and I've always been on the fence about virtue names. I think I like them in theory, but then I start thinking what if Patience just isn't patient?

I like Natalia and think it does go well with Lewis and Eleanor. However, it does seem to dilute the old-fashioned quality of Eleanor to me. I don't think Natalie does that quite as much, though.

Here's some other ideas: Matilda, Frances, Theodora, Virginia, Esther, Edith, Beatrice, Eugenia, Philomena, Clemence, Prudence, Magdalene, Marcella, Cecile, Mildred

August 19, 2016 11:01 PM

Lewis and Eleanor - Gorgeous

Edmund - Handsome

Dorothea (particularly like this one for the nn Thea) - I love it. Will you say Dor-o-thea or Dor-thea?

Harriet or Henrietta - I like Harriet but don't care for Henry-Etta, which is how I hear it.

Millicent - I don't care for it. I think of a centipede or millipede, but it is a milli-cent. I know it is a perfectly fine name, but it just sounds strange. It's a funny word.

Winifred - Not my style. Seems dowdy.

Georgina - Fine choice.

Patience - Has a hippie prude vibe. Are you very likely to have a meek, long-suffering, introverted kid who could live up to it or are you more likely to have an emotional or reactive kid? It would be tempting fate to use it in my family, but I know some people who could pull it off. :)

How about Martha, Ruth, Beatrice, Rowena, Cecelia, Maude, Mathilda, Ilene, or Terese?

August 20, 2016 5:12 PM

I love Harriet and Hattie would make an adorable nickname. I also like Georgina although I prefer the spelling Georgiana. What strikes me about all of your proposed names is that they are much less common than Eleanor and Lewis, at least where I live. I know five Eleanors, from infant to teens, and two Lewises but no children with any of your proposed names. Nevertheless they would fit right in, especially with nicknames like Winnie, Hattie or Thea. Your style seems to me more "slightly stodgy British" than "old lady." I mean that as a compliment! Eleanor and Lewis also have an historical/literary air. Patience seems to be a slightly different style, as it's a virtue name. The minister who married my husband and me was named Patience and she had an identical twin sister named Prudence. They were from an old New England family who traced their ancestry back to the Mayflower and both were family names. Patience seems a bit much, but Prudence I rather like and Prue is adorable. 


August 21, 2016 6:24 PM

I don't pronounce Georgina and Georgiana the same way. How do you pronounce them? I say Georgina as jor-JEE-na. I've heard Georgiana as both jor-JYAH-na and jor-JAY-na, but never as jor-JEE-na.

I really like the nickname Prue for Prudence! It's certainly better than the nickname I've heard for Prudence, which is Prudy.

August 23, 2016 3:21 PM

I agree. I say George-eena for Georgina.

I'd ask if Georgiana was George-ee-ann-uh or Goerge-ee-aw-nuh (with the aw being like the O at the start of octopus or ostritch.)

I'd assume Georgiana would be George-ee-ann-uh and Georgianna would be Goerge-ee-aw-nuh, but I wouldn't be surprised either way.

August 23, 2016 10:04 PM

Um, surely the other way around for Georgiana versus Georgianna, no? Disney's muddling of the question notwithstanding, the usual "rule" in English is that Ana or -ana with one 'n' has the first 'a' like the word 'awe' or 'on', while Anna or -anna with two 'n's has the first 'a' like the word 'an'.

August 24, 2016 10:44 AM

Interesting. Almost all the girls called Ana I've known have been Anastasia so it probably depended on the pronunciation of their full name (Ann-uh-stay-zhia or Aww-nuh-stah-see-uh), but most were Ann-uh.

By mk
August 20, 2016 9:51 PM

Dorothea seems to be making a comeback, or maybe it's just where I live. I've heard of several born in the past few years. I do like it.

Georgina is pretty though I do prefer Georgia.

Millicent is ok. I know a young Millicent who goes by Millie.

The others are not favorites of mine. Patience makes me think of the Puritans, which definitely makes it an "old lady" name to me!

I like Natalia a lot, as well, though I wouldn't call it an 'old lady' name (maybe you weren't either?).

August 21, 2016 12:06 PM

I am not big on any of these except for Natalia, which I don't think of as "old lady" at all. I don't generally prefer any of the older style names in this fashion. I equate them more with the Esther, Gertrude, etc camp, which are fine for others but just not for me. 

I do like Ruth, Alice, Justine, Claudia, Martha, Margaret, and some other older names. A name that sprang to mind for you with your list may be Florence.