30 Old Fashioned Baby Names Making a Comeback

Old Fashioned Baby Names

Soon-to-be parents hem and haw over lots of things: what color to paint the nursery, where to have maternity or newborn pictures taken, what kind of food to have at the baby shower. But there’s one question that always has been — and always will be — highly debated: what to name the baby.

You’d probably be rich if you had a dollar for every person who’s asked if you’ve already chosen baby names yet. You’d be even richer, yet, if you got a dollar for every baby name suggestion people threw your way.

The “baby name discussion” is a topic that goes on for a good chunk, if not the entirety, of your pregnancy. The truth of the matter is that choosing a name is fun and exciting — it makes the whole “We’re having a baby!” seem that much more real. Chances are you’ve already done some baby name research on your own. Today, we’re here to help with 30 old fashioned baby names that have either become popular in recent years, or are on the upward trend.

All the names listed below are at least 100 years old, sometimes centuries old. We’ve included the history and meaning of each name courtesy of BehindTheName.com and NameBerry.com.



Meaning: Father of many

History: “The biblical Abraham was originally named Abram, but God changed his name (see Genesis 17:5). He led his followers from Ur into Canaan, and is regarded by the Jews as being the founder of the Hebrews through his son Isaac and by the Muslims as being the founder of the Arabs through his son Ishmael.”


Meaning: Noble, Bright

History: “This name was common among medieval German royalty. The Normans introduced it to England. Though it became rare in England by the 17th century, it was re-popularized in the 19th century by the German-born Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Other famous bearers include the German physicist Albert Einstein and Albert Camus.”


Meaning: Unkown, but possible bear, man or king, as derived from Artur.

History: ” Arthur is the name of the central character in Arthurian legend, a 6th-century king of the Britons who resisted Saxon invaders. He may or may not have been a real person. He first appears in Welsh poems and chronicles (some possibly as early as the 7th century) but his character was not developed until the chronicles of the 12th-century Geoffrey of Monmouth.”


Meaning: Was a British title

History: “From the Latin title Clarensis which belonged to members of the British royal family. The title ultimately derives from the name of the town of Clare in Suffolk. As a given name it has been in use since the 19th century.”


Meaning: Army, Warrior

History: “The popularity of the name in continental Europe was due to the fame of Charles the Great (742-814), commonly known as Charlemagne, a king of the Franks who came to rule over most of Europe. It was subsequently borne by several Holy Roman Emperors, as well as kings of France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary.”


Origin: English, Polish

Meaning: Rich Guard

History: “Saint Edward the Confessor was the king of England shortly before the Norman conquest. He was known as a just ruler, and because of his popularity this name remained in use after the conquest when most other Old English names were replaced by Norman ones. The 13th-century king Henry III named his son and successor after the saint, and seven subsequent kings of England were also named Edward. This is one of the few Old English names to be used throughout Europe.”


Meaning: Ascended, Uplifted, High

History: This is a Hebrew, biblical name with “lots of sprit and energy.” “In the Old Testament, Eli was the high priest and last judge of Israel, who trained the prophet Samuel.”  It’s become particularly popular over the past few years.


Meaning: “Brave as a wild boar”

History: “Everett is a statesmanlike, wintry New England name chosen by over a thousand parents each year. In the past three years, Everett shot up 106 spots to Number 214, a fashion leap that can be credited to its similarity to trendy girls’ names such as Eva and Ava. Its high point was about a century ago, when Everett was a Top 100 name — and it could get there again.” Everett can also be used as a girl’s name.


Meaning: Power, Ruler

History: From the Germanic name Heimirich, which was popular among continental royalty. The Normans introduced this name to England, and it was subsequently used by eight kings, ending with the infamous Henry VIII in the 16th century.”


Meaning: He laughs

History: “Isaac in the Old Testament is the son of Abraham and the father of Esau and Jacob. As an English Christian name, Isaac was occasionally used during the Middle Ages, though it was more common among Jews. It became more widespread after the Protestant Reformation.”


Meaning: Treasurer

History: “This name was traditionally assigned to one of the wise men — also known as the Magi, or three kings — who were said to have visited the newborn Jesus. It has occasionally been used in the English-speaking world since the Middle Ages. The name can also be given in reference to the English word for the gemstone.” It’s still not an extremely common name, but over the past few years it’s shot up 112 places and is still rising.

Maximilian (or Max)

Meaning: Greatest

History: “From the Roman name Maximilianus, which was derived from MAXIMUS. It was borne by a 3rd-century saint and martyr. In the 15th century, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III gave this name to his son and eventual heir.”


Meaning: Olive tree

History: “In the Middle Ages the name became well-known in Western Europe because of the French epic ‘La Chanson de Roland’, in which Olivier was a friend and advisor of the hero Roland. In England, Oliver was a common medieval name, however it became rare after the 17th century because of the military commander Oliver Cromwell, who ruled the country following the civil war. The name was revived in the 19th century, perhaps in part due to the title character in Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Oliver Twist’ (1838).” It’s on the rise in the U.S. and is currently a very popular name in Norway, England, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Finland, Denmark and more.


Meaning: Person from ancient city of Sebasta

History: “Sebaste was the name a town in Asia Minor. Saint Sebastian was a 3rd-century Roman soldier martyred by arrows after it was discovered he was a Christian. Due to the saint’s popularity, the name came into general use in medieval Europe, especially in Spain and France.”


Meaning: Heart, Gift of God

History: “In the Gospel of Matthew, Thaddaeus is listed as one of the twelve apostles, though elsewhere in the New Testament his name is omitted and Jude’s name appears instead. It is likely that the two names refer to the same person.”



Meaning: Noble, Kind

History: “It was borne in the 10th century by Saint Adelaide, the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great. The name became common in Britain in the 19th century due to the popularity of the German-born wife of King William IV, for whom the city of Adelaide in Australia was named in 1836.”


Meaning: Noble

History: Alice is actually derived from the same name as Adelaide. “This name became popular in France and England in the 12th century. It was borne by the heroine of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ (1865) and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (1871).”


Meaning: Free

History: This is a feminine derivative of the name Charles. “It was introduced to Britain in the 17th century. A notable bearer was Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), the eldest of the three Bronte sisters and the author of ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Villette’.” After a slight dip in popularity, it’s now on a major upswing in English-speaking countries.


Meaning: Clear, Bright, Famous

History: “The name Clarus was borne by a few early saints. The feminine form was popularized by the 13th-century Saint Clare of Assisi. As an English name, it has been in use since the Middle Ages, originally in the form Clare, though the Latinate spelling Clara became more popular in the 19th century.”


Meaning: Industrious

History: This is a unisex name, but has recently become more popular as a girl’s name in the United States. “The Normans introduced it to England, and though it was never popular, it survived until the end of the Middle Ages. As a modern given name, it is likely inspired by the surname Emery, which was itself derived from the medieval given name.”


Meaning: Whole, Universal

History: The name “Emma” is currently ranked as the #2 most popular girl’s name. “It was introduced to England by Emma of Normandy, who was the wife both of king Ethelred II (and by him the mother of Edward the Confessor) and later of king Canute. It was also borne by an 11th-century Austrian saint, who is sometimes called Hemma.”


Meaning: Flourishing, Prosperous

History: “Florence was most popular in the U.S. at the turn of the last century and in the early decades of the twentieth: it was in the Top 10 from 1886 to 1906 but hasn’t been in the Top 1000 since 1981. It is a stylish name in the UK, now at Number 54.” This name is on the up-and-up thanks to popular music group Florence + The Machine.


Meaning: Virtue name

History: Grace is a virtue name that was created in the 17th century by the Puritans. The name also existed as Gracia in the Middle Ages. “Embraced by Americans of the Victorian era, it was the eleventh most popular name in this country in 1875.” It’s currently ranked as one of the top 25 names in the U.S. and is even more popular in other English-speaking countries.


Meaning: Pledged to God

History: Isabel is a derivative of the name Elizabeth. “It spread throughout Spain, Portugal and France, becoming common among the royalty by the 12th century. It grew popular in England in the 13th century after Isabella of Angouleme married the English king John, and it was subsequently bolstered when Isabella of France married Edward II the following century.”


Meaning: Lily, Flower

History: Another derivative of Elizabeth and sometimes shortened to Lily. “This name has been used in England since the 16th century.” The name has had an impressive revival in recent years.


Meaning: Light

History: Lucy is derived from the Middle ages and is the feminine version of Lucias. It’s currently ranked in the top 100 U.S. baby names and is ranked even higher in England, Canada, Australia, Scotland and Ireland.


Meaning: Pearl

History: “Saint Margaret, the patron of expectant mothers, was martyred at Antioch in the 4th century. Later legends told of her escape from a dragon, with which she was often depicted in medieval art. The saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and her name has been widely used in the Christian world.”


Meaning: Fame, Kind

History: ” The Normans introduced it to England in the forms Roese and Rohese. From an early date, it was associated with the word for the fragrant flower rose (derived from Latin rosa). When the name was revived in the 19th century, it was probably with the flower in mind.”


Meaning: Wisdom

History: The name Sophia is currently relishing in extreme popularity around the world. In the U.S., it’s the #1 name, Canada #2, Austria #12, Australia #14 and England #15. “This was the name of an early, probably mythical, saint who died of grief after her three daughters were martyred. Legends about her probably arose as a result of a medieval misunderstanding of the phrase Hagia Sophia ‘Holy Wisdom,’ which was the name of a large basilica in Constantinople.”


Meaning: Virginal, Pure

History: “This was the name of the first English baby born in the New World: Virginia Dare in 1587 on Roanoke Island. Perhaps because of this, the name has generally been more popular in America than elsewhere in the English-speaking world, though in both Britain and America it was not often used until the 19th century.”

Did you see any names you like? Want to share your baby’s name with others? Join our forums and browse really cool name ideas for your baby! 

This page was last updated on 06/2017
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