Baby name trend: vintage monikers

It seemed timely with the launch of our Baby Name giveaway that we bought in an baby name expert to fill us in on what's trending in naming our babes - and it turns out, old-school baby names are so hot right now. But as Sabrina Rogers-Anderson discovers, not all vintage appellations are created equal. Over to you, Sabrina:


If you’re a baby-name nerd like me and you scour the top 100 baby names list each year, you’ll have noticed an unmistakable trend in the past five years or so: vintage monikers.

Names that were popular in our grandparents’ days are red-hot again. The likes of Charlotte, Olivia, Ava, Mia and Amelia have been fighting for the top female spot, while Oliver, William, Jack, Noah and Thomas have been elbowing each other in the top five for boys.

Why the obsession with names of yore? According to demographer and social researcher Mark McCrindle, there’s a 100-year return phenomenon that occurs with baby names. Sobriquets that were popular in our parents’ day – such as Susan and Douglas – are sneered at because it’s too soon for them to make a comeback, but names from a century ago have been out of vogue long enough to sound cool again.


Not all vintage names are created equal


Before your grandma Gladys gets excited and starts asking whether you’ll name your first-born after her, explain that the trend is a finicky one. Not just any old name will do, you see. It must fit our modern criteria for coolness: soft, flowy and feminine with at least one “A” for the girls, and classically masculine with the possibility of a cool nickname for the boys.


Here are some examples.

COOL: Amelia. Soft, flowy and feminine? Tick. At least one “A”? Double tick.

UNCOOL: Beryl. Soft, flowy and feminine? Hmmm, sounds more like the name of a tractor company. At least one “A”? FAIL.


COOL: William. Classically masculine? Heck yes. Think William Shakespeare and Prince William. Cool nickname? Try four: Will, Billy, Bill and Liam.

UNCOOL: Milton. Classically masculine? Erm… no. Cool nickname? Mil? Millie? Milt? ABORT! ABORT!


COOL: Charlotte. Soft, slowy and feminine? Oh yes, and there’s a brand-new Royal named Charlotte. BONUS POINTS. At least one “A”? We have a winner.

UNCOOL: Irma. Soft, flowy and feminine? There’s absolutely no way that initial “ERRRR” sound will ever sound soft or flowy. Plus: Hurricane Irma. At least one “A”? Perhaps, but it’s just not enough to salvage it.


COOL: Jack. Classically masculine? Yes! There were so many WW1 heroes named Jack and there’s a good chance you have a grandpa or great-uncle called Jack, so there’s even a meaningful family connection there. Cool nickname? Better yet, it IS a nickname.

UNCOOL: Hubert. Classically masculine? I wouldn’t say so, no. Cool nickname? If you think “Hube” sounds cool, more power to you.


Hipsters are treading into grandma territory

Before you tear up your list with all those grandma-chic names on it, rest assured that hipsters and other cutting-edge types have started to revive some of the “uncool” vintage names as an alternative to the overly popular ones that are in the top 10. Here are some of the more unusual selections I’ve heard in the playground lately:
















In five years, Buford and Eunice could be all the rage, so go ahead and snap them up if they tickle your fancy!



Sabrina Rogers-Anderson is a writer and author, with over 30 articles on on baby names alone - check them out here to find out all about the hit and miss trends when it comes to naming your baby. Her new book, The Little Book of Bogan Baby Names is also out now - a quirky tongue in cheek look at bogan baby names. 

Elisa Reeves

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