Adoption & Foster CareChildcareEducationFamily RelationshipsHaving a BabyParentingYouth Programs

Retro-Cool, Vintage Baby Names for Girls

Updated on August 24, 2014
SmartAndFun profile image

"SmartAndFun" strives to provide helpful information, including smart and fun methods for solving everyday problems. Be smart -- have fun!

Source

A List of Old-Fashioned Names for Girls

Names are constantly moving up and down the popularity list. I remember when I was a teenager, many, many years ago, I had a friend whose mother's name was Emma. Emma was the "mean mom" (meaning the strict mom), and oh, how our group of friends loved to take little digs at Emma when her daughter—our friend—wasn't around. Somehow such an ugly name seemed fitting for this mean mom, who we felt kept our friend under lock and key and had a long list of unreasonable chores for her.

Today, I look back and laugh at that scenario, not just because I'm a mother myself and know that Emma wasn't being mean at all, she was just making sure her daughter stayed on the straight and narrow. I also laugh because "Emma" is one of the most beautiful names I've ever heard. How could we have thought it was as homely as Beulah, Myrtle or Gertrude? What sounded awkward and ugly back in the 1980s has become a beautiful, feminine, extremely popular name twenty-odd years later.

Old-fashioned names have always been used to some extent. In the recent past, they've been given to baby girls by parents who feel obligated to name their little girl after a grandmother, great-grandmother, or great-aunt. These duty-bound parents would often use the out-of-fashion name as a middle name, hoping that would be enough to make grandma happy without their child actually having to go by a dated moniker.

Old Names Are a Trend

These days, the trend of using old-fashioned names is running strong. Parents are using "old lady" names more and more, but not out of obligation, but because many formerly out-of-date names like Emma are coming back around and sounding fresh and pretty to today's young parents.

There is also a second wave of parents riding the "old lady" name trend: hip, independent-minded parents who are choosing old-fashioned names for their retro quirkiness, and in the expectation that their daughter will likely be one of a few girls with that name. These parents are likely to be educated, independent thinkers who would like their child to have an uncommon name such as Enid, Trudy, or Roxanne, but not a silly, made-up, so-called "unique" name like ShyAnn, Kymbreigh or Lexus.

Old Names Have Meaning

Another attractive aspect of old-fashioned names is that they come with meanings. While "Kymbreigh" doesn't mean anything, and a Lexus is a car, old-fashioned names can be traced back to Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Celtic, Hebrew, German and other languages, in which the names actually mean something. Parents can give their darling daughters a name which reflects the baby's attributes, the attributes the parents hope their child will possess, or perhaps a word that has some sort of significance to the parents or the family. For example, the name Neva means "snow," which in my opinion is quite beautiful. Imogen means "beloved child," Clementine means "merciful," Della means "noble," and Vera means "truth," all of which could have special meaning to a family.

Old Names Return to the Top of the List

Just a generation or so ago, girls were being named Wendy, Lisa, Michelle, and Shannon, while today's most popular girls' names were considered dated. The tables have turned. What was popular then sounds dated now, and what sounded worn and clunky then has taken hold in a big way. In fact, of the USA's top ten names of 2011, nine of them could be considered members of this "old lady" list, as they are names that were common generations ago and have come back around to surge in popularity once again: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Ava, Lily, Chloe, Emily and Abigail. Some old-fashioned names, such as Elizabeth, Grace and Sarah, are long-lived classics that have held strong for years; while others, such as Nora, Violet, and Evelyn, have more recently become popular again.

Many more "old lady" names (indicated below by an asterisk) showed up in the top 100 list.

List of Retro-Cool Names for Girls

(* = among top 100 girl names of 2011)

Abigail*
Ada
Adele
Adelaide
Adeline
Alice
Alma
Amelia*
Ann/Anne/Anna*
Annabelle*
Audrey*
Augusta
Ava*

Beatrice
Bernadette
Betsy
Birdie
Blanche
Blythe

Caroline*
Celia
Charlotte*
Chloe*
Clara
Clarice/Clarissa
Colleen
Cora
Clementine

Daisy
Delia
Delilah
Della
Dinah
Dixie
Dora
Dorothy/Dorothea

Edie
Edith
Eilleen
Eleanor
Elise*
Eliza
Elizabeth*
Ella*
Ellie*
Eloise
Elsa
Elsie
Emma*
Emily*
Enid
Esme
Etta
Eudora
Eva*
Evie
Eve
Evelyn*

Fay
Flora
Frances

Gloria
Grace
Georgette
Georgia
Georgina
Greta
Gwendolyn

Harriet
Hattie
Hazel
Helen

Ida
Imogen
Inez
Irene
Iris
Isabella*
Isabelle*
Isadora

Jane
Jewel
Jocelyn*
Julia*
June
Justine

Layla*
Lenora
Leona
Lila*
Liliana*
Lillian*
Lily*
Liza
Lorene
Loretta
Lorraine
Louise
Lucinda
Lucy*
Lydia

Madeline/Madelyn*
Maggie
Maisie
Mamie
Margaret
Marion
Marilyn
Marjorie
Martha
Matilda
Maureen
Mavis
Maxine
May
Meredith
Millie
Minnie
Miriam
Molly*
Muriel
Myra

Nell
Nellie
Neva
Nora*
Noreen

Olivia*
Opal

Pauline
Pearl
Penelope*
Phoebe
Polly
Priscilla
Rosalyn/Rosalind
Rose
Rosemary
Roxanne
Ruby
Ruth

Sadie*
Sally
Sarah*
Scarlett*
Selma
Sophia*
Sophie*
Stella*
Sylvia

Tillie
Trudy

Vera
Victoria
Viola
Violet*
Virginia
Vivian/Vivienne

Willa

Names We're Not Quite Ready for

Perhaps the retro trend will eventually bring the names below back to the top of the list, but at the present time, they sound drab, harsh, or archaic. However, some may be on the verge of going back into favor. Several people have told me they love the name Agnes, and I know two little girls named Esther. Who knows? In a few years, these may be the hottest names around.

Agatha
Agnes
Alberta
Bernice
Bertha
Beulah
Dolores
Dorcas
Doris
Edwina
Effie
Esther
Ethel
Eunice
Fannie
Flo
Frieda
Geraldine
Gertrude
Gladys
Henrietta
Hilda
Hortense
Irma
Mabel
Maude
Mildred
Mona
Myrtle
Norma
Olive
Petulia
Phyllis
Rhoda
Roberta
Sybil
Thelma
Ursula
Velma
Verna
Wilma
Winifred

I Would Love to Hear From You!

What names have you given your children? What names do you love, and what names do you hate? What names have I left off the list? I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Have a boy? Here's a list of retro names for boys.

You may also want to read my other name lists:

Unisex Baby Names for Boys
Unisex Names for Baby Girls
Cute Names for Baby Girls
Romantic, Feminine Names for Baby Girls
Names Not to Give Your Baby

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Nice. My daughter's name is on your list of retro-cool names. That's not why we chose it (nearly nine years ago, after all!), but it had special meaning for us. We really like traditional names, and I think there is a backlash, at least in some regions of the country, against non-traditional names and names that are spelled in funky ways.

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I think there must be a backlash against the weirdly spelled, made-up names. I love traditional names, too, and was happily surprised to see that 9 out of the top 10 for 2011 were traditional. The only newfangled girls' name that made it into the top 10 was Madison, although the remaining 90 included plenty of them. I do know that whatever is popular today will eventually make way for something else -- it's just like hairstyles and clothing, LOL.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      My granddaughter that is due in June will have an old-fashioned name - Olivia Claire...I think it is extremely adorable! It was much better than if the child would have been a boy - Fender Martin!!

      Love your lists!

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks Justateacher. Oh, I just love Olivia Claire, that is adorable! And she's not named after a guitar, LOL. With the two exclamation points, I thought it said Fender Martini, so at least Fender Martin is better than Fender Martini!

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

      Congrats on the granddaughter, BTW!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Thank you!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I'm glad my daughter didn't see Fender Martini...that probably would have been used!!! LoL

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I totally love this hub! There are so many cute ideas, and I am all about using vintage/retro names for babies. It's just so cute!!

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks pinkchick! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Names are so fun and interesting, in my opinion.

    • stanleyreese profile image

      stanleyreese 4 years ago from Alabama

      Maggie fits my five year old just fine.

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

      Maggie is an adorable name! I'm so glad you commented, because somehow I left Maggie off the list. I have remedied that!

    • AMOM 4 years ago

      My daughter's name is Liza, and I'm glad to see it on the list - this is exactly what we thought when we picked it. Some people think the name is odd and "new," but most people know it as a classic and very traditional name (As old as "There's a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza . . .")

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. IMHO Liza is the epitome of a beautiful, old-fashioned name. It's a great choice, and I would bet it fits your darling daughter well!

    • LivvLaaa profile image

      LivvLaaa 4 years ago

      All these names are sooo cute!,i especially love Hazel,Marion,Esme and Nora!,i named my Daughter Freya Esther Violet last month(Freya 1st name,Esther and Violet middle names) ,no regrets!

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 4 years ago from Texas

      Whay sbeautiful and very unusual names. LivvLaa. My grandmother's name was Esther, so I love that one. I actually know two little girls named Esther, so that name is definitely making a comeback!

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great article. We chose a "classic" name ( Delia, so happy to see it on your list) and have been surprised at how few people have ever heard it before. We chose it because it was beginning to get very boring to go to the store and hear a million kids called by the same two trendy names. Yet at the same time, it was not the most popular of the retro names. I love this list, and have already fallen in love with several other names here. Only one thing...I think Agatha should be moved up to the top list. I always thought it was a neat name, but my husband said NO. I am eagerly awaiting the day when it becomes popular again!

    • rapsimo 4 years ago

      i'm devastated to see Doris in your 'not ready for a comeback list' - although not really surprised i must admit. i'm 23 weeks and have my heart set on Doris Avelyn (first/middle names) for my little girl, but am yet to convince DH. I really want Dottie for a first name but he won't hear of it, so Doris/Dorothea are my alternative suggestions. Doris is my paternal grandmother's name but i have no strong attachment to her, just becoming a bit obsessed with her name - and its beautiful meaning "gift". can anyone else see the beauty in Doris???

    • Emily 4 years ago

      I was browsing and saw that the "not ready for comeback list" had Mabel listed. I had my first child, which happened to be twin girls 3 years ago. My husband and I did want them to have classic names that weren't popular. Our names are uber popular and we did NOT want that to happen to our kids. We grace our daughters with the names, Greta Jane & Mabel Ruth. They fit them so perfectly it's unreal. Now that we are about to give birth to our 3rd daughter we are naming her Agnes Faye. We realize we went the very retro and unique naming style but yet it's so classic and that's our style. Thanks for the article!

    • ElleBee 4 years ago

      I also know multiple Esthers (one of whom is barely a teen). I would actually have put Esther on the comeback list in place of some of the ones you included on the "Retro-cool" list. If I ever have children I'm sure there names will fit on this list well! I definitely want my kids to have a name with meaning and not one of the "Trendy" names of the moment. My other requirement is that (barring significant disability or some such) my child be able to spell and pronounce their name by school age and not have to explain it to eveyrone they meet!

    • Brooklynn 4 years ago

      I'm Brook, I Have 1 daughter Victoria Jo (Tori) And i'm pregnant with my second girl and she is due next week! I'm so exited but can't think of any names! I love Lacey but im not sure, please help! and were planning on her middle name being Reese or Nicole.? :) thanks!

      With love,- Decker Family!

    • jewell 4 years ago

      Burklee and Hermoina

    • Marozia 4 years ago

      My daughter's name is Teye (rhymes with 'eye'), Egyptian for "Promised to the Goddess Neith".

      My mum is Sophie, and my MGM is Ivana (Joanna in English). PGM is Alexandra. These are still in use. And of course, there's me, Marozia (a form of Maria).

    • Stephanie S. 3 years ago

      What about the name Modesta? Its pretty old and I have had 5 Modesta's in my family. I really like the name if I have a girl. But a lot of people I've asked is not sure it's a good name.

    • Aggiesgrandma 3 years ago

      My grandaughter's name is Agnes and we love it! It fits her to a tee! Who couldn't love a little Aggie?

    • Laurensavell 3 years ago

      My baby girl is due in August. She will be a Lucy but we haven't found a perfect middle name yet. I love your lists. On the not ready for a comeback list, I met an Edwina once and had never heard of the name. She was a lovely woman and has put great meaning behind it for me! Hope it makes a comeback

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 3 years ago from Texas

      I must admit that Aggie is an adorable name! Biblical names have such wonderful meaning and symbolism, they really never do go out of style. I think it's time to do some revising on this list! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 3 years ago from Texas

      Lucy is such sweet, classic name! I love it because it is fitting for both a delicate little blossom of a girl, and also a tomboy spitfire. I'm sure you'll find that perfect middle name. Thanks for your ind words, and for that tidbit about Edwina. Names of people we know really do make a difference on whether we like that name or not, don't they!

      I wish you all could post photos here. I would love to see what everyone's little Aggies and Lucys look like! I'm sure they are all precious.

    • lbicecream 3 years ago

      My daughters names are old and not on the list. My first born is Nona Frances (old family name) and my second is Piera Avery(Piera is the female version of Pierre.) I used to live in the French dialect speaking area of Italy. She is named after a dear friend. I am looking for a middle name to go with Charles. Also a family name. I'll check out your boy names!

    • marion langley profile image

      marion langley 3 years ago from The Study

      I love "Nora" and "Marion"...also "Genevieve" has recently charmed my consideration. Thank-you for posting and encouraging those of us who are sentimental about honored traditions.

    • babynology profile image

      babynology 3 years ago from New York

      Each name comes with information on any known meaning. If you would like to find out the meaning or origin any of the names, you can simply search over the internet.

    • Liz Baranski profile image

      Liz Baranski 3 years ago

      I love the name Cora, its so cute and i can just see a beautiful little girl named Cora. i wanna name my child this and pair it with Elizabeth for a middle name. Elizabeth both my grandmothers name and is also my name so i wanna keep it alive for awhile!!!

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Love the list of names you're not ready for. I bet within 10-15 years they will be popular again.

    • Fifis_Mom 3 years ago

      My husband and I are expecting a girl in February and we both love the name Seraphina Leona (Middle). We found after choosing it that it was the name of his great x3 grandmother, whose daughter was named Leona. Not many people we have met like the name, but such is life.

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 3 years ago from Texas

      Ha! Thanks Pinkchic18! I suspect those "ugly" names will rise up in popularity eventually, as fashion seems to go in a circle.

      @Fifi's Mom, congrats on your pregnancy! I think you have chose two beautiful vintage names. What's not to love about Leona? I think the name just might not sound familiar to those who are telling you they don't like it. I think it's lovely! Seraphina is beautiful as well, I think the nicknames Sera and Fina and adorable, as well.

      To Marion Langley, Liz Baranski, Babynology and Ibicecream, sorry I'm just now replying, it seems I have comments I wasn't quite aware of. I am jus a sucker for beautiful vintage, feminine names, as I love Cora, Nona, Piera, Elizabeth, Marion and Genevieve! Much lovelier than Madison and McKenzie, in my humble opinion.

      Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 3 years ago from United States

      Hey, Mabel is cool... my co-worker is called like that, shortened for her more old-fashioned real name Maria Belen. :)

    • SmartAndFun profile image
      Author

      SmartAndFun 3 years ago from Texas

      Mabel! Go for it! :)

    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 2 years ago from Wisconsin

      I love this hub! I am totally in love with names. Currently I'm looking for vintage retro names and this hub is a great resource :) I love the solid and feminine sound of the names on your list. They stand great on their own and have no need for nicknames, which is huge for me as I am not a fan of nicknames.

      From your lists I like Evelyn, Cora, and Vivienne. I've also come to really like Victoria and Vera.

    • Trudih 2 years ago

      Millie Eve, Lola Jean and Lottie Belle are our special girls names which I think are very vintage retro cool names... Of course!!

    • Aime F profile image

      Aime 2 years ago from Trudeauland (it's like Disneyland but hotter)

      I love old lady names. I have an Abigail. I'm also totally ready for Effie to come back, I think that name is pretty stinkin' cool.

      Imogen is at the top of my favourites list at the moment. I love the Shakespeare connection! I'm also quite fond of Ivy.

    • AshH 2 years ago

      My daughter's name is Lola Estelle. After mine & my husbands grandmothers. I love that both these names aren't common.

    • Layla 2 years ago

      We called our daughter Myrtle Rose. A lot pf people love her name. We do.

    • Jessica 2 years ago

      I named my granddaughter and it's one I've never seen on any list but I think it's beautiful . Mandilyn Shay

    • Kirsty 2 years ago

      I have two daughters aged 2.5 and 15weeks....Olive & Mabel.

    • Jessy 2 years ago

      We have stuck to traditional names. Emily and Christopher. My grandmother's name was Phyllis and I love that name. Maybe my next child... :)

    • Mary bullard 2 years ago

      I am surprised to see that Mary isn't on your list it might not yet be quite ready for a comeback in America but long overdue a comeback in the uk,I was born in the sixties and it was out of fashion then but years later like a lot of old names it stays stubbornly on the outer fringes of popularity.

    • Géraldine 2 years ago

      My name is Géraldine (I'm 15)...in my opinion it's a really old name and very difficult to pronounce if you don't live in France

    • Claudia Mathews profile image

      Claudia Mathews 23 months ago

      This was a fun article. Certainly most of those names are better than the new names that are coming out today. Personally I prefer more traditional names like Elizabeth and Mathew.

      BTW, Im brand new here and having fun reading different Hubs. I would sure appreciate it if anyone reading this would check out my Hubs (just 2 atm) and hopefully decide to follow me :-)

    • momof6 23 months ago

      I named my first child jayden (aboy) which i soon regretted, since that name and many like it became all the rage not long after. So for the rest of my babies i was really drawn to older more unique names. Libby, ella, miles, audrey, and ruby. I love ur lists of retro names! They are so fun to look thru, im looking for a name for my sister who has 3 boys and pregnant with number 4 , who we are hoping is a girl!

    • Kasandra D Utt 23 months ago

      Please add my son's name it is pronounced A-ein. It's a beautiful name and no one has the meaning or spelling of it. His name is

      ..... AEYN .. ...

      It is a unisex name

      The Hebrew meaning is prayer

      The Islamic meaning is fountain, spring and eye

      Alternative spellings...

      Ayn, Ain, Aan, Aen, Aein, Aaen, Aayn, Aain, ayen, aien, etc

    • shannon 21 months ago

      so i don't know if my parents even put this much thought into my name at the time, but i have wanted my children to have original non traditional names, and names that were still in the family 4 years ago when i was having my daughter we came across my husbands dads great great great (couple more greats in there) grandmother's name Johanna so it was decided my little girl got her name Johanna Noel.

    • Autumn 21 months ago

      I seem to like the classic old fashioned names . I have a Jesse for oldest son, Ben, Daniel, Isaac and Mary, my only girl. If I were to have another girl I like Esther Ruthie Elizabeth.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub on retro names for baby girls. Check out last year's list of names of girls, which recently came out. Some of those names are listed again on top of the list. Voted up for interesting!

    • Lgutung 16 months ago

      My 5 year olds name is Agatha! Sad to see it's not on the like list BUT we love it and so does she. Btw her younger sisters names is Colette.

    Click to Rate This Article