Coming up with a name for a child can be a painstaking and emotional process. Of course, it can always be changed at some point down the road, but parents hope to land on a name that fits their baby.
Lots of parents in the 21st century have opted for ultra modern, edgy baby names — monikers that are unusual and, every now and again, a tad shocking. For instance, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow famously named their daughter Apple. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s firstborn is called North West. And let us not forget about Elon Musk and singer Grimes calling their son X Æ A-12.
A bizarre baby name sure can be eye-catching and unique. However, sometimes choosing a more classic name can have its benefits — and not all retro names are dull. Here are some beautiful antique baby names that will make your baby super classy from day one.
If you’re looking for a lovely, sophisticated, classic baby name, Vivien is a great option for a girl. According to BabyNames.com, the name is of French origin and means “alive.” The name offers some opportunities for a few adorable nicknames, like Vi, Viv, and Vivi.
Vivien is a great choice for parents who love all things retro. After all, one of the best known Viviens in history is the iconic star of the silver screen is Vivien Leigh. Vivien Leigh rose to fame after her roles in Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights, Caesar and Cleopatra, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Her famous marriage to her frequent co-star Laurence Olivier. She was one of the most celebrated and beautiful silver screen stars of her time, and her legacy continues to burn bright. Ryan Murphy told Vanity Fair that he and Nicole Kidman “were talking about making a movie about Vivien Leigh,” and while nothing’s coming of it, they “still might do” it. Who knows — maybe Vivien will come back into popularity as a new generation becomes familiar with Leigh.
Theodore is definitely a pretty uncommon baby name these days. According to NameBerry.com, the name Theodore comes from the Latin name Theodorus and the Greek name Theodoros — so it’s definitely one of the oldest names you can choose. The site goes on to note that the name means “gift of God.” On top of that, it comes with some truly adorable nicknames for baby Theodores, such as Ted, Teddy, and Theo.
There are also plenty of famous Theodores. For starters, there’s Theodore Roosevelt, who became the President of the United States in 1901. As NameBerry.com pointed out, the name was hugely common when Roosevelt was in office. And all these years later, it’s very much a thing: According to BabyNames.com, it was the third most popular name of 2020 in the United States.
The name is also pretty common in the literary world. Theodore is the first name of the boy next door in Little Women, as well as the name of Christian and Ana’s son in the Fifty Shades of Grey series.
The name Evelyn has an old-fashioned vibe, and it’s certainly a baby name you don’t hear every day. According to NameBerry.com, Evelyn is an English name that can be traced back to the German name Ava, which means “desired” and “wished for” or “water, island.” It comes with some lovely nicknames, such as Eve, Eva, or Evie.
Even though Evelyn has a very feminine feel, in the 20th century, Evelyn was actually a men’s name, popular in Britain. One famous Evelyn was the classic author Evelyn Waugh, famous for books like Brideshead Revisited and Vile Bodies. Throughout the late 20th century, the name fell out of favor. However, more recently, some celebrities, such as Carey Mulligan, have used the name for their children. As Mulligan told Entertainment Tonight (via Elle), she and her husband, singer Marcus Mumford “just came up with it” a few weeks after the baby was born. We can’t blame them for choosing it — it’s a beautiful, old-school name!
It doesn’t get more antique than a name like Fitzwilliam. If you want to commit to a truly classic baby name, this British name is the perfect option. While it has an incredibly retro feel, this name can easily be modernized with nicknames like William, Will, Bill, Fitz, or Willy. According to BabyNames.com, the name literally translates to “Son of William.”
One of the most famous Fitzwilliams is, but of course, the male lead in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This romance story has been adapted multiple times over the years, with the 1995 version featuring Colin Firth as Fitz, and Matthew MacFadyen in the one from 2005. In fact, this super old-school name probably would have completely faded out of the public consciousness if it hadn’t been for the enduring popularity of Pride and Prejudice.
If Fitzwilliam sounds a little too fancy for your family, there are a few other “Fitz” names you can try instead, such as Fitzroy, Fitzgerald, or Fitzpatrick. Your baby will automatically be super classy with a name like this!
Hazel is another charming girl’s name that is fairly rare these days. According to NameBerry.com, the name literally means “the hazelnut tree.” As Parents pointed out, the name did have a bit of a moment in the 19th century, but then it eventually lost its steam…. but not for good. NameBerry.com noted that it became popular once again in the late ’90s. It has remained fairly common, making it a lovely antique name choice that isn’t too “out there.”
The name is especially popular among celebrities — Julia Roberts and Emily Blunt have both picked it.
Plus, there are plenty of famous fictional characters named Hazel. In 1952’s Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor’s, there is Hazel Motes. The main character in The Fault in Our Stars is named Hazel. There’s the rabbit called Hazel in Watership Down by Richard Adams. In Degrassi: The Next Generation, Hazel was part of the show’s ensemble for the first five seasons. As far as names go, this one is a true tree-t.
Everett is a wonderful old-school boy’s name for parents looking for a classy option for their newborn. According to The Bump, the name means “brave, strong boar” and “is of Old English origin.” As NameBerry.com explained, the name now has a New England feel, and it is definitely a lovely choice for parents who are after a classic name.
Looking for Everetts in pop culture? You better believe the name has been given to several different characters. For instance, there is a part in Eugene O’Neill’s play Mourning Becomes Electra called Everett. There’s Everett Young in Stargate Universe. And George Clooney played an Everett in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. According to Everything-Birthday.com, the name has become increasingly popular since the early 2000s. This makes it a great name for your baby that won’t feel too dated.
Adeline is a pretty, feminine name with a classy, vintage feel. According to BabyNames.com, it’s an English name that means “noble.” The name lends itself to nicknames like Ada, Lina, Adele, or Lyn. This unique name is a great and sweet option
As BabyNames.com pointed out, some of the famous Adelines include figure skater Adeline Canac and writer Adeline Pond Adams. As far as examples of fictional characters go, Blake Lively played a character called Adaline in 2015’s The Age of Adaline. Adeline is also a popular name in the world of music: The indie British band alt-J wrote a song called “Adeline” and “Sweet Adeline” is a barbershop classic. If you want a few beautiful songs to sing to your newborn, Adeline is a great option for you!
Adeline has steadily been becoming more common since 2016, when its popularity reportedly went up by 172.89%. Nevertheless, the name is still pretty unique, so you won’t have to worry about coming across too many other Adelines.
Most people probably know the name Dorian from the famous novel by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. The book was turned into a film several times, most recently in 2009 with Ben Barnes in the lead role. According to NameBerry.com, the name was used as a first name for the first time by Wilde in the book, and even though the titular character isn’t exactly a great guy, the name has remained relatively popular. The name has Greek origins and is said to mean “gift.”
There have been quite a few Dorians in the public sphere. Film actor Maria Luisa Mangini used Dorian Gray as her professional name. There’s also Charmed‘s Dorian Gregory, as well as Full Metal Jacket actor Dorian Harewood. And let’s not forget bodybuilder and six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates.
Apparently, this name is hugely popular in Europe. As OhBabyNames.com reported, it’s often on Top 100 lists in France, Hungary, and Croatia. This name is a great option for fans of classic literature who want a classic, unusual name for their baby boy or girl.
Rose is a beautiful, simple name inspired by the flower. The name comes from the Latin word “rosa.” This name was hugely popular between 1896 and 1921, according to NameBerry.com, when flower names like Rose, Ivy, Lily, and Iris all became common. Rose presents the opportunity for nicknames such as Rosy and Rosa, or, you could opt for a longer version of Rose, like Rosemary, Rosalind, or Rosamund — all of which have a lovely vintage feel.
Rose is a very popular baby name among celebrities. As NameBerry.com noted, Jennifer Garner, Jon Stewart, Eric Clapton, and Ewan McGregor all have kids named Rose. Kylie Jenner revealed on Instagram Live (via People), Rose was almost what she called her daughter.
There are also a few famous Roses, like Rose Byrne and Rose McGowan. Plus, Rose is the name of the much loved lead character in the 1997 film Titanic. (As The Bump pointed out, it was a pretty popular girls’ name at the time the movie was set.) This is definitely a super classy, old-school name choice that won’t sound out of place today.
Atticus is definitely a pretty old-fashioned name. Choosing this name for your baby will instantly give him or her a dignified, sophisticated feel. The name is traditionally a boy’s name, and, as Parents noted, it is of Greek and Latin origin and literally means “someone who lived in the Attica region” of Greece.
As NameBerry.com pointed out, there are both real and fictional examples of people named Atticus. Titus Pomponius Atticus was a figure in Roman history. Atticus Finch the literary character is the father and lawyer with a heart of gold in Harper Lee’s famous Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It is also the name of Casey Affleck’s son. Atticus also happens to be the name of the clothing line started by Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge.
Atticus is not the most common of names, but it has definitely had its moments. According to NameBerry.com, it became one of the top 1000 names in the U.S. in 2004. We absolutely love this vintage sounding name!
Margaret is a classic, dignified name with a lot of history. If you want your little girl to sound like a princess, you can’t go wrong with Margaret. As NameBerry.com noted, Margaret can be traced back to the Old Persian word margarita, which means “pearl.” While Margaret may sound a little formal to the modern ear, there are plenty of more modern nicknames, like Maggie or Meg.
This is one of the most famous antique names, thanks to its frequent use in the royal family. As fans of The Crown know, Princess Margaret was rather fascinating and rebellious in her younger years (heck, there’s a PBS special called, Margaret: The Rebel Princess), and we wouldn’t be surprised if more parents adopted the name after watching the show.
Other famous Margarets include the award-winning author Margaret Atwood, Margaret Drabble, and, surprisingly, Margaret LeAnn Rimes. It’s also the name of one of the sisters in the novel Little Women.
Margaret isn’t as popular as it once was. In fact, according to Everything-Birthday.com, it reached its peak in the early 1900s. But, with so many modern nicknames, you’ll give your daughter the chance to choose her own preferred name as she gets older.
Grant is a vintage boy’s name, originally from England. As BabyNames.com noted, the name means “large” or “great.” It’s a simple, sturdy name with a real classic feel.
Grant is actually traditionally a last name. For instance, you’ve probably heard of Ulysses S. Grant, who was once a president of the United States. Cary Grant was a massive star of the silver screen in the 1930s and ’40s — as The Guardian put it, he was “Hollywood’s most dry and dapper gentlemen,” so not a bad person to have as a namesake!
A wonderful choice for a baby name, OhBabyNames.com listed Grant at around 168 in popularity in 2021. The name had a real spike in popularity in the early 2000s, but the popularity seems to be going down a little now, which is good news for parents who don’t want to choose a name that will be everywhere as their child grows up.
Esther is a retro name with a significant backstory. According to NameBerry.com, Esther is “of Persian origin meaning ‘star.'” A name with a long religious history, Esther appears in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament. As Britannica noted, the Book of Esther tells the story of Queen Esther and gets into the origin of Purim, and it is read during the festival.
The name reached the Top 50 girls’ names roughly a century ago. Until 1935, the name remained popular. You may have come across a few famous Esther characters in film and literature. For instance, in the 1954 version of A Star Is Born, Judy Garland’s character is named Esther. Sylvia Plath’s classic novel The Bell Jar also features a protagonist called Esther.
For parents looking for a classic name, Esther is a lovely choice. Plus, it offers the opportunity for a seriously adorable nickname for your little one — Essie!
Oscar is a fantastic boy’s name with a great old-school feel. Oscar, as NameBerry.com noted, is an English and Irish name that is thought to mean “God spear, or deer-lover or champion warrior,” making it a great name for a fierce little boy. In fact, as Britannica pointed out, Ireland’s Fenian cycle features a mighty warrior called Oscar.
In recent years, Oscar has fallen back into favor, with actors Hugh Jackman and Gillian Anderson both choosing the name for their children.
There are a few famous Oscars in pop culture. Oscar Wilde was the larger-than-life, artistic author of The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar de la Renta is a revered fashion designer. Oscar Hammerstein II was one half of the duo Rodgers and Hammerstein. And, of course, we can’t forget beloved Sesame Street grump Oscar the Grouch. Oscar is a lovely choice for your baby’s name that feels like a real throwback.
Estelle is a beautiful name with a classy, retro feel. As NameBerry.com noted, the name originally comes from Latin, and, like the name Esther, means “star.” There’s also the variation Estella, which happened to be the name given to the lead female character in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Choosing Estella for your daughter will allude to the old-school “Estelle” while paying reference to the famous character from literature. Plus, with this name, you’ll have the option of using the adorable Este as a nickname.
As for famous Estelles, Estellas, and Estes? There’s Estela, daughter of Alice Landry. Este Haim, the eldest sister in the indie band Haim. And Princess Estelle, the Princess of Sweden. There’s also Estelle, the British musician behind the hit song “American Boy.” This is a lovely, regal, sophisticated name that vintage-loving parents should find ideal for their baby girl. However, with so many up-and-coming famous Estelles and Estellas, this name also has a decidedly chic, fashionable feel and some modern appeal, too.
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