Posts Tagged ‘ vintage baby names ’

Celebrity Baby Names: Maya Rudolph’s Daughter

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Well played, Maya Rudolph! It took nearly a year for us to find name what the comedian and her husband, director Paul Thomas Anderson, chose for fourth child—or even the fact that she’s a girl! So what name did Maya and Paul pick for baby number four? Joining big siblings Pearl, Lucille and Jack is baby Minnie Ida. (Love their vintage name picks!)

Minnie is generally thought of as a nickname for Minerva, the Roman version of the goddess of wisdom—and the name means wise. Minerva’s current claim to fame is Professor Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter’s protector at Hogwarts. And Minnie? Well, it’s most commonly associated with the beau of Mickey Mouse. Minnie is one of those vintage names, like Hattie, Sadie and Millie, that’s making a bit of a comeback.

Ida’s a name that I’m always shocked hasn’t taken off, especially in an era when Eve, Ava and Adeline are red hot. It’s an old-school name that means industrious one, and hasn’t been in the top 1000 here in the U.S. since the 1980s.

What do you think of the name Minnie Ida? Would either of those be on your short list?

Note: Thanks to the (many, many, many) readers who noted that Minnie was a family name choice, after Maya’s mother, singer Minnie Riperton—who passed away in 1979. (You may know her biggest hit, “Lovin’ You.”)

Test your knowledge of star name picks with our Celebrity Baby Name Quiz, or pick your own A-list worthy name with our Baby Fame Name Generator. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest celebrity baby name scoop.

Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name
Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name
Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name

Helga Esteb /

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Throwback Thursday: 1880s Baby Names

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Today we’re heading back in time to the 1880s, the earliest time when we have actual statistics on the top baby names. Back then, we stuck with the basics—John and Mary dominated the charts. As we found with the 1890s, nickname-names were surprisingly popular for girls, including Minnie, Nellie, Mamie, and Sadie—all names that might make sense with the trend toward nickname names like Millie and Maisy. But there were some unique names that might be worth mining for your baby. What do you think of these?


Effie peaked at #62 back in the 1880s, when people gave their daughters this shortened form of Euphemia as their whole name. With The Hunger Games‘ Effie Trinket bringing the name back out into the limelight, perhaps this name will make a comeback? (There were only 37 girls who were given the name last year!)

Lula was another sweet nickname name that topped the charts back in the 1880s—it was often used as a nickname for Tallulah or Lucy. It hasn’t hit the top 1000 since the 1960s, but makes a nice alternative to Lily and Lilah.

Martha topped the charts for nearly 70 years, finally starting to fall out of favor in the 1950s. But this name, which means lady, is just starting to make its comeback.

Della is a short and sweet name that was a favored variant of Adela. It peaked in the 1880s, at the 68th most popular name, and hasn’t been seen in the top 1000 since 1977. It might be a nice choice if you like names like Adele, Ella, or Isabella—and don’t want to use any of those uberpopular choices.

Harriet (#90 back in the 1880s) seems to be a name that name nerds like me absolutely love—but no one’s really using it. (Only 9 girls were given the name last year.) It has a regal meaning—ruler—and some great resonance, with historical figures like abolitionist Harriet Tubman and author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and pop culture references like children’s book character Harriet the Spy. But it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1970. Is it finally ready for a revival?


Elmer was #38 back in the 1880s, and made a slow and steady decline to obscurity right after the 21st century. But it has a great name meaning—noble—even if it is associated with the bumbling Elmer Fudd from the Looney Tunes cartoons.

Milton followed a similar path—it was the 100th most popular name in the 1880s, and just fell off the radar after 2000. But it’s shown up in some new ways lately—including a character on The Walking Dead, so it might be worth revitalizing.

Grover peaked back in the 1880s, thanks to President Grover Cleveland. But it lost its top 1000 ranking back in the 1970s, around the time the Muppet appeared on Sesame Street. It’s a charming name, though, with a pastoral theme—it means living near a grove of trees.

Clyde is a name of a river in Scotland—and an infamous outlaw. It was a top 60 name back in the 1880s, and fell out of favor back in 1990. But I think it could be worth resurrecting for this century.

Emil was just outside the top 100 back in the 1880s, and only went downhill from there. It means rival, but makes a fun and funky alternative to some of the “e” names, like Evan and Ethan.

What do you think of these vintage names? Any ones worth adding to your short list? Don’t forget to try out our Baby Name Finder to find the perfect name for your son or daughter, and like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest in baby names.

Image: 1800s woman by Donna Beeler /

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Throwback Thursday: 1950s Baby Names

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

It’s time to take the baby name time machine back to the era of poodle skirts and young Elvis. And while the baby name Elvis reached its peak back in 1957 (it was #312 then), the most popular names were kind of what you’d expect—as they’re likely the names of your parents or grandparents. James and Mary topped the list, with Michael and Linda in second. James and Michael are still in the tops for boys, but Mary and Linda have fallen off considerably from their peaks.

Some of the names are probably too freshly popular to expect a comeback—names like Gary and Cheryl. But there might be a few gems worth resurrecting. Here are my picks from the top 100 1950s names:


I’ve been trying to resurrect the name Kenneth for a while now. It was #16 back in the 1950s, and has a really cool meaning—who wouldn’t want to call their kid handsome? It’s now in the top 200, but falling slowly.

Bruce, which means from the brushwood thicket, reached its pinnacle of popularity in the 1950s—#32 on the charts back then. With legends like Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Lee and Bruce Willis sporting the name, is it any wonder that it’s back on the map? (It’s risen over 100 places in the last two years alone!)

Dale was the 50th most popular name back in the 1950s, and it officially fell of the map for boys back in 2009. It means valley, and I like it in place of names like Cale and Caleb.

Leonard means brave lion, and it was the 88th most popular name back in the 1950s—today it’s just outside the top 700. It’s a nice way to get that trendy “Leo” nickname, but give your kid a classic name to go with it.


Kathleen is a variant of Caitlin and Katherine, and it has the same meaning—pure. It was #15 back in the 1950s, but today it’s fallen down to #667. It might be a fresh alternative to the now overplayed Caitlin.

Valerie ranked 84th back in the 1950s. It means strong, and it’s leveled off in the top 200 baby names for a while now. Maybe it’s time for a resurgence?

Pamela peaked in the 1950s, at #13—but it dropped out of the top 1000 last year. It’s a name that means “honey,” and maybe deserves another chance? I’m not loving Pam as a nickname, but could a case be made for the fresher “Millie” nickname from it?

Nancy peaked in the 1950s, but has been been taking a nosedive of late. It has a lovely meaning—grace—and that can-do detective Nancy Drew to recommend her. (Plus that spunky Fancy Nancy character is super cute!)

What do you think? Do any of the names suit you, or is there another retro classic you’re considering? If you’re still looking for baby names, try our Baby Name Finder, or keep up with the latest in baby names by liking In Name Only on Facebook!

Plus: See what’s written in the stars for you and Baby with our Mom and Baby Horoscope Finder. Also, be sure to check these must-dos off your Pregnancy To-Do List.

Image: 1950s woman by  Yarygin/

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Throwback Thursday: 1920s Baby Names

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Today’s baby-name time machine takes us all the way back to the 1920s. You’ll find some familiar names in the top 25—James and William were both in the top 10 for boys back then, and stalwarts like Elizabeth, Anna and Lillian were near the top, back then as they are now. But some top names aren’t anywhere to be found—Robert and Mary topped the charts back then, but are #61 and #123 now, respectively. And of course, there are names there that may never again see the light of day (or at least not anytime soon)—I’m looking at you, Melvin, Floyd, Edna and Gertrude.

But I see some real hidden gems on the list that you might want to consider. Ponder these top 1920s names:


Arthur began a slow and steady decline after spending the 1920s in the top 20 names—it’s now at #355 for boys. But this Celtic name that means “bear” deserves another shot. Think Knights of the Round Table, not the drunken millionaire from the 1970s comedy.

Lawrence ranked #36 in the 1920s, but is down toward the top 500 now—which is better than the other spelling, Laurence, has fared (it dropped out of the top 1000 back in 1995). Think Laurence of Arabia, Laurence Olivier, and Laurence Fishburne.

Gilbert is a delightfully nerdy name–it hit its peak as a top 100 baby name in the 1920s, and barely ranks in the top 1000 now (despite the fact that it was the name of Anne of Green Gables‘ true love, and the title character—played by Johnny Depp—in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?). The name has a lovely meaning—shining pledge.

I’ve been campaigning for Harry for boys since I took over this gig—and I’m still shocked that this name, which means ruler, is still on a sharp decline. (After all, it has the magical Mr. Potter and the British royal sporting it.) It was #23 in the 1920s, but now stands at number 718.

Walter has steadied out in the top 400 names, but this classic name, which means ruler, was at #16 in the 1920s.


Dorothy hit its heyday back in the 1920s, when it was the #2 name in the land—and that was before the ruby slippered gal hit the silver screen. It nearly fell out of the top 1000 names back in 2006, but now it’s making a bit of a comeback. Consider the cute nicknames Dot or Dorrie!

Virginia is another top 10 name from the 1920s that seems ripe for a revival—it’s barely in the top 600 right now. It means pure, and has the state and historic ladies like author Virginia Woolf and the first English girl born in the U.S., Virginia Dare. With the story of seminal sex researcher Virginia Johnson now being showcased in the Showtime show Masters of Sex, it might be time for this name to make a comeback.

Agnes is another name that means pure—it was #67 in the 1920s, but hasn’t ranked in the top 1000 since 1972. But with so many people loving the Abbie/Aggie nicknames for girls, it’s only a matter of time before Agnes starts her comeback.

Don’t let the “Moaning Myrtle” character from Harry Potter scare you off this name, chosen for a flowering tree. It was #90 back in the 1920s, and dropped out of the top 1000 back in the 1960s.

Florence means flowering, and was #21 in the 1920s—and it hasn’t made it into the top 1000 since 1980. Don’t let the cheesy “Flo” Progressive spokeswoman scare you off this name, which also was the name of famous nurse Florence Nightingale, and the lead singer, Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine.

Do any of these throwback names sound good—or should they be preserved in mothballs? Let me know in the comments.

Do you know yet if you’re having a boy or a girl? Take our gender prediction quiz to find out!

Image: Roaring 20s girl by Olena Zaskochenko/

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Throwback Thursday: 1980s Vintage Baby Names

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The designers are returning to the 1980s, the era of neon, acid wash and big, big hair, for their inspiration. And even ABC is going back to the age of materialism, with the 1980s-set sitcom, The Goldbergs. So maybe it’s worth heading back in the time machine to find some vintage 1980s names, to search for hidden gems that aren’t quite so popular today.

Michael and Jessica topped the charts in the 1980s. Michael’s still a mainstay, currently at #8, while Jessica has not fared so well—it’s fallen to #138.

In fact, most of the top names for boys are still top choices—Matthew, James, Anthony, and Daniel wouldn’t seem out of place on the playground today. The girls haven’t fared as well. Names like Tiffany, Jennifer, Amber, Crystal and Stephanie, all in the top 20 back then, only belong to the moms on the playground now. (The one top 20 exception for girls? Elizabeth, which still in the top 10, now and seemingly forever!)

Still, there are some names on there that maybe deserve a second chance at the spotlight. Here are my picks for names that had their heyday in the 1980s:

For Boys

Robert was a top 10 name back in the 1980s, but it’s fallen out of favor since and it’s now at #61. This is a time-honored classic with a cool meaning—famous—and a few cool nicknames. (We’ll pick Robb over the more dated Bob.)

Brian got lost in the rush toward other Celtic names like Connor, Aidan and Liam. But this lovely name, which means strong and virtuous, deserves another look. And since it has fallen from the top 20 to #139, you’re likely not to find another Brian on the playground.

Gregory was #45 in the 1980s, but is now slouching its way down below the top 300 mark. It’s a saint’s name, and won also worn by classic actor Gregory Peck and dancer/singer/actor Gregory Hines. Consider it in lieu of Gabriel.

Wesley means meadow, and it’s a lovely classic that’s been in the top 200 since 1880—though it hit its prime in the late 1970s and early 80s. A couple of cool characters—Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wesley Crusher and Buffy/Angel‘s Wesley Wyndham-Pryce—sported the name, and the swashbuckling hero of The Princess Bride wore its soundalike cousin Westley.

Shane has a bit of cowboy cool, thanks to the classic Western flick—plus it was the name of a good-guy-gone-bad in red-hot series Walking Dead. But this variant of Sean has been on a downward slide since the 1980s. Is it ready for its comeback?

For Girls

Amy seems to be the one Am or Em name that hasn’t made it to the top of the charts (though some could argue that this top 1980s name already had its day in the sun, and helped bring Emma, Emily and the like to everyone’s attention). Still, if you’re looking for something like Amelia, Emme or Emma, but less popular, this name may be just what you need.

Erica may mean “eternal ruler,” but the name is no longer lording over the popularity list. It was #36 back in the 1980s, and it’s now fallen below the top 500. Consider it in place of Kayley or Chloe.

The only reason I can come up with for the decline of the beautiful name Cynthia may be a hangup with the dated “Cindy” nickname. So skip Cindy in favor of Thea or Cici, and give this name, often connected with the Greek goddess Artemis, a chance.

I adore the name Veronica—think smart-ass girl detective Veronica Mars, Elvis Costello’s 1990s song “Veronica,” or even the Biblical wiper of Jesus’s brow. Veronica, which means “true image”—was the 70th most popular name back in the 1980s, but has since fallen to #316. I love the nickname Vivi for it, if Ronnie feels a little too 80s for you.

Diana was the 75th most popular name back in the 1980s, spurred in part by the glamorous new princess across the pond. But even if Princess Di is still a popular figure years after her death, her name hasn’t fared as well—it’s just fallen below the top 250. My money’s on a comeback for this goddess name that dates back to ancient Rome.

What do you think of these names? Are there any other 1980s names you think deserve a second shot at the top? If you need help finding the perfect name for your baby, check out Parents’ Baby Name Finder, or email your question to

Image: 1980s girl, by eurobanks/

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