Classic names that are making a comeback
Americans love anything vintage. Vintage furniture, retro swimsuits, old-school music or vintage artwork—the older, the better.
As it turns out, Americans also love classic, old-school baby names. Whether today's parents are paying homage to their ancestors, or just trying to be hipster, classic names are making a comeback.
Using data from the Social Security Administration and the United States Census Bureau, the experts at MooseRoots were able to find 30 classic names that have come back into popularity over the last few years. Specifically, they looked for names that:
- Ranked in the top 200 before 1930
- Ranked outside of the top 200 between 1930 and 1980
- Ranked in the top 200 again after 1980
If you've been on a hopeless hunt for a unique baby name, take a look back in time. Here are 30 classic baby names from the past that have resurged in popularity.
- Rank in 1880: 30
- Rank in 2014: 194
Rose comes from Latin rosa and was used regularly throughout the Middle Ages, long before any other girls' names derived from flowers (sorry, Daisy). The name was most popular in the 1910s when it had an average rank of No. 15, but it's currently trending up in the U.S.
- Rank in 1880: 29
- Rank in 2014: 183
Oscar is an old Irish name that has become widely popular all over the world. The name has made the top 200 list in Belgium, Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Denmark, Spain, Norway, and Sweden. It was most common in the U.S. in the 1880s when it had an average rank of No. 29.
- Rank in 1880: 50
- Rank in 2014: 147
This name is of French origin, but is now widely used in English-speaking cultures. The name was very popular from 1880-1930, but took a massive dip up until the late 1980s. We're glad this name is back in style and trending up!
- Rank in 1880: 262
- Rank in 2014: 154
Joel is a biblical name that means 'God' in Hebrew. Although the name took a dive in popularity in the late 1800s, it's consistently ranked in the top 200 names in the U.S. since the 1930s.
- Rank in 1880: 352
- Rank in 2014: 107
The visualization for Hazel's rank over time makes it clear that this name is making a comeback. The name took a steep drop in popularity in the late 1930s, but has been surging back since 1991. Hazel comes from the Old English hæsel, and the name is currently trending way up.
- Rank in 1880: 139
- Rank in 2014: 137
This 1800s name comes from the New Testament, and is contracted from Latin Silvanus, meaning 'wood.' In the last few years, Silas has seen the greatest popularity it's ever had, and it's still on the rise.
- Rank in 1880: 15
- Rank in 2014: 103
The name Cora is thought to represent a Latinized version of Greek Korē meaning 'maiden.' The name was most popular in the 1880s when it held an average rank of No. 24. Now, it's ranked No. 103 in the U.S., and has also made the top 200 list in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Rank in 1880: 180
- Rank in 2014: 135
Timothy is an English name that comes from Greek timē meaning 'honour' and theos meaning 'God.' Timothy was quite popular in the U.S. in the late 1800s, but phased out until the 1930s. Since then, it's been gaining slow momentum, and now holds the No. 135 ranking.
- Rank in 1880: 149
- Rank in 2014: 90
The name Ruby comes from the gemstone, Latin rubinus. The name was hugely popular from 1900-1940, when it became much less common in the U.S. for several decades. Today, Ruby is making a comeback, and is back in the top 100.
- Rank in 1880: 320
- Rank in 2014: 132
Ivan is a Russian form of the name John that has become common in the English-speaking world. The name's popularity in the U.S. began to decline in 1930, but has been climbing the charts since the 1970s. Ivan is also popular in the Czech Republic, Spain and Sweden.
- Rank in 1880: 275
- Rank in 2014: 80
Naomi is a biblical name that means 'pleasantness' in Hebrew. In the last few years, it has seen the greatest popularity it's ever had, as you can clearly see in the visualization below.
- Rank in 1880: 189
- Rank in 2014: 127
Harrison is a transferred use of the surname, which originally meant 'son of Harry.' The name was most popular in the 1880s when it held an average rank of No. 162. The name almost disappeared from 1960-1977, but since then, has become increasingly popular.
- Rank in 1880: 126
- Rank in 2014: 78
Eleanor comes from an Old French respelling of the Provençal name Alienor. Eleanor was most popular in the 1920s, and then saw a large decline in U.S. ranking in the 1940s. In the last decade, the name has become dramatically more common in the states.
- Rank in 1880: 225
- Rank in 2014: 112
Max is a short form of Maximilian that was popular in the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The last 30 years have seen a stark increase in the popularity of the name, as is seen in the visualization. Now, the name holds the No. 112 spot for boys.
- Rank in 1880: 60
- Rank in 2014: 66
Stella comes from Latin stella meaning 'star.' This name was completely unheard of before the 16th century, but remained popular until about 1940. Then, the name quickly dropped in ranking until 1995. Stella has been trending up ever since.
- Rank in 1880: 189
- Rank in 2014: 103
Elias has made quite the comeback. This biblical name fell out of style for most of the 1900s, but has been trending way up since about 1970. Now, the name has made top 200 lists in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and more.
- Rank in 1880: 55
- Rank in 2014: 49
Nora is a short form of Leonora and Honora, but is now regularly used as an independent given name. Nora was hugely popular from 1880-1960, but saw a bit of a decline in popularity after the '60s. However, Nora has made a comeback: the name is trending way up, and currently holds the No. 49 ranking for girls in the U.S.
- Rank in 1880: 92
- Rank in 2014: 97
Leo comes from a late Latin personal name meaning 'lion.' From 1930-1995, the name's popularity was on a steep decline, but ever since then, it's been trending way up in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. It's hard to be sure whether this has anything to do with a favorite American celebrity, Leonardo DiCaprio.
- Rank in 1880: 74
- Rank in 2014: 46
Sadie originated as a pet form of Sarah, but is now regularly used as an independent name. The name was quite popular in the 1880s when it held an average rank of No. 69, but has surged in popularity in the U.S. in the last 40 years. It now holds the No. 46 ranking for girls.
- Rank in 1880: 200
- Rank in 2014: 94
Nathaniel is a form of New Testament name, tracing back to a Hebrew name meaning 'God has given.' The name has been steadily popular in the U.S. throughout the decades, but increased in ranking starting in the 1960s.
- Rank in 1880: 32
- Rank in 2014: 25
Lillian was a hugely popular name in the U.S. from 1880-1930, but saw a steep decline in popularity soon after. However, the name bounced back beginning in the late 1970s, and is now the 25th most popular option for newborn baby girls.
- Rank in 1880: 177
- Rank in 2014: 49
Eli is a biblical name derived from a Hebrew word meaning 'height.' The name is trending way up in the U.S., and now holds the No. 49 ranking for boys. Last year, the name was given to over 7,000 baby boys.
- Rank in 1880: 133
- Rank in 2014: 16
Historically, Evelyn has been used as both a boy's and a girl's name. Today, it's more frequently chosen as a girl's name, and has become the No. 16 girl's name in the U.S.
- Rank in 1880: 118
- Rank in 2014: 45
Levi is a biblical name that means 'associated' in Hebrew. It has not only made a comeback in the U.S., it's also become recently popular in Norway, Belgium, England and Wales, Scotland, and New Zealand, among other countries.
- Rank in 1880: 96
- Rank in 2014: 15
Amelia is a blend of two medieval names: Emilia and Amalia. The name climbed from a ranking of No. 490 to No. 15 since the 1970s, and it's still trending up. Last year, over 8,000 newborn baby girls were named Amelia in the U.S.
- Rank in 1880: 69
- Rank in 2014: 32
Oliver comes from a French name, Olivier, and is currently the 32nd most popular name for boys. Of over 2 million boys born in the U.S. last year, 9,365 were named Oliver. The name has come a long way since 1986, when it held a rank of 473.
- Rank in 1880: 91
- Rank in 2014: 10
The name Charlotte is a feminine diminutive of Charles, and became popular in England beginning in the 17th century. The name is currently trending up in the U.S., and holds the No. 10 ranking for girls in the U.S.
- Rank in 1880: 135
- Rank in 2014: 11
Elijah is a biblical name, meaning 'Yahweh is God' in Hebrew. As you can see in the visualization, the name began to decline in popularity in the 1880s, and reached a low-point in 1968. Since then, however, the Elijah's popularity has skyrocketed, bringing the name to the No. 11 spot for boys in the U.S.
- Rank in 1880: 3
- Rank in 2014: 1
Emma was a hugely popular name in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, beginning in the 1930s, the name started to fizzle out in popularity, and for a few decades, it was practically nonexistent in the U.S. A turning point for Emma came in 1978. Since then, the name has made a massive comeback, making it the No. 1 most popular name for girls in the U.S.
- Rank in 1880: 126
- Rank in 2014: 1
Noah is the name of a biblical character whose family was the only one saved by the Great Flood. The name is currently the No. 1 most-popular choice for baby boys in the U.S., but it hasn't always been so: Noah's popularity saw a huge decline from 1880 until the late 1960s.