by Lauren Fields
Are you expecting a baby girl, and still looking for the perfect name for your little one? In this article, I use historical data to explore the current trend for ‘old lady chic’ names, and predict which names might be the next ones to hit the popularity charts.
Old-fashioned names certainly seem to be a trend that is here to stay, and many parents-to-be may want to find a name that fits into this mould. However, you are probably also looking for something which sounds a little more original, and is not too popular. You might want a name that brings to mind a genteel old lady, but isn’t too frumpy; and so looking back to a name that may have belonged to someone of around your great-grandparents’ age is a great starting point- these names tend to be old enough to sound ‘fresh,’ without feeling ‘dated.’ You’re unlikely to know any middle-aged people with such names, for example.
This is not a new way of choosing a name- Lucy, Hannah and Emily were all top-100 names for girls until they fell out of fashion during the 1920s, before suddenly reappearing in the popularity lists during the 1970s. The same happened with Molly, Grace and Lily- all disappeared from the top 100 during the 1930s, then suddenly appeared again in the 1990s. But modern parents seem to be looking for names from further back in history- instead of a 50- or 60-year gap, some of today’s most popular names have had a 70, 80, or even 90-year absence from the top 100! These nine names were all popular up until the 1920s or 30s, and then began to climb back into the top 100 from around 2007 onwards:
So what type of names might today’s parents look for? Well, for those parents who want an old-fashioned name, but also something that is still a little bit more unusual, all of the following names fell out of favour between 1910-30, and are now starting to become more popular again, but still sit outside of the top 100 list:
Nora (160) – or Norah (283)
Or for those even more adventurous parents, why not consider a name which did not fall out of popular use until the 1940s, or even 1950s? You may find that you, and your child, are several years ahead of the trend! These ten names all followed a similar pattern of popularity to the ones above; although falling out of fashion 10-20 years later, and then beginning to rise in popularity again over the last few years. If they carry on following the same pattern, they should be due a surge in popularity near the end of this decade.
Names from the 1940s:
Iris (81) – although this name is already becoming more popular, sitting comfortably in the top 100 since 2016
Names from the 50s:
Perhaps this article has given you some inspiration for your baby’s name, or maybe it’s made you want to find out more about the popularity of your own name through the years. For more information on historic name data, you can use the Baby Names Explorer tool on the Office for National Statistics’ website (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/articles/babynamesexplorer/2019-06-07). To find out about the popularity of your chosen name from 1996 onwards, visit https://names.darkgreener.com/ (full credit goes to Anna Powell-Smith, the creator of this tool). Both the above names and this article, refer to the official Office for National Statistics baby name data from 2019 as ‘current,’ since this is the most recent report available. The records for babies born in 2020 are due to be published between August and September 2021.
By Lauren Fields
DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org