What a fun time to be naming a little one! Some parents are trying to be as unique and new-age as they possibly can, and others are doing so by, quite obviously, looking a bit farther back in the past than many have dared to in recent generations.
You know what I mean… Grandma names. Or Grandpa names. Or great-uncle from Sweden names! They all seem to be popping up.
There are titles traditionally used as last names being given for first ones, 2-year-olds next door with (adorable!) monikers that remind you of little old ladies, and then also celebrities and regular folk alike calling their kids things that aren’t usually used as names. They take inspiration from nature, pop culture, and more.
This is a particularly fun list for me to write. I have in fact had two children in the last handful of years here. And guess what? One of them has a very traditional name with some old-school flavor to it, and the other has a completely creative and unique name. So obviously, I’m totally down with both approaches.
From traditional and approachable as can be to so creative the elders might be baffled, here are the 20 most adorable baby names grandparents will love (and 3 they just won’t understand).
It’s old-country tradition, but also Hollywood royalty (as in Bergman, of Casablanca, and beyond, fame). It has such a pretty ring, sounds slightly different to American ears, and yet is also just so neat, tidy, and traditional.
Folks of the previous generations may have much admiration for this stunner, which makes them think of glamour, romance, and cherished times.
That Swedish actress’s name has meanings related to being “beautiful,” fittingly, according to the site BehindTheName.com.
The feminine name is traditionally used in the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and German languages — hey maybe one of your own grandparents or great-grandparents even has it!
Aw, you could even call him “Harry” as a nickname! Cute!
Harrison sounds very trendy to my new-mom ears, and I meet many, many toddlers and babies in my daily adventures.
Names that used to be or still are mainly last names tend to be popular right now, I’ve noticed, so there’s a little inspiration for you, too.
Of course there’s that actor of Indiana Jones and Star Wars fame that Baby Boomers and beyond adore (and hey, “Ford” is kind of a cool name for a little boy, too, now that I think about it…).
One of my personal favorites on this list today, Harrison is surely a keeper.
Ah, yes, there is a lot to love about “Laura.” With a slightly old-fashioned flair, it carries, to me anyway, a certain pretty innocence with it, and if I’m honest, it was on my own baby names list for girls long before I ever even knew for sure that I would be having children at some point in my life.
There’s an arboreal connection to be found within this name, as I read up on at the baby names site SheKnows.com. There’s the laurel tree, or sweet bay tree, and thus the connection. This type of foliage is apparently known to be symbolic for honor and victory (“laurels”…).
It’s an old name, too, with instances popping up way back in the poems of the Italian writer Petrarch, during the 14th century.
Go back to your parents’ or grandparents’ generation, and how many names are there that seem to be two short names combined? If you have family from the Midwest, I’m willing to be that you won’t need to search far and wide to find someone in your own family tree with a name such as this, especially when it comes to your female lineage.
And also, there’s, um, Marilyn Monroe! That blonde babe of 1950s films featuring flirtatious fun shall be associated with the moniker forever, surely.
And yep, it’s just a blend of the two names Mary and Lyn, as is noted at SheKnows.com.
19 Umm… Aerin?
What this one seems to do is take a name that never fell completely out of fashion for either boys or girls (in various spellings: Aaron… Erin…) and spell it uniquely, just for the heck of it.
Will gramps and gran understand? Possibly not. Do you care? Possibly not.
It’s fun to be unique, and there’s really no reason not to. Many names will take little tykes a bit of time to master spelling, anyway, so why not go a less traditionally American route with it?
HarpersBazaar.com included this one in a list of unique baby names, and it really caught my eye. It sounds traditional, but then it’s not — so it may just be the perfect compromise.
I am Sam… Sam I am… your little love may delight in reading once he discovers Dr. Seuss. But before you get caught up reciting the book about verdantly colored eggs and lunch meat that so many of us memorized while learning to read as children, consider the name on its own: Sam…
It's nice. It’s handsome! I quite like it myself.
Although I haven’t met them by the dozens, I have encountered Sams from many different age groups. It’s one of those universally appealing names, I think, and of course goes back to Samuel, or Samson, or Samouel, from Greek, says BabyNameWizard.com.
It means “sun child; bright sun,” says SheKnows.com.
You might use “Rick” or even “Dick.” You might keep it traditional with the kingly name “Richard.” It’s old, it’s masculine, and English kings bore it. It’s the guy Tom Selleck played in Friends — the mustachioed handsome doctor quite a bit Monica’s senior whom she falls in love with more than once during the course of the sitcom’s long run.
It was actually introduced by the Normans to Britain, according to the site BehindTheName.com. It’s never really fallen out of use since over there, and his rule was in the late 12th century…
Will you have your own little “Lionheart” boy?
Just know that there is a sweet little show, a spinoff from that old show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, about a little tiger named Daniel that toddlers and preschoolers (and their parents) go nuts for. So little loves of the current generation will have a strong early association with this name, with orange stripes and an affinity for trolley rides.
The classic name is just so cute, and has a wide range of nicknaming possibilities, to boot.
It’s Hebrew, and was the name of the biblical prophet, as is noted at the site SheKnows.com. “God is my judge” is the old-school meaning.
15 Jacob / Jake
Anything less than Jake (you’re welcome, ’90s ska fans…) might just not do for both you and the previous generations of your expanding family.
It is such a traditional and storied name, and yet how cute and modern does “Jake” or the full “Jacob” sound to this day?
In case you just have to take pause on this name for a boy, how about a little background info?
It means “supplanter” from Hebrew, according to the site BabyCenter.com. “He grasps the heel” is another part of the meaning, says the baby names site SheKnows.com.
From old religious origins to modern popularity, it’s been a hit!
Aw, it is so sweet, and as lovely as a little purple flower. Seriously.
I kind of love this one so much that I had that impulse, as I’m bound to have when writing lists about baby names, to snatch it right off the page here and store it in my own files just in case I might need it at some point in the future.
But no, I’m feeling generous. The name of the little flower has been around since the early years of the 14th century, says the blog at BritishBabyNames.com. They also note that the long-revered name even has some ties to Greek mythology (think goddesses with enchanting and lovely-hued hair).
13 Stephen / Steve
Call him Stephen (can anyone else out there not help but here Kristin Cavallari or LC’s SoCal voice exclaiming that Laguna Beach star’s name amid sentences full of “like” and “whatever!”?). Go for straight-up “Steve.”
Spell the long form this way, with a “ph” in the center, or change it to a “v”! Whatever you want, and anyway you go, you’ll have a classic that is easy for all generations to love, and to accept as normal, nice, and pleasant to the ears.
Its origin words, from the Greek language, mean “crown” or “that which surrounds” says the site BehindTheName.com.
12 Umm… Beckett?
It’s an old English name that means “beehive,” actually, says BabyNameWizard.com.
If the folks (or grand-folks) are English teachers, they might just be delighted, due to the 20th-century playwright, of course.
Famous Irish dudes aside, though, this is my other most favorite boy name on the list today, and I’ll share more about it with you just in case it might be becoming yours.
HarpersBazaar.com included it in a long list of unique baby names, and I think this one really stands out. It’s actually somewhat high on the popularity charts, at #244 for 2018, so far (according to BabyCenter.com).
Are you ready to take it back, to a name that follows that trend of reusing names that maybe have become more associated with grandmas and great-aunts than current grade-school classrooms?
Many out there are, including people I meet every day in my adventures as a mom to two toddlers. Margaret follows this trend, like, to a T. It’s classic and cute, by the book, and storied, to be sure.
It has origins in Greek, says the site NameBerry.com, and it means “pearl”! (Ooh, there’s another fun name that all ages will adore!) With three syllables, a classic feminine sound, and associations with all things light and bright, what’s not to love?
Sort of regal to the ears, very old-fashioned, and fun from the first to the last of its three syllables, the masculine moniker “Frederick” is an easy choice if you are expecting a little boy.
It means “peaceful ruler” says the site BehindTheName.com, as well as all of the others.
There are Germanic origins here, too, notes Ancestry.com. And I mean, come on, there are so many exciting nicknames to play around with here, on top of it. First there’s Fred, then Freddie, or would you do it Freddy, perhaps?
Also, can you quickly think of another name for a boy that starts with the letter F? Makes it kind of unique, no?
9 Peter / Pete
Yes, there is that rabbit of the classic children’s storybook, and more modern movies of late, and there have also been many “Peters” throughout the years. It’s a loveable name with great staying power, both traditional as well as sort of fun and cute, right?
It’s derived from Greek and Latin words that mean “rock” and “stone,” says BehindTheName.com, and the site NameBerry.com has it as the 213th most popular.
For a little more background info on the loveable name, too, Peter was a fisherman (and apostle) in the bible, according to the baby names site SheKnows.com.
Did you just add it to your list?
It’s a bold one, I’ll admit, because yes, it is very old-school. Or maybe it’s your homage to your favorite classic rock band, beginning with “Pink” and ending with this masculine name.
It’s a Welsh name, and it actually means “grey,” says the baby names site SheKnows.com. Well, or, “one with grey hair”…
All old meanings and origins aside, though, how about this unique classic for your own little guy, who may have very little hair at all when he’s first born?
It’s fun, it’s old school, and there probably won’t be fifteen of them at your child’s elementary school: It’s “Floyd,” and you know you love it.
I knew a couple of these growing up — boys named Garret, that is. And now I stop to consider what a nice name it really is for a little guy.
And yet it also sounds quite sophisticated and manly, for when your little love inevitably grows up into an adult.
It is an English name, says the site SheKnows.com (and some people spell it Garrett, by the way, so there is another option for you to consider). It means “rules by the spear.”
Also, it’s “an English variant of the German Gerard, based on medieval pronunciation,” according to the same site as already mentioned above.
6 Umm… Rain?
I picked the name Rain both as a realistic option and as a jumping off point for any number of names inspired not at all by the bible and entirely by things such as nature and current trends.
Hey, maybe your parents / grandparents love that type of thing! Some of them may even have some quite nature-y or hippy-ish names themselves, in fact.
The name for a girl has moved up quite drastically in popularity this year (from 2017 to 2018), going up 757 places in the rankings (but still unique, indeed, at #1,316 ), says BabyCenter.com.
Now that could be a good name to invest in…
Guess what: Apparently, when I ponder names that I feel like grandparents would love, I guess I tend to think of old movies that were incredibly popular, as well as the stars that shone the brightest in them. There are in fact three Wizard of Oz references, it turns out, in this very list, actually all related to the same character.
(In case you want to cheat and find out which ones they are now: Dorothy Gale is the main character, played by Judy Garland in the film version of the first book in that beloved series.)
The first name Gayle, commonly spelled with the Y or as Gail, could be a nickname for, or just a name that grew out of, “Abigail,” says Wikipedia.org.
Here’s the next one with Wizard of Oz roots, in a sense, of course being the first name of that actress and singer with the last name Garland who stunned in pigtails and ruby red slippers as she skipped along the yellow-brick road with a Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow.
While previous generations (and you!) may love the ties to old Hollywood, just think, too, of how pretty this simple and sweet name really is.
This name for a girl has origins in the name Judith, says the site BehindTheName.com, and it means “praised” in Hebrew, according to the baby names site SheKnows.com.
It has French origins, says the site NameBerry.com, and you may like the similar “Julia,” as well (or even better…), too, by the way.
It can mean “downy” or “youthful,” and really may be the perfect pick for your own little chickadee.
Julius comes from an ancient Roman family name, says the site OhBabyNames.com, so there’s that history, as well.
With two simple syllables and a sweet sort of ring to it, this name has some serious staying power, and it’s easy to understand why.
Famous actress Julies and Julias from the previous generations continue to be well known by the masses, too, so it will feel familiar to any age group.
2 Nathan / Nate
Nate is great, but the full Nathan is wonderful, as well. I believe I’ve met at least enough Nates for every finger on one of the hands that typing this, and maybe would need to go on over to the other hand as well, but just because it’s popular, it doesn’t mean it’s not still a quite glorious choice for a little boy being born in modern times.
Biblical names tend to be that way. It means “gift from God” in Hebrew, says the baby names site SheKnows.com, but then this one is so darn popular that maybe you already knew that.
Nathan was a prophet during the time of King David, says the site BehindTheName.com.
If I had to ask you to randomly fill in a name here, what would you say: Great Aunt (blank). Dorothy is one of those that would be easy to rattle off, I think, along with Linda, Norma, and other names so popular in generations past.
But all those associations aside, isn’t it really a pretty name? It follows the trend of reviving old classics — to the extreme. I never met a single Dorothy of my own age growing up, nor have I met one in my kids’ generation yet.
It’s full of unique potential, I’d say!
The English / Greek name means “gift of God,” according to sites such as Nameberry.com.