Naming a child is probably one of the trickiest things anyone will ever have to do. The child will have this name for life (well, unless they legally change it) and is a word that will become their whole identity. Mothers and fathers pour for hours over names wondering which is the right one to go for, researching meanings, looking at the names in their families to see if the baby should be named after someone they know — or they wait till the birth, hoping that when they catch a glimpse of the child’s face, they’ll just know what that child should be named.
Regardless of the method, it’s always a hard call. Some names have become more popular recently, some are outdated, and some are timeless classics. Here are twenty-five names that originated in the Victorian era but still make everyone sit up and pay attention these days. Just because a name was invented over a hundred years ago doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lost its appeal or its edge — and these names have stuck around to prove it.
Whether they lived on because of famous people, fictional characters, or just because they sound great — they’re here to stay, and worth considering.
Alice is a timeless, beautiful classic. It’s derived from Ancient Greek and means “truth”. Fictional characters such as Alice from Alice In Wonderland have kept this name alive for a long time and it definitely deserves to be so.
It’s most popular in France and Britain, but it isn’t uncommon to hear it on the other side of the Atlantic nowadays either. Even though it became popular in the Victorian era, it originated as far back as the twelfth century.
Emily is another name that’s popular in works of fiction but also has a lot of famous people that have that name, such as actress Emily Blunt — meaning we’re constantly hearing it, and it’s easy to figure out why. It’s a very pretty name.
It’s actually derived from Roman meanings and has a pretty unusual story behind it. It means “rival”, which means it doesn’t have the most pretty or gracious of origin, but it has such a nice sound to it that people use it frequently anyway.
Minnie is another cute one and has of course been kept popular because of Minnie Mouse. Disney has kept her a fixture in everyone’s lives. Out of all the names on this list, this is the one that is constantly at the forefront of everyone’s minds. If you don’t live under a rock, you know this name.
It has Hebrew origin and the meaning is actually debated. Some sources believe it means “sea of bitterness or sorrow”, whereas others cite it to mean “wished for child”. I know which one sounds better to have!
Arthur is one that sounds old-fashioned — but in a good way. It’s becoming less popular now but keeps resurfacing, with some famous fiction keeping it in people’s minds again (e.g. the Harry Potter books have a very prominent character named Arthur!).
It’s from a Roman clan and means courageous and noble, which gives it an extremely nice definition (especially in comparison to some of the others!). Who doesn’t want a baby that’s named after a trait as valued as courage?
Oliver will never go away. Oliver is actually one of my favorite names, and I’ve heard it used time and time again — for children and for pets! Maybe it’s because it has a super cute shortening — Olly. I hear this name all the time, and it seems its popularity is around to stay.
The name was revived due to Oliver Twist, and is taken from the Latin word for “olive tree”. It’s another name in history that has waxing and waning popularity but definitely seems to be around to stay now.
Oscar is a name that sounds kind of like Oliver and that’s probably how it has the same level of popularity. No one’s probably choosing this name for its meaning — it means “spear of god”, which isn’t exactly a highly popular meaning to go from — but it’s still a really cute name. One of my friends had a dog named Oscar and he was the sweetest, so I’m pretty attached to this name and can easily see why it’s a popular choice.
Violet probably reminds most people of the color, but for me, it reminds me of Violet Baudelaire. A Series Of Unfortunate Events was one of my most adored book series growing up, and Violet the character is what made me love this name. She’s smart, resourceful, and good-hearted, and I would definitely consider naming a child after her.
Even if you haven’t read those books, this is a really pretty color name and definitely worth considering when looking at names!
Augustus is a very charming name that has been around a long time, with many potential shortenings.
It means “majestic”, so if you happened to be looking for a name with a good meaning behind it… this is probably the one to go for.
Personally, it makes me think of Gus-Gus in Cinderella, the adorable brave little mouse. It’s the best of both worlds because it’s a long, elegant name and it can also be made into a cute one — win-win!
Theodore is my favorite name on this list. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, it tends to remind me of Teddy Lupin, Remus’ son who appeared in book seven. But even aside from that, it’s a great name, and clearly has some cute shortenings — Teddy, Theo, etc.
It means “god-given” which is another great meaning behind it too. It seems like you can’t go wrong with this name — I’m actually surprised it’s not even more popular than it already is.
Similar to Emily, but a little more casual, Emma is also a great name that is present in culture a lot these days — whether it’s characters, famous actresses, anything. My first family pet was actually a cat called Emma, so I have a special place in my heart for this name because it reminds me of her!
It doesn’t really have a specific meaning since it’s derived from longer names such as Emmeline, but if you want something that sounds cute, fun, casual, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Eleanor now reminds me of Nellie from The Haunting Of Hill House — who, by the way, is a great character from a great show, so that’s not a bad thing at all!
It’s the French form of Helen and also means “light” so there’s a good meaning in there.
It also has a bunch of cute nicknames that can be taken from it such as ‘Ellie’, so it’s another good choice of a nice name with a potential adorable shortened form.
Leo is another one of my favorites here and of course, means ‘lion’ — which is probably why it’s one of my favorites. A lion is one of my favorite animals, so it only makes sense.
It’s been kept alive through people such as the mega-successful actor you have definitely heard of, Leonardo Dicaprio — but it’s also present a lot in history too. It can be made into a longer name or it can stay as short as Leo. It’s fierce either way!
I know quite a few people named Catherine, so this is a name that’s clearly still popular. It originated in France and it means “pure” or “clear”, which is a pretty nice meaning to have — it’s not overloaded with something heavy or pressurizing, but it has a nice little story there.
The people I know that are called Catherine actually always seem to be genuinely nice people, so maybe the name has some sort of blessing that comes with it.
Louis is another French name and it means ‘warrior’ — making it another fierce ‘L’ name!
Louis is still very popular nowadays, with people such as Louis Tomlinson from One Direction reminding people that it’s still around as a very viable name. I’ve seen it used for pets a lot too, which makes sense since it’s so cute — it’s a good go-to human name for a dog especially!
Either way, this is a baby name to consider, if only for the meaning!
Clara was almost forgotten about for a while and then came the Doctor Who companion to make it popular again. It’s hard to imagine why it was ever almost forgotten about in the first place though — it’s short, sweet, and makes for a gorgeous girl’s name.
It means “clear, bright, famous” which is funny because it’s one of those names that actually sounds like its definition.
I could have guessed “clear and bright” before even reading about the meaning and where it came from!
Lucy is another absolute classic. If you look at famous people, you can see the name used — Lucy Hale, for instance. If you look at fiction, it’s also used a lot. One of my friends is called Lucy. My aunt’s dog was called Lucy. It’s a choice that holds up time and time again and it’s not hard to see why — it’s short and pretty!
It also has the meaning of ‘light’, so there’s a similar backstory as there is for the name Clara.
When people mention the name Henry, they often think of history and kings, but it’s a name that became extremely popular in the Victorian era and is still around today as a very classic name. It’s English and French and, funnily enough, since everyone tends to associate it with kings, it means ‘ruler’. If you’re looking for a very regal name for your little boy, then you might want to consider this one.
Who wouldn’t want to be thought of as a king?
Derived from John, Jack seems to be more common than its original these days. It’s a one syllable name that seems to be super popular, and I can see why — it’s a nice name, simple, and somehow seems to be noble at the same time. I knew a couple of boys named this when I was in high school and in my adult life, only seem to be coming across more. It seems to be especially popular in Britain for some reason.
The Harry Potter fan in me strikes again with this one, as it makes me think of Lily Potter — Harry’s mother.
Of course, this name has the meaning of a flower. Flower names tend to be pretty popular — there’s also Rose, Daisy, etc. Lily is my favorite of the flower names, though I may just be biased because of its pop culture associations. Either way, it’s another short and super pretty name that’s definitely worth considering for any baby girl.
Adelaide is a longer and somewhat more unusual name. It’s an English name derived from Old High German and it means “noble-natured” — which is a nice name and meaning for a girl since boys tend to be given the names that mean nobility.
A famous Adelaide and someone who has made the name a little more popular is Adelaide Kane. She’s an actress who has appeared in a lot of television shows and movies and has actually made me like the name a little more.
A Roman name, it means “victor, conquerer”, which isn’t hard to guess — if you take even a second to think about this name, the definition is really obvious. It’s a grand name that, like some of the others on this list, has gone in and out of popularity over the years. It tends to be a little more unusual but despite that, it’s a classic that still holds up if you want your little boy to have a strong name.
I’ll be honest — the name Alfred tends to remind me of Batman. Which isn’t a bad thing, since the Alfred in Batman is the one we probably have to thank for keeping Bruce Wayne alive in the first place.
It’s an English name and it means “wise counsel”, which seems perfectly fitting — if I think of a man called Alfred, I definitely think of someone wise. It also has the super cute shortening of “Alfie” if the name itself starts to seem too stuffy.
Isabella might be one of my favorite girl’s names on this list since I love the shortening of Bella. There have been plenty of people to keep the name Bella famous over the years, including Twilight. My friend also has the middle name Isabella, and it suits her really well.
It means “devoted to God” and has Hebrew origins, so this might be a good name for those who are looking for a meaning like that. It’s definitely very elegant too!
Ah, another flower name — Rose, but made a little cuter!
Maybe I just think it’s so cute because I love the movie, Love, Rosie — but you also can’t deny this name is kinda adorable. It’s a girl’s name that’s a timeless classic and looking at it, listening to it, it’s easy to see why. I didn’t actually know anyone called Rosie growing up and I don’t think I’ve come across anyone with the name, but it’s too bad because I can see why it’s so loved in popular culture.
The ultimate Victorian era name — Victoria herself!
It’s a classic. It makes everyone think of queens as much as Henry makes people think of kings, and there’s pretty much no downside to this name. It’s a Latin name that means “victory” — again, easy to guess, but names with these meanings tend to be more reserved for boys, so it’s kind of nice to hear it for a girl’s name.
It also has some really cute potential nicknames, which are always a plus.