Baby names are becoming so unique, and sometimes completely weird, thanks to Millennials and a desire to have children grow up feeling like individuals versus yet another Bob, Billy, or Mary in the classroom.
Thus, we’re seeing modern names like Lark, Dynasty, Brooklyn, Chanel, and even Kale make their rounds. But there are plenty of vintage names that still sound great today, many of which aren’t that high on the popularity scales, and thus could still leave a child as the only one in the class who has it. Like a fine wine, some names get better with age, like the 10 noted below.
An Old Testament name, Abigail is about as vintage as they come. The name, which was given to the wife of David in the Bible, actually became known as a way to refer to maids in the early 19th Century. But over the last decade, it has risen in popularity thanks to its vintage charm. It was the 11th most popular girl’s name in 2018, according to Nameberry.com. The name, of Hebrew origin, means “my father is joyful.”
Perhaps the most famous historical Abigail is Abigail Adams, born in 1744. She was the wife and close advisor to President John Adams, and former First Lady. The name and its shorter version Abby is attached to countless actresses and characters on TV series and in movies, like Abigail Breslin.
Another biblical name, Abraham is of Hebrew origin and means “father of multitudes.” While it isn’t hugely popular today, ranking 164th in 2018 among baby boy names, it remains a classic name that denotes strength.
Of course, the most famous Abraham of all is President Abraham Lincoln, which is ironic given that Lincoln is now a more popular name than Abraham. Nonetheless, Abraham is a great-sounding name for a baby boy, who might later want to be referred to as Abe or the more modern-sounding Bram.
Perhaps we can thank the amazing British singer who goes by only this name for the potential resurgence in the popularity of Adele. While the moniker, which means “noble” or “nobility,” isn’t among the top baby girls names today, it is a beautiful-sounding name that deserves a comeback. Of French origin, it is a variation of the German name Adela.
Going totally vintage, Adele was the name of the daughter of William the Conqueror. Adeles tend to be cultured, intelligent women, like novelist Adele Griffin and Adele Marie Astaire, the sister and first dancing partner of Fred. Several popular TV series have also named characters Adele, including True Blood and Grey’s Anatomy.
A super-classic boy’s name, Christian is actually more commonly being used for girls nowadays. The Greek or Latin name, which means “follower of Christ,” is the 55th most popular boy’s name for 2018. Reaching peak popularity in the ‘90s and ‘00s, it’s experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, thanks to its simple nature, and easy shortening to a name like Chris.
Popular Christians include actors Christian Slater and Bale. Interestingly, while Christian is often considered to be a boy’s name, the recent trend towards girls with the name actually isn’t something new at all—Christian was originally a female name in the Middle Ages. One famous female Christian is Christian Serratos, who plays Rosita on The Walking Dead.
Almost definitely growing in popularity thanks to the HBO series Game of Thrones and actor Emilia Clarke, who played fan-favorite character Daenerys Targaryen, the name is number 58 on the popularity list in 2018. Meaning “rival,” the Latin name that also has Spanish, Italian, and Hungarian origins is a female variation of Emil.
It sounds so much nicer, though, and suggests a girl who exudes beauty, power, and grace. Emilia rose to fame ages ago thanks to its use in the Shakespearean play Othello, as the wife of Iago and confidante of Desdemona. While Emily is a more subdued version of the name, Emilia just sounds gorgeous.
If it’s good enough for Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Duchess Kate to use as the name for their first son, it’s good enough for just about anyone. About as basic as names come, George, which means “farmer,” is of Greek origin.
Ranking 127th most popular in 2018, the name conjures up visions of famous Georges of all kinds, like George Clooney, Curious George, George Jetson, George Jefferson, and George Costanza. But historically, it was also the name of the Father of America, George Washington. From 1830-1950, the name George remained among the top 10 boy’s names. But today, it still holds weight and sounds great.
With a somewhat exotic sound, Isabella has been used for hundreds of years, often the name given to European queens, and used by Shakespeare in Measure for Measure. Massively popular today, ranking fourth in 2018, the name, which means “pledged to God,” is of Hebrew origin, and is a Spanish or Italian variation of Elizabeth.
Its recent resurgence could be attributed to the popularity of characters like Isabella “Bella” Swan in the Twilight novels and movies of the late ‘00s. But it has been attached to celebrities of all kinds for ages, from Isabella Rossellini to actress, model, and singer Bella Thorne (whose full name is actually Annabella).
Breaking the top-20 boys' names list in 2018 at number 13, Jacob is a name that goes way, way back to biblical times. Jacob was the most popular names for boys from 1999-2012 until it was overtaken by Noah, though it still remains one of the most popular, if not the most popular, boy’s names starting with the letter J.
Another one that rose to popularity thanks to the Twilight books and movies, the name is attached to one of the most important patriarchs in the Old Testament. Meaning “supplanter,” the name, which is of Hebrew origin, is often shortened to the more modern Jake, used by actors like Jake Gyllenhaal. But newcomers like 12-year-old Jacob Tremblay, known for his roles in the movie Room and Wonder, prefer to stick with the longer given name.
Thanks to Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, this vintage girl’s name has been getting more attention. Though it remained only 430th most popular in 2018, the lovely name, which means “eighth,” was historically the name given to the eighth child born to a family in the Victorian era. Of course, today, couples who have eight children are fewer and farther between.
The name was also commonly used within the Roman Imperial family. In first century BC, the second wife of Mark Antony, sister of Emperor Augustus, was named Octavia. The name remains a beautiful option for a little girl. Of Latin origin, it’s a great alternative to the more popular name Olivia.
Growing in popularity, this name, which literally means “man from Lucania,” “light-giving,” or “illumination,” is number eight on the list of most popular boy’s names for 2018. As the Latin form of Luke, while many parents might think of it as a hot, new name, Lucas has actually been around for centuries. Popular German Renaissance painter and printer Lucas Cranach is one historical figure with the name.
And of course Luke is the author of the third gospel of the New Testament in the Bible. It’s a popular name that’s often used in TV series and movies and has been steadily growing in popularity since the ‘70s, perhaps thanks to famed filmmaker George Lucas.