Special Report

8 Old-Fashioned Names Making Huge Comebacks


One of the most common naming conventions in the United States is to give a child the name of his or her older relative or ancestor. While popular 20th century names like Gladys, Edna, and Bessie may not be popular choices for newborns today, a number of other old fashioned names are making a comeback.

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has been tracking baby names since before the turn of the 20th century. There are thousands of names in the database. Some names come and go as fads, and their popularity can spike inexplicably. Others have remained en vogue for more than a century.


Sometimes, in rare cases, names that were popular long ago and have faded into obscurity undergo a sudden resurgence. 24/7 Wall St. identified eight such names – two boys’ and six girls’ names – that had all but vanished and are now among the top 100 names chosen by parents.

Click here to see the 8 old-fashioned names making huge comebacks.

Click here to see the detailed findings.

Click here to see the methodology.

Source: pexels.com

1. Lucy

The name Lucy began to decline in popularity around the turn of the 20th century and was not among the top 100 most popular girls’ names by 1925. The name’s decline in popularity slowed slightly from 1951 to 1953, the years the first three seasons of the television show “I Love Lucy” were initially broadcast. The name then hit its trough in 1978, when it was the 588th most popular girl’s name. Lucy reentered the top 100 in 2010 and today is the 55th most popular name.


Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

2. Max

In 1914, the name Max broke the top 100 at 99 and remained among the 200 most popular boys’ names through 1945. The name Max fell somewhat in popularity during the 50s and 60s, but began to recover in the 70s, and returned to the 200 most popular names during the late 1980s. It has remained among the top 200 since. Max reached peak popularity in 2011 as the 96th most popular boy’s name.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Oliver

Oliver, a name with strong British origins — think Oliver Twist — has traditionally been more popular in several other English-speaking nations. In the United States, at the turn of the 20th century, Oliver was 95th among baby boy’s names. It slowly declined over the next few decades, falling as low as 471st in 1986. However, in the early 1990s Oliver skyrocketed in popularity. In 1999, it was 340th, and a decade later it cracked the top 100. In 2016, it was the 12th most popular boy’s name. However, as popular as it has become in the United States, it remains more popular in other English-speaking countries. It is the most popular boy’s name in England, Australia, and New Zealand.

Source: Larry Philpot / Wikimedia Commons

4. Nora

Nora is currently the 36th most common baby girl’s name in the United States, the most popular the name had ever been. Nora enjoyed similar popularity in the early 1880s, when it consistently ranked between 58th and 55th. Henrik Ibsen used the name for the female protagonist of his 1879 play “A Doll’s House.” Nora declined in popularity in the early 1900s and fell out of the top 100 in 1906. Nora experienced a resurgence in popularity only fairly recently, returning to the top 100 in 2013.

Nora is also popular overseas. After ranking among the top 10 most popular baby girls’ names in Norway for a dozen years, Nora became the most popular name in 2012.

Source: Anheuser-Busch InBev UK / Wikimedia Commons

5. Stella

The name Stella is derived from the Latin root stell, which means star and can be found in English words such as stellar and constellation. After consistently ranking between the 60th and 80th most common baby girls’ names in the early 1900s, Stella began to decline in popularity in 1920. Stella fell out of the top 100 in 1924 and into in relative obscurity several decades later. At its lowest point of popularity in 1986, Stella had fallen outside of the top 1,000. Just 152 baby girls were given the name that year. In recent years, however, Stella has experienced a resurgence in popularity. The name returned to the top 100 after 86 years in 2010, and today it is the 45th most popular baby girl’s name.


Source: pixabay.com

6. Violet

During the first quarter of the 20th century, Violet was consistently among the top 100 girls’ names. The colorful name was hardly used in the U.S. in the following years. Just 109 girls were given the name Violet in 1972, its lowest point of popularity. From 1975 through 1980, it was not even among the top 1,000 baby names. However, few names have risen in popularity at a faster rate in the past few years. Since 2004, Violet has jumped over 500 spots to 47th overall today.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

7. Sadie

Some nicknames become popular names on their own, as is the case with Sadie, a derivative of Sarah. In the early 1900s, Sadie was one of the more common names for baby girls. It began to lose popularity not long into the 20th century, and it would take roughly 100 years to recover. From 1966 through 1973, Sadie was not even among the 1,000 most common choices for the parents of newborn girls. The name started gaining traction again soon, however, and it has been among the 100 most popular names for newborn American girls in each of the last four years.

Source: tumblr

8. Cora

In 1900, Cora was the 55th most common name given to newborn baby girls in the United States. The popularity of Cora slowly and steadily declined over the following decades. It fell as low as 879th by 1988. That year, just 201 girls were given the name. But as is the case with many of the names on this list, Cora began a rapid recovery in the 1990s. The name was ranked 856th in popularity in 1990, 481st in 2001, and 275th by 2010. Cora returned to the top 100 relatively recently, ranking 87th in 2016. In addition to its newfound popularity in the United States, Cora is also relatively popular in Northern Ireland.

Detailed Findings:

Baby naming trends can often reflect some aspect of the cultural zeitgeist. In 2015, baby name website Nameberry predicted an uptick in unisex names in the coming year. Gender had become one of the largest political issues of a generation entering parenting age, and the shift towards gender neutrality may be reflected in their children’s names. The prediction proved correct, with unisex names like Charlie, Elliott, and Quinn increasing in popularity for both boys and girls.

Sometimes the connection between a cultural trend and a name’s popularity is more direct. The name with the largest increase in popularity in 2016 was Kylo, a character in the “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” film released in December 2015. The name Kylo increased from 35 occurrences in 2015 to 245 in 2016.

The November 2015 release of the film about the son of fictional boxer Apollo Creed had a similar effect. The number of babies given the name Apollo increased 46%, and the name Creed increased 61%. Current events other than movies can impact baby names as well. In the year of one of the most contentious elections in recent history, the number of baby boys named Donald fell by 10%.

Some names have maintained their popularity for more than a century. Two of the top 10 most popular baby boy names today — William and James — were also among the top 10 in 1900. The name Michael, and 12 other boys’ names, have been in the top 100 boys’ names every year since 1900.

The popularity of girls’ names, however, fluctuates more than naming trends for boys. Only the name Elizabeth has consistently appeared in the top 100 baby girls’ names every year since the start of the 20th century. While the names James, John, and Robert have each been given to more than 4 million American men over the past 100 years, Mary is the only girl’s name that has been given to more than 3 million U.S. women.


To identify the oldest names reclaiming their popularity, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the thousand most popular baby names for each gender for every year between 1900 and 2016 from the Social Security Administration. To be considered a comeback, a name had to be among the 100 most popular boy or girl names at some point from 1900 to 1930 and not among the top 100 between 1931 and 2009. The name then needed to re-enter the top 100 at some point after 2009.

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