Special Report

Old Fashioned Names Making A Comeback

Names wax and wane in popularity and it isn’t always obvious why. Sometimes they suffer from negative associations with unpopular people or unfortunate events — but they might also just come to seem dowdy, like something one’s great-grandmother might have been called. 

Sometimes they get a boost from real-life heroes or even fictional characters, or maybe get revived by parents looking for unusual monikers for their offspring. (These are the fastest-growing first names in America.)

Using data going back more than a century, 24/7 Tempo has identified 20 boys’ and girls’ names that were once popular but had fallen out of favor — and are now making a comeback. 

To assemble our list, we reviewed the 200 most popular boy and girl names every year between 1880 and 2020 using data from the Social Security Administration (SSA). (The SSA collects data only for names appearing on at least five birth certificates.) From this data set, we chose names that appeared in the top 200 between 1880 and 1930, were completely absent between 1931 and 1999, and reappeared on the top 200 in 2000 or later. The list is ordered alphabetically, not in terms of popularity

Click here to see old-fashioned names making a comeback.

Some of the names on our list are thousands of years old and are associated with biblical prophets and priests. As the Bible itself says, “What has been will be again … there is nothing new under the sun.” 

Others highlight how popular culture influences the popularity of names. It may not be a coincidence that two of the entries, Emmett and Jasper, are also the names of characters in the phenomenally successful “Twilight” novels and movies. (For other examples of cultural influences on names, consider the 20 most popular literary-inspired baby names in America.)

Meanwhile, the popularity of the name Eli may have been boosted by star New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, winner of the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award in 2007 and in 2011.  

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