There is a certain charm to vintage or old-fashioned names. They breathe a sense of ancestral strength and tradition into today’s modern world. This is especially true if the old name comes from a specific ancestor or from a family line’s homeland.
A meaningful name can remind children of their deeper identity. It can remind them of their place in their family (such as patronymics) and of honorable values. To help you in your search, we have gathered thirty old-fashioned names from a variety of different cultures. Each has a unique meaning that can serve as a guide to your children and can also provide insight into the names of family members that came before you.
15 Old-Fashioned Boy Names
Historically, old-fashioned boy names were symbols of strength. After all, in most cases it was the young men who would become leaders, provide for the family, or march off to battle. Young men today face a myriad of challenges. They need just as much strength now as preceding generations. Here are some emboldening old boy names from all over the world.
This Celtic name means both “bear” and “king.” Many associate the name with the Arthurian legends surrounding a king from the sixth century. The jury is still out on whether a figure like King Arthur actually existed, but the strong meaning of this old name still rings true.
The Greek derivation of this name means “immortal” and is a name still used today. This powerful name belonged to Saint Ambrose, a charitable government and church leader in fourth-century Italy who courageously spoke up in defense of his beliefs.
This short and sweet French name means “handsome,” or a masculine version of “beautiful” in the French language. It’s the perfect old-fashioned boy name if you are looking for something simple and unique.
Byron is an English name. Originally, the name indicated that the person was from a farm or the “cow sheds.” However, more recently it has become more associated with the celebrated poet Lord Byron who, despite childhood hardships, later became a multi-talented and expressive writer.
Charles comes from Germanic etymology and means “free man” or “warrior.” It is also a popular name among powerful leaders, writers, and thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Charles de Guelle, and even Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz.
The origins of this Scottish name are not as well-known as other vintage names included in this list, but it is believed to mean “keeper of the keys.” The name became popular in America during the nineteenth century and has belonged to many successful entertainers and athletes.
Dimitri is a Russian name that comes from the name “Demetrius.” This old name is easily recognizable for any scholar or scientist. Historically, it belonged to Dmitri Mendeleev, the inventor and chemist who created the periodic table of elements that we still use today.
Ezra is a Hebrew name from the Old Testament. The name means “help,” which is fitting since the author of the Book of Ezra sought to help God’s people to overcome obstacles and past mistakes in order to create a better future.
Not all old-fashioned boy names need to sound classic or dusty. Felix is a Roman and Italian name meaning “happy,” “successful,” or “lucky.” This name is mentioned in the New Testament and became a popular name for parents to name their boys during the medieval era.
Garrett is an English name that also derived from the medieval era. The name means “hard” or “brave,” which suits many of its popular bearers. Several professional athletes are named Garrett, and it was the last name of Pat Garrett, the sheriff who took down Billy the Kid.
Josiah is an old name that dates all the way back to an ancient Hebrew dialect and means “God supports.” This name has a gentle sound to it, but it also carries the strength and gravity of generations.
Louis is a French name that comes from the name Ludwig, meaning “warrior.” Over 15 kings of France bore the name Louis. It is also the middle name of Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote the loved classics Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Micah is a Hebrew name that is listed several times throughout the Old Testament, including the Book of Micah in which a prophet recorded many of his prophecies. It’s an ancient name that has only recently become popular and means “Who is like God?”
The English version of this name would be “Michael.” In Spanish and Portuguese, Miguel actually has the same meaning as Micah: “Who is like God?” One of the most prominent bearers of this name, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, became the author of the famed Don Quixote novel.
Nicholi is a Russian name that means “victorious” or “victory of the people.” It is the Russian or Bulgarian form of “Nicholas,” which has a similar meaning in English. This is a strong, masculine name that is both formal and unique.
The name Owais comes from Arabia. In Urdu, it means “companion of the prophet” or “little wolf.” It comes from the name Uwais, which belonged to a sixth century scholar named Uwais al-Qarani.
15 Old-Fashioned Girl Names
Old-fashioned girl names also carry a sense of strength. They spell out themes such as light, influence, and wisdom. Each of these themes are a great testament to women throughout the ages for their ability to maintain hope and to make the world a better place, even during the darkest chapters of history. They were—and still are—a vital force in our families and communities.
The name Ada is chiefly from Germany. It comes from other names you might recognize such as Adelaide or Adelina. One of the first inventors of the mechanical computer was named Ada, Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, to be exact. The name itself means “noble.”
Annette is an old French name. It comes from the name “Anne” and means “mercy” or “grace.” This beautiful vintage girl’s name became popular after 1950s actress Annette Funicello began stealing the spotlight in film. Most of her audience knew her simply by her first name.
This Scottish name carries a simple and peppy tone. It calls to mind the wildflowers and fields of Scotland itself, which is fitting since the name means “pretty.” This old-fashioned girl name grew in popularity when it was used as the nickname for Scarlett’s daughter in the film Gone with the Wind.
Cassandra is an ancient Greek name that means “to shine” or “to excel” and was the name of a mythical Trojan princess. This powerful name carries a sense of grace and independence. Cute nicknames for Cassandra might include “Cass” or “Cassie.”
Clarabelle has Latin origins and means “clear” or “bright.” The name has a pleasant and vintage ring to it, which could be perfect for your little one. It was especially a popular name in America during the 1920s and was even the name of one of Walt Disney’s earliest animated characters.
The name Emilia spells success for any little girl. It has Latin roots and literally means “to excel” or “to strive.” It’s no wonder this old name has belonged to so many successful athletes and artists. Even Shakespeare chose this name for one of his characters in his play Othello.
Florence is a Latin name meaning “flowering” and “prosperous” and has a long history dating back to medieval times. However, most will recognize this name from Florence Nightingale, a diligent nurse who helped save British lives during the Crimean War. Much medical progress that we have made today started with her efforts.
The meaning of the Italian name Gemma is in the name itself. As you might have guessed, it means “precious stone.” Gemma also dates back to the medieval period and was the name of famed poet Dante Alighieri’s wife. This is a perfect old-fashioned girl name for reminding your little one that she carries great worth.
Hannah is a Hebrew name that means “grace” or “favor.” This beautiful and historic name belonged to the mother of the prophet Samuel, as recorded in the Old Testament. She was a powerful woman who understood what it meant to trust God, even at great cost.
The name Irina has Greek origins. It has a gentle sound to it and means “peace.” This name has grown in popularity, especially during the 2000s. It comes from the name “Irene” and is the perfect name to give your precious little one that will not become outdated.
The name Leylah is actually a Modern English variant of the Arabic name “Leila,” which means “night” or “dark.” While this name may not historically be as vintage as some of the others on the list, it carries the same melodic tone.
This cheerful and classic Greek name is a variant of the name “Margaret,” which means “pearl.” Marjorie has both a timeless and a unique tone, certain to help your daughter stand out—just like a shiny, beautiful pearl.
While the name Penelope might be considered an English name, the name means “weaver” in Greek and comes from Greek mythology. Penelope is the name of the great hero Odysseus’s wife, a strong woman who worked to protect herself during her husband’s absence. It’s a great vintage name with some pep.
Rosa is a name of Spanish origin. As you may have already guessed, it means “rose.” Rosa is an old name that has helped shape history, from Rosa Parks standing up for civil rights to Rosa Bonheur, a French painter who achieved a worldwide reputation, one of the earliest women to do so.
Winnie, or Winifred, comes from the Welsh language as well as Old English. It means “holy,” “blessed,” “joy,” and “peace.” One particularly influential woman with this name was Saint Winifred, a Welsh princess who was martyred.
Old-Fashioned Names in Your Family
Still struggling to find the perfect old name? Sometimes the best place to look is in your own family. Peruse generations of your family tree, and discover the names of individuals and stories nested there. You might be surprised by how much personal meaning—and unique, old names—you find.
Source: Family Search
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