40 Retro baby names ready for a comeback

Choosing a name for your baby can be quite a difficult decision – trendy, traditional, modern vintage? If you’re looking for something completely different, the Netmums team has been looking for a few good old names that we think should make a comeback.

1. Agnes

Agnes instantly makes us think of the adorable little girl from Despicable Me, but the name is actually of Greek origin meaning “pure” and “virgin”.

2. Alma

This sweet name, originating from Latin, means “education”, and translated from Spanish – “soul”. Could this be your newborn daughter’s name?

3. Bernadette

Bernadette is of German and French origin meaning “brave as a bear”. Perfect for strong and fearless little girls.

4. Bernard

Like the female equivalent of Bernadette, Bernard means “brave as a bear”. If “Bernard” sounds too formal, we love cute little Bernie. Could you take little Bernie bear?

5. Bertha

The name of this girl, meaning “bright” and “magnificent”, is of German origin. Berhta was a goddess from Norse mythology who was considered a beautiful and benevolent spirit.

6. Betty

Will your baby Betty have Bette Davis eyes? The name of this girl is of Jewish origin and means “given to God.” There are many famous characters with this name – Betty White, Betty Draper Francis from Mad Men and Betty Boop!

7. Chester

The name Chester means “fortress” in Latin. Tom Hanks gave his son this name, but he is better known as Chet. Will you draw inspiration from a Hollywood star?

8. Clarence

This handsome boy’s name, meaning “bright”, is of Latin origin. It’s also the name of the guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life, perfect for any baby born in December!

9. Daisy

Who doesn’t like the name of a flower? Daisy was originally a nickname for Margaret because the French name Marguerite is the word for flower.

10. Dennis

Dennis the Menace may be a British-born troublemaker, but the name is widely used in France, where Saint-Denis is the patron saint. The name can be traced back even further to Dionysius, the Greek god of wine and depravity. Bold!

11. Dorothy

Any darling daughter of Dorothy simply MUST have a pair of red sparkly shoes. The name means “gift of God” and can be shortened to Dot or Dotty.

12. Edna

Edna is a cartoonist’s favorite – think Bart’s teacher on The Simpsons and costume designer on The Incredibles.

Meaning “rejuvenation” and “delight”, Edna was a loving mother in the Bible. If you want a modern take on the title, try the gender-neutral title Eden.

13. Edward

This classic English name means ‘wealthy guardian’.

And it’s a name with a strong royal heritage. There were 11 English kings named Edward (although only eight were numbered). This name was also chosen by Queen Elizabeth for her youngest son. Well, if it’s good enough for the royal family…

14. Edwin

Of English origin, Edwin is a boyish name meaning “rich friend”. Your little Edwin can become a rich son too!

15. Eric

The name Simon Cowell chose for his son Eric is of Scandinavian origin and means “eternal ruler”.

Now is the perfect time to bring the name back, as new characters Ariel and Prince Eric will soon hit our screens in The Little Mermaid.

16. Ethel

Ethel means “noble maiden”, but did you know that this is actually a modern version of some much older names?

It was originally a shorter alternative to the Old English nicknames for Ethelberta, Ethelreda and Ethelinda.

17. Floyd

Coming from Wales, Floyd means “gray-haired” so this is definitely a name your child can grow up to be! It also has rock and roll connotations, will your little one be a Pink Floyd fan?

18. Francis

Francis can be unisex, but is more commonly used as a boy name, and Francis is a feminine spelling. It means “Frenchman” or “free man” – oh-la-la.

It is also the name of the current Pope, so your child will be in good company.

19. George

George may seem like a very English name to you – after all, Prince George is the heir to the throne and Saint George is our patron saint. But this boy’s name is actually of Greek origin, meaning “farmer.”

20. Gladys

The meaning of the name Gladys, meaning “land” or “nation” in Welsh, is also believed to be derived from the Latin word for “small sword”. Maybe your little one will become a soul sensation like their namesake Gladys Knight.

21. Hetty

Hetty, commonly used as a nickname for Henrietta or Harriet, is charming in her own right. It can also be written as Hettie if you prefer the “ie” ending.

22. Irene

The Most Serene Irene was the name of the Greek goddess of the world, who also happened to be the daughter of Zeus. This name was very popular in ancient Rome, where it was written as Eirene

23. Lois

A Greek name meaning ‘most desirable’, Lois is another retro name worthy of a comeback. After all, who wouldn’t want to be named after Superman’s girlfriend?!

24. Louis

A traditional name that’s recently been chosen by the royals, Louis means ‘renowned warrior’. After the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge called their youngest son Louis in 2018, we’re predicting a resurgence.

25. Marjorie

Marjorie, or Marge for short, is of Scottish origin meaning ‘pearl’. Hopefully your daughter will follow in the pioneering footsteps of Marjorie Stinson, the first female airline pilot.

26. Martha

Martha is the perfect name for a little lady – it literally means ‘lady’.

In the New Testament, Martha was the sister of Lazarus who looked after Jesus when he was a guest in her home. The biblical connection gave the name associations with domesticity and cooking – apt then, for American chef Martha Stewart who was named after her mum.

27. Mildred

An English name meaning ‘gentle strength’. If you fancy a modern twist on this retro name, try shortening to Mildie or Millie.

28. Milton

It’s time to reclaim this traditional boys’ name. Of Old English origin, it means ‘settlement with a mill’. It’s commonly found as a surname too, like that of acclaimed poet John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost.

29. Molly

Molly has been considered a more casual version of Mary since the Middle Ages. From Gaelic origin, its meaning is ‘bitter’, we’re sure your baby Molly will prove just how sweet she really is though.

30. Norma

It’s not too surprising to learn Norma means ‘from the north’. You could even take a leaf out of Kylie Jenner’s book and change it to Normi, rhyming with her baby’s name, Stormi.

31. Otis

Feel like you’ve won the jackpot with your baby boy? Otis is of German origin and means ‘wealthy’.

32. Pauline

The name Pauline is of French origin meaning ‘small’ – it couldn’t be more appropriate for your little girl. If you want to shorten it, try the nicknames Paula or Paulie.

33. Peter

Originally from Greek, Peter means ‘rock’.

In Christianity, Saint Peter is the keeper of the Gates of Heaven. Jesus gave him this name to signify he would be the rock on which he would build Christianity. The perfect name for a boy who’s strong and reliable, then.

34. Ralph

Ralph is a compound name from Scandinavian origins and has the unusual meaning of ‘wolf-counsel’. Will your baby boy be as fierce as a wolf when he arrives?

35. Sidney

This unisex name is derived from the name of the patron saint of France, ‘Saint Denis’. It works just as well if you’re a fan of the Australian city too.

It’s more often used for boys with Sydney the common female spelling, but why not shake things up?

36. Stanley

We may know Stanley as a boys’ name, but it’s used for baby girls’ around the world, too. Of English origin, it means ‘near the stony clearing’ … happen to live by a stony clearing by any chance?

37. Sylvia

Feminists might want to opt for this name, after the author of The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. In Latin, it means ‘from the forest’, so it’s great for nature lovers, too.

38. Terrence

Terrence, or Terry for short, is an English variation of the French name Terence. Some say it may have been borrowed from an ancient Aramaic word meaning ‘heart’.

39. Theodore

Meaning ‘gift of God’ and stemming from Greek, many parents opt for the shorter version of Theodore – Theo. We think the full name is a great choice too.

When Theodore Roosevelt became president of the USA in 1901, Teds and Teddys were born in abundance. It’s definitely time to bring this back.

40. Vernon


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