Old-fashioned names in your culture/country

I was thinking about this topic because my favorite comic book character, Baron Helmut Zemo, is a German (Prussianthankyouverymuch) but as I understand it, the name Helmut would be considered hopelessly old-fashioned in Germany today. Sure enough, checking the most popular German boys names as of 2006 gave me:

  1. Leon
  2. Maximilian
  3. Alexander
  4. Lukas/Lucas
  5. Paul
  6. Luca
  7. Tim
  8. Felix
  9. David
  10. Elias

Contrast with the most popular boys names as of 1900:

  1. Walter
  2. Karl
  3. Heinrich
  4. Wilhelm
  5. Hans
  6. Ernst
  7. Otto
  8. Paul
  9. Friedrich
  10. Hermann

While Helmut doesn’t make the list, it’d still look a lot more comfortable in a class with Hermanns and Karls than Tims and Lucases. It’s okay for the character, as he was born in the 1930s to a very arrogant, traditional family from the minor German (Prussiandamnit) nobility, but I’d imagine he’d stick out like a sore thumb today.

So, what’re some names that are considered utterly dated in your culture or country, to the point that if you read a book or a fanfic set in the modern day in your native land with a character with a name like that, you’d be a little taken aback and think ‘this author did not do the research’.

Just did a quick check with my wife; Sweden has (among others) Åslög. Oddly IMO, the boy’s name Melvin is fairly popular here - it was the 23rd most popular name in 2008 (compared to a dismal 479th back in the States).

I read a story with a character named “Marion.” Granted, it’s not quite as old fashioned and odd as it’s male counterpart, but nonetheless, it’s still old and not something I’d see today.

Both Sancho and Sancha were very popular until Cervantes published El Quijote.

I’ve met only one person named Sancho, last time I took the train there was a toddler by that name.

A friend of mine named her twins Rodrigo and Pelayo, both are very old-fashioned names. You do run into the occasional Rodrigo, but he’s the only Pelayo I’ve met in person.

I once had an interview where I would have loved to ask the interviewer how come he got to be a Saturnino. If we’d been in Pamplona (St Cernin or Saturnino is the patron saint; St Fermin is the patron of one of the three “old cities” and of the Navarrese people) it would have been extremely unusual but at least it would have made sense, but in Madrid?

Eustaquio. Eufrasia. Endelecio. Abilio. Quiteria. Andregoto. Ambra or Alhambra. García as firstname. Some aren’t so much out of fashion as “virtually unknown outside of old plays and street names.”

These… Other old saints’ names… Epifanio (although I know one). Every male name that ends in “-erto” other than Roberto is also uncommon/dated. Some female version of the male names (Ramona, Francisca).

My Grandfather was named Marion.

Here in the UK I’ve noticed that names that I considered desperately old fashioned and only fit for grandmothers when I was growing up are now all back in fashion (think Molly, Ruby, Olivia, Oliver, Jack, Eleanor, William etc). The names that now seem really out of date for newborns probably only date back (in popular choice) to the 50s/60s/70s (Sharon, Deborah, Clare, Ian, Barry, Kevin, Fiona, Diane etc).

I’ve also noticed that always-popular traditional names (Catherine, Elizabeth, Thomas and the like) are now often abbreviated to their short version (Katie, Beth, Tom etc etc) on birth certificates, completely bypassing the original full name. I have a (long version) traditional name and use the short version for everything except official documents. I like having the option of using either, and could very it according to fashion, if I so chose.

The girl version is Marian.

Aside: I just read yesterday that the baseball player usually referred to in the US as Minnie Minoso is actually named Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta. Personally, I wouldn’t have been happy with “Minnie” if that were my actual handle. (He was born in Cuba in the 1920s.)

I’m sorry, I mistyped. It was a young woman named “Marian.” It was set about 5 years ago in the Midwest. I live in the Midwest, and have never met a Marian below the age of 70.

(and Bosda, that’s the point I’m making. It’s a grandpa-kind-of-name.)

It’s interesting when you look at U.S. popularity lists, the entirety of the list of female names of my mother’s generation, her sisters and contemporary first cousins, has been sliding into oblivion. Myrna, Judith, Sheila, Tamara, Sandra, Connie (Constance), Beverly, Catherine, Cheryl, Joyce, Sonia, Patricia, Gladys, Jeanne, Susan, Denise, even Kimberly and Renee are on a decline. The only member of my mother’s generation who might meet a young girl with her name these days seems to be Olivia.

A generation before that? My grandmother and her sisters? Even more disappeared: Leona, Antoinette, Mary Elizabeth, Bernice and Gail.

Quebec old-time names are any of the really obscure saints, like Zotique, Télesphore, Euphémie, and so forth, preferably crammed into a compound name. The prime example was the Montreal Chief of Police during the 1940s: his name was Pacifique Plante.

My grandparent’s names (US-South) were Lonnie and Jettie. I don’t know if those are shortened from a longer version.

Interestingly, it’s a Polish male name. I’ve also noticed that “Alexis” and “Jocelyn” appear to be female names in English. They’re male in French (the feminine form of “Jocelyn” is “Jocelyne”).

I happen to have ancestors of both genders with the name of “Onésime”. The saint of that name seems to have been a man.

Also, “Antonio” was for some reason very popular among Quebec men in the early 20th century. I think Duplessis’s government in the 50s had three or four ministers with this name. It didn’t survive to this day, though “Mario” did. “Napoléon” was also very popular in the second half of the 19th century, and totally unknown today.

Not always (just to give a famous example).

It should also be noted that John Wayne (that bastion of masculinity) was born Marion Morrison.

That sort of bugs me - give the full name on the cert and let the kid/family/friends settle on an everyday name over the years. A name with rich variants for a boy such as Alexander is a classic example - Sandy, Alex, Lex, Alec, Alick, Eck, Zander, etc. Elizabeth has many variants on the distaff side and, like Alexander, there are class and age and what-century-is-it issues: “Libby” vs “Betty”, for example.

“Ambrose” is a ridiculously old-fashioned name.

Soon enough we’ll see Judy and Carol and Barbara come back - just wait until they’re “honored grandmother” names and there’ll be a respawn. It’s a cyclical thing. Names your mom’s age are ugh, names your grandma’s age are dignified.

In Germany, Marion is a girl’s named that is pronounced Mar-e-ohn. (Cousin in law is a Marion.)

I’m pretty sure that Joan won’t make the resurgence that Hannah/Emily/Sarah combination has done in the last 10 years.