Why the sudden influx of "Granny Names" among the hipster set?

I’m another one who thinks they are often named after actual grannies and great-grannies. In the mid-80s, my cousin debated naming her daughter Sophie after our beloved grandmother. On the plus side for Sophie was the notion that it would be unusual among her peers, the con was that it might sound too old-fashioned. That was clearly a delusion, the name had a huge jump in popularity. Apparently many beloved grannies were named Sophie.

My prediction is that we’ll see another revival in the next generation of names that look like my mom’s sorority roster from the 1950s … Judy, Carol, Barbara, Linda and Joyce as the grandchildren of that generation of women start having babies.

I think it all started when Tracey Ullman named her daughter Mabel.

I predict that male “gramps names” will not catch on nearly as much as female ones. The next generation of Helens, Sylvias and Ellas are going to marry Shanes, Elijahs and Bradyns, not Georges, Walters or Herberts.

I love this influx of Granny Names.

My own name will never be on the upswing of the resurgence because it is **Beyond Suck. ** Joan. Verily, you can hear the suckage as you say it.

I’ve always been partial to: Betty, Hazel, Mabel, Hester, Josephine Which I wanted to name my daughter but it was poo pooed by Captain Buzzkill and the Stick up the Ass Brigade.

Must just be you:

Martha: Steadily descending in popularity for many years, but still in the Social Security top 1000 *(#526 for 2006).
Gertrude: Dropped off the list entirely in 1965
Agnes: Dropped off the list in 1972
Agatha: Dropped off in 1945
Bertha: Dropped off in 1985

However, as has been mentioned, foreign-born Americans might not have preconceived notions about these names being old hat, and are probably more likely to use them. Also, in my experience, I’ve seen a number of “old” names given to Black children, so I guess it (the belief in certain names as being old) is mainly among non-first-generational American Whites.

*Slightly behind Jacqueline and slightly ahead of Barbara, variations aside.

Every time I meet a couple expecting a child, I always suggest that if it is a girl, they name her Brunhilde.

The couple always looks at me as if I were crazy.

“…it is a great name. Nobody else would have it in her Kindergarten class, nobody would ever forget the name, and seeing it on paper you know they will be dying to meet a woman named Brunhilde and call her in for interviews for the rest of her life. Plus, she will have to grow up with a sense of humor.”

Besides, an odd name never seemed to bother Miss Ima Hogg from Texas - she was one of the upper crust of Texas society.

I like Joan!

I agree with the people upthread that the children of immigrants often get old-people names - for some reason it seems that all the little US-born Asian children I see are named Hector and Alfred and Mabel and Eustace and Gertrude and such. Old white-people names that nobody else uses anymore. I don’t know why, but I find it refreshing. (At least they’re spelled right, and yes I’m talking to you, Little Miss JackqWelline.)

I dont’ know. I think you’re right with the school-age set. But the top ten male baby names for 2006 were Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Ethan, Matthew, Daniel, Christopher, Andrew, Anthony, and William. The only two Eurowaspy gramps names are the last two, though; all the rest are biblical.

I think there’s some selection bias at work here, VCO3- you ran into a few people with these names and think a trend is at work when it’s probably a coincidence. The evidence says there wasn’t any boom.

I’m 25. There was a Martha in my kindergarten class, and I’ve been friends with an Irene since I was 14. I’ve known a couple of Mollys over the years, including two or three in college, and one of my co-workers is planning to use that name for her daughter (must be due pretty damn soon!). These people may or may not be hipsters, but in all the cases I know of, those are the only names they’ve ever gone by.

Haven’t you people read Freakonomics? They cover changes in name popularity as a function of social class.

Essentially, names propagate like some weird pyramid scheme, going from rich to middle class to welfare moms who want their kids to be upwardly mobile.

Steeped as I am in 19th-century English literature, I’ve always preferred older, traditional names for that time.

Men’s names I love:

Women’s names I love:


Are all of these old geezer names? To me, they’re timeless and lovely.

Those are better than my suggestion for Prince Charles in the GQ thread… :smiley: (where, by the way, you were a great help! Thank you.)

baby name popularity fun site

Shirley, I think Joan is a lovely name.
teela brown, I read an article written in the 1920s about flappers, and the author made a point of mentioning how ironic it was that so many “modern” flappers had very old-fashioned names like Jane, since they were named for their grandmothers or great-grandmothers. Another poster (from Australia, I believe) mentioned several years ago that when she named her daughters Amy and Emily, since those were such old lady names. So Jane and the like seem to have been cycling in and out of fashion for quite some time.

I’ve got three little cousins–Maxine, Dolores, and Stella–all named after their grandmothers. Their names conjure up a trio of chain-smoking ex-chorus girls in Miami Beach to me, so it’s always a little disconcerting to see these cherubic preschoolers instead.

Give 'em 55 years. They’ll look and smoke the part- each one sounding more like Auntie Mame than the other. :slight_smile:

At least one of those Jennifers, my sister (born 1977), deliberately chose an old-fashioned name for her daughter, because she didn’t want her daughter to have a name just like everybody else’s. It must have bothered her, always having at least one other Jennifer in her class in school. My name is less common, and I always felt a little sorry for her for never being the only one with her first name in her class.

For whatever reason, girls’ names seem to go through more shifts in popularity than boys’ names.

Ashley will be a granny name someday. It’s already on the way down in popularity. Someday nearly everyone with that name will be old. The Dylans and Noahs of today are the Homers and Irvs of tomorrow. We see names like Betsy as an old person name just from our narrow perspective. Some of the old names have been out of style for so long they don’t remind young parents of old people anymore. People who had those names are largely dead and gone. I notice names like Grace, Rose, Inez, Olivia and Zachary all making comebacks.

Jill, meanwhile has fallen out of the top 1,000 girls names in the US. That will be a granny name in a few more decades.

My gawd, how could you resist teaching them to play canasta? Too cute!

Himself thinks “Victor Herbert” would be a fine name for a boy (and he’s not just taunting me; I can tell the difference). I have no inclination to name a kid Topher or Mikkee or Zim. I love old classic names. But Victor Herbert?

Over my dead body.

Bertha was my grandmother’s name. And “Big Bertha” would have been even more appropriate. :slight_smile:

That woman was about as wide as she was tall. And that’s not counting the bouffant wig.