Once-Popular Baby Names You Never See Anymore

  • Newborn baby and mother
Newborn baby and mother
Credit: Andrii Orlov/ Shutterstock

Much like fashion, the cyclical nature of baby names is influenced not only by cultural shifts, but also by historical events and popular media. For instance, in 1931, the name Bella was ranked No. 985 in the top 1,000 female names by the Social Security Administration, which uses Social Security card application data to determine the popularity of names, before falling off the list entirely for 69 years. We can’t be sure why the name made the list again in the year 2000, coming in at No. 749, but its rapid rise in popularity from there can be attributed to Bella Swan, the central character in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, published between 2005 and 2008. Bella jumped in popularity to No. 122 in 2008, then to No. 58 the following year and No. 48 in 2010. The name remained on the list of the top 100 most popular female names through 2022, a trend bolstered by the film adaptations of the Twilight books.

While some popular names fade away only to come surging back many years later, others are perennial favorites decade after decade. Michael has been the No. 1 most popular male name for 44 of the past 100 years. On the female names list, Mary has taken the top spot 32 times and ranks as the overall most popular name of the past 100 years, despite falling as low as No. 135 over the years. The name James maintains the top spot for the most popular male name of the past century, though it has ranked as low as No. 19.

Old-fashioned names such as Harriet and Amos may make us think of our grandparents and a bygone era, but there is always a chance they’ll make a trendy comeback alongside more contemporary names such as Onyx, Anakin, and Nova (some of the top baby names in 2024). Here is a nostalgic look at eight vintage baby names that were once widely popular but have faded in use — at least for now.

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Doris just squeaks onto the list of the 100 most popular names of the past 100 years at No. 98, despite the fact that it never cracked the top five in any year of the past century. Peaking at No. 6 in 1929, Doris didn’t even make the top 1,000 names in 2023. Doris Day, born Doris Kappelhoff in 1922, is arguably the most famous Doris of the past century. A popular singer and actress in the 1950s and ’60s, her wholesome girl-next-door image contrasted with the cultural shifts of the 1960s, which may account for the name’s decreasing popularity in the decades since.

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