Tuesday, July 22, 2008

bad ideas

About ten ago, for reasons I’ve forgotten, but which must have been convincing at the time, I decided that I really wanted to collect old mismatched silver napkin rings, engraved with random names or initials. While I soon abandoned the idea, I did manage to find a few napkin rings meeting that description in the antique stores down the street from my mother's house.

I remember one in particular, chased with flowers surrounding some pretty script letters that read Hortense. And I remember thinking, that’s an old-fashioned name that is not going to making a comeback. Ever.


Can you think of any other names that have long since passed their use-by dates and should now be tossed on the ash heap of history?

63 comments:

thailandchani said...

Myrtle and Winifred have probably seen their best days. :)

Mrs. Spit said...

Florence, Henrietta, Polly, Gladys, Evangeline.

Mrs. Spit said...

Florence, Henrietta, Polly, Gladys, Evangeline.

Katie said...

Virginia would maybe be one.
I quite like Myrtle, maybe after Harry Potter it will make a come back (one of the ghosts is called Myrtle)

Hannah said...

Sadie and Edgar. Although with Hortense, you've definitely hit on one that I can't ever imagine anyone using ever ever again.

Rachel said...

Ah, see, I think some of the ones mentioned are on the cutting edge of namitude -- I can well imagine little Myrtles, Florences, Evangelines and Sadies. They live in New York or California and have strollers that cost more than my first car.

I'm a "never say never" believer as far as fashion goes. I believe that hoop skirts will come back eventually. But here are names I don't see coming back real soon:

Bertha, Dorcas, Henrietta, Ethel, Edna, Bernice, Wilma.

I almost put down Mildred and Gertrude, but I think in another few years there may well be cute little Millies and Trudys toddling around in their Robeez.

Eva said...

I know you probably aren't looking for baby name suggestions, but that's how it came off for me. :)

I know a little Virginia, so that one's out, and a Henrietta, so I have no faith that names go away forever.

MrsLilypond said...

I know a Sadie, (I like that name!)

I have two, both are my Grandmas names.... Mable & Fayetta

Anonymous said...

Hedwig. She was actually a distant relation...

sweetsalty kate said...

Ahh, see, I know a little girl named Sadie too. And I love so many of these! Ditto what Rachel said.

You sneaky niobe, you. I bet you're doing this to glean all kinds of awesome names from teh interweb. Verrrry clever!

I wouldn't recommend Cleatus, though, nor Cecil. Nor Mildred nor Bertha, although Bertha instantly becomes cool when you say it in German.

I know a little girl named Poppy, and it seemed self-consciously unusual at first but now, I love it. So I'm all about old flower names.

h2o girl said...

I know a Sadie, a Virginia, and a Mildred as well. I think Edna and Ethel are out, though. Who could look at their gorgeous newborn and bestow either of those names on them? My grandmother is named Thelma - I think that's out now as well.

Lori said...

Herman, Hector, Gertrude, Helga, Athol (haha), Enid, Eunice, Pricilla

Aunt Becky said...

Eunice.

calliope said...

I don't think Adolf will ever come back in style.

ditto for Chester and Lester.

sadly I am TOTALLY the goober that hearts old names. As in if I ever have a kid he or she will TOTALLY have the name of an old fart. But since I have a weird name I have always vowed to bless my kid with the same sort of learning experience. heh

k@lakly said...

Adolph is out...maybe Petunia too but you just never know with names esp with all the Hollyweird moms naming their kids strange things such as Apple.

debbie said...

My grandmothers were Flora and Sadie, and my mom insists that both names are too old to use. I like Sadie, but I won't use it, not be because it's old, but rather, because it is the name of almost every cute girl dog in America.

I had a great aunt named Elsie, I love that name, not sure if it's too old to come back. I had another great aunt named Irene, I definitely could not use that one.

And I agree w/ Rachel, good luck with the search!

Monica said...

Ethel, Gertrude, Mildred, Bertha, Ruth, Gladys, Geneva, Martha (although I hear Martha is now hip when it is, "Marta")...

Clarabella said...

My grandmothers' names were Reba and Hildegard (yes, she was German), and while I loved both very dearly, I don't think my hypothetical little girl, or any other, for that matter, will be sporting those names anytime soon.

Aurelia said...

No name suggestions, but I have a lovely set of silver napkin rings, engraved with each family member's name.

And now I'm imagining that someday, long after we are dead, a woman named Niobe will buy them from an estate auction....

Lisa b said...

Mable is back mrslillypond
I was also going to vote fro Gertrude but I have to agree with others that I can acutally see Gertie or Trudy making a comeback.

I think Harriet is horrid but the playground is full of them these days.

Hortense though perhaps has had her day.

Furrow said...

The danger with a name old enough to have been forgotten is that people think you made it up. Such is the case with my Zora.

I know an Ester (sic), Ada, and Clementine who were born last year, so I don't count anything out.

Furrow said...

except Bertha

Magpie said...

Millicent.

niobe said...

Eva: I suppose it does sound that way. But it's not. At least not consciously.

Rachel: I completely agree. And I love the line about strollers costing more than your first car.

sweetsalty kate: I think that I would really like the name "Poppy" if only it didn't sound (to my ears, anyway) so much like a child's nickname for grandpa.

Lori. Athol. Now there's a name that I don't think anyone will be using anytime soon.

Ms. Planner said...

Would love to go antiquing with you. I once thought of collecting old sterling napkin rings. People use to engrave names on them so they would know which cloth napkin was theirs from meal to meal.

And re: your Marys post from a few days ago. I use to close my eyes before each blog popped up when I visited the blogs of women who had due dates near mine. The fear never goes away. You just have to figure out how to manage it.

Cheek said...

Blanche. I think Ms. Devereaux was the last one.

Melissa said...

Mildred and Gertrude, two of my great Aunts, along with their sister Dorothy and my grandmother, Elsie.

Amy said...

Arceal (my grandma's name...she's always hated it), Eunice, Ingrid, Ethel...of course, all it takes is one celeb naming their kid one of these names and we'll all follow suit like little lemmings.

Heather said...

My grandmother is LaVonne. I truly hope, hope, hope! we're done with that one.

Oh, and I second Adolf. At least until people forget about the Holocaust (which should be quite a while, yet).

Betty M said...

This side of the Atlantic a lot of the above names are really popular - all the flower names (Lily, Poppy, Daisy in particular), Mabel , Florence, Martha, Millie, Flora - I know under 5s with all those names which my grandmother would have dismissed as Victorian servants' names. Edna, Gertrude and Ermintrude have not made a comeback. On the male Victorian servants front Stanley, Archie and Arthur are all popular for boys here. Wilfred though is past its sell by.

JamieD said...

I came across an old newspaper clipping my great-grandmother saved of my grandfather when he was a child. We grew up in a small town, so at the beginning of the school year the town paper would print a picture of the kindergarten class with their names on the front page.

It was hysterical looking at a bunch of 5 year olds with names like Fay, Mildred, Agnes, Beatrice, Alton, Merle, Melvin, etc.

Manda said...

LOL @ Cheek!

I think the Golden Girls names (both real and character) are all done, except maybe Rose, which is a bit of a classic.

But Bea, Betty, Estelle, Rue, Blanche & Dorothy are done. Along with Millicent, Clara and Miriam.

And for boys, Neville and Eugene are the worst. Oh, and Wendel, Herbert, Roland and Marvin.

Rachel said...

I was going to comment on the lack of men's names and write Herbert, but then Manda stole my thunder.

How about Maude, Alma, Irene and Bessie?

Gretchen said...

Bea isn't done! My daughter is Beatrix, and I know of two others who have been born this year.

Millicent is making a comeback, too. Think "Millie" as a nickname.

My niece is named Evangeline. They call her Evie.

I think Fanny is done---but that's about it. If you skulk around naming blogs and boards, you'll see Dorothy (Dottie), Mabel, Greta, Clara, Alice, etc...

You never hear of babies being named Debbie or Linda. They will be our great-grandchildren.

Manda said...

I think Debbie is a real 80's name... like Tiffany and Sally... *shudder* They will be back...

And those short boys names like Guy and Gus seem to be coming back too.

thrice said...

I had a great-grandmother named Meta.

slouching mom said...

Pearl.

Maude.

Babette (my grandmother's name) (though it's fine in France).

Cora.

Dora.

kate said...

Fanny was the name i thought of, that was my dh's grandmother's name. In fact it was short for something but i don't know what. Fenella, maybe? Dh's other grandmother was named Winifred, another one i see on the comment list!

On my side my grandmothers were Anna-Maria & Theresia, so nothing too bad there.

Dayna said...

I know a Miriam, and I would consider using Clara.

My #1 choice if I ever have a girl (and if I ever manage to even get pregnant I'll be amazed, but that's a tale for another day) is Eleanor. I used to think I was so cool and unique because when I loved it back in college everyone raised their eyebrows, but now it's apparently popular. I have become a lemming quite unwillingly. :(

As far as what's past it's date, I guess anything is possible.

Dayna said...

ITS date. ITS date. As soon as I hit publish I noticed the misplaced apostrophe. Now I'm going to go hide my head in shame.

flutter said...

Dorcas.

Lori said...

Fascinating. I love discussions of names so this has been very interesting. I am wondering if some of the impressions are rooted in geographic or cultural perceptions. I have been surprised by a few of the names that some people consider history. Here in my corner of the world old fashioned or unusual names are quite the rage and so I don't know that I would consider anything off the table yet.

I personally know a young family with three children named Evelyn, Pauline and Hugh. Some might have thought all three of those had passed their prime.

I am going to go out on a limb though and suggest that my own grandmother's name might not be making its way onto any Pottery Barn Kids monograms in the near future. That would be, Muriel.

The funny thing is that I think my own name may well have had its one and only heyday. I often say that Lori (spelled as I do) was born in the 60's and early 70's and will probably remain there forever. But, time will tell....

Angela said...

Henry.

Why is it suddenly a good idea to bestow this name on innocent infants? I think it's well past it's prime and wish it would be tossed on the historical ash heap.

Although this may be more because whenever I hear it, it conjures up an image of King Henry, the eighth: obese, covered in boils, prone to...volatility. Not the greatest connotations, so perhaps that's it more than the name itself.

Patti said...

My grandmother's name was Bertha. My Mom's middle name is Mildred. I have a great-great-aunt Dorcas, too.

All of those, however, have been mentioned.

How about Cecily, Chester and Wallace?

S. said...

Ya know, I think we're looking too far back. I don't know anyone my generation who's named a kid Jennifer.

Robyn said...

My GreatGrandfather named my Granny Casilda after the heroine in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers. It was probably the 1894 equivalent of Brittany. Then, because my Grandpop had the responsibility of quickly naming his very sick newborn daughter without Granny's assistance (also unwell after delivery), my mother scored Casilda as well.

Never met anyone else with the name and never likely to.

Which Box said...

I think the way names come in and out of vogue is fascinating. There probably are some names that become relegated to the dustbin, but in general, each generation is a little different, and we tend to come back to names that sound old fashioned. My own daughter's middle name is Sadie (after a grandmother), and so many people suggested we switch middle and first names since it was so cute! And Margaret was high on our list, though 20 years ago I bet it was on the discarded list.

Check out the baby name wizard to track name's popularity over time. Very cool.

http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager

Christine said...

hepsibar

Bon said...

i love all this name cycle stuff. the only ones mentioned that i think are truly out for the foreseeable future are Hortense, Athol, Dorcas and Adolf...the first three because of unfortunate syllabic coincidences and the last for obvious notoriety. Fanny and Roger are probably out in Australia, at least, too...

the Germanic sounding female names like Hilda, Bertha, and Helga may have another generation to go before they freshen, but i'm with the camp betting we'll have granddaughters named Hilda and greatgranddaughters named Debbie and Sherry and Jennifer. :)

and i loooove Maud.

Julia said...

This is fascinating, though with my ESL history I don't have much to contribute. Yiddish names from shtettles are mostly done, I think. Suraleah, for example, I am pretty sure is out for good. I am sure there are more, but I am drawing blanks.

Elizabeth said...

since "old-fashioned" names are making a comeback, I think the ones that will be dustbinned are of more recent vintage - Heather, Tiffany, Karen.

Molly said...

elizabeth, I was thinking the same thing. Linda, Susan (although "the pregnant man" named his daughter this), Patricia, Barbara, Nancy, etc.

One of my girls I named Alice.

I know a 20-something named Eunice.

Kymberli said...

I think Becky's picking a fight with me - my grandmother's name was Eunice. Lucky for Becky, I think Eunice is ghastly.

Cleophis. Anything with "Lou" as a second part, like Cindy Lou or Betty Lou. Bernice. Beucephalus. Damien. Bogan. Ernie. Rufus.

Ima. Have you ever heard of the philanthropist known as the "First Lady of Texas"? Her name was Ima, and she died sometime in the '70's. I think she was the daughter of a Texan governor (or some other type of politician). The poor lass - her last name was Hogg. True story.

Karin said...

Well,nobody has mentioned my great grandmothers name yet - Ingeborg. I have another ancestor who was Ingeborg Eggebratten. How is that for a mouthful. LOL!!!

I actually love old names. And I agree, its the more recent generations that we won't see for a while - Peggy, Linda, Rhonda. And then for the boys, when I grew up - boys named Scott where everywhere.

Beck said...

I can see LOTS of terrific names on the list - Henrietta! Polly! Evangeline! Beatrice and Clara are extremely fashionable right now, and so forth.
The names that we probably won't see again in our lifetimes? OUR names - the ones from the 70s. Look for little Lisas and Stacys again in 60 years.

Emily said...

Surely Dorcas is past making a return. That would be as cruel as naming your kid Dert or Dickwad.

I rather love Pearl and Evangline.

LAS said...

Carmalita - supposedly my dad wanted to name me this. He lost. Willamina - I just don't like this name, although I think Willa is cute.

Anonymous said...

I find Gudule to be an odd an somewhat unfortunate name. There is the church Saint Gudule here in Brussels and I met a two year old girl with that name. "Viens Gudule...." just sounded strange to my ears.
allypally

Rory said...

My grandmother's were named Pearl and Dorothy Blanche(she went by Blanche). In the family tree we also had boys/men from one family named Endcom and Lastcom. They were something like children 6 and 8 for the woman and weren't the last, I think she went on to 14. I used to joke that she named them those names in hopes that they were the End or the Last.

Clever Trevor said...

I hate ANGUS.

If I'd have had a girl I would have gone for Lily but that was because it was my Nan's middle name.

I love Irene, but pronounced the original Roman way (eee rae nee).

Azaera said...

My nan's name is Sydney Patricia. and I always thought Sydney is more of a boys name. Bleh. All my grandmothers sisters and my grandmother herself have ghastly names. Dorothy, Thelma, Shirley, Arlee, Ines, and Beatrice. Here Beatrice is a milk company and I couldn't stand calling a little kid by the name on the milk carton. And out of guys names Camille (my grampa's name even he hates it, but it's french.) Darcy, Russel (makes me think of russet potatoes and russel terriers..) Oh and one more girl's name from my own generation that I hate is Courtney (but it might have quite a lot to do with the girl of same name who threw rocks at me and stole my barbies when I was just a wee one)

Anonymous said...

I know a couple of Blanches.

Elizabeth said...

engraved silver napkin rings is a lovely thing to collect. what a wonderful idea. i'll keep you in mind if i come across any!