40 Baby Names That Have Taken a Break: Will They Come Back in Fashion?

Gary said his first word today! Barbara is teething, send help! Geoffrey is finally sleeping through the night! Oh look, Nancy just rolled over… Chances are, you won’t hear these remarks made in mothers groups around the country today. The situations, yes. But the names? Not so much.

While your parents’ generation is most likely rich with such monikers, these days nobody is calling their baby Gary or Barbara. Why?

Name trends come and go, and it is often the most popular names in one generation that take a big hit in future generations, while more classic names such as James, Elizabeth, William and Matthew tick along quietly without dipping up or down too much.

So what influences us to skip past certain names in the baby naming books? Our personal taste is influenced by all kinds of things, including:

  • Celebrities/personalities we don’t like (thanks to the ugly presidential campaigns in the US, we may not be seeing many Donald’s or Hillary’s enter this world in the near future)
  • Names that feel old-fashioned (you can’t hear the names Ethel or Irma without picturing your gran and her bridge club, can you?)
  • Names that are popular in our own generation (it seems that when you go to school with seven Emma’s, the name loses its magic somewhat)

Additionally, while in past generations the meaning of a name was a big deciding factor, these days many of us choose names because we like the sound of them, with meaning only having a minor influence (if at all). So names with rich meaning, such as Jeffrey (meaning “pledge of peace”) are making way for more attractive-sounding names like Avery (meaning “elf counsellor”).

We have compiled a list of baby names that are just not standing the test of time. Looking for something uncommon for your bun in the oven? You just might find what you’re looking for here, and in doing so you would be reviving a once-wonderful name that has fallen by the way-side!

Boy Names That Could Use a Comeback:

  • Arthur
  • Barry
  • Clarence
  • Clive
  • Cyril
  • Dennis
  • Donald
  • Ernest
  • Gary
  • Geoffrey
  • Gregory
  • Keith
  • Kenneth
  • Leonard
  • Neville
  • Nigel
  • Rodney
  • Ronald
  • Roy
  • Wayne

Girl Names That Could Use a Comeback:

  • Barbara
  • Bertha
  • Carol
  • Cynthia
  • Denise
  • Doris
  • Elaine
  • Ethel
  • Gladys
  • Irma
  • Jennifer
  • Joanne
  • Maureen
  • Nancy
  • Noelene
  • Pauline
  • Rhonda
  • Sally
  • Sharon
  • Wendy

So will we someday see these names creeping back into nurseries across the country, or has their hey-day come and gone? Naming trends can be unpredictable, and influenced by many factors, so it’s hard to say for sure. Perhaps in 40 years’ time, someone will be writing an article like this one and wondering what happened to names like Oliver, Ella, Noah and Ava, which are some of the more beloved baby names today!

Avatar of Klara Donovan

Klara is a Perth Mum with a background in finance and admin. When she's not crunching numbers or typing up a storm, she is running around after her one-year-old son, buying too many recipe magazines, wrangling two crazy dogs, cooking eggs on toast, singing at church, and calling her husband every 15 minutes to ask when he thinks he will be coming home from work. She is trying to be the best Mum she can be, and hopes to inspire others in her venture!


  1. Avatar of Blossom

    Not that long since “Jennifer” went off the radar. There’s been a few in the last 10 years.
    Possibly the use of “family” names will come back in vogue more tghan in the last 5 years or so

  2. Avatar of Jess

    My sons middle name is Arthur and my Mums name is Wendy so they’re not completely antiquated yet!

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