Arguably, one of the most important parental duties we have is to pick a suitable name for our baby—preferably before the baby is born and definitely before all the paperwork needs to be signed and filed. Some of us go into pregnancy with a long list of names to pick from while others have the perfect name picked out years in advance. And then there are others who pick one spontaneously and never give it a second thought. For the rest of us, there are tons of baby name books and lists just like this one on the big wide internet (this is the best list though so you can pick one from here and then go take a nap).
To make name-picking a little easier, you can divide it into themes like names inspired by Nature or names that only winter babies can rock or names inspired by the classics. You can also look up food names, car names or really outrageously unusual names but please take a nap first before naming your baby one of those since this is a very important thing and you don’t want your poor baby crying to you that he or she hates their really cool outrageous one-of-a-kind name. Plus you will need to be able to spell the name correctly and yell it really loudly at least twice before the kid goes off to college.
Sugar And Spice: Girls’ Names
Almost everyone knows the classic story of Alice In Wonderland which has remained a consist story in the public’s eye thanks to regular movie and television remakes. Alice is sweet girls’ name with a hint of inner strength and a strong backbone of history to lend weight to the name’s worth. As Nameberry points out, there are royal connections to this name as well. “As a British royal, Alice was Queen Victoria’s second daughter, the princess who shocked her Victorian mother by breastfeeding her baby.” This name sounds like the perfect name for a modern-day rebel who will gently but firmly change the world.
Not many people are familiar with the classic story of The Borrowers but those who are will appreciate this nod to their favorite book. Arrietty brings to mind a lovely girl with spunk and bright red hair (almost like a Wesley but with more bounce and attitude). According to Mom Junction, “This sprightly and headturner of a name originated in Mary Norton’s The Borrowers. It is a story about a family of little people confined within the walls of their house.” If questioned, you can introduce someone to the book or say her name is based off of Harriet.
Mom Junction says,
“Pay homage to the older sister in Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona by naming your daughter Beatrice. You can use Bee for the nickname.”
Personally, we feel like Beatrice brings to mind a much older classic name. Beatrice Potter wrote the world famous Tale of Peter Rabbit which is still beloved by children everywhere to this day. If Peter isn’t in the cards (and Petra was already shot down by the kill-joy baby daddy), try for Beatrice and stay mum about the connection to your favorite childhood author till after the paperwork has gone through and she is officially named.
For fans of Charlotte’s Web, you will be happy to know that Charlotte is on the up and up in the popular name game—thanks in part to the dainty new Princess Charlotte. Nameberry can confirm this, “The name of the young Princess of Cambridge, Charlotte is the latest classic name to join Sophia, Emma, Olivia, and Isabella in a rise toward the top of the list, and it is now among the most popular girl names.” Charlotte is a popular name for British royals and has some potential for cute nicknames like Charlie (for that very tomboy girl) and Lottie (who doubtlessly has her dad wrapped around her little finger).
The Great Gatsby is a classic for multiple reasons and the heroine can live on with the dainty gorgeous name of Daisy. As Brit Co says, “First of all, wouldn’t this be a sweet name for a little girl? And, second, Daisy Buchanan is living (fictional) proof that it ages with just as much charm.” Daisy is a fresh spring name with a lovely flower to overuse in all the decorations as she gets older. But Daisy is also hearty and keeps coming back no matter what life throws at her—which is exactly the type of inner strength we want our little girls to have nowadays.
Also spelled Elinor, this name is a deep classic—bringing to mind not only Eleanor Roosevelt but also Jane Austen’s sensible heroine, Eleanor. Brit Co says, “The ‘sense’ in Austen’s classic, Eleanor has a reputation for practicality – but that makes her feelings run no less deep, and her name no less enviable.” When paired with a very excitable younger sister, Eleanor keeps her head and shows sense in the face of trauma and turmoil. This is exactly the type of character we want to channel for our little girl—especially if she is the first of more children to come. Those younger siblings will need a good role model to look up to with a solid head on her shoulders.
Another classic name from Jane Austen is Elizabeth. Even though there have been numerous literary characters to use this name, Austen’s heroine remains the most famous and cherished of the lot. As Mom Junction says,
“Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice is the perfect example of determined and smart woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. Like the Bennets, even you can use Lizzie for the nickname.”
If Lizzie isn’t your jam, you can also use Eliza, Liz, Lisa and Beth which can echo another classic—Beth from Little Women. It’s a name with endless possibilities.
Sometimes naming our daughter after a favorite character is nice but not quite good enough or maybe it doesn’t have the flare that we are looking for. So we look to the next best thing and name her after our favorite classical literary author. As Mom Junction says, “Late Harper Lee was one of the most celebrated authors of our time. This name was originally an English surname derived from the Old English word hearpere, meaning ‘one who plays the harp’.” Harper has a nice ring to it and can easily be yelled across the parking lot if needed.
Nothing says a classic name quite like Jane. Jane Austen is legendary, she has a character in Pride and Prejudice named Jane and of course, we can’t forget poor tragic Jane Eyre. If we look at history, there are lots of famous Janes running around. Nameberry points out, “A very old name, Jane has been around since Tudor times, in this country moving in and out of fashion. Jane was once so common that it became generic—as in Jane Doe and G.I. Jane—then spent considerable time as the back end of such smooshes as Maryjane, Bettyjane, and Sarajane.” Looks like it is time to revamp Jane.
There is only one classic girl named Josephine who we need to concern ourselves with here and that is good old Jo March from Little Women. You could name your daughter Jo but at least with Josephine you have something to say that sounds really scary when she’s in big trouble. According to Brit Co,
“Technically, Josephine, but we’re not sure the strong-willed Jo March would be that into us using her full name. It would be a cute and playful name for a little girl.”
Juliet is a classic name that goes back to the Shakespearean play we are all familiar with—a potential flaw pointed out by Mom Junction. “Juliet would be a solidly romantic name for your daughter. But there are high chances of her classmates making a connection with the starcrossed lover of Shakespeare’s play.” Worst case scenario, just tell her she was named after the female lead in the humorous television show Psych. This will lead to her wanting to watch it and then she’ll be distracted from Shakespeare till she goes back to school on Monday.
For a nod to a beloved modern classic, Luna from the Harry Potter series is perfect. Plus it means moon which is so lovely and romantic. Mom Junction says, “Hermione and Ginny are excellent characters to name your daughter after, but Luna would be best of the lot. Luna Lovegood taught the readers that one must never be afraid to love his or her full and true self.” This name also works if your man knows all about Hermione and Ginny but nothing about Luna or Lilly so you can still let your inner fangirl shine.
According to Mom Junction, “Another Shakespearean pick, this time, it’s from As You Like It. As a name, Rosalind is a mix of beauty, wit, and spark. It means ‘pretty rose’.” This is gorgeous name and it has two built in nicknames right off the bat with Rosa and Lindy. Plus, if Shakespeare ever falls out of style, you can call her Rosa and say she was named after Rosa Parks. This name also takes care of the theme for the nursery. Bouquets and paintings of roses anyone?
And Puppy Dog Tails: Boys’ Names
Ambrose is a true boys’ name through and through with hints of the classy sophisticated he will someday grow up to be. With a name like Ambrose, there is almost nothing this boy can’t do in life. According to Mom Junction, “We totally adore the first name of Ambrose Bierce, the satirist, journalist, and short story writer. This Latin name, meaning ‘immortal one’ has an upperclass air of erudition.” If we could gift our kids with one thing, immortality would definitely be at the top of the list.
This is one of those classic names that keeps popping up throughout literary history—spanning all the way back to the ancient Greek era. It currently isn’t on the popularity charts but if that is exactly what you are looking for in a list of classic baby names, then look no further. Mom Junction says,
“This moniker was reintroduced to the world after ages of obscurity via Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. You can also pick this name to pay tribute to your Greek relative.”
Also spelled Austin, this name is a nice nod to our favorite author, Jane Austen. According to Mom Junction, “Jane Austen, the author of the most famous books of all time, Pride and Prejudice, has a melodic last name. It would also be an excellent spelling twist on the typical Austin.” The name of Austen brings up the mental picture of a blue-eyed sandy boy peacefully playing in a sunny garden or quietly reading a book curled up by a snowy window. It is a calm name which is important for an energetic boy who requires balance in his life.
Mom Junction says, “Buck is the powerful half sheepdog and half St. Bernard in Jack London’s novel, Call of the Wild. In the 18th century, this name described the fashionable and dashing young man.” This is a short simple name with a classic root and is easy to yell which is important for raising a small boy (they don’t listen very well when intensely focused on mischief). If questioned by him, just tell him he was named after Bucky Barnes from the Avengers films and he will be super happy.
The name of Charles has historic roots in royalty and literary worlds. From King Charles to Charles Darwin to Charles Bingley from Pride and Prejudice, the people for whom you could name your baby are endless. Charles can also be shortened to the adorable nickname of Charlie. Mom Junction relays,
“How awesome would it be if your son could also win a candy factory like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The meaning of Charlie is ‘man’.”
There is nothing quite like naming your son after your favorite dashing literary hero and who better than the dark brooding but delightful Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice? If you’ve read the book then you know that Darcy is a good guy who actually smiles, unlike his movie counterparts. According to Mom Junction, “Darcy is Jane Austen’s most favorite hero name. It’s enjoying itself in the girl’s territory of late. But we love it more for the boys.” Besides, it was a boys’ name long before it was a girls’ name, so take back your territory boys!
Mom Junction describes this name thusly, “Dorian is the wealthy and handsome young gentleman who spoils his life in pursuit of pleasure in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.” This shouldn’t be taken as a deterrent to this name, however. Instead, look at it as a truly unique name for a modern-day boy with classic roots and a subtle reminder to always be on his best behavior. And if he becomes a scientist, he’ll always remember that immortality comes at a cost. Plus it just sounds really cool.
Everyone who read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen fell in love with the hero Edward Ferrers. He is calm in a world of swirling female emotions and that is exactly what we want to channel for the only boy in a family of girls. Unfortunately, as Mom Junction points out, people know the name of Edward for an entirely different reason nowadays. “Edward has a plethora of literary reference, but it is best known for Edward Cullen, the 17 year old frozen vampire in the Twilight Saga.”
Ernest is an old school English name and deserves some modern attention and revision in the popularity charts. There is nothing wrong with it and it sounds quite sincere and genuine. According to Mom Junction, “Here, we’re referring to Ernest Worthing, the lead character from Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest. Ernest is the English form of German name Ernst and means ‘vigor’.” The play referenced here is short, sweet and hilarious so when he is required to read it in high school, he might even enjoy it.
Henry is an older name, evoking images of a calm and quiet man going about his business and not interfering in other’s affairs. Given today’s level of social media interference in our personal lives, this is exactly the type of person we all want to hang out with and befriend. So why not name the new baby with this name? Mom Junction says, “Henry is the protagonist who questions his life, courage, and significance during the Civil War in the Red Badge of Courage.”
You can also use Finn but we think Sawyer sounds way cooler for an adventurous little boy. Brit Co says,
“So technically these are the last names of Mark Twain’s most famous characters, but they’re too darn cute to leave out. Name your babe after these rambunctious characters and hope he (or she) grows up with a similar sense of adventure.”
Sawyer is the clever boy who gets the job done one way or another.
Best known for Oliver Twist from Charles Dickens’ classic novel, the name Oliver is an ideal boys’ name. Plus if he decides that being named after a famous orphan isn’t good enough, he can tell his classmates that he was named after DC Comics’ Oliver Queen who fights crime as the Green Arrow. Babble says, “Brought to England by the Normans, the name Oliver has origins in the French name Olivier and dates back to the time of Charlemagne. Oliver has peaceful associations, thought to be derived from the Latin olivarius meaning “olive tree” but sometimes attributed to Olaf, or the Old Norse name Oleifr.”