Supposedly geriatric names I like

It’s no secret many of the names that are currently quite popular (e.g., Sophia, Isabella, Max, Henry, Emma, Isaac) were not too long ago derided by more than a few people as too musty and geriatric to use on a baby. However, some names still frequently garner scorn instead of an enthusiastic, “ZOMG, that was my grandma/grandpa’s name!”

Here are some of these unpopular, supposedly geriatric names which I’ve always liked.

Female:

1. Ernestine. I’ve absolutely loved this name from the very first time I saw it!

2. Irene. As I said recently, I don’t think of this as an old lady name, in spite of its greatest popularity being quite some time ago, because it didn’t explode in popularity overnight and then sink just as rapidly. It’s still used somewhat regularly.

3. Justine. I’ve always loved this name, as well as the variations Justina and Yustina.

4. Ida. I don’t understand all the hate this name gets, though I agree the English pronunciation isn’t as soft and pretty as it is in all the other languages with this name.

5. Beatrice. It’s hardly a secret I adore this name, after how many posts I’ve written about it! Like many other name nerds, I was worried it might suddenly get trendy and overused after Paul McCartney and that gold-digging second wife of his used it on their child, but that fear thankfully wasn’t realised.

Male:

1. Stanley. Yes, I’m biased because this was the name of my favouritest comedian, Stan Laurel, but it’s still a very distinguished, charming name. I also love the cute nickname Stan.

2. Harold. I’ve adored this name for years, long before I became a fan of the great comedian Harold Lloyd. I’m also very moved by the section of the Bayeux Tapestry declaring, “Here sits Harold, King of the English.” The people knew who their real king was, even under foreign occupation.

3. Leon. This name has such a charming, snappy ring to it. It’s short and to the point, like Ida.

4. Leonard. My main reason for liking this name is probably the fact that it was Chico Marx’s real name. It’s been said Chico is the one who sneaks up on you, since he tends not to be the one most people are immediately hooked by. But then, over time, you’re more and more drawn to him.

5. Philip. This name feels both sweet and serious to me, evoking a kind, quiet, caring, intelligent fellow.

The many forms of Irene

Irene was #102 when name popularity data began being tracked in 1880, and entered the Top 100 in 1883, at #99. It entered the Top 50 in 1894, at #43, and rose to #30 in 1900. In 1906, it was #20, and rose and fell slightly until 1915, when it entered the Top 20, at #17. Until 1925, it remained in the lower reaches of the Top 20, and it stayed in the Top 100, steadily sliding lower each year, until 1945. Ever since, the name has continued sinking in popularity. In 2016, it was #656.

Though many people think of Irene as an old lady name, I’ve never seen it as musty and geriatric. Unlike, e.g., Mildred, it was never a Top 10 name, followed by an extremely sharp decline and eventually falling off the charts. Irene has remained in regular enough use over the decades, even if its greatest popularity is long in the past.

The spelling Irene is used in English, German, the Scandinavian languages, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Finnish. The variation Irène is French; Irēna is Latvian; and Ireñe is Basque. Other forms include:

1. Irina is Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Georgian, Romanian, and Finnish. Russian nicknames include Irisha, Irinushka, Ira, Irusya, Ina, Rina, Irunya, and Irya.

2. Arina is an alternate Russian form.

3. Irena is Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Dutch, Lithuanian, Romanian, Italian, German, Icelandic, Scandinavian, and Croatian. Many people are familiar with the heroic story of Irena Sendler, who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

4. Eirene is Ancient Greek.

5. Irén is Hungarian, with the nickname Iri.

6. Eireen is Irish.

7. Iryna is Ukrainian.

8. Irine is Georgian.

9. Iria is Galician and Portuguese.

10. Bakene is a modern, rare Basque form.

11. Erea is Galician.

12. Erina is Swiss–Italian.

13. Irea is Galician.

14. Ireene is Estonian.

15. Irenea is Italian and Spanish.

16. Irenia is an elaborated English and Latin American–Spanish form.

17. Irinæ is Ossetian.

18. Eirini is modern Greek.

19. Ereni is also Greek.

20. Iriana is an elaborated English form.

21. Irini is Romanian.

22. Jerina is a rare Serbian form.