Vintage and unusual baby names are all the rage, but why do some names catch on and others fall to the wayside? These baby names are definitely unique, but fewer and fewer parents are choosing to bestow them upon their baby boys and girls.
Baby names go in and out of fashion — chances are, if you were born in the ’70s or ’80s, you know a Jennifer or Amy, and if you were born in the ’90s, you know a Jessica or Ashley (and you probably don’t know many modern moms giving those names to their little ones).
Sometimes the names cycle rapidly, and other times, they are so steadfast they become a traditional name that reaches back decades. Henry is a good example — while its popularity waned a bit for many years, it’s back and nearly as strong as it was in the early parts of the 20th century.
There are also names that peak for a few years and never catch on again, even when other decades-old baby names resurface to find themselves on our babies’ birth certificates. These gems below rose to prominence in years past, but haven’t really caught on with modern moms and dads. So if you’re looking for an unusual baby name, ditch the urge to spell a popular name with a unique twist — choose one of these names instead to save it from extinction.
Girl names nearing extinction
- Cathy: Chances are, you know someone named Cathy (or that’s your own name), but this name hasn’t shown up on the top 1,000 since 1991.
- Dolores: This is another name that reached a pretty high spot in its heyday — No. 13 in 1930 — but has since become way less popular.
- Geneva: This pretty name peaked in the 1920s but has since fallen out of favor, not even touching the top 1,000 since 1995.
- Janis: Despite the popularity of singer Janis Joplin, this baby name is well on its way out.
- Kay: The cute baby name Kay reached its top spot in the 1940s, but hasn’t been a popular choice since the 1980s.
- Linda: Linda captured the overall No. 1 spot during a six-year span in the late ’40s/early ’50s, but is barely hanging on these days.
- Marcia: This baby name hasn’t sniffed the top 1,000 since 1993, despite placing as high as No. 74 in the 1950s.
- Mildred: A grandmotherly name, this moniker hasn’t been used much in recent years (its top spot was reached in the 1920s).
- Nancy: This singular baby name peaked at No. 6 in 1950, but has been on a steady decline since, reaching only spot No. 752 in 2014.
- Sue: Still a popular choice as a middle name, Sue hasn’t graced the top 1,000 since the ’80s.
Boy names nearing extinction
- Barney: Barney’s slide into oblivion predates the beguiling purple dinosaur of the ’90s, and it hasn’t graced the top 1,000 since 1976.
- Chuck: In 1979, Chuck was the 1,000th most popular name in the U.S. It hasn’t touched that mark since.
- Claude: This was the 59th most popular baby name in 1900, but hasn’t appeared in the top 1,000 since 1993.
- Edmund: This royal name hasn’t been all that common in the U.S., having dropped off the popularity chart in 1997.
- Elmer: Peaking in 1900, this name dropped off the popular baby names list circa 2009.
- Leslie: While the name Leslie is still given to plenty of girls in the U.S., it’s far less frequently given to boys — but that wasn’t always the case, as it used to be a very common name for baby boys.
- Milton: While having a popular, modern format — two syllables with an “N” sound at the end — Milton hasn’t seen much light of day since 2008.
- Monty: The highest rank this name received was in 1961, and then it only climbed to spot 339. The news hasn’t been that great since, as it dropped off the charts after 1983.
- Waldo: This baby name hasn’t appeared in the top 1,000 popular baby name list for decades.
- Wilbur: The friendly character from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web wasn’t enough to revive this name when the book was published in 1952, and it’s been on the down slope ever since.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below: