Baby Names

These 60+ Baby Names Are Going Extinct—Here’s Why (Plus a Few Alternatives!)

written by BRETT NICOLE HAYDEN

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Source: Little Sleepies
Source: Little Sleepies

The world of baby names is an exciting place. Each generation brings new trends and creativity, as well as resurgences of some of the classics. We see names come and go—like the Jessicas and Ashleys of the 1990s or the Ashleighs and Oakleys of the 2010s. Then, especially in the baby boy world, are the names that seem to never go anywhere, like John and William. And perhaps one of my favorites is when a name goes from being strictly a “boy’s” name to a moniker girls can pull off, too, like James, most recently.

Maybe one of the most interesting phenomena in the baby name realm is seeing baby names going extinct. This has happened much more than we probably realize over the decades with some classical options like Agnes or Elmer. What’s even more captivating, though, are the more current baby names going extinct in recent years. Baby names start to go extinct for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, it’s due to pop culture references. Other times, it’s due to a negative connotation that people don’t want their little ones to be associated with.

Of course, parents should do what works best for them when choosing a baby name they love. But sometimes, it is interesting to consider what baby names are heading out the door and why. Read on for baby names going extinct, plus a few alternative suggestions if you’re deep in the baby name search.

Girl Baby Names Going Extinct

Agnes

With a meaning like “pure” and “holy,” it’s no surprise this name was highly chosen in the early 20th century. It dropped off the list of top 1,000 baby names for girls in the 1970s and hasn’t made a comeback since, likely due to the harsh sound and extra old-school style of the name.

Consider instead: Adelaide, German name meaning “noble kind”

Bertha

Similar to Agnes, Bertha is a harsh-sounding name that once saw the shining light of popularity but hasn’t been a common choice in decades. This is likely due to the term “Big Bertha,” which came from a German artillery weapon of the same title. After this, the nickname became a derogatory term for an overweight woman, thus tainting the name ever since.

Consider instead: Bianca, Latin name meaning “white”

Bessie

Sometimes seen as a nickname for Elizabeth, Bessie shares the meaning of “pledged to God” and was once a popular choice on its own. Somewhere along the way, the name became commonly associated with cows. In Latin, the term “Bos” refers to cows, and the nicknames Bes and Bessie evolved from this term. It’s no surprise parents have grown away from the name, not wanting their little girl associated with a large—albeit, typically lovable—animal.

Consider instead: Beatriz, Spanish name meaning “she who brings happiness”

Dory

Once a popular nickname for Dorothy or Dorris, Dory has since become highly associated with the lovable fish with short-term memory loss from Finding Nemo.

Consider instead: Daliah, Arabic and Hebrew name meaning “branch”

Fanny

She may have been your best friend in the 1950s, but since then, her name has become associated with a person’s posterior.

Consider instead: Farah, Arabic name meaning “joy” and “happiness”

baby names going extinct
Source: @thiswildheart

Flo

Right along the same lines as Fanny is a short but sweet name that has been forgone due to its connotation. A woman’s menstrual cycle has been branded as her monthly “flow,” thus leaving this name meaning “flourishing” in the past for many parents.

Consider instead: Flora, Latin name meaning “flower”

Karen

Though many of us may have a cherished Karen in our family tree, the name has grown to refer to an entitled woman with excessive and outrageous demands.

Consider instead: Kehlani, Hawaiian name meaning “sea” and “sky,” or Corinne, of Greek origin, meaning “beautiful maiden”

Kris

Loved and loathed by some, it’s hard to hear this name and not think of the matriarch of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, Kris Jenner. Whether you’re a fan or not, the name has lost significant popularity over the years for one reason or another.

Consider instead: Kaia, Scandinavian name meaning “pure” and “life”

Lassie

A name meaning “little girl” feels exceptionally fitting for a newborn baby girl. However, many parents may not appreciate the Scottish connection to a term that can be used negatively. Plus, we’ve also grown to associate the name with the Collie dog in a 1960s television series of the same title.

Consider instead: Lainey, French and Greek name meaning “shining light”

Mildred

Once considered a lovely choice, many parents may find this name to be too similar sounding to mildew, something we all want to avoid as much as possible.

Consider instead: Matilda, German meaning “mighty in battle”

More Baby Girl Names Going Extinct

  • Barbie
  • Brenda
  • Carol/Carole
  • Dimple
  • Donna
  • Dorene
  • Enid
  • Gay
  • Helga
  • Irma
  • Janet
  • Kandy
  • Lolita
  • Misty
  • Pam
  • Rhonda
  • Shirley
  • Trish
  • Vickie
  • Wilma

Boy Baby Names Going Extinct

Bart

¡Ay, caramba! It’s difficult to hear this name and not think about the mischievous Bart Simpson. Short for Bartholomew, this Aramaic name has lost nearly all of its popularity over the years.

Consider instead: Banks, Hungarian name meaning “edge of the river”

Barney

A dose of nostalgia, anyone? Our minds immediately go to the big purple dinosaur upon hearing this name, as is the case for many parents.

Consider instead: Barrett, Irish name meaning “bear strength”

Butler

Occupational names like Parker and Sawyer may not be going anywhere. But this name brings to mind someone who serves a wealthy family—it may have lost much of its charm since the early 20th century for that very reason.

Consider instead: Beckham, English name meaning “homestead by the stream”

Chad

Taylor Swift iconically stated she didn’t mind “pissing off” a few “dads, Brads, and Chads” while supporting her Super Bowl-winning beau last NFL season. The statement perfectly captured the connotation given to the name Chad: Someone with a large ego—traditionally a jock—who doesn’t mind voicing his complaints but likely isn’t educated on what he’s talking about.

Consider instead: Crawford, British name meaning “ford of the crows”

Dick

A nickname for Richard, we’ve seen a steady decline in the use of this title, likely thanks to its phallic connection.

Consider instead: Richie as a nickname or first name Dayton, of British origin meaning “ditch settlement”

Dudley

A moderately popular pick until the late 1960s, Dudley may have fallen out of favor thanks to the negative connotation of “dud.” We anticipate Harry Potter fans will keep this one off their baby name consideration list forever as it’s also the name of the unfavorable muggle cousin of Harry.

Consider instead: Dashiel, of French origin, meaning “sky” or “from heaven” (which also comes with the adorable nickname Dash!)

extinct baby names
Source: @beeaninspiration

Gary

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Gary is becoming less and less popular. Some don’t like the connection to the sassy snail in SpongeBob Squarepants. Many have simply forgone it for an updated version, like Garrett. No matter the reason, you likely won’t see a Gary on your kiddo’s class roster.

Consider instead: Grady, Irish name meaning “noble”

Kermit

Another character name that won’t allow us to escape childhood imagery is Kermit. The quirky green frog from The Muppets quickly comes to mind when hearing the old-fashioned title.

Consider instead: Kareem, Arabic name meaning “gracious”

Merle

It’s not uncommon for parents to draw inspiration from their favorite artists they grew up with—take Dolly Parton, for example. But for whatever reason, even fans of the outlaw country music legend Merle Haggard have yet to bring the baby name back into the spotlight. Although, if you ask us, this one certainly should be saved from extinction!

Consider instead: Maverick, American name meaning “an independent man who avoids conformity”

Nimrod

Believe it or not, this used to be a fairly popular baby name choice. The Hebrew name holds the strong meaning of “we will rebel,” but it’d be nearly impossible to not feel like you’re insulting your little one each time you call them down for dinner.

Consider instead: Nico, Italian name meaning “victory of the people”

More Baby Boy Names Going Extinct

  • Adolf
  • Ashley
  • Bert
  • Chip
  • Chuck
  • Coy
  • DeForest
  • Dave (David remains popular)
  • Doc
  • Doug
  • Elmer
  • Elmore
  • Elmo
  • Grover
  • Herbert
  • Hyman
  • Lorne
  • Newton
  • Nigel
  • Oral
  • Rod
  • Rusty
  • Skip
  • Stuart
  • Wally
  • Woody