For someone who is not actually pregnant, nor a mother, I spend a lot of time thinking about possible baby names. Personally, I love coming up with old fashioned baby names that would be cool to bring back today. Of course, when choosing a name that has a lot of meaning from times gone by, you want to choose wisely; there's old fashioned, and then there's "will get teased on the playground for it." It's also usually worth considering how that name will play out later on in life; some picks might be a recipe for disaster as your kid grows up and wants, you know, to ever get a job interview. Instagram filter names might be on the rise right now, but they might not be later on.
For me, I like looking through names that have historical significance in terms of culture, history, art, music, and so forth. It's cool to think of what traits and characteristics we associate with our most beloved characters and what idols feel familiar to us over time.
I also lean toward names that are somewhat androgynous, or could have a less gendered nickname, as a personal preference. Though when I really get searching, I can look at lists of old baby names for what feels like hours...which is one of the many reasons I'm relieved I don't actually have to pick a name for a child. Still, here are my personal picks for the best baby names from history I think are worth bringing back.
Cordelia is one of my favorite "unsung hero" names. I first heard it when I read Shakespeare's King Lear and it's stuck with me ever since. For those who aren't familiar with the play, it's an epic tragedy, and one of the only sympathetic, redemptive characters is Lear's youngest daughter, Cordelia. The literal meaning of the name Cordelia is "heart," which I think is a nice touch for added meaning. Good move, Shakespeare.
For my fellow Harry Potter fans out there, I know I'm preaching to the proverbial choir, because you already know Minerva McGonagall is an awesome feminist and all-around gem in the series. Minerva is Latin in origin and actually means "of the mind or intellect," which is pretty much perfect for a whip-smart woman and teacher like McGonagall. Prior to the Harry Potter mention, Minerva was also the name of the Roman goddess of wisdom and invention.
Ethel is legitimately one of my favorite names! Perhaps I watched too many reruns of I Love Lucy as a kid, but I associate Ethel with a fun-loving (sometimes hapless) sidekick to Lucille Ball. To be fair, Ethel is definitely a name that sounds a little old lady-ish, but there's no reason it wouldn't be make an awesome name for a baby. Interestingly, Ethel literally means "noble woman," which is not a bad standard to set for your hypothetical child.
I know many of us still associate the name Sebastian with The Little Mermaid . However, the name is actually rooted in Latin and means "person from the city of Sebastia." It's pretty much associated with men, but I think could actually be a lovely name for a woman. Sebastian also appears in many of Shakespeare's works, such as Twelfth Night and The Tempest.
If you want your child's name to make a splash, I say go all-in with a name like Tobias. It's Hebrew in origin and literally means "God is good," so if your faith or religion are important to you, a name like Tobias might be right up your alley. It also easily becomes "Toby," which is possibly one of the cutest nicknames for a child ever. If you want to be really unique, a slight variation of the name is actually "Tobiah," the name of a Hebrew rebel king. How cool is that?
Originally of Greek origin, Sybil means "seer" or "oracle." Sybil isn't a super popular name anymore, but most people recognize it from the British period drama Downton Abbey. In Downtown Abbey, Sybil is a total feminist and basically breathes the socioeconomic revolution of the time into the plot of the show, which is pretty awesome. As a note, the original spelling of the word is "Sibyl," which roots back to ancient Greek mythology.
Jasper is another of my personal favorite names. The first time I heard it, someone was introducing me to their pet beagle (notably the most refined beagle I've ever met), but it's totally a people name, too! Jasper is actually Persian in origin and means "bringer of treasure." I think it's a nice gender neutral name (though traditionally male) that has a punch to it without feeling too old-timey.