Classic Names


Creating new names through creative spellings is one way to update a traditional name, but it's best not to overdo it by changing too many letters around. Stephyn instead of Stephen is probably okay; Stefyn is probably too much.

At first glance, there may not seem like there's much difference between classic and traditional names, as this group contains many names—such as James, David, Matthew, and Michael—that also can be labeled as traditional names. The distinction between the two categories can be slight, but there are differences between them.

Classic names are often newer and more modern-sounding than their traditional cousins. Some classic names are derived from traditional names, or may be pet forms of these names. Names that began as trendy or popular names that survived on the most popular lists for more than one decade also fall into this category.

Classic boys' names include:

Alex David Michael
Bradley Jason Nicolas
Brett James Scott
Christopher Larry Zachary
Daniel Matthew

The following are classic girls' names:

Amy Jennifer Maria
April Jessica Michelle
Barbara Lauren Melissa
Cindy Lisa Nancy

Pros and Cons of Traditional and Classic Names

Name Dropping

The biggest difference between a traditional name and a classic name is frequency of use. If a traditional name is popular enough to be included near the top of the most popular name lists for more than a decade, it can be considered a classic.

Alphabet Soup

A pet name is a shortened form of a given name, such as Liz or Beth from Elizabeth and Tony from Anthony. Some of the more popular pet names, such as Lisa (also derived from Elizabeth), are becoming more widely used as given names.

Studies have shown that children who carry the more commonly used traditional or classic names tend to be teased less by their peers than those with unusual names. They also often have fewer problems adjusting to different social settings or unfamiliar surroundings. Since these names generally lend themselves well to the creation of pet names, the chances are rare for kids with these names disliking all forms of their names, and good for getting a pet name that doesn't set them up for a lot of ridicule.

About the only argument against names in these categories is the simple fact that they're so widely used. Because of this, they're often perceived as being passé or boring, and the parents who bestow them upon their kids can even find themselves the target of gentle ribbing along the lines of, “Is that the best you could do?”

Some of the names in both categories can sound very outdated just because we've grown tired of hearing them. This is especially true of the names that were recently very popular in the classic category, like Jessica, Jennifer, Jason, and Zachary.

More on: Choosing a Name


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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