Celebrity Names Blog

Oldest Old Lady Names: Three That Aren't Coming Back

Oldest Old Lady Names: Three That Aren't Coming Back

The oldest old ladies alive have some fabulous names, as we discussed in part one of our series on the names of supercentenarians (people who are at least 110 years old). Names like Leila and Ella, which once were popular, have become mega-hits again.

Not all names popular a century ago are likely to come back. Here are a few supercentenarian names you probably won't be seeing on baby name announcements this year.

Delma: This name peaked at 537 in the 1920s, and enjoyed a nearly 60-year run on the charts. To the modern ear, though, the fashionable "el" sound is cancelled by the unfashionable "lm," which sounds clumpy rather than light and tripping. The male version, Delmar, has also fallen way off the fashion radar.

Irma: Also unfashionable, for similar reasons, is the "rm" sound. The surprise? Irma only fell off the charts in 1995. While the clumpy "rm" is miles away from the sounds of popular names like Ella, this name begins and ends fashionably. Are we wrong? Could Irma still appeal?

Bernice: Bernice hit #42 in 1910, but fell quickly and disappeared by the 1970s. Bernadette lasted longer, and Berenice last appeared (at #856) in 2003. In its heyday, this was a highly fashionable name. F. Scott Fitzgerald used it in his 1920 Saturday Evening Post title story (pictured), "Bernice Bobs her Hair." Bernice Frankel is also the birth name of Bea Arthur.

In a future post, we'll look at the Oldest Old Lady Names with fashion potential. But while these three names of still-living women are an interesting window into earlier fashions, but we don't think they'll come around again soon. Do you agree?

--L.R.

Comments

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June 23, 2010 6:43 PM
By Anna (not verified)

I'm friends with a 19 year old Bernice... however, she despises her name so that's not saying much.

Delmar sounds like it could be a fictional character from some realm of geekdom -- "Delmar the Conqueror"? I could see that, haha. At least 110 year-old man isn't the first thing that comes to mind...

June 23, 2010 6:54 PM
By Amy (not verified)

Bernice was the lady who did my hair when I was a kid. Lol.

June 23, 2010 6:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My husband is a big fan of "Velma." Seriously. It's his favorite name. He doesn't get why everybody isn't just wild about that name. I told him we could name a dog Velma. Maybe.

June 24, 2010 6:30 AM
By Tooth Fairy (not verified)

I think Irma has a chance with the "So out that it's in" crowd looking for a name that is uncommonly cool. Remember it wasn't too long ago that names like Henry and Eli sounded like they belonged in a farmer's nursing home.

June 25, 2010 5:17 PM
By Mom (not verified)

Delmar was used in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"... maybe the name has some potential for the guys. As for Delma...It sounds like Thelma, and I don't think either of them has a chance for a comeback.

January 5, 2012 8:00 PM
By Hanna (not verified)

People spoke differently 80 years ago, and I can definitely understand how the name Delma would have sounded lovely on a sophisticated tongue. But the way we speak now just...weighs it down, if that makes sense.

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August 4, 2014 3:20 AM
By Dora (not verified)

Wow, bernice really is terrible. I can't think of one sane parent that would name their daughter bernice...href="http://magazinonlinebun.blogspot.com">AvidReader

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