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Is This Name Just Too Old?

Name Lady, is Mildred too old of a name for a baby? My husband and I both love the name, and it has the added bonus of being his grandma's name and could match with my initials. However, according to BabyNameWizard.com, it hasn't been popular since the early 1900's, and our families haven't been overly excited by the prospect. Are there some names that just should not be revived?

-Granny Name Lover

Many of us love old-fashioned names, just as we love old-fashioned home cooking. That is to say, we love the versions that fit our romantic image of the past. “Mmm, mmm, fresh bread baking in the oven and a rich soup simmering on the stove, what could be better?” But when I flip through my yellowed 1930s Fanny Farmer Cookbook, it turns out to be full of recipes like hard-cooked eggs in cream sauce (“serve over pancakes”) and Chilled Shrimp Bisque, made with canned shrimp and condensed cream of mushroom soup.

The same selective nostalgia works on baby names. Most people today see sweet little Emma and Lillie and romantic Olivia and Isabella as the bread and soup, and Mildred...well, you get the picture.

It's not fair, I know. There's nothing wrong with Mildred. Many parents, if they took the time, could talk themselves into its charms. The period drama Mildred Pierce helps conjure up the name’s past glamour, and your personal family connection is irreplaceable. And hey, pancakes with hard-cooked eggs in cream sauce might be delicious if we gave them a chance.

I'm not about to tell you to abandon your blameless favorite name. I will warn you, though, that your family's reaction reflects social reality. Mildred's three consecutive squashy consonants -- l,d,r -- make it the very opposite of fashionable today, and a little Mildred will meet with a fair bit of snickering.

There may yet be a way out. Are you open to calling her Millie on an everyday basis? That name is a hair's breadth from fresh-bread Lillie, and should charm most everyone. She can keep Mildred in reserve, and perhaps bring it out as a fresh new identity when she turns 25 and it's finally back in style.

 

Comments

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March 5, 2012 11:06 AM
By Jobiska (not verified)

Well, also, in addition to the consonant thingie mentioned above, there's the other two syllable Mild-word, Mildew (future playground nickname?), and the homonym of -dred, "dread."

How about as a middle name, with the possibility of using Millie as a nickname?

March 5, 2012 11:21 AM
By British American (not verified)

I think you should use Mildred - seeing as you and your husband both love the name, and it has the bonus of being a family name and an initial that you like.

It's usually a good idea to keep names ideas / plans to yourself, so you don't have to hear your family going "Ewwww" over a name. Hopefully once they meet little Mildred, they'll be won over by seeing the name on your adorable baby.

I do also agree that the nickname Millie, makes the name very wearable today - if you happen to like the nickname.

March 5, 2012 11:33 AM
By Em's Mom (not verified)

What about Millicent instead? I like Millie, but can understand the reservations on Mildred.

March 5, 2012 12:06 PM
By Annee (not verified)

Oh, just go for it -- ten years ago I read an article about how Lillian would just never make it back into the list of popular names ... and now look! She's all over the place ... so, I say ... little baby Mildred will start her climb back up the chart -- and, besides Millie is such a cuate nickname ... ;-)

March 5, 2012 1:04 PM
By mk (not verified)

If you truly love Mildred then I think you should use it. There is nothing wrong with the name, and it has family meaning to you. Family members will get over it. You can give her the nickname Millie.

Another option though is to use Millie as her name. Or what about Millicent? I know a little girl with that name, though to me it sounds just as "old" as Mildred. I also know a little girl nicknamed Millie whose name is Emilia.

March 5, 2012 1:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

To those advising Millicent as an alternative: There is a rather unpleasant character in the Harry Potter series with that name. Considering its popularity, I would probably avoid that one too.

March 5, 2012 3:11 PM
By Laura. (not verified)

I like Mildred! It was actually a contender for our daughter, but we were talked out of it by our own Mildred. ("I've been the only Mildred around here so long, I don't want to share. Wait 'til I'm dead!" She's a character.)

It sounds really old and has not-popular consonants to it, but it also isn't another Jaden/Kaylee/Aiden/Mydysyn horror. It sounds a lot more grow-up-able.

March 5, 2012 3:42 PM
By Sara A. (not verified)

This question is near and dear to my heart. I'm expecting my first baby and I want to name for my grandmother Gertrude. I can't find anything I like half so much but everyone I suggest Gertrude to says "ick." Our preferred nickname is Trudy which I feel like fits with the zeitgeist of Ruby and Lucy. The thing that's keeping me from saying yes is that Grandma hated her name. How could I give my child her name when she hated it?

March 5, 2012 5:35 PM
By Martha (not verified)

I say go for it! Lily Allen just used Ethel for her daughter, you'll be ahead of a trend I forsee.

March 5, 2012 6:19 PM
By Anony mouse (not verified)

Do you like Milliece?

March 5, 2012 6:56 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with the suggestions of Millicent, nn "Millie". Mildred is an ok name, but too close to mildew.

March 5, 2012 10:39 PM
By Sarah (not verified)

I kind of like it. Yes, it's not popular right now, but who's to say it wont be the next style of name to become popular again?

Most importantly, it's a name that you and your husband both agree on. I say go for it.

March 6, 2012 12:46 AM
By Anonymous Bosch (not verified)

I say go for it! Both of you love the name, and it's your daughter. I also agree with someone further up to never discuss baby names in real life. Stick to boards and threads. I like Millie as a nickname, but there's also Middie (my favorite) and Deedee as well.

I also think you'll be ahead of the trend. I can see consonant-heavy names definitely coming back within the next 10-15 years.

March 6, 2012 1:25 AM
By Jane (not verified)

Mildred and Gertrude... I don't see either of these making a comeback, but who cares. Unless you want a name that lots of people like...?? But maybe you'd prefer to have a name that YOU like. I have a similar problem with Theodora - I love it, but like the Name Lady says, d and r are not nice to the modern ear. But, like Mildred nn Millie, I think I could do Theodora nn Thea. Any thoughts from the panel? :)

March 6, 2012 11:40 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't mind Theodora, but don't like Thea as a nickname.

I really dislike both Mildred and Gertrude. Millie is too cute, but Trudy is nice.

March 6, 2012 12:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I like Theodora but not Thea. I'd just call her Theodora.

Mildred is not great but Millie is nice.

I really don't like Gertrude or Trudy, and since you know your grandmother hated her name I'd avoid it, personally. Or at least use it as a middle name. What about your grandmother's middle name? Or is there a name you know she liked that you could use to honor her?

March 6, 2012 12:52 PM
By lara jane (not verified)

I think Mildred is a perfectly lovely name, and that goes for Gertrude as well! Name your baby what you want to name him/her, don't let the negative feedback sway you!

For the record, everyone hated 'Henry' when we chose it for our baby boy 12+ years ago, and look at it now. I agree with a PP who said you just might end up ahead of the curve!

March 6, 2012 12:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Take a clue from somebody who had the name. If she hated it, most likely your child will, too. I was given a family name that I hated, and I found out that my aunt, that I was named after, really didn't like her name, either, though she'd get mad at me when I didn't like or use the name.

I had it legally changed when I was about 50. To me, Mildred and Gertrude are "old lady" names that should never be revived. I don't like many names with that hard "ER" sound in them.

March 6, 2012 12:58 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I actually love Mildred! I feel like it has a very cultured, classic feel to it and I don't hate it on a baby either. My prediction: You are about 3-5 years ahead of the curve when you will start to see it suggested around these boards. I say - go for it! Start a trend! :)

March 6, 2012 12:59 PM
By ValenzMom (not verified)

I think Theodora is a beautiful name. Calling her Thea is adorable! I could see Theodora Rose as her name - simply divine!

March 6, 2012 1:03 PM
By ValenzMom (not verified)

I am also on the bandwagon that says go for it - name your beautiful baby Mildred. You are giving new life to your Grandmother's name. My name is Helen Louise, both names have not been popular since the 1940s but my Mom insisted on naming me after two Great Aunts. Now that I've grown into the names, I love them.

March 6, 2012 1:03 PM
By Devon (not verified)

Mildred was my gran's name, one of her sisters was Gertrude.
You're ahead of the revival curve, such names will come back into fashion as euphonics fade further from the forefront of naming. If you are comfortable being a style leader rather than a follower, follow your heart and go with Mildred. Mine used nn Mickey but you've got Millie and Mila as options too, should you want something cutesy for the toddler stage. I know a 20-something named Gertrude for her grandmother, she's got dark hair, dimples and goes by Trude, said the German way though she's a London Cockney. Btw, such assertively non-fashiony names are on the rise in Europe, your taste is far more sophisticated than those Lily and Stella parents ;o)

March 6, 2012 1:09 PM
By Shelli - with an "i" (not verified)

I love the name Mildred -- but mostly because I love the name Millie. She can choose which she wants to go by, and you can be happy that you named her something that both you and your husband were happy with.

March 6, 2012 1:20 PM
By Lyss (not verified)

I like them both, but if Mildred and Gertrude find their names too fuddy-duddy, they each have an edgy option as Dre and Tru.

March 6, 2012 1:26 PM
By Louise (not verified)

I think Mildred is an excellent name which will stand up to the test of time, specially when then used with the nickname Millie.
I also don't mind Gertrude but I wouldn't use that myself simply because I don't like any of the nicknames associated with it.
Theodora is one of my favourite traditional names and I love the short form of Thea.

In England there is very definitely a trend for returning to traditional and more old fashioned names at the moment and I can't see that ending any time soon.
I also don't think saying Mildred is at all hard either, maybe that's just my Yorkshire accent though!

March 6, 2012 1:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Aww, saying Mildred with a British accent made me think of The Worst Witch, which made me like the name a whole lot more.

March 6, 2012 2:01 PM
By Aschocia School (not verified)

I think, if you love the name, and you can accept that a lot of people don't like it, then use it. Millie is adorable; you'll hear "Oh, I had a great-aunt Mildred, she was a hoot!" a lot; you can point her to historical Mildreds (there are a lot listed here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mildred_%28name%29

Tell busybodies who think they have any say in the matter, "well, our other choice was Hortense." Then they'll LOVE Mildred!

March 6, 2012 2:17 PM
By Dagny's Mom (not verified)

I love it and especially love Millie. Makes me think of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Go for it! She will make the name her own. Plus little kids have no idea what names are old or new.

March 6, 2012 2:32 PM
By Annee (not verified)

How old is your gramma? Gertrude was in the Top 100 as late as 1930; but I'm guessing your gramma is younger than that -- so there probably weren't a lot of Gertrude's around. I rather like the name; in the German pronunciation, it is rather pretty (ger-TRU-duh) -- another cute nickname would be Gertie ... ;-) I knew Trudy's growing up in the 1960's in Minnesota, but they were all Trudy's, not Gertrude's. Of course, I also knew a family that loved traditional German names and they used Irmgard and Gretchen ... and I always felt sorry for poor Irmgard ... :-() So, anyway ... I vote you use Gertrude ... :-)

March 6, 2012 3:26 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love the name Mildred, and another vote for NEVER sharing names with your family. Think about it: your parents especially are going to view Mildred as "mother/grandmother" names, the way we view Barbara and Deborah, and they would much rather you name your kid something that was trendy when THEY named their kids, like Jennifer or Ashley.

Mildred, on a little girl, will end up being as adorable as she is. There's a toddler in my neighborhood name Martha, and I would have totally pegged that as an old lady name, but seeing a little girl Martha learning to ride her bike and picking flowers and being an adorable toddler has totally rejuvenated the name for me.

March 6, 2012 3:34 PM
By CP (not verified)

I don't personally love Mildred but I agree with the others who assert that it could come back. And that Millie is a nice nickname which stands up to the likes of Lilly and Ellie. Do be prepared for unfavorable opinions, though.

I really enjoyed the comparison with the old-fashioned food.

March 6, 2012 4:00 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If she is as sweet as my dear Aunt Mildred, you will be one lucky Momma. Millie is a perfectly sweet nn. However, I went to school with a Mikki. After several years, I learned her real name was Mildred.

March 6, 2012 5:53 PM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

Am I the only one who thinks that Mildred is unlikely to regain popularity in this little girl's lifetime? I admit, it's not my favourite name, although Millie is charming, for the same reasons Molly and Mandy are charming (Anyone remember the Millie Molly Mandy book series? Although that Millie was short for Millicent). I won't try to dissuade you if you both really love the name. Just keep in mind what the name experts always say: would you give this name to yourself? Would you want to go through life as Mildred? Because your little girl will have to bear the name, and I doubt she's going to like it. Most people don't.

March 6, 2012 7:33 PM
By Mama2Clara (not verified)

I can see why people don't like the name. But if you love it go for it. My family and my husband's family didn't particularly care for the name Clara. They said it was too old fashioned. I named my daughter Clara. My family calls her ClaraBelle, like the cow on disney. And my husband's grandma calls her Clara Lee. Her mn is something more trendy, Annalise. But I love her name. So go for it. Kids probably have no idea what mildew is anyhow.

March 6, 2012 10:09 PM
By Andrea (not verified)

I really like the name Mildred! Of course, it brings back good memories for me. I also love the nickname Millie. You should stick with this name because I have a feeling that in a few years it'll increase in popularity, just like all the other "old" names that are used nowadays. You will be kicking yourselves if you don't use it!

March 6, 2012 10:38 PM
By Tanya (not verified)

Millie is okay, but Mildred me... All I can see is a Stern elderly lady I know.....

March 6, 2012 10:59 PM
By Maggie (not verified)

My first thought was "mildew", and my second was "dreadful". But Millie is adorable, and she doesn't have to tell the kids in school her real name. It helps if there's family meaning involved. (I like Gertrude better, especially the nn Tru, but I realize that was a different family.)

March 6, 2012 11:45 PM
By mk (not verified)

I can't see Mildred (or Gertrude) ever becoming popular again. I don't think that is a reason to not choose a name though.

I can see Millie becoming popular as a stand-alone name.

I vote against using Gertrude. It's not an honor to grandma to pass on her hated name, and no one wants to be given a name that their namesake disliked. And I don't like the nicknames Trudy or Gertie. Use it as a middle name.

March 7, 2012 12:51 AM
By Tara (not verified)

I find nothing appealing about Mildred. Would you change your name to Mildred? Don't saddle a kid with a name you wouldn't want. And does the original Mildred even like her name? I know someone who named her baby after her grandmother but kept her choice secret. After baby is born Grandma Julia tells her she always hated her name and wished she had told her earlier.

Millicent is a lot better. I have an aunt named Mildred (always goes by nickname Cookie) her granddaughter was named Millicent to honor her (nickname Cent)

March 7, 2012 1:52 AM
By Allison Margaret (not verified)

I don't mind Mildred, and I think it will fit in perfectly fine with other names from its time enjoying a revival(even if Mildred is never as popular as others from the same era). I would not be at all surprised to see a little girl named Mildred. My only caution, especially given the responses above, is that if you don't like Millie, don't use Mildred as a first name.

March 7, 2012 10:51 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I really love the name Mildred! I think it's really fun and funky and cute.

Just because it's a little consonant-heavy means it doesn't fit with the trends of the moment, but who wants to fit with the trends? That's how you get a brazillion __adens.

Millie as a nickname is an AWESOME answer to your prayers because then you get a crowd-pleaser, something easy to handle in the teenage years if needed, and you get to use this really great name!! Go with it!

March 7, 2012 12:28 PM
By Prisca (not verified)

@Sara A.

Your Gertrude problem reminded me of my brother. My parents wanted to name him Albert after our grandfather. He asked them not to because he had always hated his name. They made Albert my brother's middle name instead, and everyone was happy.

March 7, 2012 1:18 PM
By Al (not verified)

If I had a Mildred in the family, I would a daughter that! We named both kids after family members with very unfashionable names. My in-laws were appalled at the time and now say they couldn't imagine it any other way. Unique names are not a big deal for kids now. I know young children named Floyd, Dorothy, Stanley, Fred, Elsa, Edwin and Muriel. None of these are popular names. None are teased.

March 7, 2012 4:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Mildred is gone for a reason!!! And trudy or gertrude should say in the past also. it says something that granny gertrude didtn like her name even back then!!!

March 7, 2012 11:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Add me to the list of people that see Mildred coming back. It's Millicent I don't get. When I hear Millicent I really hear "militant" instead. Not a great connection. But I think Mildred, with it's snappy nicknames will come back. Sooo many people name one thing just to get at a nickname nowadays that I can absolutely see it coming back. If it didn't have the nickname possibilities, I would say that it was probably not coming back anytime soon, but honestly, it feels just around the corner to me.

Gertrude is a harder sell. I really adore the nickname Tru (Trudy is cute, too), but I saw no full names I liked to get to those nicknames. If you love the name and are willing to let your daughter go by nicknames if she so chooses, I think you won't have much issue. I also don't think it's a huge deal that the namesake didn't like her name; what matters is that you like it. That person grew up in a different zeitgeist and the way the name wears now and is received now will be different (for better or for worse; who knows, maybe that person hated it because it was TOO popular!).

Theodora nn Thea I really like. Those are names that I looked at myself, but they didn't go with our ln (esp. Thea, and with a name that long, I felt I needed a nickname option and didn't like Dora). I think Theodora may not become a top ten smash hit, but I think it fits right in with Beatrice, Henrietta, Charlotte, Harriet, etc. It has that same kind of vintage style. Not as soft or as boring as Lily or Claire... but... more like a spunkier cousin, if you will.

March 8, 2012 8:50 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

millicent is way too close to millificent (bad witch in sleeping beauty). stay away from that name.

i like mildred. i like the uncommonness of it, your family connection, and the nickname millie. i say go for it!

March 9, 2012 12:26 AM
By I'm not sure what my name is (not verified)

I rather like Mildred. It feels contrarian in this day and age, and I like that kind of gumption. And I really, really like Millie. Go for it. It'll be fun.

March 10, 2012 12:44 AM
By Tonya G (not verified)

What about Dorie as a nickname as opposed to Thea?

March 10, 2012 12:56 AM
By Tonya G (not verified)

Let me clarify: first post to Gertrude question. As for Mildred, I can see it coming back. It's not my favorite but neither was Kayla, Jaylee/Caylee or Peyton and Madison. Pick whatever makes your family happy. Just make sure it looks like it belongs on a resume and not a Vegas billboard. Mildred qualies for resume. Millicent sounds just as "old" to me and is Barbie's (the doll)middle name.

March 11, 2012 3:11 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The comebacks come because someone had the guts to bring it back first...and then the trend catches on. Who would have thought that Agnes, Hazel, Esther, and Ethel would ever be used today? It just takes one, then a few, then suddenly it's back in style! Mildred will be fine if you love it, it has family significance, and she makes the name proud!

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