Written by Linda Rosenkrantz for Nameberry
Classic names are just as hot for boys as they are for girls these days -- but there’s a difference. Most of the vintage boys’ names that are rising in popularity aren’t traditional classics like William and James, which have never been subject to the whims of fashion. Nor are they fusty Victorian vestiges like Clarence and Elmer. Mainly, we are seeing names that date from much further back in time regain popularity.
The most popular classic boys’ names at this moment are either a) offbeat biblical choices rarely heard in modern times, or b) true classics dating from the Roman era. Those listed below -- some of which might surprise you -- all feature on the official list of fastest-rising boys’ names in the past year.
The original name of <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Abraham" target="_hplink">Abraham</a> in the Bible, which was changed by divine command, has long been in the shadow of the longer form, but that's changing fast. Abram is now at Number 444, up 87 places to reach its highest spot since 1897. Cool factor: the nickname Bram.
Another biblical A-boy, <a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Abel" target="_hplink">Abel</a>, despite his unfortunate Old Testament fate, is a modern hit in both the Anglo and Hispanic communities, pronounced with an accent on the second syllable in the latter. Abel, given a bump when chosen by Amy Poehler and Will Arnett for their second son, rose 56 points this year.
<a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Atticus" target="_hplink">Atticus</a>, a Nameberry fave, is one of the leaders of the ancient Latin appellation invasion. This noble "To Kill a Mockingbird" character's name moved up close to a hundred places this year alone.
Of all the semi-forgotten midcentury Dad names -Walter, Warren, et al--that are poised for revival, the noble <a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Arthur" target="_hplink">Arthur</a>, one-time shining knight of the Round Table, seems to be making the greatest strides. He moved up 50+ places to Number 52 last year.
I guess we shouldn't be too surprised when a name with a "Twilight" pedigree continues on an upward course, but somehow we think <a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Emmett" target="_hplink">Emmett</a>'s other qualities -- solid roots and an image both casual and creative -- take it beyond the confines of its franchise association.
An Old Testament name that's a relative newbie in terms of modern popularity, <a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Gideon" target="_hplink">Gideon</a> -- lighter and more rhythmic than many other biblical boys -- entered the Social Security list in the millennial year 2000 at Number 888, and has bound up 476 places since then. Some other references: the Gideon Bible, TV's "Gideon's Crossing." <em>Pictured: Actor Andre Braugher who plays Dr. Ben Gideon on "Gideon's Crossing"</em>
<a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Ezra" target="_hplink">Ezra</a> is another previously neglected Old Testament name that's neglected no longer. Several elements are contributing to its success, including that zippy middle letter z, and an appearance as a hot character on "Pretty Little Liars." <em>Pictured: Ian Harding who plays Ezra Fitz on "Pretty Little Liars."</em>
The tragic Shakespearean hero of Titus Andronicus has long been the chief representative of his name, but this old Roman classic is being rejuvenated, initially by the TV comedy series "Titus 2000" (where Titus was a surname) -- then when chosen by fashionista Lucy Sykes, who named her son Titus Jasper Jake Icarus.
<a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Silas" target="_hplink">Silas</a> has shed his old hayseed image as more and more parents have come to appreciate his New Testament and literary ties. Modernization was speeded up via Nancy's oldest son on "Weeds." Silas climbed 36 places this year, bringing it into the Top 200. <em>Pictured: Hunter Parrish who plays Silas Botwin on "Weeds."</em>
Some parents are using this full form as a road to the hip nickname <a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Theo" target="_hplink">Theo</a>, one of whom is actress Bryce Dallas Howard. With this year's 30-place jump, the solid, presidential, semi-classic Theodore is more popular than it's been in a quarter of a century.
A longtime Nameberry favorite, <a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Leo" target="_hplink">Leo</a> continues its ascent among baby namers in general: its 25-place increase this year brings it to Number 167. Being the oft-heard nickname of Leonardo Di Caprio was definitely a factor.
Once thought of as far too grand for an American baby boy, this Latin name meaning "the greatest" is now an accepted member of the <a href="http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Max" target="_hplink">Max</a> Club; it rose 22 places last year to Number 212. An even greater leap was taken by cousin Maximiliano, the third biggest climber on the boys' list. <em>Pictured: Russell Crowe who played Maximus in "Gladiator."</em>
More from Nameberry:
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/07/nameberry-classic-girls-names_n_1865314.html" target="_hplink">Read The 12 Classic Girl Names Making A Comeback </a></strong> Plus: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/baby-names-2012_n_1666164.html" target="_hplink">The Hottest Baby Names Of 2012 (So Far)</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-redmond-satran/baby-name-rules_b_1456854.html" target="_hplink">22 Rules To Follow When Choosing A Baby Name</a>