Old English Names

by Your Baby Club

If you are looking for a traditional and unique name for your baby boy or girl, then an Old English name is perfect. Old English is a language borne out of dialects spoken by ancient Germanic tribes and has close links to themes of nature and history.

There are many names out there which you may not even know have an Old English origin. This may be because they are referred to in their short form, or because their meaning has become lost over time.

If you want to find out more about Old English baby names and why more and more parents are using them, then keep reading! We have compiled a round-up of all the best and more unusual Old English names for boys and girls, so you can pick the one that you and your baby feel most drawn to!

What are Old English baby names?

An Old English baby name is a name that comes from the earliest recorded form of the English language.

Old English was the dominant language in England and Scotland from the 5th to 12th centuries before the Norman Conquest took place. Most names from this time period are rooted in the Germanic language and are pre-Medieval.

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Why would you choose an Old English name for your baby?

There are many reasons why people choose an Old English name for their baby. The most common is that these names are unique and very different from what most people call their children.

If you want your child to stand out from the crowd and have a name that people will remember, there is no better choice than one from the Old English language.

Another reason is that many names from the Middle Ages are gender-neutral, which is becoming more and more of a priority nowadays. So if you are waiting to find out the sex of your baby, or do not want to attach gendered expectations to them, then an Old English unisex name is a great option.

15 Old English Baby Girl Names

Ariana

First up is Ariana, which is a variation of 'arian', meaning 'silver' in Old English. This is a beautiful name for a baby girl and can be shortened to many different things, like 'Ari' or 'Aria'.

Bersaba

The name Bersaba means 'daughter of an oath' and comes from the name Bathsheba. It has both Cornish and Hebrew origins. It is a name used mainly in English-speaking countries but is very rare, meaning it is unlikely anyone else will share the same name as your baby girl!

Corliss

Corliss is the feminine form of Carlisle, another striking name that originates from Old English. It usually translates to 'generous' and 'cheerful', so if you want to impart those qualities onto your little girl, there is no better choice!

Eartha

If you want to give your child a bohemian or naturistic name, then Eartha is ideal. It means 'of the earth', as do its variations, Ertha and Hertha. It was used in the 17th century by the Puritans, but since then has become very rare.

Farrah

Farrah is becoming more of a popular choice amongst parents, meaning 'beautiful' in Old English. The name and its variants also have Arabic roots, with many young girls being called Ferrah, Farah, or Fareeha.

Godiva

You may recognise Godiva as being the name of the famous woman who rode naked on horseback through the streets of Coventry.

Today, however, the name is given to girls, as its meaning is 'gift of God'. As a result, many mothers are drawn to this name, as it points towards female liberation as well as a close relationship with God.

Hedwig

Hedwig is a Scandinavian name, originally meaning 'hidden weapon'. The name was first recorded in the 9th century, making it one of the oldest on our list. So if you want a truly unique name for your little girl, Hedwig is the way to go!

Jocelyn

There are many different ways to spell Jocelyn, which means there is the chance to make the name as unique as you want for your baby. No matter how you spell it, the meaning remains the same: 'just one'.

Kyla

Next up is Kyla, which is the female version of the name Kyle. In Old English, the name translates to 'narrow' or 'narrow channel'. There are many variations of the name and many other meanings in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Irish.

Luella

A beautiful and free-spirited name, Luella means 'elfin' in Old English. It is a variation of Louella but has become more popular due to its spelling. In recent years, more and more new parents have been naming their baby girls Luella.

Maida

The name Maida means 'maiden' or 'young woman' in Old English and is a unique yet feminine choice for a young girl. It has become more commonly used lately but is still not something you hear often. This makes it perfect for those who want their child to stand out.

Nara

Nara can be spelled a few ways, including Narah or Nera. Its meaning is disputed, with some claiming that it translates to 'Queen of the wolves' and is of Scottish origin, and others believing it means 'happy' and is of Celtic origin.

Odilia

The origins of the name Odilia are Germanic and translates to 'prosperous' or 'wealth'. This is one of the least-used names on our list, making it unique and powerful. What's more, few female names begin with 'O'.

Ripley

Ripley is a unisex name of Old English origins. Its meaning is 'from the clearing', and it is one of the most ancient Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain. If you are looking for a gender-neutral first name, then Ripley is an excellent choice.

Shirley

Shirley is used as a first name and family name. It originates from the English place name Shirley and has meanings ranging from 'untamed' to 'meadow'. It is a name intrinsically linked with nature and wilderness, making it a popular option amongst those who want their child to be in touch with that.

15 Old English Baby Boy Names

Alden

The name Alden derives from the Old English name Ealdwine, meaning 'old friend'. Nowadays, there are multiple variations of it, including Aldan and Alldyn. There are a few translations of it, with the most popular being 'wise protector'.

Baldwin

Baldwin, or Balduin, is a perfect name choice for a young boy, as it denotes bravery, courage, and friendship. It is an Anglo-Saxon and Old German surname originally but is now used as a given name and means 'brave, bold friend'.

Charles

Coming from the German name Karl, Charles was popular in the 17th century but has since become less and less common. Mothers are more likely to name their son Charlie instead, making Charles a unique and quaint Old English option.

Egbert

The first Anglo-Saxon monarch was named Egbert, giving it an air of regalness. It is definitely not a name that you hear often, but it is striking and has lots of opportunities to be shortened. It comes from the Old English for 'bright edge'.

Fairfax

Fairfax comes from the Middle-English word 'fair-feax', which meant 'fair hair' or 'beautiful tresses'. It was used descriptively at that time but began to be associated as a surname. There are many variations of Fairfax, meaning you can make the name as unique as you want!

Harley

Having become a popular Western baby name for both boys and girls over the years, the original meaning of Harley is 'hare's meadow' or 'hare clearing'. It derived from the Old English 'hara', which means hare, and 'leah', which means meadow or clearing.

Landon

Landon is a male name that is somewhat commonly used in the United States, but less so here in the UK. It is a short form of the name Langdon, and originally means 'long hill'. This makes a great name for your baby boy because it can be abbreviated to Lanny, Lan, and much more.

Madison

Another gender-neutral name, Madison, first became common as a surname in England, meaning 'son of Maddy' or 'son of Maud'. It was spelled Maddison but has since been updated. Although more typically used as a girl's name, more and more families have started naming their sons Madison.

Nyle

A variant of Neil, Nyle is a Celtic boy's name that can also be spelled Nile. Its meaning is 'champion' or 'passionate' and is a very powerful name to give to a baby. However, some say that the Anglo-Saxon origin of the name is different and means 'desire'.

Palmer

Palmer is used as a name for both a baby girl and a boy. It comes from the Old English for 'pilgrim' and was often used to describe someone who travelled to the Holy Land. These days, it is a common first and last name for children.

Raven

As you may have guessed, Raven is a boy's name that originates from the Old English for 'raven'. It can also be used as a girl's name, but the etymology is slightly different. Lots of mothers choose this name for their little boy as it denotes bravery and insightfulness.

Saxon

Some say that the name Saxon dates back to 1200, where it was used by West German tribes and meant 'famous warrior with knives'. However, others argue that it comes from the name of an English city and is of Anglo-Saxon origin.

Thane

Thane is a unisex name that has become increasingly popular in recent years, meaning 'warrior' or 'landowner' in Old English. A thane was typically a man who provided military service to his lord to hold land.

Vance

Originally, Vance was used as a family name. It derived from the English word 'fenn', which meant 'marsh' or 'marshy area'. There are not many male names beginning with 'V', making this an unusual and striking choice for your baby.

Wallis

Last but not least is Wallis. This name evolved from the Scottish family name Wallace, which in turn came from the Anglo-Norman-French word 'waleis', meaning 'foreign'. It was originally used to describe somebody who was thought to be from another country.

FAQs

Should you choose an Old English name for your baby?

If you are stuck on a baby name, then there is no reason not to choose an Old English one. They are steeped in history, often quite unusual and interesting, and phonetically beautiful.

Before settling on one, we advise looking up the meaning. Many Old English baby names have an unknown meaning or one which you may not want to be associated with your newborn!

What is the rarest Old English name?

One of the rarest baby boy names is Whittaker, which means 'from the wheat field'. It is unlikely that you will ever come across somebody with this as their name.

Obraya is one of the rarest that we have come across in terms of girl baby names. It is a variant of the gender-neutral name Aubrey, which means 'elf counsel'.

Where do Old English names originate from?

Most of these names are heavily influenced by Scandinavian and German invaders who came to England before the Norman Conquest in 1066. After the Conquest, from the mid-13th century onwards, most names became Norman.

It became uncommon to use an Old English baby name, with fewer names being in circulation and older names only being used in their short-form. However, there has been a resurgence of families wanting to use names with meaning and history in current times.

Check our our other guide to the perfect baby girl names


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Your Baby Club

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