Old lady names

(88 Posts)
Gimmeechocolate Thu 31-Jan-13 11:50:08

I really love old lady names and already have 2 DDs with old names.

I have fallen in love with the name Ethel. Everybody I know hates it and laughs at it.

I guess what I am asking is what are your associations with it as a name other than 'old lady'?

naughtynaughtynamechange Thu 31-Jan-13 11:54:07

Ethel is, I am sorry to say, a truly awful name. Bet you a pound to a pinch of shit that baby Ethel gets a deed poll on her 18th birthday. It's just not a pleasant sound.

If you want that pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon feel, Edith is lovely.

emsyj Thu 31-Jan-13 11:54:45

Ethel Austin. (Sorry)

I really like Elsa, but DH feels the 'old lady' vibe with that one - have tried to persuade him of the lioness aspect, but no joy so far.

The first thing I think of when I hear Ethel, is the old lady that was in Eastenders, and her little willy grin

I don't like it at all, sorry.

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 12:07:03

Ethel might be a step too far I think......but having said that it will probably be the next "in" name- hasn't some celebrity named their baby Ethel?

smother Thu 31-Jan-13 12:07:09

Association is currently Lily Allen's baby.... Ettie is a nice nn but Ethel still feels a step too far down the old lady path. What are your other DDs called?

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 12:08:36

...much prefer Mabel or Eleanor.

Pasiphae Thu 31-Jan-13 12:10:58

There was an Ethel in Downton, not a happy story, though.
And there's Ethel Hallow in the Worst Witch, who is ever so annoying.
I like the name but then I tend to really like old ladies names like Shirley and Myrtle...

Kaekae Thu 31-Jan-13 12:11:43

I quite like old lady names too but not Ethel.

Wampingwillow Thu 31-Jan-13 12:12:41

Sorry but I just can't see an Ethel being anything other than old, just like old Ethel in eastenders

FiercePanda Thu 31-Jan-13 12:13:30

I love Ethel, less keen on Edith. Enid's another name I really like.

bunnylang Thu 31-Jan-13 14:20:22

What about Esme, Mabel or Constance?

MortifiedAdams Thu 31-Jan-13 14:22:48

My DD has an old lady name and im considering Lilian if I have another dd but Ethel.is ghastly.

whatyoulookinat Thu 31-Jan-13 14:27:46

I'm too a lover of old lady names & think Ethel us great. Doesn't make me think of anything in particular, just a good old fashioned name but very 'now' without being try hard.

Sasparillo Thu 31-Jan-13 15:19:07

I love old lady names too, but Ethel is probably the name I like the least! What about Elsie? Probs my fave at the moment xx

Gimmeechocolate Thu 31-Jan-13 15:22:46

Thanks for all your responses. Outing myself here but already have Iris and Hetty.

I like Mabel and Esme a lot but already know at least three of each. Would have gone for Elsie but my brother called his daughter Elsie!

Joyce, Mavis, Verity, Constance, Beryl, all nice old fashioned names. I hate Ethel. Sorry.

MortifiedAdams Thu 31-Jan-13 15:24:50

love Hettie!

What about:

GirlOutNumbered Thu 31-Jan-13 15:55:19

I had two lovely old aunts; Ethel and Hazel.
Fantastic ladies!

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 16:07:50

My Mum is a Hetty and her sisters are/were: Margaret (Rita), Elizabeth (Bunty) and Ena - not sure what that was short for.

Sister in laws were Mary x 2, Margaret, Alison. Evelyn & Norma.

Anything any use? - Quite liking Rita actually.

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 16:10:08

Philomina (Mina)

SurreyWithAFringeOnTop Thu 31-Jan-13 16:28:30

Ooh Iris and Hetty were my top two for a girl (I had a boy). I also loved Violet, Dora and Greta.

I for one like Ethel, though I do prefer the ones I have already listed.

Harrysmummysarah1 Thu 31-Jan-13 17:35:52

I was just going to suggest violet ? smile

SunshineOutdoors Thu 31-Jan-13 17:38:22

Esther? A bit similar but sounds nicer to me.

Viviennemary Thu 31-Jan-13 17:48:05

Ethel is dreadful. Even when I was a child Ethel was awful. I like Violet too. Veronica is nice but you never hear it these days. And Esther.

SwedishEdith Thu 31-Jan-13 18:05:58

Ethel Austen as well and Eastenders. Not sure it actually sounds very nice? I really like Rita as well despite it having very unglamourous real life associations.

Sasparillo Thu 31-Jan-13 18:21:00

Iris, Hetty & Daisy?
Iris, Hetty & Delilah?
Iris, Hetty & Charlotte?
Iris, Hetty & Dottie?
Iris, Hetty & Poppy?

Lovely names you have already smile I love the current 'vintage names' trend we have going on!

Ficidy Thu 31-Jan-13 18:51:20


SoggySummer Thu 31-Jan-13 19:20:11

Oh dear - I really want to offer you some support for Ethel but just can't. Sorry.

My suggestions are:


Lollybrolly Thu 31-Jan-13 19:33:54

Gwen or Gwenda or Gwendoly/Gwendolene
Agatha or Aggie

MrsMoppetMama Thu 31-Jan-13 19:38:30

I've got an Esther and lots of people say how nice it is to hear an 'old fashioned' name. I think old lady names are great and better than some made up names - at least when they're old ladies their names will suit them!!grin

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 19:43:21

Dolores (Dolly)?

Gimmeechocolate Thu 31-Jan-13 19:51:41

Thanks again everyone.

It's interesting isn't it because I would say Barbara, Blanche, Beryl, Joyce, Veronica and Edith are nowhere near as nice as Ethel! Horses for courses and all that!

Sasparillo - I love Dottie but is it too many 't's with Hetty?

Ficidy and Soggysummer - Also love Betty and Betsy but too close to Hetty.

I really like Violet but people have put me off by saying it sounds like vile and Maud also as have been told it sounds like mould. Funnily with Ethel people just say it's horrible!

My dh doesn't like it but I know i will really regret not using it!

WafflesandWhippedCream Thu 31-Jan-13 19:53:15

I don't associate Ethel as "old lady" actually, I think of the glamourous elder sister who everyone was always falling in love with in the Just William books.

I don't think it's any worse than many of the other names suggested! (but clearly I am in a minority grin)

Antipag Thu 31-Jan-13 19:56:07

I like Ethel. To hell what others think, it's your baby, you aren't naming it Satan Ballcrack or something l!

(everyone hates this one but I love it) Hebe?

BandersnatchCummerbund Thu 31-Jan-13 20:06:27

Ethel always seems to be the name given to the obnoxious one in children's books. Ethel in Just William; Ethel in the The Worst Witch!

GirlOutNumbered Thu 31-Jan-13 20:09:10

Dottie - short for Dorothy. That's lovely.

MortifiedAdams Thu 31-Jan-13 20:11:01


nellyjelly Thu 31-Jan-13 20:15:18

Ida is anice name.

Rhubarbgarden Thu 31-Jan-13 20:16:49

I quite like Ethel. I have an Audrey if that's any good to you? I also love Dinah.

Dotty/Dottie is great. I almost wish I'd called DD that, as it would have really suited her. We called her Kitty (Kathleen on BC) in the end.

Violet is ace too-l I want to call DC3 Violet if it's a girl, but DH doesn't like it.

Ethel is horrible, sorry. How about Margaret? Then she could be Maggie/Mags/Peggy.

nellyjelly Thu 31-Jan-13 20:18:30

Ivy nice too

marriedinwhite Thu 31-Jan-13 20:20:16

My DH's grandma was Ethel. She would be 106 this year. She hated it so much she used another name for all of her adult life.

tunnocksteacake Thu 31-Jan-13 20:25:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

smother Thu 31-Jan-13 20:42:33

Esther's nice but Hetty and Esther is a bit samey for sisters. Also Ettie is a nn for Ethel so you'd have Hetty and Ettie - is that enough to put you off Ethel OP? wink

More positively, Iris and Hetty are wonderful names!!

For the next one, what about...


HoneyandRum Thu 31-Jan-13 20:53:12

What about Gloria? I just love that name, beautiful!

HoneyandRum Thu 31-Jan-13 20:57:19

Also Silvia and Silvie.

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 21:08:52

Jennifer (Jenny)


Gimmeechocolate Thu 31-Jan-13 22:01:44

Some great suggestions...

Ivy is another favourite and Ida too but Do you think they work when we already have an Iris?

Our surname begins with A and is three syllables so A names don't work well for me.

Florence is beautiful but I already know 4!

Matilda is already DD's middle name.

Awkward aren't I?!

I know a 14 year old Ethel, I was really surprised when I found out her siblings names as they are all what you would expect for children of their ages - Maddie, Jack and Tilly (Matilda). I have grown to like it on her but still sounds odd for a baby - but they are not babies for long are they?

(Fat lot of help I am hey?)

Sashapineapple Thu 31-Jan-13 22:31:20

Reminds me Ethel in Eastenders.

Sorry but I think it's an awful name to saddle a kid with, can you imagine when she's 14 with her mates or out clubbing when she's in her 20's. Seems a bit cruel tbh.

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 22:46:27

Wilhelmina (Willa)

amck5700 Thu 31-Jan-13 22:53:34

Beatrice (Beattie)

MidnightMasquerader Fri 01-Feb-13 00:01:36

I also think of Just William's glamourous older sister when I hear the name Ethel, too. A pretty red-head aged somewhere between 17 and 21 who had the local youths falling at her feet.

I actually don't think it's a bad name and I'm starting to hear it more and more. I think you might be ahead of the curve on this one.

I was given a desperately old-fashioned, old lady name in the 70s, which everyone else was positively eschewing. It's Isobel.

Ethel will have its time again. smile

FlipFlopFloss Fri 01-Feb-13 00:23:31


echidnakid Fri 01-Feb-13 04:08:05

I love old lady names (and have an Agatha to prove it!) but I can't get into Ethel, sorry. It's just a bridge too far somehow.

How about:


MidnightMasquerader Fri 01-Feb-13 06:23:10

On God, Pearl... grin

It's so subjective, naming people, isn't it? I wouldn't thank you for calling me Pearl. Ethel is far preferable IMO.

Elsa is nice.

Or what about Roberta? Bobbie for short.

amazingmumof6 Fri 01-Feb-13 12:28:04

have it as a second name, but baby Ethel... <shivers> sorry, no

love Esther or Edith, Esme, Elsie are nice too

singaporeswing Fri 01-Feb-13 12:37:44

I adore Verity with the nn Ettie, but too similar to Hetty.

My new favourite is Vera. My great-aunt's name, so reminds me of a fabulous woman.

WinkyWinkola Fri 01-Feb-13 13:22:31


rainbow2000 Fri 01-Feb-13 13:37:35

Dont like Ethal to harsh sounding.Love Millicent great name and would go great with your other kids names.Hetty is fabulous

SoggySummer Fri 01-Feb-13 19:41:20


MerlotAndMe Fri 01-Feb-13 19:46:45

I worked in a nursing home and all of the names except a few are back. Nancy, Mary, Norah, Greta..

So now 'old lady names' for me would have to be people in their 70s, not late 80s.

Zappo Fri 01-Feb-13 19:49:20

Don't know if it's been suggested- Dorothy nn Dottiw. Has the same 'th' sound to it

Zappo Fri 01-Feb-13 19:49:38

nn Dot or Dottie

TheFantasticFixit Fri 01-Feb-13 19:56:15

Our dd is Bess Violet - I absolutely adore 'old' names and we get so many comments about how nice her name is

armagh Fri 01-Feb-13 19:58:25

Clemency ?
Think Gladys, Rita, and Dolores are a step too far.
What about Eithne ( pronounced Eth na)?
Love Elsie too. Actually Ethel not too bad- sounds nicer than it looks.

blushingm Sat 02-Feb-13 18:21:51


VerySmallSqueak Sat 02-Feb-13 18:37:10

How about the regal names that have stood the test of time - Victoria,Elizabeth etc?

alanyoung Sat 02-Feb-13 19:51:07

Careful what you say, naughtynaughtynamechange. I had an aunty named Ethel and she was my favourite aunt. I can remember her teaching me how to cross the road using traffic lights in about 1953 when I was six years old.

She actually lived in Eccles, Manchester, so she was Ethel from Eccles!

alanyoung Sat 02-Feb-13 19:52:42

Isn't this just about the craziest thread you've ever read?

alanyoung Sun 03-Feb-13 08:36:26

What about Lettice - a true and well respected Victorian name?

echidnakid Sun 03-Feb-13 10:04:20

Not sure what's wrong with Pearl Midnight, but yes naming is of course completely subjective.

baskingseals Sun 03-Feb-13 10:16:13

What about Joy? i think it's popular as a middle name, but would be lovely as a first name.

i also have a bit of a secret love for Audrey.

ZolaBuddleia Mon 04-Feb-13 15:45:53

I love Pearl too. There was a Beulah in my family, love it! Constance / Connie?

atthewelles Tue 05-Feb-13 16:28:09

Ethel always reminds me of the sister in the William books (as another poster has said) but even though I loved the books, I really don't like the name.

What about Sybil?

MidnightMasquerader Tue 05-Feb-13 18:15:03

Ethel wasn't a very likeable character, but she was glam. grin

Cocodale Tue 05-Feb-13 18:24:35

Love it, heard of an Elsie the other day which I also think is lovely x

BloodyAwful Tue 05-Feb-13 20:32:38

I have a DD with the same name as one of yours and have just had another called Elsa. I love Ethel, if you love it then use it! Enid is great too.

Wereonourway Tue 05-Feb-13 20:46:55

I had a gran called lettice, she was basically called lettuce all of her life.
I like daisy and connie, I think they would go with your other ds's names( beautiful by the way)
What about bella??

raisah Tue 05-Feb-13 21:00:55


Anjou Wed 06-Feb-13 12:41:00

The most important thing is that you like the name - who cares if others like it, or if they associate it with a girl from school/a neighbours dog etc!! There will always be trends and these will differ by area - one mans 'posh' is another mans 'chav'', I find! However, there are just some words which sound unpleasant/clunky no matter what your accent. For me, Ethel is one if them. It's just not a nice sound. I'd add Mavis, Maud and Doreen to that list too. (Sorry to anyone who has or likes those names - each to their own!).

There are some nice suggestions on here though. I'll add Cecily. smile

tinygreendragon Wed 06-Feb-13 22:51:06

I hated my name as a kid because it was an 'old lady name' and I'm yet to meet another Joy who is under the age of 60. But since I've grown up I now love it because I haven't met another Joy my age grin.

I'm sure they are out there, I just haven't met them yet smile

To me Ethel is Ethel Hallow from the worst witch books, she wasn't very nice... How about some other nicer character names?

Mildred (Millie)

My DH vetoed all of the above as too witchy but I did luff the books.

eatyourveg Thu 07-Feb-13 07:35:01

Doris Gladys Gertrude, Mavis and Ethel are all terrible
Mabel, Constance, Violet, Betty and Camellia (Millie) all much nicer

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now