There’s an old saying: money talks, but wealth whispers. Essentially, it insinuates that folks with “new money” (i.e., the nouveau riche) are flashy and ostentatious with their wealth, sporting extravagant jewelry, flashy cars, tylenol cold sinus directions and designer labels so that everybody is well aware of their lofty financial status. But “old money” — the families who have been rich for generations — don’t feel the need to flaunt it because, well, everybody already knows. And lately, social media (especially TikTok) has been blowing up with the “old money” aesthetic, sometimes known as “quiet luxury.”
While baby names like Dior or Mercedes are giving in-your-face extravagance, old money baby names are more subtle; they sound more prestigious than pretentious. The old money/quiet luxury aesthetic is less “look at my Louis Vuitton” and more “my parents pay $75K a year for my private elementary tuition.” Old money baby names convey high class and high status, not so much trendy as steeped in tradition. Think of the Vanderbilts, the Astors, the Rockefellers, the Carnegies: old money baby names give a distinctive “this museum/university/library is named after my great-grandfather” vibe.
There are no cutesy or “kreatyve” spellings with old money baby names, either; these are solid classics that will fit as well on a monogrammed school uniform as they will on the nameplate of an oil tycoon. However, many of them do lend themselves well to less formal-sounding nicknames in case your offspring desires a more casual vibe. Want more formal? Combine two for the first and middle — like Brighton Conrad or Victoria Greer!
Derived from an Old Welsh name, Morcant, Morgan is thought to mean “comes from the sea.” But it also brings with it a strong association to the powerful female figure Morgan Le Fay in Arthurian legend. And the famous Morgan horse breed lends a link to the upscale equestrian show world as well!
Camden comes from an English surname meaning “from the winding valley.” As with most surnames-turned-first-names, it carries a more formal feel.
Corinne is the elegant-sounding French form of Corinna, which itself stems from the Greek word κόρη, meaning “maiden.”
An English surname, Marshall is from the Latin mariscalcus, meaning “horse servant” — i.e., a marshal, which is a law officer (in the olden days, on horseback). It’s also the surname of aristocratic oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, who was famously married to Anna Nicole Smith.
We could lean on the more phonetic spelling of this name — Skyler — but we’re going old-school for this old money baby name. It’s derived from a Dutch surname meaning “scholar,” so it carries an air of prestige, especially with its more-traditional spelling.
This English place name was transferred to a surname, which now has become used as a first name — and a distinguished-sounding one, at that.
This Celtic-leaning name is the Anglicized version of the Old Irish name Tighearnach, meaning “lord” or “regal.” But even without knowing its prestigious meaning, Tierney just sounds upper-class — and could be a good choice for either boys or girls.
The smooth, elegant sound of Sabine puts it firmly into our category of old money baby names. It’s the French feminine form of the Latin sabinus, which means “a Sabine” — in reference to the Sabines, an ancient people who lived in the mountainous regions of central Italy.
This surname has been popularized as a first name, and means “son of Hudde.” Hudde itself is thought to be a medieval-era diminutive (i.e., a nickname) of Hugh, meaning “thought” or “mind”. You could also switch it up and go with Judson, though that leans a little more toward the neo-cowboy baby names trend.
The French form of almost any name just sounds more sophisticated by default, and Claire is no different. It’s the French version of Clara, which is from the Latin clarus meaning “clear” or “bright.”
Another surname baby name, this one means — no surprise — “keeper of the park.” But as popular as it is for boys (#94 of the U.S. Social Security Administration’s top 1000 as of 2022), it’s almost equally popular for girls (#116 on the girls’ name chart).
Sloane is another great example of a unisex old money baby name. It comes from the Irish word sluaghadh, meaning “mobilization” — hence, many sources say it means “fighter” in the sense of mobilizing troops.
Even though the name Forbes is Scottish in origin (it means “field”), it is practically synonymous with wealth in the U.S. thanks to Forbes magazine and its Forbes 400 list, which consists of the richest people in the United States.
This Old German name meaning “brave counsel” has been around since the Middle Ages, and has been borne by kings, dukes, and saints. But what gives Conrad its modern-day association with wealth? Famed hotelier Conrad Hilton, that’s what (or, more accurately, who!).
The jury is out on the exact meaning of this refined-sounding name; it comes from Greek, either a type of duck called penelops or a combo of two words — πήνη (pene) and ὄψ (ops), loosely translating to “weaver.” Either way, Penelope was famous in Greek mythology as the wife of the hero Odysseus from The Odyssey. And if this ancient name is a bit too much on the formal side, it comes with a ton of possible nickname: Pen or Penny, Nell or Nellie, Pip or Pippa, even Pepper!
Gregory is derived from the Greek γρήγορος (gregoros), meaning “watchful” or “alert” — and has been used by a number of saints throughout history, as well as 16 popes. Despite its long and rich history, though, Gregory doesn’t sound dated; it fits right into this category of old money baby names.
Warren is an English surname that gets it roots from the Norman French word warrene, meaning a park or enclosure for animals. It’s also the name of famous financier Warren Buffett, which lends a prestigious association. Warrick or Warwick are two possible alternatives that share a similar vibe.
The lovely Margot (remember, don’t pronounce the T!) is the French short form of another classy name: Margaret. It’s an old name that was popular in the 1930s, nearly dropped off the charts for about 50 years, and is now experiencing a huge surge in popularity; from 2013 to now, it has gone from #943 on the list of most popular baby names to #193.
In America, we favor Pierce; in British, it’s more typically seen as Piers. Regardless, this strong name comes from the Medieval form of Peter, meaning “rock.”
An aristocratic and refined choice, Katherine — most often associated with the Greek καθαρός (katharos), meaning “pure” — has the advantage of multiple nicknames to fit whatever personality your Katherine turns out to have. Kat, Katy, Kathy, Kath, Kate … or you could soften its presence a bit by spelling it with a C, as in Catherine.
Whether it’s spelled with one L or two, Phillip is derived from the Greek Φίλιππος (Philippos), and it has a very unique meaning: friend of (or fond of) horses. It has been used widely throughout history by Macedonian, French, and Spanish kings, and most recently showed up in British royalty by way of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Its deep roots give it a strong, formal feel.
While Whitney skews mostly female these days, it can be — and has been — used as a male or a female name. It comes from the Old English phrase for “white island,” and carries an association with the famous Whitney Museum of American Art, founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
If you’re looking for a feminine name with a strong and regal feel, you absolutely cannot go wrong with Victoria. Its meaning (victory, of course!) is clear, and its royal, upper-crust association is unmistakable thanks to the long reign of Queen Victoria.
Old Money Baby Names: Greer
Greer just sounds sophisticated, like someone you’d meet at a posh boarding school favored by the who’s-who. Surprisingly, it has the same meaning as Gregory — alert or watchful — because it stems from the same root name Γρηγόριος (Gregorios). That transferred into the Scottish surname Gregor, which then morphed into Greer. The more you know! Since it’s a surname, it can be used for any gender, but tends to lean feminine in the present day.
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