By Linda Rosenkrantz
Benjamin was the only boy name to enter the Top 10 this year. But that didn’t signal a revival of B names—there wasn’t another one in the Top 60. So let’s give a little love to this neglected initial and look at 20 B names way beyond Brandon and Brayden that are waiting to be discovered.
Baker—An appealing but utterly overlooked occupational surname name that evokes the aromatic smells emanating from a warm oven. Lots of surname namesakes, from writer Nicholson to actor Simon to jazz great Chet.
Barnabas—You may already have Barnaby on your list, but how about Barnabas? It has New Testament cred, a stylish ‘s’ ending, and a place in TV history via Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows. Barnabas is a Top 800 name on Nameberry.
Bartholomew—A weighty New Testament, apostolic, sainted, Shakespearean, Dickensian, Dr Seussean and Gossip Girl choice that hasn’t been used much for a century. And if nickname Bart is too Simpson for you, you can try the vintage Tolly.
Basil—Quintessentially British Basil was a Top 400 name in the US up through the 1930s, when he exited the country. Maybe the fact of Mick Jagger picking it as one of the middle names for his new son Deveraux (after his father) could inspire a reentry. Everybody loves the nickname Baz.
Baxter—An English occupational surname for a baker, Baxter has that irresistible ‘x’ in the middle, and was actually found on early 20th century popularity lists. Caveat: There have been a few fictional canines named Baxter.
Bellamy—A handsome, rhythmic surname name with the great meaning ‘fine friend’ that came to the fore via the main family name in the Upstairs, Downstairs TV series. Bellamy would make a nice cousin name for all those Bellas and Belles out there, in tune with the three-syllable surnames now in style.
Bertie—This jaunty nickname for all names ending in bert is currently standing alone at Number 305 in England and Wales, but has seen no signs of returning in the US, where it’s been gone since the 1940s, after having a long run– for girls. A past royal nickname in the UK, singer Kate Bush used it for her now grown son (with Albert on the birth certificate).
Birch—Quite different from sturdier tree names such as Oak and Pine, Birch has a slender, more graceful image. It was borne by father-son US senators named Birch Bayh, the younger of whom was a principal sponsor of the ERA.
Boaz—If you know too many Noahs, consider this livelier and less used Old Testament name. Boaz, the biblical second husband of Ruth, was common among the Pilgrims, is now Number 55 in the Netherlands and 407 on Nameberry. Hip nickname Bo is a plus.
Boone—From its association with Daniel Boone, this name has a lean and lanky feel to it, and that combined with its positive meaning—a boon being a blessing, brought it into the Top 1000 in 2015. Other references: the character of Boone Carlyle on Lost, business magnate T. Boone Pickens, and starbaby Boone McCoy, son of country singer Eric Church.
Bram—There’s something undeniably charming about Bram, which is both a more distinctive than Abe nickname of Abraham and an independent Dutch and Irish name. Most memorable bearer is Dracula creator Bram Stoker, and there was also a Bram on The West Wing. Number 15 in its native Netherlands, it’s 533 on NB.
Branch–An extension of the tree category, Branch fits right in with the trending strong single-syllable boys’ names. Branch (born Wesley Branch) Rickey will always be remembered for his role in breaking baseball’s color barrier.
Brown—An earthly yet sophisticated color name that would make a rich middle name choice. Surname namesakes include California Governor Jerry, immortal soul singer James, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne and numerous others.
Breccan—Also spelled Brecken and Breckin, this is an appealing, underused Irish saint’s name meaning ‘freckled’. The Berries place it at Number 402, while the Brecken spelling is ranked on the national list at #725.
Bruno—Thanks in part to Bruno Mars, this o-ending German name meaning brown is beginning to catch on internationally—it’s at Number 710 in the US, 493 on Nameberry, and in the Top 100 in Spain, Portugal and Germany. Bruno Mars, btw, was born Peter, but given the Bruno nickname when he was two.