Category: Boy Names
Convinced there are no great names for boys?
Spend a few minutes on message boards and you’ll hear the laments. “There are so many girls’ names I love, but nothing feels right for our son.” “Girls keep stealing all of the good names!”
This week’s baby name news proves that parents are discovering plenty of great names for boys. There’s no need to choose anything as outlandish as Rebel or as obscure as Theodule to find a stand out name for your son.
You will have to do your homework. In a New York Daily News article announcing that Isabella and Jayden remained the top names in the Big Apple, one mom said that they’d landed on Jayden for their 2011 baby because they “were trying to do something that was different.”
Midway through compiling this week’s list, I realized just how many great boys’ names are out there.
This is a subject of some debate. Creativity in naming a son was long frowned on, and parents tended to fall back on the most familiar choices. In 1900, more than 6% of all newborns were named John, while just 5.25% answered to Mary. #2 name, William, was given to almost 5.3% of boys, but the #2 girl name, Helen, represented just under 2% of new births. The names change, but the pattern holds. In 1965, 4.3% of boys were Michael, and 3.3% of girls answered to Lisa. Generally speaking, more boys receive the most popular names.
Reasons are plentiful, and even the most daring namer of daughters may very well veer towards the classics for a son, leading to sibsets like James, Henry, and Persephone. But could this be the generation to challenge that pattern?
What’s with the fashion for fierceness in boys’ names? We see it as a wish to recapture traditional male strength and power along with an impulse to leave conventional civilization behind. These names suggest old school bad boys in a brave new world, one in which boys still throw rocks and ride dirt bikes but also wear earrings and headbands.
Here are the fierce names we’re hearing today:
Last week we took a look at the ladies in limbo, the girls’ names not old enough to fall under the Hundred Year Rule, but were most popular from the 1920s to the 1960s, to question whether any of them were eligible for resuscitation.
And now, as promised we perform the same operation on the boys’ list.
We find several differences between the genders. For one thing, the popularity of the boys’ names tend to stretch over longer periods of time (122 years for Howard, for instance), and clearer syllabic and sound patterns tend to emerge. In the 1920s and 1930s, for example, we see a preponderance of two-syllable names ending in the letters n and d. By the fifties and sixties, there are lots of four and five-letter single syllable favorites—the Todds and Troys, Deans and Dales—those surfer dudes we’ve labeled ‘Beach Boys’ in our books.
Not many of these names, except for a few in the pre-1920 list, have shown significant signs of revival—once again, because they’re the names of our grandpas and great-uncles and fathers-in law—the older men in our lives, the men still smoking pipes on Father’s Day cards.