Category: classic boys’ names
Today’s Question of the Week: What’s your style for naming a son? When it comes to boys’ names, how would you categorize what type you like best?
Traditional classic—as in James?
Ancient classic—as in Augustus?
Old Testament—as in Josiah?
Trendy–as in Hudson?
Powerboy –as in Axel?
Global – as in Enzo?
Nature– as in River?
Nickname—as in Charlie?
Grandpa—as in Arthur?
Great-Grandpa—as in Oscar?
Nouveau –as in Jaxon?
Hipster—as in Ace?
See all our lists of cool baby names here.
Cool baby names often share a certain something: an initial (like O), an origin (like Irish), or a sound — like -er at the end.
Dozens of the cool baby names for boys today share the –er ending, along with a handful of choices for girls. Some of these are traditional first names but more are surname-names and occupational names.
Of course, Jennifer and Christopher were not the only popular names or even the first to feature –er at their end. Long-used –er names include Peter and Alexander, other trendy 1980s choices are Amber and Heather, and widely-used popular names that end in –er include such divergent choices as Oliver and Winter, Skyler and Spencer, River and Ryker, Harper and Hunter.
And then, as happens with name trends, there are dozens of choices that are more unusual and more stylish. Among the most appealing are the traditional boys’ names that share the –er ending:
The other day we brought you the classic girls’ names: those that had been among the Top 1000 for all of the 130 years the U.S. government has been tracking baby names.
The boys’ group of classic boys’ names as defined the same way is nearly twice as large, encompassing 208 names to the girls’ 114. As with the girls’ names, we broke the classic boys’ names down into categories.
There are the Core Classics, about 20 percent of the group, which include those names everyone commonly thinks of as classics: John, Henry, William. Then there are the Biblical names that have endured in modern usage, from Moses to Matthew. Variations and short forms such as Anton and Andy make two more groups of names that have consistently been in the Top 1000.
And then there are those names that are quantitatively more enduring that you might guess: Harley? Riley? Hard to believe, yet the numbers bear it out. And then there are the Outliers, names whose continued use defies explanation and in some cases, sanity.
All of this gives you a wider range of options in classic boys’ names than you might initially think. Any of the following qualify.
The boys’ names that ranked among the Top 1000 in 1880, the first year for which statistics were kept, include hundreds of choices no longer in use – or at least very rarely heard. Some of the categories of lost names overlap with the now-obscure girls’ names, while others are different.
Nickname-names, for instance, so packed with lost names for girls, include some lost choices for boys, though more of the nickname names in use in the late 19th century are still widely used today: Joe, Jack, Jake, Jim, and so on.
Those nickname names we’re not hearing much of any more but which were popular in 1880 include:
While girls’ names are arguably more interesting – there are more of them, with more variations, and they move up and down the popularity ladder more nimbly – boys’ names are where the real baby-naming story lies today.
Parents are virtually reinventing the genre, abandoning traditional masculine names that have ruled for centuries in favor of a new brand of names for boys. These might be ancient names resurrected from the Bible or mythology, established surnames reconstituted as firsts, ethnic choices newly imported to our shores, or – most frequently – names invented to suit the current style.
All these different types of names yield the same result: They identify a new type of boy. He’s decidedly masculine, yet not conventionally so. He’s strong, yet individualistic; he nods to tradition, but doesn’t necessarily follow it.
Our sons, parents seem to be saying via these new boys’ names, are neither sissified nor the same old Dicks and Johns to be shoehorned into some outmoded macho mold. These names herald a quiet revolution in the way parents view their little boys and, by extension, in the way they’ll raise them.
Are we putting too much stock in the power of names to affect a change in something as fundamental as gender roles? Actually, we think it’s the other way around: The vision of gender is changing, for boys as well as girls, and the new boys’ names reflect that.
This week, we’ll look at some of the new masculine choices moving up the popularity list. The first group are the old names made new again.
Tomorrow: Surname names, real and synthetic, for the new brand of boy.