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By Pamela Redmond Satran

Looking for a classic boys’ name that’s also unusual?

Way beyond the Williams and Henrys you hear every day are dozens of boys’ names that achieve this golden combination.  These names have deep roots and have been used for centuries, yet are given to only a handful of boys each year.

These classic boys’ names include choices from ancient cultures and the Bible, names sailing out of style (So long, Sherman) along with those heading in: Welcome, Grey, Linus, and Finnian!

Here, more than 100 classic boys’ names you’ll find hiding below the U.S. Top 1000, ordered from those given to the most babies in 2012 (Gordon, at 194) to the least (Mercury, at just five):

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Family Baby Name Traditions

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Today’s Question of the Week was inspired by a comment on our Facebook page, noting that names that end with the letter A were a “family tradition” for that berry.

How interesting!  While family name traditions are more conventionally thought of as calling all the oldest child Joseph or Elizabeth or giving children names that start with the same letter, there really is no strict definition to what might constitute a naming tradition.

So we put the question to you: What are the naming traditions in your own family?

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Baby Boy clip


Click here to see all boys’ names.

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.

Core Classics

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