By Abby Sandel
Expecting a son in 2017? Good news: there’s never been a better time to name a boy.
Not so long ago, we tended to save the more daring and downright interesting choices for girls, while we played it safe when naming our boys. Now, with every passing year, parents seem more and more likely to exercise creativity when naming their children, sons and daughters alike.
You can see it in the numbers. From 1900 to 1950, eight of the Top 20 boys’ names in the US remained unchanged. By 1975, six of them were still holding on. On the girls’ side, only Mary boasts that kind of record. Today, James and William remain near the top of the boys’ lists, but change is constant. Many of our current favorites were completely unknown a century ago.
Let’s take a look at nine ways to name a boy, inspired by baby naming headlines from recent months.
Search for vintage gems – Gone are the days when antique revivals were mostly for girls. If we’re calling our daughters Cordelia and Emmeline, then their brothers can be Lyle and Rufus. Zach Galifinakis and wife Quinn Lundberg welcomed their second son, Rufus Emmanuel, at the end of December. Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and husband Christian Horner just welcomed son Montague George Hector.
Remake a favorite – We see it all the time with girls’ names – Diane leads to Diana, and Deanna climbs, too. It works every bit as well for boys. Love Ben, but not a fan of Benjamin? Consider Benedict, Bennett, or Benno – that last one made our Best 100 Baby Names for 2017 list.
Embrace your heritage – Rumor had it that Janet Jackson would name her son Michael. While family names are great, Jackson instead opted to name her son Eissa, in step with traditional names from husband Wissam Al Mana’s native Qatar. Even if you have to search a few generations back on your family tree, heritage choices can make great picks.
Focus on meaning – A recent BBC story discussed African naming traditions, which are often meaning-rich. Plenty of English names offer appealing meanings, from happy (Asher, Felix, and Noam) to handsome (Beau, Alan).
Go for a cool, modern sound – Dancers Peta Murgatroyd and Maksim Chmerkovskiy may have been focused on meaning when they named son Shai Aleksander earlier this month. It’s Hebrew for gift. Or maybe they were all about the cool, modern sound of Shai, a name that fits right in with Jax, Kai, and Jace.
Stick to the classics – Tatler’s list of poshest names – they claim they’re all real! – was chock full of obscurities like Wigbert, Mao, and Innsbruck. Also on the list? David and John. With so many parents choosing truly unusual names, sometimes it’s the classics that feel the most distinctive.
Use a family name – Katherine Heigl and husband Josh Kelley have chosen names from her side of the family for daughter Naleigh and Adalaide. No surprise they named son after dad: Joshua Bishop Kelley, Jr. While family names aren’t for everyone, when they work, they’re great. And, of course, family names aren’t always juniors. You might choose a family surname, or maybe a name from a few generations back.
Embrace your heroes – The celebrity-inspired name I’m watching for 2017? Bowie. The death of musical legend David Bowie adds his name to Lennon, Hendrix, and other rock icons-turned-stylish-baby names. Of course, this works whether your hero is internationally known, or a friend or loved one important in your life.
Walk on the wild side – Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Mara Lane welcomed son Wolf last month. Whether you like your nature names gentle (Forrest and River), rugged (Ridge and Stone), or fierce (Fox and Wolf), there are endless options from the great outdoors.
What are your favorite ways to name a boy?