B Boy Baby Names: Billy and Bear

Best of the New B Boy Names

By Abby Sandel

Last week’s baby name news was brought to us by the letter B.

1D’s Liam Payne and Cheryl Cole revealed their new son is called Bear. Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel’s moving remarks on his late night talk show introduced his sweet son Billy.

At first glance, Billy and Bear don’t have much in common. One belongs with bold word names, the kind of choice guaranteed to make headlines. The other is delightfully retro, rare on birth certificates circa 2017, but instantly familiar to all.

What unites them? The letter B.

It’s a go-to for boys, from the 1950s Bruce to the 1970s Brian to today’s Top Ten Benjamin.

As of 2015, B ranked eighth for first letters of boys’ names, behind J, A, C, M, L, E, and D, but ahead of K and R.

Now there’s a new generation of B boy names coming. Here’s a dozen of the best.

Bastian – If Liam can pull ahead of William in the popularity charts, how about Bastian? The short form of Sebastian was used for the hero of 1984’s The Neverending Story. (His full name? The marvelously alliterative Bastian Balthazar Bux.) While Bastian remains rare, it’s more than tripled in use in the US over the last three years.

Beau – Handsome Beau feels slightly Southern, but this name is gaining in popularity across the US. Tori Spelling just named her newest arrival Beau. At Number 203, it’s more popular than ever. Simplified spelling Bo is another option.

Beckett – After years of boys with surname names like Mason and Logan and Landon, the ends-with-etts offer something new. At Number 218, Beckett is among the most stylish of this class. Cool nickname Beck leans musical, while Beckett feels literary.

Benedict – With Benjamin in the Top Ten, a handful of alternative formal names for Ben could also rise. There’s surnamey Benton, Benson, and Bennett; Biblical Benaiah; and saintly Benedict, worn by sixteen popes. It’s not just Ben raising this name’s profile. There’s also Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch.

Blaise and Blaze Blaise has long been used in small numbers. (Think Blaise Pascal.) Fiery Blaze transforms this traditional pick into a modern word name. While they feel like they’d appeal to very different kinds of namers, they’re both rising in the charts at the same time, with Blaise reaching Number 805 and Blaze at Number 706 as of 2015.

Bodhi – Spiritually significant, Bodhi appeals to parents seeking a meaningful boys’ name with an on-trend sound. Also spelled Bode and Bodie, this name has gone from almost unknown a generation ago to an almost mainstream favorite today.

Brecken Brecken is yet another Irish surname possibility, boosted by actor Breckin Meyer. It shares roots with bracken, a type of fern, making it almost a nature name. Initially more popular for girls, it’s gone to the boys in the 2000s. Today it makes a modern choice that feels just different enough from the so popular Brayden and Brandon.

Briar – Move over, Rowan. Briar is the latest unisex nature name to chart for boys and girls in the US. While it’s slightly more popular for girls, at Number 844 versus Number 998, the sound works well for both. Fresher than Brian or even Bryce, Briar could be the next River.

Briggs – We love s-ending surname names, so why not Briggs? A fast-climbing favorite, Briggs feels rugged and buttoned-down at the same time. It’s a brother for Wilder, a substitute for Brooks.

Brighton Brighton has held steady just outside of the boys’ Top 1000 for a few years now. Long a popular seaside resort in England, it belongs with place names from Camden to Brooklyn. But Brighton also succeeds on sound, and that light, bright first syllable. A young Chris Pratt played BrightonBrightAbbott on the WB’s Everwood.

Bruno – Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Bruno Mars keeps his name in the spotlight, but he’s far from the first. The name feels traditionally Italian in the US, putting it in the company of rising romance language favorites like Luca and Matteo. It’s heard throughout Europe, and historical Brunos abound. It makes a great, under-used o-ending boy name.

Byron Long before the great Romantic poet Lord Byron penned “Don Juan,” this was just an ordinary English surname, for someone who lived near cow sheds. It’s never left the US Top 1000, and has a long history of steady use. In fact, it was more popular in 1917 and 1957 than it is today. It’s a great stands-out, fits-in choice.

What are your favorite B names for boys?

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16 Responses to “B Boy Baby Names: Billy and Bear”

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lesliemarion Says:

May 7th, 2017 at 10:52 pm

Benedict is lovely.

I also love Benjamin, Berenger, Brychan, Bramwell, Bronislaw, Barry, Bob, Balsam, Bechet, Bix, and Bjorn.

Kate4hisglory Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 12:13 am

I love Beckett! That’s a middle of one of my boy’s names! I also love Bennett, Bertram, Baxter, Bram, Brooks, Banks, Barlow/Barlowe, Basil, Bay, Baelfire (not just a OUAT name), and Beacon. I like Bastian, but I wonder about nicknames once they hit a certain age.

Myosotis Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 3:48 am

Quite a few of my favourites are up there; Beau, Blaise, and Benedict. The others being Bennet, Bartholomew, Bravery, Barnaby, & Blue.

maggiemary Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 5:55 am

I love Benedict, and I think it’s time for it to shed it’s ‘Benedict Arnold’ connotation here in the States, and finally get some real love. Benedict Cumberbatch may just have been the person to help it along the way, as there’s now another association with the name, well among some of us anyway.

Other B boy names I like are Benjamin, Bartholomew, Bram, Barnaby/Barnabas, Barthélemy and Bertram.

RosieMac Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 7:12 am

I love Bruno! I get a wildly creative vibe from him. I also adore Barnaby, Blaise & Bram.

NaomiNY Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 8:23 am

My favorite B names:
Bennett
Brennan
Beckett
Barnabas
Bodhi
Balthazar
Bram
Benedict
Bravery
Brecken
Brooks
Boston
Bartholomew

Lo Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 11:08 am

I adore Bo and Brooks. Neither fit at all with our other sons’ names so I won’t get to use them.

LuMary Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I had a feeling you were going to bring up Billy soon. I’ve warmed to that nickname for William in 2007 when I heard a little boy referenced with Billy. Before, I like most of us, preferred Will or Willie. Billy sounds fresh now and I’m starting to like Bobby. It’s the eras they reflect that adds to the appeal for me. The simpler America when children roamed freely, went to ballparks with friends, played in sandlots, delivered newspapers with bicycles or sold them on street corners, jumped rope, etc.

I’m warming to Bobby, too.

I like Bartholomew, Bertie (as an nn for a girl), Bert (as nn for Robert), Barnaby (as), Beatrice/trix, Benedicta. Barron’s okay.

LuMary Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Forgot to mention others I like:

Beckett
Blaise
Boaz
Boniface
Bozrah

I’m sure Bonnie will be resurrected some day. Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair (great name) has a daughter Blair.

teacupsandtiaras Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 3:33 pm

B is actually my favorite first initial for boys!

Birch has been on my middle name list for awhile now. I know little baby Bennetts and Becketts and love their names! Blaise, Brooks, Banks, and Brighton are all wonderful, and Briggs is a new idea I’ve never seen before.

eveyalecia Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 6:08 pm

I LOVE Briar for a boy! I’m also a fan of Bastian and Bruno from this list, and Bear is growing on me.

Other favorite B boy names:
Bertram (nns Bertie, Bram)
Bellamy
Boaz
Boston
Bryant
Brooklyn
Byrd

name_sage Says:

May 8th, 2017 at 9:34 pm

I like Breccan and Blaise (prefer these spellings) and I also like Benedict as a full version of Ned. Other fun B names….Barnaby, Baylor, Baxter (Bax, probably my favorite), Beacon, Boaz, Brenner, Bridger, Burke…

LuMary Says:

May 9th, 2017 at 11:18 am

Other good ones:

Blue
Bluebell
Bevin/Bebhinn
Bridget/Brigid
Buster
Barnum (maybe the ‘Bar’ names are on the cusp of revival)
Bathsheba (pronounced the British way: BATHshiba)
Bliss
Blessing
Boston

LuMary Says:

May 9th, 2017 at 11:31 am

How could I forget Banner? It’s a patriotic, 4th of July name.

Also:

Booker
Boomer
Brookings
Brookby
Brooks
Baker
Breaker
Beulah

southern.maple Says:

May 11th, 2017 at 7:01 pm

I absolutely love Blaise.

ElsaAnne Says:

May 13th, 2017 at 12:28 am

B isn’t one of my favourite letters in the alphabet; I only really like Bartholomew, Boaz, Brio and Byron. I prefer ‘B’ names on girls.

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