By Linda Rosenkrantz
If you’re looking for a same-letter namesake for your Uncle Derek or Grandpa Dean, you might surprised to see that there are only four—all equally dated—currently in the Top 100: David, Daniel, Dylan and Dominic. But why limit yourself to these obvious choices when there are so many other more distinctive—even daring—possibilities?
Here are the Nameberry Picks of the 11 most underused, undeservedly neglected unique D names for boys. And none of them is in the Top 1000!
This jauntier o-ending version of Daniel may not be all that familiar here, but it’s a popular classic in Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Serbia and Russia, and could definitely work as a namesake for an ancestral Dan. It’s been borne by several noted Brazilian and other sportsmen, writers and comedians.
Do you remember the (really) old Disney fantasy picture, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, in which there are lots of leprechaun shenanigans? Probably not, but it did leave the name sprinkled with some Irish fairy dust that has stuck to it over the years. Darby made some brief appearances on the boys’ list after the movie’s release, but is now ready for a new look. Patrick Dempsey used it for one of his twins. And Darby and Joan is a proverbial phrase for a long and happily married couple.
We at Nameberry who love this name so much (it’s #101 on the Berry list) find it hard to believe that this dashing appellation still has not yet entered the US Top 1000. Long associated with detective writer Dashiell Hammett (born Samuel Dashiell, his mother’s maiden name), it popped into the spotlight when chosen by both Cate Blanchett and Helen (Bridget Jones) Fielding, and then by Harvey Weinstein, Bryan Singer, Jason Priestly and Autumn Reeser—not to mention as the adorable animated boy in The Incredibles. I say: Grab it while you can!
With all the recent love for boys’ names ending in ‘t’—from Elliot to Everett to Beckett, one that has been overlooked is this strong Irish mythological choice. Familiar via actor Dermot Mulroney, it was borne, as the original Diarmaid, by several ancient Irish kings (one of whom had a mark on his face that made women instantly fall in love with him)–and early saints.
A French surname fairly dripping with romantic Southern charm (remember Blanche on The Golden Girls? And Lord Nicholas Devereaux in The Princess Diary series?). Of Norman origin and also spelled Devereux, it is also found in parts of England. The devilish first syllable does a lot to cut the sweetness, and provides the charming nickname Dev.
The shortened form of Greek names like Dionysus stands nicely on its own. Famed Irish playwright Dion Boucicault was born Dionysus; in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Dion is a Sicilian lord, and in the 1960s there was doo-wop’s Dion and the Belmonts. Back in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Barbara Stanwyck chose it for her only child.
There’s Dex, Dax, Jax and Pax—how about Dix as a short form for the good old Scottish surname Dixon? There have been several TV characters with the name, as well as a real-life US Senator. And no, you don’t have to name Dixon’s twin Mason.
An English form of the Irish nickname for the dark-haired Danes who settled in their land, as opposed to the blond Norwegians; it’s been used mostly in Scotland. Another possibility is Dougray, as in hunky Scottish actor Dougray Scott. Either way, you could have your own little Doogie.
Looking for Hebrew names for boys with animal meanings? Dov—pronounced DAA-v—means bear, connoting strength, and was first popular in medieval Europe when animal names were in vogue. It is also a diminutive of David, which means beloved, and another of its meanings is ‘to whisper’. There are characters named Dov in Exodus by Leon Uris and Quentin Tarantino’s Deathproof.
When’s the last time you ran into a baby Doyle? I thought so! And yet it had a long run of popularity, from the 1880s to 1980, and reached as high as 195 in 1931—about 700 baby Doyles that year. Doyle is one of the 20 top surnames in Ireland, with a strong association to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and today we have writer Roddy Doyle, known for The Commitments. An appealing, underused single-syllable name.
The Irish seem to have the best D names for boys—both first and last. Dugan, one of the many that mean dark or swarthy, is open, friendly and cheery to the max. Doogan is another common spelling in Ireland. As a surname, Pat Dugan is a DC Comics superhero, sidekick to the Star-Spangled Kid.
What’s your favorite D name for a boy?