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Boy Baby Names: A time for compromise

August 30, 2016 Abby Sandel

They don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, but they do know the names – or they did. Now friends have chosen their top boy baby name, and it’s back to the drawing board for Anna and her husband.

Anna writes:

We’ve got a bit of a dilemma on our hands, and I’m hoping you can help.

Our older two are Daphne Rose and Charles Ender.

We love old-fashioned yet less common first names (literary or Biblical) paired with family names for the middle name.

Since the baby is due on the Ides of March, I like the idea of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, or Latin-sounding names.

While my husband and I love the name Juliet Mae if this next baby is a girl, we simply cannot agree on a name for a boy. I think his ideas are too common, and he thinks mine are too unusual.

Some names I like are Corin, Julian, Bennet, and Silas. Some names he likes include Mark, Aaron, Noah, and Asher. Family names for the middle name could be Cole, Treloar, Woods, Birk, James, and Ray.

We thought we had agreed on the name Gideon Cole, but close friends just named their son Gideon.

Please help! I’m so sick of searching endlessly through literary, old-fashioned, and Biblical name lists!

The Name Sage replies:

The good news about finding baby names in 2016 is that there’s no shortage of resources. The bad news? You can get lost in all of the possibilities!

I think that’s what you’re up against here: whittling down a list to just a few top choices is tough, especially when there’s not a lot of overlap between your favorites and your husband’s list.

Since there doesn’t seem to be any overlap between your top choices, let’s start fresh.

It seems like your husband tends to like more popular names – but could be convinced to choose something a little less common if it still feels like an established, familiar name. After all, Gideon currently ranks Number 328, much less popular than Aaron, Noah, or Silas.

Let’s look at a few Biblical picks, and then move on to names that are more ancient or literary.

Abel Aaron and Asher make me think of another A name: Asher, currently Number 125. Besides the Biblical ties, Abel sounds like able, implying that your child is capable and can-do. I think that’s a subtle, but powerfully appealing, reason to love this name.

Asa – Another A option is Asa. It shares Noah’s ending ‘a’ sound, but is much less common. At Number 531, Asa is definitely different, but fits right in with so many similar boy names. The Old Testament king makes a worthy namesake.

Ezra – If you were born in the 1980s, chances are good that you never met an Ezra. The Old Testament prophet’s name has a long history of sparing use. It’s also nicely literally, thanks to children’s author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats and Ezra Pound. The only drawback? At Number 92 last year, this name is no longer a secret.

Simon Simon just sounds smart. The New Testament name currently ranks Number 234, which is a good stands-out/fits-in mark. It feels slightly British, impeccably Biblical, and a little bit unexpected without being too out-there.

Adrian Adrian mirrors Gideon’s rhythm and sound, which makes it a logical possibility. It splits the difference between traditional Charles and the less common Daphne. The problem is that Adrian ranks Number 58 – though maybe it’s not too popular since it’s around the same spot as Charles.

August August is literary – think playwright August Wilson – as well as ancient. Octavian, the first Roman emperor, adopted the title Augustus, meaning great. At Number 195, I think August works.

Duncan – You mentioned Shakespeare, which always brings to mind one of my favorite names. Sure, the late King Duncan only appears as a ghost in Macbeth, but it’s a great name. Simple, straightforward, and, at Number 793, nicely underused.

Marcus – I think I’ve saved the best for last. Marcus comes immediately to mind. First, your husband might be is channeling Mark Antony with his shortlist – but Mark Antony was born Marcus Antonius. Marcus ranks Number 168, far behind Noah or even Julian. There’s also philosopher Marcus Aurelius and plenty of other notables in the ancient world.

Overall, I do think Marcus has real potential, but if you’re not in love, I might suggest Simon. It’s the kind of name that everyone instantly recognizes, and can say and spell – but remains nicely underused.

Readers, what would you suggest to Anna if her next baby is a boy?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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