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Baby Boy Names: Strong Classics

March 5, 2019 Abby Sandel

When you’re facing a challenging pregnancy, choosing a strong name can feel auspicious, maybe even necessary. Let’s help this mom find the right boy name for her little fighter!

Elizabeth writes:

I’ve just found out that I’ll be delivering early due to some complications that have also landed me in the hospital on bed rest.

All this time with nothing to do has me going in circles about the name for our son. Given how tiny he will be, I want a strong name. Middle name will be a family name (probably William but we’ve got a few options if the first name doesn’t work with that).

We had narrowed it to Ezra or Leo, but neither feels quite right to me now. I love Samuel, called Sam, and my husband loves Isaac, called Ike, but we both have some resistance to the others’ choice.

Our older son is Charlie and my husband and I both have very traditional names, so I don’t feel like we can go too far afield, but using the obvious William for a first boy name felt a little too British monarchy-themed for us.

We seem to both like short, strong names (or at least a short, strong nickname). What are we missing?! Given all the bad luck we’ve had lately, I’m feeling due for a strike of brilliance here!

The Name Sage replies:

First, we’re thinking of you and your family. The right name can inspire and encourage, and it sounds like that’s exactly what’s called for right now!

But what, precisely, lends a name strength? Sometimes it’s sound or meaning. For other names, there’s an image, like mighty Leo the Lion.

And, of course, classic names often convey strength simply because they’ve been in use for so many centuries, worn by scientists and saints and kings.

Since you’re hoping to stick with more mainstream choices, we can probably rule out Powers and Blaze, Ari and Koa, Alaric and Kenelm. But that still leaves dozens of possibilities.

Let’s look at some options that tick at least two of the three boxes: meaning, sound, and image.

Alexander, called Alex Alexander the Great lends this classic name some might. The meaning helps, too: defender of men. Despite all that toughness, it’s still a traditional, approachable name for a son. Charlie and Alex sound like brothers. And if you like the ‘z’ sound in Ezra, maybe Alex’s ‘x’ will add to the name’s appeal.

Finn Finn means fair, as in blonde. The name instantly brings to mind two figures. First, there’s Finn MacCool, the hero of many an Irish legend. There’s also Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, which lends the name more of an Americana vibe. If Finn feels incomplete, there’s Finley, meaning fair-haired warrior. And Fintan means white fire, which also feels powerful.

Jack – It’s possible you already know a few boys named Jack. The traditional name remains widely used. And it’s a go-to for fictional characters, from nursery rhyme figures like Jack-Be-Nimble and Jack and the Beanstalk, to today’s men-of-action. Think 24’s Jack Bauer and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. It reminds me of Ike from your husband’s list, but also of Sam, from yours.

Luke – Speaking of Ike and Jack, how about Luke? It’s an impeccable Biblical classic. While the name refers to a place – Lucania, in the ancient world– it probably takes its name from the Latin lux, light. That feels like an uplifting choice. Plus, it’s a favorite for fictional leading men, from Cool Hand Luke to Luke Skywalker.

Maxwell, called Max – In Latin, maximus means the greatest. Maxwell is a surname form with the same roots. Is it a big name for a little guy? Probably. But that’s the point, right? Max sounds like a brother for Charlie. Both names feel sort of humble and homespun, but can be quite grand and powerful, too.

Miles Some connect Miles to a Slavic word meaning gracious, but I’ve added it to the list because it’s also related to the Latin word for soldier. Plus, Miles makes us think of a distance to cross, a journey to begin. It might be shortened to Milo, an upbeat o-ender in the key of Leo. But Miles makes a great boy name on its own, too.

Peter – The name comes from the Greek word for stone, a name meaning better known than many thanks to the New Testament. It signals permanence and strength, too. Peter Parker makes it a superhero name, too.

Theodore – You’ve mentioned Leo, which brings to mind lions. Theodore makes many of us think of bears, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt. It actually means gift of God, which might also be an appealing meaning. Short nickname Theo feels casual and upbeat, a fitting brother name for Charlie.

Overall, I still love your two original front-runners, Ezra and Leo. But if you’re looking for something just a little different to consider, Miles, Alex, and Max are my favorites. They’re traditional, but not in the same royal family category as Charles and William.

Readers, what would you suggest as a strong and inspiring name for Charlie’s brother? And tell us: what makes a name feel strong to you: meaning, sound, or image?

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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.
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