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Boy Names: Seeking something fresh

A brother for Hadley and Lyra

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

Do you have a mile-long list of girl names, while coming up empty for boys? That’s this family’s predicament! Let’s help them find something fresh and new for Lyra and Hadley’s brother. 

Megan writes:

We are expecting our first boy in May and we cannot decide on a name. There are many girls’ names I love – Scout, Piper, Prue, Rosalie – but no boys’ names that I love.

We have twin daughters, Hadley and Lyra, and we want a name that feels untraditional and uncommon. (Though both are rising in popularity.) Our surname is two syllables, starts with M and ends with –son, which rules out many options.

We’d like to avoid another H or L name, and we plan to use my dad’s name, Donald, as the middle name.

Names we’ve considered include Archie, Barrett, Kit, Nico, and Jonah, but none of them feel quite right, and I’m feeling defeated.

The Name Sage replies:

So often, parents report that they could name a dozen girls, but can’t even begin to name one son. Maybe that’s because it feels like there are fewer boys’ names in use. Or could it be that, even in 2019, we define acceptable boys’ names more narrowly?

Either way, I think the trick is to brainstorm more names that fit your wish list. You’ve mentioned looking for something un-traditional and uncommon.

Hadley and Lyra also feel a least a little bit literary, thanks to the bestselling novel The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Hadley and Ernest Hemingway’s marriage, and, of course Lyra from His Dark Materials.

Both are nickname-proof names, complete and unlikely to be shortened.

We can find more boys’ names that fit that general description.

Before we go any further, I want to suggest Donovan. You’ve mentioned that your preferred middle is Donald, for your dad. Would you consider Donovan as a first name instead? Because it’s three syllables, I think it balances your M-son surname nicely. Hadley, Lyra, and Donovan sound great together. And if you were inclined to use a nickname, there’s always Van.

If Donovan isn’t the name for you, would you consider:

BooneBoone comes from the same roots as the French word bon – good. It’s short and upbeat, a big sound in just one syllable. It ranks Number 717 in the US – unusual, but not completely unknown.

BrioBrio means fire or strength; if you see con brio noted on music, it means to play in a lively fashion. With boys named Brian and Brayden and Brody over the years, Brio fits right in, but still stands out. It has never cracked the US Top 1000.

Calder – This stylish surname name brings to mind sculptor Alexander Calder, best known for his giant mobiles. It’s also a name with plenty of ice hockey history. (The NHL’s rookie of the year award is the Calder Trophy.) Since you like Piper for a girl, I wonder if another –r ender would work for a son? It’s never charted in the US Top 1000.

Caspian – It’s the name of a sea, of course, but also CS Lewis’ fictional prince from Chronicles of Narnia fame. Caspian ranks just #898 in the US, though it’s even more popular on Nameberry right now.

Ezra Ezra has crept into the US Top 100, but nothing sounds quite like Ezra. It’s a stand-out choice with traditional roots, but a bright, modern feel. Poet Ezra Pound and children’s author-illustrator Ezra Jack Keats make this name nicely literary, too.

Jasper – I’d say that Hadley and Lyra both feel like fresh, unexpected names. But, as you point out, they’re both more popular today than they were even ten years ago. So I wonder if something like Jasper might appeal? At Number 185 in the US, it’s uncommon, but not really rare. It carries a certain British charm, appears in plenty of novels, and is among the few gemstone names for boys. Hadley, Lyra, and Jasper sound great together.

Orion – Like Jasper, Orion seems very different – but actually ranks a comfortable Number 334. The name of a hunter from Greek myth preserved in a constellation feels instantly familiar, and yet just different enough, too.

Thayer Thayer is cousin to Taylor, another spin on the occupational surname name. If Jasper and Calder aren’t quite right, I wonder if Thayer might appeal? It’s never appeared in the US Top 1000, but with names like Theo and Thatcher rising, Thayer counts as a fits-in/stands-out name.

Whitaker – Sometimes a two-syllable-surname clashes with a two-syllable first name, and so I’m inclined to suggest shorter and longer options. Handsome Whitaker seems like a good alternative to Calder and Thayer and Barrett, too.

If I can’t talk you into using Donovan as a first name, my favorites with Hadley and Lyra are Boone and Caspian. I think they’re both rising names that will feel current, but not common – just like your daughters. And because they’re not two-syllables long, I wonder if they’ll sound better with your surname, too?

What would you name a brother for Hadley and Lyra?

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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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13 Responses to “Boy Names: Seeking something fresh”

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SomedayMommy Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 12:40 am

I LOVE the suggestion of Calder. I think it fits perfectly with Hadley and Lyra and flows well with your surname.

I would also suggest:
Collier
Thatcher
Decker
Jantzen/Jenson

Happyhare90 Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 3:34 am

I love unusual names and not all of them have to be out out there although for me the more unique the better.
Iv selected some classic slightly unheard and some newer spunkier names. I love them all with Donald as a Middle name although i even lile Donnie as a first name.

Elliot Donald
Alistair Donald
Everett Donald
Atticus Donald
Jericho Donald

Huxley Donald
Oakley Donald
Noah Donald
Cedric Donald
Brody Donald
Coby Donald
Cormax Donald

I love Cedric And Elliot

Jemberry Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 6:13 am

Arlo
Rex
Asa
Flynn
Graham
Blaise
Bram
Fox
Justus

MrsP Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 8:52 am

Marin (Yes, it IS a boy’s name meaning “of the sea” and popular in Croatia; my grandson is named Marin Isaiah)
Miles
Corin
Tristan
Talon
Thane
Dylan

niteowl13 Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 9:22 am

Callum or Malcolm? I also like the suggestion of Thane.

Babies123456 Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 11:21 am

I’d suggest:

Abbott
Orin
Ezri
Eben
Nels
Lloyd
Florian

jpruitt76 Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 11:51 am

Hadley, Lyra and

Burke
Sayer
Vaughn
Milo
Jude
Finnegan, nn Finn
West

Wittyusername103 Says:

February 6th, 2019 at 7:25 pm

Why don’t you use Scout for a boy? Yes it is more associated with girls but it’s not very common for either gender and you have a clearly masculine middle name.

oftenoverseas Says:

February 7th, 2019 at 9:28 am

The name that immediately popped into my head was Rocco. Others that come to mind: Bosco, Tycho, Casper, Rufus, Sholto.

owllover96 Says:

February 7th, 2019 at 10:49 am

My grandfather’s name is Donald. I love the suggestion of using Donovan for a first name instead of using Donald as a middle name.

My suggestions are…
1. Shepherd – #797
2. Calvin – #145
3. Roscoe – Doesn’t rank
4. Nico – #413
5. Maverick (My personal favorite) – #85
6. Griffin – #243
7. Ford – #711
8. Elias – #78
9. Rupert – Doesn’t rank
10. Tanner – #270

Erin Beth Says:

February 7th, 2019 at 11:24 pm

Grey or Gray
Dashiell
Milo, seconded
Ezra, seconded
Blaise, seconded
Zane
Eliot, seconded
Clark

zsazsa00 Says:

February 8th, 2019 at 2:30 pm

I think maybe you should look at your list of names you love for girls. Specifically Scout. It isn’t just a girls name – it’s just spunky and cheerful overall which would suit a baby of any gender.

I struggled with Auden cause I really wanted to honor one of my favorite poets (looking to start a pattern where all my kids have literary middle names) and was stuck on it being a boys name. Though having moved it to a girls middle name position since it didn’t match any of my boys first name choices. Like why loose out on a name you love cause it isn’t working with a set of rules made up to restrict yourself.

AnandaWren Says:

February 11th, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Barrett and Kit make me think of Beckett. You could even use Beckett “Kit” for a more offbeat NN. Hadley, Lyra, and Beckett <3

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