Boy Names: Seeking something fresh

Boy Names: Seeking something fresh

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.

Brio Brio 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.

EzraEzra 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.

ThayerThayer 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?