Boy Names: Seeking something fresh
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.
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:
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.
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?
About the author
View all of 's articles
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
on 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:
on 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.
I love Cedric And Elliot
on February 6th, 2019 at 6:13 am
on 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)
on February 6th, 2019 at 9:22 am
Callum or Malcolm? I also like the suggestion of Thane.
on February 6th, 2019 at 11:21 am
on February 6th, 2019 at 11:51 am
Hadley, Lyra and
Finnegan, nn Finn
on 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.
on 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.
on 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 Said
on February 7th, 2019 at 11:24 pm
Grey or Gray
on 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.
on 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
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.