Boys’ Baby Names: Popular but still cool

Boys’ Baby Names: Popular but still cool

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Can a boys’ name be popular, given to hundreds or even thousands of babies, and still maintain its edge? After looking at the top half of the Social Security list, we say the answer is a definite yes.   Of course terms like cool and classic are difficult to define—they’re really in the eye of the beholder. But just as everyone would agree that James and Mary are classics, I think most of us would also see names like Ace and Cruz as having a cool image.

Here are my nominations for names that fit into that pop-yet-groovy space, with their popularity rankings and number of bearers last year.


The letter X—as in exotic and sexy—undoubtedly adds a certain something to a name, just as Z infuses zest and Q often adds a measure of quirkiness. The X-factor works for these eight names:

Axel                 Number 145 (given to 2777 boys in 2014)

Maddox          Number 163 given to 2554 boys)

Maximus        Number 192 (given to 2118 boys)

Felix                Number 267 (given to 1363 boys)

Knox               Number 286 (given to 1238 boys)

Maximiliano   Number 344  (given to 956 boys)

Phoenix          Number 355  (given to 901 boys)

Dexter             Number 394 (783 boys)


Sometimes all it takes is some celebrity cred to give a name that extra element of hipness, whether it’s a starbaby, as in the case of the sons of Justin Timberlake and the Beckhams, or a star himself, or even a character name—as in these examples:

Silas                Number 137  (2900 boys)

Jude                Number 162 (2565 boys)

Cruz                Number 290  (1211 boys)

Joaquin          Number 326   (1038 boys)

Romeo            Number 341  (962 boys)

Rocco              Number 449  (652 boys)

Beckham        Number 456  (573 boys)

Hendrix          Number 546  (498 boys)

Lennon           Number 691   (358 boys)

Jagger             Number 705 (342 boys)

(And also Knox and Dexter)


Names with an Irish accent tend to have their own brand of robust, cheery kind of cool, as in:

Finn                Number 234  (1567 names)

Donovan        Number 284  (1258 boys)

Rory                Number 416  (741 boys)

Sullivan          Number 463  (628 boys)

Finnegan       Number 464  (625 boys)


These romantically cool Latinate names, plus a few from other cultures, ooze with charm:

Mateo             Number 106  (3704 boys); Matteo, Number 375  (829 boys)

Rafael             Number 293  (1195 boys)

Matteo           Number 375  (829 boys)

Leonardo       Number 114  (3421 boys)

Diego              Number 129  (3154 boys)

Alejandro       Number 157  (2593 boys)

Luca                Number 185  (2291 boys)

Lorenzo          Number 227  (1628 boys)

Gunnar           Number 381  (808 boys)

Enzo                Number 369  (847 boys)

Arjun              Number 648 (454 boys)

Odin               Number 476  (594 boys)

(And also Rocco, Cruz and Joaquin)


Naughty but nice, these popular names might be the edgiest:

Maverick        Number 206 (1862 boys)

Gunner           Number 235  (1564 boys)

Ace                  Number 379  (818 boys)


Short and sophisticated, particularly if they have a long vowel sound, these names pack a lot of punch into their single syllable:

Chase              Number 78    (5322 boys)

Miles               Number 108  (3639 boys)

Cole                 Number 116  (3404 boys)

Kai                   Number 177  (2387 boys)

Gage                Number 202  (1862 boys)

Zane                Number 224  (1674 boys)

Brooks            Number 245  (1507 boys)

Reid                Number 259  (1425 boys) +Reed #317

Cash                Number 275  (1316 boys)

Jett                  Number 332  (1014 boys)

Colt                 Number 339  (973 boys)

Drake              Number 348  (937 boys)

Cade               Number 361  (875 boys)

Nash               Number 364  (867 boys)

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.