Boys’ Baby Names: They’re getting cooler all the time

This week in her Nameberry 9 blog, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel offers evidence that boys’ baby names are rapidly catching up with the girls’ in terms of creativity.

A few days ago, my daughter Clio announced that girls’ names are pretty, but boys’ names are awesome.

She also informed me that her awesome name was Kick, and please refer to her as such from now on.

I think my four year old just voiced the desire of many an expectant parent.  Clio – I mean Kick – called it awesome.  I’ve called the same names cowboy cool or surfer style or a dozen other descriptors. 

No matter the name, boys’ names have become bolder and more multi-cultural than they were in generations past.

Recent baby name news has been packed with boys’ names begging to be accessorized with a lacrosse stick, a snowboard, or a bucking bronco and a ten-gallon hat.  Or maybe just a passport and a pint-sized suitcase.

They’re fresh and inventive, and yet they’re definitely masculine at the same time.  Some of the best picks made it into recent baby name news, like:

Sawyer Collins – He reads like captain of the lacrosse team at a prep school, a kid in a rep tie with a battered LL Bean backpack.  Or maybe Sawyer Collins is a Southern gentleman.  It’s also the name Bryan and David gave to their new son on The New Normal.  Sawyer is David’s surname.  Just like fellow Mark Twain name Finn, Sawyer has been on the rise in recent years.

Jax Copeland Tom Arnold’s new baby boy arrived earlier this month, and he definitely has an awesome name.  The modern Jax splits the difference between Jack and Max.  As for Copeland, my first thought was that Tom and wife Ashley might be fans of Fanfare for the Common Man – only composer Aaron Copland’s surname is spelled without the e.

Cash Cash is king, and if you’re worried that it is too out there for your son, there’s always the antique Cassius or the saintly Cassian to put on the birth certificate.  Anna considers Cash in a name consult for a family looking to name a brother for Ignatius and Louis.  Thanks to Johnny Cash, this name is about as cool as it gets right now.

Matteo – Mexican actress and entertainer Paty Materola is expecting twins with husband Forrest Kolb.  The pair are already parents to son Lucca.  Now they’re about to welcome two more baby boys.  Paty recently tweeted their names.  American parents would have once opted for Matthew, regardless of their heritage.  Today international choices feel downright mainstream, and boys called Marco, Matteo, and Luca fit right in.

Alesso – Matteo’s twin brother will be called Alesso.  Matteo is a favorite in Hollywood, chosen by Colin Firth and Ricky Martin, to name just two.  Alesso is a seldom heard member of the extended Alexander family.  The Spanish Alejandro quite common in the US.  Could Alesso catch on?  He has that vibrant o ending, and everyone loves an A name.

Thatcher – With the passing of Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, this surname has been in the news.  Has enough time passed to separate this possibility from politics?  I think so.  After all, there was also William Thatcher,  Heath Ledger’s up-by-the-bootstraps character in A Knight’s Tale.

Onyx – A color name with the letter x, Onyx is the new son of Australian news presenter Ebbeny Faranda and her husband Omar Varinda.  Onyx shares his first initial with dad, and the meaning of his name with mom.  It’s an unexpected option, but if Felix and Indigo, Alex and Gray are in use, why not Onyx?

Dennis Ricardo – Okay, Dennis isn’t awesome.  He’s your grandpa, or maybe your accountant.  But Homeland actor Billy Smith and wife Kathryn Hernandez named their son after their fathers.  Family names are always great choices, no matter what.  And short forms Den and Denny strike me as surprisingly stylish choices for a twenty-first century boy.

Sage Lavinia – Let’s end with just one name for a girl – a name as cool as any bestowed upon a boy in recent days.  Sage Lavinia is the new daughter of Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston and model mama Shannan Click.  Sage is a great gender neutral choice, one-part nature, one-part virtue.  Lavinia is a frilly, vintage pick for the middle spot, and the 1-4 rhythm is downright daring.

Would you consider your favorite names awesome?  Do you think new choices like Jax, Onyx, and Sage are wearable, or are you more of the Dennis type?

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29 Responses to “Boys’ Baby Names: They’re getting cooler all the time”

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mickie86 Says:

April 14th, 2013 at 11:19 pm

I love Jax, Cash and Sawyer for boys. I think Dennis is still a menace….

ruolan Says:

April 14th, 2013 at 11:37 pm

These names aren’t really my style, so I would have to say my favorite names are not awesome… ):

My favorite is Sawyer Collins. It is nicely cosmopolitan and rugged at the same time.

sarahmezz Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 12:00 am

I’m glad to see Italian boys names are considered cool! My husband is Italian and Luca, Marco and Matteo are all on our list (also Aurelio and Marcello).

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 1:29 am

In the UK definitely enough time hasn’t passed to use Thatcher! Actually I would be stunned to hear of a British person using the name Thatcher, I think they would have rotten eggs thrown at their house or something.

I see quite a few boys named Matteo and Alessio, and I think they’re really handsome choices. I’m glad people feel comfortable to use heritage choices without feeling they’re holding their child back by giving them an “ethnic” name. It makes you feel at least some progress has been made.

Abby Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 5:24 am

@sarahmezz – I think Italian names for boys are definitely cool! Dante has always been one of my favorites, and Matteo, too. Luca has really caught my eye lately, and Alesso/Alessio could be really be cool.

@Waltzing More than Matilda – Interesting about Thatcher. In the US, I think some would make the connection to Margaret … but I’m not sure if that would be a deal-breaker here. Curious to hear what others think …

ebenezer.scrouge Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 6:07 am

Anna the song Ding, dong the witch is dead almost made it to number one because of thatcher and is number one on youtube. Half hated her half liked her. I do like it though,

R_J Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 7:32 am

I don’t know if I could do it, but I love Onyx. Nyx would be a cool nickname too.

Mclevine Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 8:08 am

Sawyer and Matteo are very cool. I don’t care for Alesso at all though.

maggiemary Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 8:13 am

With regards to Margaret Thatcher, my British (Welsh) grandpa wasn’t keen when I was named Margaret, as it made him think of Thatcher. He wouldn’t even call me Maggie, as he said UK papers often dubbed her “Maggie Thatcher”, so I became Peggy to him.

He has lived in the US since he was 18, so wasn’t in the UK when she was PM, but his family obviously were. Their opinion of her, and thus my grandpa’s opinion of her, is not favorable.

My grandpa soon got over the whole my name being Margaret thing, as of course after a while, his association with the name became me and not Thatcher. However, having said that, he still prefers to call me Peggy as opposed to Margaret.

Anyway, if my grandpa is still around when I have children (which I obviously really hope he is), I think if I named a son Thatcher it would finish him off. So no, it isn’t one I’ll be using!

dancingwithdad Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 8:39 am

I know of a boy named Onyx and his sister is Ruby. I do love how the Onyx mentioned here has ties to both of his parents’ names. Very creative!

Megalady Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 8:41 am

The three that catch my eye are Sawyer, Cash, and Matteo. I can get behind Jax, Thatcher, and even Onyx, but Alesso may be a little beyond me. Dennis as well is very outside what I’d consider, however I might find Deno more usable as a nickname than Den or Denny. Love Sage Lavinia, it strikes all the right chords.

The names I tend to lean toward…might have a touch of awesome. They are awesome to me at least: Levi, Milo, Dean, Duke, Beau… Girls are a bit sweeter: Maggie, Tessa, Poppy, Rumi, Bo…

UselessKitty Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 9:36 am

I a surprised Denis/Dennis is on this list. In my mind it is probably one of the most uncool names I can think of. It is quite common where I live and I have met people of all ages named Denis.

skizzo Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 9:48 am

Dennis is not cool, sorry.

Alesso is the italian version of Alexis, I quite like it.

Onyx, now that is a cool name

stairwaytoastar Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 10:17 am

I actually heard Denis on a little boy this weekend and I felt that it was charming… I think the Dennis the Menace image is finally wearing off. I especially like it with one D.

Colin Firth’s two sons are actually Matteo and Luca… so the same two choices as mentioned above.

Also, I agree it’s going to take a long time in the UK before Thatcher can be usable. I don’t think most Americans realize that she is both loved and loathed in equal measure in the UK.

stairwaytoastar Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 10:18 am

Sorry I meant Denis with one N ^^

missmargot Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 10:45 am

I think Sawyer is very cool, definitely my favourite of those names.

As a Brit Berry I would have to agree that it is probably too soon to use Thatcher in the UK, I guess it would be like calling a US baby Bush or Reagan. It’s a shame as I do really like it as a name but wouldn’t want to saddle a baby with those associations, especially given that her death has resurrected a lot of the old controversies and tensions.

OliviaSarah Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Yes, definitely no little Thatchers in the UK for a long time. Even if the parents were fans, the poor kid would have a horrible time from opposers – and that’s enough to turn anyone off it. I would steer clear of all Politician’s names though to be honest; I wouldn’t want my child’s name to influence their own political opinions later in life.
That being said, it’s likely my future son will have Winston somewhere in his name. But everyone liked Churchill, right?

I don’t particularly like any of these. Maybe I just appreciate boys names being more ‘pretty’ than ‘awesome’. I’m fine with that.

Lo Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

My naming style is completely opposite of these so I guess it’s not “awesome.” Ironically, I actually have a great-great-great grandfather with the first name Sawyer who served in the Union army.

mge28 Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I like Jax, Sawyer, and Alesso. Dennis still reminds me of Dennis the Menace, although I think the nickname Denny is adorable!

cannebella Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I know a couple who have recently had a baby boy. They already had two children, a girl and a boy, April and William. I was sure they would pick a common or traditional name for this baby but they went for Jax. I was a little shocked but it has really grown on me although I don’t think it fits in the sib-set all that well.

tori101 Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Ah I adore so many of these choices; Sawyer, Matteo love loads of Italian names so romantic and cool and Cash. I also like Dennis (despite the lack of popularity over this name) I associate Dennis with the cute little boy on the British soap Eastenders. Alesso and Jax along with Sage are also great choices!! I personally think Thatcher is a terrible choice for a British born boy. Especially as their were street parties being thrown when Thatcher died and an anti-Thatcher parade throughout London. I just think Thatcher would be a tough choice to live with for a Brit boy…

tori101 Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Also LOVE the picture of that baby boy he’s so cute..

littlebrownpony Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I like Matteo, Thatcher and Sawyer. But then again, I LOVE boys names. I could name boys all day long–girls are so much harder, in my opinion!

annette550 Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 7:21 pm

We have a US born Thatcher. While the Brits we have met clearly aren’t fans, we have received great responses otherwise. Margaret Thatcher was not a consideration when we named him, just like I am sure George Bush (probably the best equivalent) isn’t when Brits name their son George. I understand the concern for a Brit with Thatcher, but I encourage others to consider it.

Abby Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 7:28 pm

@littlebrownpony – Really? We could name girls forever, but boys really do leave us stumped!

Ratz0017 Says:

April 15th, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I think the name Onyx just became a guilty pleasure. So cool, and one I haven’t seen around.

strawberrytree Says:

April 16th, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I guess I’m not cool, because I think Dennis is 1000x better than Jax, Cash, or Onyx.

Matteo & Alesso are a great pair, too.

Famous Name: Thor | Waltzing More Than Matilda Says:

January 3rd, 2014 at 9:42 pm

[…] would be the ethnic name group most likely to rise in popularity. Meanwhile Abby’s Nameberry Nine this week pointed out that boy’s names are getting cooler all the time – even her […]

mariahalyssa32115 Says:

February 7th, 2015 at 2:22 am

That was my exact thought for the name Cash & therefore we’re most likely naming our first son Cassius/Cash as a nickname. Love it!

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