Boys’ Names: A New Generation
While girls’ names are arguably more interesting – there are more of them, with more variations, and they move up and down the popularity ladder more nimbly – boys’ names are where the real baby-naming story lies today.
Parents are virtually reinventing the genre, abandoning traditional masculine names that have ruled for centuries in favor of a new brand of names for boys. These might be ancient names resurrected from the Bible or mythology, established surnames reconstituted as firsts, ethnic choices newly imported to our shores, or – most frequently – names invented to suit the current style.
All these different types of names yield the same result: They identify a new type of boy. He’s decidedly masculine, yet not conventionally so. He’s strong, yet individualistic; he nods to tradition, but doesn’t necessarily follow it.
Our sons, parents seem to be saying via these new boys’ names, are neither sissified nor the same old Dicks and Johns to be shoehorned into some outmoded macho mold. These names herald a quiet revolution in the way parents view their little boys and, by extension, in the way they’ll raise them.
Are we putting too much stock in the power of names to affect a change in something as fundamental as gender roles? Actually, we think it’s the other way around: The vision of gender is changing, for boys as well as girls, and the new boys’ names reflect that.
This week, we’ll look at some of the new masculine choices moving up the popularity list. The first group are the old names made new again.
Tomorrow: Surname names, real and synthetic, for the new brand of boy.
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on May 18th, 2009 at 3:18 am
on May 18th, 2009 at 5:24 am
I’m really fond of these names with their old-fashioned charm. Some favorites from this list are Ezra, Orion and Tobias and like you CountryLizB I also like Levi and especially Atticus as I’m a big”To Kill a Mockingbird” fan.
Some other names I like that are from yesteryear are Cedric, Elias, Enoch, Jonah, Jonas, Nathaniel, Silas and Thaddeus. Thanks for a great list of names.
on May 18th, 2009 at 7:15 am
I like the boy’s name “Atticus” not just for the “To Kill a Mockingbird” connection, but mostly because of its use by ancient Romans to indicate an individual possessed of a certain refined style associated with Greek (Attic or Athenian) culture and philosophy.
In her famous novel, Harper Lee named her character after the erudite and scholarly Titus Pomponius Atticus, who was a dear friend of the great Roman orator, Cicero.
on May 18th, 2009 at 7:22 am
Nephele — It’s great to share these details with everyone on nameberry. I think it’s these very qualities that many parents today want for their son, though they may know them through the Harper Lee character rather than via the original Titus Pomonius Atticus.
on May 18th, 2009 at 8:07 am
I love Isiah and Josiah. I fell in love with Josiah after I watched Saving Sarah Caine.
on May 18th, 2009 at 8:32 am
Thank you, Pam! I’m not only a names enthusiast, but I moderate a discussion board on ancient Roman history (with Roman nomenclature being my special area of interest). Just doing my little bit over here to bring the classical world a little bit closer to our own, modern world. 🙂
on May 18th, 2009 at 9:11 am
That’s really interesting, Nephele. Do you mind sharing the address of your discussion board? Roman history (and Roman nomenclature, too) is of interest to me.
Several of the names on this list are on my own list – Felix, Roman, Tobias, Sebastian, Josiah, Gideon and yes, Atticus 🙂
on May 18th, 2009 at 3:00 pm
August, Felix, Cyrus, Ezra & Solomon are ones I like from that list. But mainly I’m partial to the old Roman/Latin -us enders:Rufus, Ignatius, Lucius & Lazarus, in particular.
I just think the whole Boy naming thing has gotten very interesting in the last few years. Can’t wait for the next installment! 🙂
on May 18th, 2009 at 3:05 pm
Hi, Julia! Always a pleasure to meet another Romanophile! Here you go:
If you register to post on the forum, I’ll be happy to anagram/blanagram a full Roman name for you, out of your actual name (scrambled for privacy). Anagramming is another one of my obsessions.
on May 20th, 2009 at 3:54 pm
Super article – Will visit once more!!
on May 20th, 2009 at 6:55 pm
It’s interesting to relate this to the changing landscape of gender; thanks for the thought-provoking post! I’m a fan of these old ones more so than the made-up names, personally, but I look forward to the other posts about this.
on May 28th, 2009 at 3:50 pm
personally some of these names have gotten crazy like seriously who would name there son Houston or Roman those are crazy names geeze this worlds going crazy i like Kayden
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on June 27th, 2009 at 7:22 am
Well written story!! will definitely visit again:D
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