Boys Names: Names gone wild
Boy names have gone wild. You can hear a sudden growling on the popularity and starbaby lists, with sweet little babies being given such fierce animal appellations as Wolf and Puma, born-to-be-bad names like Bandit,Wilder, Maverick, Rogue and Rebel, Gunners with Colts, and others suggesting such heavy-duty gear as Cannon and Diesel, as well as the names of powerful mythological gods like Thor and Ares and Mars. There are lots of boys named Blaze, and even one starbaby called Fire.
What’s with the fashion for fierceness in boys names? We see it as a wish to recapture traditional male strength and power along with an impulse to leave conventional civilization behind. These names suggest old school bad boys in a brave new world, one in which boys still throw rocks and ride dirt bikes but also wear earrings and headbands.
Here are the wild boy names we’re hearing today:
Bear: Most parents considering this name probably think more Teddy bear than grizzly. It was heard first via football coach Bear (born Paul) Bryant and then British adventurer Bear Grylls (originally dubbed Edward Michael but nicknamed Bear by his sister when he was one week old). A couple of celebs started using it as a middle name, then Alicia Silverstone made the leap to first, calling her boy Bear Blu. (Note: Grylls named his sons Huckleberry and Marmaduke.)
Buster: Even though in the 1920s and ’30s Buster became a belligerent tough-guy name for movie mobsters and prizefighters, it still was used regularly for babies, and little boys were getting Buster Brown haircuts while their parents laughed at Buster (born Joseph) Keaton and admired athlete Buster (born Clarence) Crabbe who went on to play Tarzan and Buck Rogers. Buster reached a high of Number 240 in 1911 and stayed on the list through 1957. Michelle Hicks and Johnny Lee Miller named their little boy Buster in 2008, so maybe it could become legit again.
Colt: Colt has reached Number 210 on the popularity list — an all-time high. The name is most likely being picked for its short, macho sound, rather than its connection to the Colt .45 or .357 magnum — or even its relation to a young horse. There are two starbaby Colts — the sons of Cole Hauser and John Rich, plus several famous big boy jocks, such as Colt McCoy — as well as a whole football team.
Diesel: Maybe it was the rise of Vin Diesel (whose childhood friends knew him as Mark, but nicknamed him Diesel because of his high-octane energy) or the line of clothing that made this a plausible baby name for some. Olympic softballer Jennie Finch named her second son Diesel Dean, Toni Braxton changed the spelling to Diezel for her boy.
Fox: Fox may be more wily and sly than fierce, but the name does have a bit of a dangerous edge. The X-Files character Fox Mulder shone a spotlight on the name, and the search for boys’ names ending in x makes it even more alluring. Several surnamed Foxes add to the mix — Michael J., Vivica A., Matthew, and Jamie Foxx. Girls can be Foxy and Vixens.
Gunner: Gunner and the authentic Scandinavian Gunnar both entered the US popularity lists in the early 1990s, but it is this more aggressive version that is pulling ahead: Gunner has risen over 500 places since 1994 — and we’d like to think it’s not just NRA members who are choosing it but rather parents who are fans of the ‘er’-ending, two-syllable boys’ names.
Jagger: It’s part jagged, part dagger, part Mick — all with a dangerous edge. Yet over four hundred innocent little Jaggers entered the world last year, joining a growing band of Lennons and Hendrixes and other junior rock stars.
Maverick: Wild boy name Maverick may mean “nonconformist,” but at Number 58 on the popularity charts, it’s now solidly conventional. Maverick was first used as a name in the late 1950s, inspired by the eponymous television show.
Rebel: Writer-director Robert Rodriguez, who has titled some of his films Desperado, Planet Terror, and Machete, followed a similar path when he named his four sons Racer, Rebel, Rogue, and Rocket. All we can say is that we hope that names are not necessarily destiny.
Talon: The hundreds of parents who named their boys Talon last year surely were not honoring the sharp claws used as weapons by birds of prey, but rather seeing it as just another in the trendy two-syllable, on-ending boys’ name category, no more threatening than Dalton or Dawson. And yet…
Thor: The hammer-wielding Norse gold of thunder, war, and strength, the Marvel Comics superhero, and the 2011 film all contribute to this name’s powerful image. Yet Thor — and its modern version Tor — are commonly found in Sweden and Norway, and Thor Heyerdahl is remembered as a noted Norwegian explorer and writer. Decidedly un-fierce is the current character named Thor on Nurse Jackie.
Wilder: Wilder might be thought of as the artistic fierce name, harkening back to writers Thornton and Laura Ingalls as well as director Billy. Wilder is on the rise and recently broke into the Top 500. Goldie Hawn has a grandson named Wilder.
What are your favorite wild boy names?
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on May 4th, 2012 at 12:17 am
The only one I even mildly like is Thor and that’s for the history and mythology behind it.
I really dislike this whole “macho” name thing. It adds to the fact that more names are being deemed “too feminine” and being used for girls. Why do we all need to be so aggressive? Boys have to have a name that’s all testosterone and apparently so do little girls, but whats so wrong with a boy whose name is more “soft”? I’m seeing names like Ezra being deemed to “soft” and “feminine” and being disregarded. I wish more people would get on bored the metro-dude train. NOTHING wrong with it – at all.
on May 4th, 2012 at 12:33 am
These are on my list:
Bear – both
Talon – girl
Wilder – girl’s middle name
Jagger – girl
on May 4th, 2012 at 1:00 am
My baby brother is named Tallon. I think it is a gret name.
on May 4th, 2012 at 1:01 am
on May 4th, 2012 at 5:32 am
I love Bear, Jagger and Wilder. I would use all of them as a first or middle boy name, Jagger as a girl’s first name and Jagger and Wilder for a girl’s middle name.
on May 4th, 2012 at 6:28 am
Agree wholeheartedly, Flick. Aggressive and rather negative. Gunner is particularly awful. I’d keep these for pets rather than bestowing them on a human. Bear is the only one that makes me think of a teddy and I don’t like it for this reason either.
Maybe just as well the softer names aren’t looking so trendy because those are the types of names we have aside for our son!
on May 4th, 2012 at 6:31 am
I agree with Flick as well, and with Reeny, I really do not like Gunner, I’m sorry if that offends anyone, it’s most certainly not my intention!
My style in boy’s names is by FAR soft, short, and classic names with some history. Ezra is one of my favorites.
on May 4th, 2012 at 7:06 am
I love the name Wilder, but mainly because I have a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I would use is as a middle name for either.
on May 4th, 2012 at 9:25 am
I wouldn’t consider any of these names for a boy with the exception of Thor and Wilder (mn only). I actually knew a big, beautiful blonde boy named Thor growing up so the name has a positive association for me. The rest are pretty violent and sound full of macho swagger: Gunner Jagger and Maverick (no thank you). I don’t like animal names in the first spot so Fox and Bear are out of contention. My sister’s cat is named Buster and a parent is just asking for trouble if you name a child Rebel.
on May 4th, 2012 at 11:14 am
My husband and I really like Colt, Maverick and Gunner….Colt is actually on our final name list for a boy!
on May 4th, 2012 at 11:20 am
Definitely not my style at all. Most of them sound more like dog names or fighter pilot call signs than names that belong on birth certificates.
My least favorite one listed here is probably Talon. I don’t like any name that sounds like it’s about to shed something’s blood.
on May 4th, 2012 at 1:24 pm
I have always LOVED Wilder for a boy! A girl I used to work named her baby boy Triton. I think that name belongs on this list!
on May 4th, 2012 at 1:32 pm
I don’t mind the name Maverick or Wilder, but I think most of these belong as nicknames.
on May 4th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
I don’t see Buster and Wilder as being real macho. I just think of Buster Keaton and Gene Wilder, so I like those though Buster might work better as a nickname as it was originally.
I’ve loved Fox ever since the X-Files (also not exactly a macho character) and I could get behind Colt-it’s very cowboy chic which is popular now, and sounds very similar to Cole.
As for the others? I agree they’re macho overkill,fine for your dog but to much for a kid.(Though I do sorta like Gunnar for a Scandinavian kid. But here it just makes me think too much of guns.)
on May 4th, 2012 at 5:56 pm
File all of these under Trying Too Hard in my opinin. I like Wilder b/c it’s got the whole literary/surname as first name vibe going, but other than that I think these are all much too loaded to heap on a young life.
Gunnar, go for it! Gunner? Violent.
Tor, ok. Thor? Uh, no.
Talen? Lovely. Talon? Bloody.
We are humans not animals (Bear, Fox, Colt). We are complex and changing, not stereotypes (Rebel, Maverick).
Lol safe to say this isn’t my style of name!
on May 4th, 2012 at 8:17 pm
My friend just named her son Desmond Fox, I love it.
I went to school with a guy named Rebel (he wasn’t rebellious at all) and a Remington.
I also know a little boy with the middle name Wilde…and he is wild!
on May 4th, 2012 at 9:09 pm
Fraid I agree with the majority here. Boys are human beings with complex emotions. They are not icons or representations of machismo or whatever. Your child deserves a name that he can own, not one that owns him.
I still think the classics are the best. My son is Thomas so that he can be himself while still having an anchor to his family in his name.
on May 4th, 2012 at 10:21 pm
Just because you name your son a name like Talon doesn’t mean you only want a “tough guy name”, some people have other reasons for their choices. The Talon I know was chosen because in his mother’s Native American culture it is considered normal to give your child an animal or nature type name. A name that screams violence to some people could have a very different meaning to the person who chose it.
on May 5th, 2012 at 4:06 am
Bear Grylls’ eldest is named Jesse.
on May 5th, 2012 at 12:34 pm
I see a lot of names for dogs in this category. I call both of my sons Bear as a term of endearment but I would never use any of these as a legitimate name except Wilder.
Can’t believe Top Gun was mentioned with Maverick.
on May 5th, 2012 at 1:03 pm
Sorry but they sound more like nicknames or a name one would give to a dog!
on May 5th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
Not sure how to feel about some of these names.
Some, admittedly, I think are kind of cool, like Wilder, Talon, and Fox (like general Fox Connor, one of my dad’s heroes). Buster is my brother’s nickname since birth, which was our grandfather’s nickname growing up, so that has sentimental value.
That’s about it though. I think the rest are ridiculous, especially Diesel, Gunner, Thor, and Bear. ESPECIALLY Diesel.
on May 5th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
I would not consider any of these names for a son. Like many people here, I disagree with this idea that boys’ names must exude a rough and tough aura.
I could be completely wrong about this, but sometimes I wonder if the growing aggressiveness of baby names has anything to do with today’s culture of instant gratification. Most people seem to be constantly striving for perfection, and being aggressive seems to be the only way people try to get there.
As a side note, I would not mind hearing these names on someone else’s child if there was a story behind them.
on May 5th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
I love Colt, Fox, Talon, and Wilder!
on May 5th, 2012 at 8:42 pm
Everyone has their own opinion about names. I want my sons to have strong names. Most of the names on this list are definitely nickname type of names but Thor is an actual name. I’m considering it for my son due in 3 weeks. He would be named after my maiden name and after his uncle. Some people won’t like it but then again, I don’t like that they named their son, Ethan, Aiden, Ian, Jayden, or Grayson.
on May 6th, 2012 at 1:40 pm
I am not a fan of these.
Buster was my beloved dog.
Teenagers are hard enough without naming them Rebel (yep, you’re naming teens and adults not just little babies.)
on May 6th, 2012 at 4:12 pm
My cousins name is Roreto and we all love his name. While It may be an uncommon name it certainly suits him very well. He is no brut by any stretch of imagination though when we were growing up his name portrayed an image of a gladiator and while playing kids games Roreto would always be the good guy that would save the day, kind of like the He-Man cartoon character..
Infrequently a few people would struggle to read his name but it is pronounced Roar-et-oh, whoever still struggles would simply call him Rory…
on May 6th, 2012 at 7:56 pm
I love Colt & Wilder. I’d consider using Colt as a name or nn for Colton. Absolutely stunning name. Colton is refined while Colt conveys a sort of cowboy masculinity. Great pic. Colton Wilder is a perfect combo. We use bear already as a pet name for both my dd & ds. I also like Talon.
on May 13th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
oooo!!! i LOVE Colton Wilder!!! DOIT 🙂
i am name crazed. i know it goes against the grain, i just can’t help myself! sibset; Denim and Diesel/Diezel, also larger fam sibset; Rebel, Rocket, Rogue, Racer and gurlie daughter Rhiannon!! just found out about that daughter. i am simply obsessed 🙂 many gals on Blogger are talking about “word” names 🙂 the possibilities for THAT are endless! thank you for this post
on May 21st, 2012 at 4:23 pm
i like the name mackinlay and jett
on June 27th, 2012 at 9:50 pm
I love: Fox, Colt, Wilder, they are great and fun without sounding too strange.
on August 24th, 2012 at 7:39 pm
Give your head a shake. Poor kid will never have a chance
on June 4th, 2013 at 3:49 am
I love Colt and Maverick! Would definitely consider those names for my future kids 🙂
on June 5th, 2013 at 2:02 pm
I think the animal names are cute…but I would only use them in the middle name slot.
on April 8th, 2018 at 4:58 am
My son is named Maverick. My husband and I were watching Top Gun on our first date, and we both said at literally the same time, “Maverick would be a cool name for a boy*. Sooooooo-, when we had a boy, guess what, we named him Maverick. Not because we thought it was macho, or bad ass, or tough. We love the name- that’s it. I don’t expect him to be any tougher than my other sons named Billy and Gage. There is no expectation to be a tough, hard-ass, macho guy to “live up to his name*. I have expectations of him to be a good person.
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