Boys’ Names: Regular Guy Names

I have a friend, a pretty quirky guy, who has one of those generic boys’ names: Bill.  I was thinking recently what an advantage it is for Bill to be named Bill rather than something like Jasper or Jarvis, one of those boys’ names that’s his equal in quirkiness.  Bill takes the edge off his eccentric attitudes and offbeat style.  It’s almost like the name Bill runs interference for my friend, telling the world: Don‘t worry, he may seem odd, but at heart he’s just a regular guy.

Of course, today naming your child Bill wouldn’t have the same effect.  Bill is too mid-century a name and so seems old-fashioned or stodgy, not a regular guy of 2018 or 2025 at all.  It’s one of those names that count as Regular Guy Names for dads or grandpas, but not for babies.  These include:

There are fewer Regular Guy Names in vogue today; in fact, the whole idea of being a Regular Guy and all that implies — sports-loving, emotions-withholding, conventional — is less appealing.  Many fewer boys receive one of the most popular names than they  did a generation or two ago, and many of the most popular boys’ names are not Regular Guy Names.

While a name can’t qualify as Regular Guy without being popular, popularity alone doesn’t make a name Regular GuyEthan, for example, which is one of the top boys’ names, just doesn’t cut it as Regular Guy, nor does Noah, Aiden, or Mason.  On the other hand, some names that are popular and that were Regular Guy Names of the older generation — Michael and David, for instance — have become too grownup-sounding to be Regular Guy Names today.

Bill‘s corollary today would be, of course, Will.   If you want to give you son a Regular Guy Name, which can definitely help any boy, quirky or mainstream, fit in with his peers, you have to choose one of the new generation.  The names we see as Regular Guy Names for today’s boys include:

What do you think?  Are there names you’d add or subtract to either list?  Would you give your son a Regular Guy Name — and why or why not?

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22 Responses to “Boys’ Names: Regular Guy Names”

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Nyx Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 2:07 am

IMO, today’s regular guy names should not include Jayden because of how unisex the name is. Also, I love that my oldest son’s nickname (not that I can get him to use it) is on the list (Matt)… but what about Nate (my youngest son’s unused nickname)?

ConsultantMeghan Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 2:17 am

Nice! I think “regular” names are so neglected because parents nowadays especially are always trying to choose “unique” names. I think popularity is something parents should consider when naming a child, but a lot of these names are timeless… perfect for any boy at any age in any century.

laurbails Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 2:55 am

I would say if Jayden and Hayden are on there, Aiden should be as well. Personally, I wouldn’t include them for the unisex reason. I would, however, include Ethan and Noah, as they’re so ubiquitous and pretty strictly boys’ names. I would also add Dan/Danny/Daniel, David, and Joe/Joey from the ~1960s list, as well as Robbie and Bobby. Additionally, I’d add Sean, Wyatt, Grant, Lucas, Ryan (though now unisex, most people immediately assume boy), Chris, Evan, Chase, Connor, Kyle, Brandon, Hunter, Austin, Cole, and Miles.

peach Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 5:36 am

I am not sold on your notion of “regular” guy names, they seem more like simply a list of common nick names. From your new list I would include only these:
Alex
Ben
Jack
Jake
Josh
Matt
Nick
Sam
Tyler

BasicSand Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 7:49 am

Harry should be included on the list. I feel like Frank will one day be the new Jack.

Lola Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 9:07 am

I would add Frank & Leo to that list of ‘Regular Guys’. Absolutely. I also would take Jayden & Hayden off the list, rather than add Aidan/Aiden.

It’s funny how many of my guy friends are up there in that first list!

i.heart.nerds Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 9:32 am

I would add Liam to this list. Also, I know a little boy named Alan and Al site him so nicely. To me it just seems like a nice and friendly name.

pdxlibrarian Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 10:12 am

Hmm, modern regulars I might add: Owen, Joel, Pete, Gabe, and Adam?

skizzo Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 11:08 am

Adding Frank? What’s regular about that name? Its old school, I know no little kids named Frank or Franklin.

Also why should Jayden and Hayden be removed? Billy and Bobby were regular names at one point, and they were unisex with Billie and Bobbie as counterparts for female. Jayden and Hayden are still far more popular for boys, so no point in making that an issue.

dotmyiis Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I would add Greg. He deserves to be a Regular Guy name. I find myself really drawn to the Regular Guy names of yesteryear, particularly Larry and Pete!

pam Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I think you’re all hitting on exactly the problems of defining modern day regular guy names. Hayden is hardly traditional yet he seems so everyday guy to me — yet, yes, if you include Hayden and Jayden then why not Aiden? I think Greg, Frank, Harry, Joe yes, but Joel and Owen? Feel a little too fancy to me…. but the line is obviously very wobbly!

CKA Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I agree with Matt for sure and as someone said above, Owen and Pete.

I think the idea is interesting because people often point out how the top boy names don’t change as much as the girls. I find this interesting from two perspectives. One is that parents are more conservative when it comes to naming boys, and less willing to take risks. But secondly, boys I think are more pack animals and less about wanting to be unique and standing out (maybe compared with girls – not sure how girls really feel about this but they seem to want to do more to stand out from their peers) and so the naming conventions seem to go along with that.

kashed22 Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

With Henry rising, what about Hank, since these are nicknames primarily? and Gus for a 21st century “regular guy”? Also I think Tom is less stodgy and more timeless than Al, Rob, or Larry. Also, I think Frank is going to make a comeback.

Jesba Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Yeah, the nickname thing is confusing me: do you think David is less regular guy than Dave? Less regular *old* guy? Both/neither? Can little boys can be David but not Dave? I have often thought to use that name with nickname Dav, or Vido if I’m really bold, so is that related? Same with Joseph, is it too dated to nickname him Joe now? Has to be the full or Seph or something? I still know lots of little Joes and Joeys…fewer Daves…I do know little Davids but they seem to exclusively use the full form. Interesting.

miloowen Says:

November 29th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

My son Tom is a regular guy at 20. For most of his life he’s called himself Thomas — as do all the other kids named Thomas that I know — and then six months ago he said he wanted to be Tom. Since my grandfather was Tom and that’s who he’s named for, I was happy to agree. I know plenty of kids named Jerry — why isn’t that on the Regular Guy list? (Most Jerrys that I know are either Gerard or just Jerry.) Personally, I love the name Bill. I would so have named a third son William, nn Bill, just because of the song: “He’s just my Bill, an ordinary guy” from Showboat.

Cclb119 Says:

December 1st, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I would totally get Hayden off that list. Hayden says weird guy to me.
Also I would add maybe Trevor, James, Lucas, Bennett, and Cameron.

pam Says:

December 1st, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Wait, you think Hayden is a weird guy but Trevor and Cameron are regular guys? Just goes to show how different perceptions can be on this issue!

pam Says:

December 1st, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Also, reading back in the comments a bit, I absolutely think that Dave and Tom and Joe, and yes, Hank and Gus, are regular guys in a way that David, Thomas, Joseph, Henry, and Augustus definitely aren’t.

ron Says:

December 3rd, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I think that a big factor in a “regular guy’s name” is that one does not need to spell it out when giving it to someone and that the pronunciation should be obvious when someone reads it. Hayden and Tyler make the cut for pronunciation, but are a little weak for the likely need to spell it. I think both are great names, but fail for (my (opinion) the potential for use as girl’s names. I haven’t heard them used for girls, but they seem to have the potential. Alex and Sam are good, manly names, but a lot of Alexandras and Samanthas use them now… Again, my opinion, but Trevor and Cameron don’t have a “studly” masculine sound to them. They’re not feminine, but somehow, they don’t seem manly to me. They sound a little “British” to me…

Another test (for me) is “plainness” which Joel and Jonathan fail. They both seem contrived for the sole purpose of *not* being John and Joseph. I do know that both have been in use for *many* years, but that’s the “feel” I get from them. I suppose it could be more accurate to say “chosen” rather that “contrived.” Jayden should have been Jason, but it’s “cutesied up” and little bit feminine. That one fails my “uncle test.” “Uncle Jayden” doesn’t work for me and Trevor and Cameron are a little weak there. Uncle John or Max or Mike–yep. Jake? Matt? Definitely.

Again, speaking of “regular guys,” a man’s name may be “David” or “Michael,” but if I can’t call them Dave or Mike, I probably don’t want to know them… Younger guys seem to like using formal names these days, but it seems pretentious to me. But, being one syllable, “James” works for a kid, but about 16 or so, he should become Jim. And I’m undecided on Robert / Rob / Robbie or Bob(bie).

When naming boys, we need to remember that they’re gonna be bearded, 175# men for a lot longer than than they’ll be babies. I think men should wear their names like a plain white t-shirt. We can see that a man is there, but his words and actions are what’s noticed. He shouldn’t have to explain his name. The opposite of Dweezel Zappa (or his sister Moon Unit.)

grkcook Says:

January 4th, 2013 at 8:04 am

I would add Liam to the list as another name for Bill or Will that’s modern and guyish.

JETRICE Says:

August 18th, 2014 at 10:45 am

I agree that most of these are nicknames; few babies are named Rick /Dick/Rich or Ed, rather their given names would be Richard and Edward. Sometimes families will use a nickname derived from the full name; other times outsiders decide to shorten the name. My brother was David but friends/teachers started calling him Dave. That being said, I think 3/4 of the full names of the ‘regular guy’ list below would fit into today’s world.

To the ‘regular guy’ names list I would add Jeff (Jeffery/Jeffrey), a name I think should be retired (no offense to those who love the name). Mark is another name I don’t get. If it’s a family name, ok but with all the great names out there…

Addie88 Says:

October 16th, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I love “Regular Guy” names because in this entitled and narcissistic day and age of “everyone is a special snowflake,” they are refreshing. I like that they say, “I am no more special than anyone else, especially by simply virtue of existence. My good character, personality, and achievements make me who I am, not my name, background, etc.” I would like to someday instill that in my children. There is nothing wrong with being “normal, ordinary,” what have you.

John, Peter, Charles, Samuel, Thomas, James, and Andrew are all on my list.

Zachary would be a more contemporary choice there, too.

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