Boys’ Names: This week’s newsiest picks, from Barnaby to Jasper to Ned
Midway through compiling this week’s list, I realized just how many great boys’ names are out there.
This is a subject of some debate. Creativity in naming a son was long frowned on, and parents tended to fall back on the most familiar choices. In 1900, more than 6% of all newborns were named John, while just 5.25% answered to Mary. #2 name, William, was given to almost 5.3% of boys, but the #2 girl name, Helen, represented just under 2% of new births. The names change, but the pattern holds. In 1965, 4.3% of boys were Michael, and 3.3% of girls answered to Lisa. Generally speaking, more boys receive the most popular names.
Reasons are plentiful, and even the most daring namer of daughters may very well veer towards the classics for a son, leading to sibsets like James, Henry, and Persephone. But could this be the generation to challenge that pattern?
This week’s nine newsiest baby names all represent a shot of creative energy for Team Blue:
Sonny – The wild man of the celebrity baby naming world, Jason Lee, has welcomed his third child, second with wife Ceren Alkaç. Firstborn Pilot Inspektor still tops bad baby name lists. (Though I’m rather fond of Pilot.) Reaction has been mixed to his daughter’s name, Casper Alice. Newest arrival is Sonny – no middle name announced. It’s pretty tame for the Lee family, but still not exactly Jacob.
Brooks Alan – Molly Sims took her time deciding on a name for her son. Favorites rumored earlier in her pregnancy included Asher and Quinn. Brooks is part of that ends-in-s cluster, along with Yates and Ames, getting some attention these days. Brooks feels part-preppy, part-cowboy, with a country western twang courtesy of former Nashville hitmakers Brooks & Dunn.
Ned Alexander – From Hollywood to Australia, Waltzing More than Matilda spotted a birth announcement for Ned, a little brother for Max and Leo. Mini names for boys split the difference between vintage revivals and friendly, modern choices – a middle way between Alfred and Kai.
Jem Seeger – A second example of the same trend, this time from For Real Baby Names, comes from New York. Jem is a medieval form of James, and also sometimes Jeremy, as in To Kill a Mockingbird. Jem is also, of course, an animated, pink-haired 1980s pop star. But as the cartoon fades, Jem sounds promising for a boy.
Jasper – Jasper has been on the rise in recent years, and actress Leigh–Allyn Baker says that she favors the name for her son due in September, a little brother for Griffin. Baker plays the mom on Nickelodeon’s Good Luck Charlie – where her character is about to deliver fictional baby #5, name to be revealed.
Doyle – Legendary namer Joss Whedon once created a half-demon psychic called Doyle. Unlike some of Whedon’s characters, Doyle hasn’t been a hit – yet. He’s getting good reviews on Swistle this week, with commenters calling him “not too strange” to match with sisters Catherine and Nora.
Barnaby – Okay, Drew Brees almost certainly won’t be naming his third son Barnaby. But how do you follow Baylen and Bowen? The NFL quarterback turned to Twitter for help naming his second boy Bowen, so it is never too soon to brainstorm modern, surname-inspired B names for baby #3.
What are your favorite boys’ names? Do you feel pressure to stay more conservative with names for sons?
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on July 2nd, 2012 at 12:37 am
I used to be far more conservative with boys’ names than with girls. Recently things have evened out. My favorites for girls include Eloise, Sylvie, Iris, Marigold, Winifred, and Geneva; my top boys list features Roscoe, Atlas, Ferdinand, Waldo, Rafferty, Everett, Marlowe, and Thaddeus. There are so many strong, classic, eccentric boys’ names waiting to be discovered!
I think part of the changing attitude towards less common names for boys is that so many traditionally masculine names have been girl-napped. With Finley, Elliot, Logan, and even Jayden turning pink, I predict more parents will be looking for boys’ names off the beaten track. I even have my fingers crossed for a backlash trend: fabulous old boys’ names like Aubrey, Morgan, and Whitney being reclaimed for team boy!
on July 2nd, 2012 at 9:20 am
Brooks also has a literary antecedent, being the name of Meg’s fiancee in Little Women — John Brooks.
I like Brooks, Jasper, Ned (but with Edmund, Edgar, or Edward as the “real” name), Barnaby, and Jem as a nn for James.
Fraser is also very popular in British Columbia, which was settled by Simon Fraser and thus has the Fraser River. Living in Vancouver, Fraser, along with Gordon, Cameron, and Graham, was an extremely popular boys’ name.
on July 2nd, 2012 at 11:33 am
FYI – “Good Luck Charlie” is on Disney Channel, not Nickelodeon, and the baby has been born. A boy named Toby joins Charlie (nn for Charlotte), Gabe, Teddy (g), and PJ (b).
I really like Doyle and Barnaby, and Brooks reminds me of Brooks Robinson, so it feels very athletic and cool, but I can’t stand Sonny or Ned as full names.
on July 2nd, 2012 at 11:58 am
@Augusta_Lee, that’s a really interesting theory, and a silver lining to the whole the girls-stole-my-boy-name conversation.
@miloowen – Thanks for another reason to love Brooks! And I had no idea about the Fraser ties to BC … great addition.
AGH – Thanks, GoodHope! And Toby, huh? Not bad …
on July 2nd, 2012 at 1:32 pm
I really like Niso.
on July 2nd, 2012 at 1:48 pm
I love Barnaby and Jasper!
on July 2nd, 2012 at 4:03 pm
Every time I hear an interesting new boy’s name, I inevitably decide it would sound better on a girl. Case in point–Rafferty, Jasper, Lennon, Marlowe. I’m sorry, I know this means that for a lot of you I am part of the problem. I don’t like the sound of multi-syllable, flowery names on boys. As a consequence there are only literally a handful of boys’ names I like/would use. They tend to be short–Jack, Kai, Finn.
on July 2nd, 2012 at 8:21 pm
I love Barnaby, Jem and Sonny, although Ned is nice too. (Rather an Aussie fave there).
on July 3rd, 2012 at 9:38 am
i adore the name Frazier/Fraser! i think i like it more for a girl though!
on December 5th, 2012 at 1:30 am
Jem is a great nn. I hope to see it more often.
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