Boys’ Names: Unusual, Stylish Picks
Looking for boys’ names that feel contemporary and stylish but that you won’t hear coming and going? Here are our picks of unusual boys’ names – used for fewer than 100 boys, but at least 50 (those borders were picked to keep the collection manageable) – that are in step with today’s fashions.
It’s not so surprising, for the most part, that these names are used for so few boys. And we don’t expect most of them to make huge leaps in popularity. The few exceptions we think we’ll hear considerably more of in years to come: Wiley and Wylie, Ford, Fox, Lazarus, Chester, and West.
But we think any one of these unusual boys’ names would sound perfectly appropriate for a modern baby boy. If you really want a name that’s different, look no further.
For more choices, see our complete list of boys’ names used for five or more babies in 2009.
The first group are traditional (more or less) first names. The number represents how many boys received the name last year.
- Lars, 91
- Robin, 91
- Cecil, 88
- Gray, 88
- Alistair, 87
- Benedict, 81
- Constantine, 81
- Boaz, 79
- Luther, 77
- Thor, 77
- Dov, 76
- Bradford, 75
- Edmond, 75
- Jareth, 74
- Lazarus, 74
- Rio, 74
- Rush, 72
- Wallace, 71
- Chester, 70
- Noble, 70
- Barack, 69
- Shepherd, 67
- Sylvester, 67
- Jules, 66
- Teo, 66
- Horacio, 65
- Zacharius, 65
- Virgil, 64
- Willis, 64
- Wolfgang, 64
- Marius, 63
- Vito, 60
- Atlas, 59
- Esau, 58
- Lev, 58
- Octavius, 57
- Osiris, 57
- West, 57
- Dmitri, 56
- Basil, 55
- Ambrose, 51
- Ansel, 51
The second group are nickname-names given on their own. While you will hear these more than you’d think based on these numbers – there are thousands of Charles’s and Charlies in addition to the 90 Charleys, for instance – most of these are still stylish and unusual short forms.
- Cy, 99
- Mac, 97
- Cal, 94
- Rafe, 93
- Charley, 90
- Duke, 89
- Archie, 86
- Mickey, 85
- Lex, 83
- Monte, 80 (plus Monty, 54)
- Dash, 79
- Reggie, 77
- Zach, 74
- Jed, 72
- Ike, 68
- Wes, 64
- Abe, 50
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on September 28th, 2010 at 1:32 am
I love the 1st name on the list, Wiley. I don’t know if I would ever be brave enough to use it though. It would make a great nickname, maybe for William, or Walter.
on September 28th, 2010 at 8:57 am
My #1 boys name right now is Luther. Just a great name in so many ways! Soft but strong. I think an awesome twinset would be Luther and Lazarus, might be a tad bit comic book though! West is definitely going up while I can Dov going nowhere but down. Dov Charney, skeezy salesman of ladies underwear and fluorescent everything (American Apparel)?
on September 28th, 2010 at 9:02 am
I’m surprised to see Benedict, Constantine, and Ambrose so little-used. Great names!
on September 28th, 2010 at 11:02 am
I am surprised that Zach isn’t used more than that! But I probably wouldn’t use it just because it’s not my stlye though. I like Wiley, Ford, Cy, Archie (can’t use tho), Jed, Abe, Boone, Brenner, Crosby, and maybe Kiernan and I like Charley but prefer Charlie!
on September 28th, 2010 at 5:31 pm
I’m not sure we ever will (or should) see a bonafide revival of ‘Chester.’ It’s among the absolute worst, tease-worth names ever.
And I’m saying that as the grand-daughter of a Chester. Ha!
on September 28th, 2010 at 6:11 pm
I really like Rafe… the more I hear/see it, the more it grows on me. Usually, I think “nickname names” should have a longer “official” name, but Rafe is just so different than Raphael that I think it’s ok on its own.
on September 28th, 2010 at 6:20 pm
I would definitely use Adair. It was on my list for a boy. And how cool would it be to have a boy named Wolfgang? Montgomery is cool too, with Monte for a nickname.
on September 28th, 2010 at 8:07 pm
I really love Atlas! However, in my field-testing, it’s easy to mistake it for “Alice,” so I do think it would be a tough name to wear.
How do you pronounce Rafe?
on October 1st, 2010 at 10:39 am
I like Wiley/Wylie, Sky, Boaz, Rio, Ambrose, Kingsley, Flynn, Raleigh
on December 9th, 2010 at 5:57 pm
Rafe is a ridiculous name.Poor child.
on April 18th, 2011 at 9:05 am
I have just read these comments and are happy to see the interest in the name Rafe, we pronounce it Ra-phe or fe. Our 18 month old son is named Rafe and we love it. It perfectly describes him, it means wise one (wolf counsel) which is one of the reasons we chose it. I cannot believe someone said it is ridiculous. I wanted a different name for him as our first son is Alexander as a family tradition. In my mum’s group there were two other Alexanders!. I grew up with my name and I love it so I think it’s nice to be a little different. it is just a short version of Raphael. I say go for it you won’t regret it.
on May 18th, 2011 at 6:41 pm
I also really like the name Wylie. I am a teacher and often come across a lot of names that I don’t like because of it’s relation to a not so great student! However, I have a student named Wylie this year and he is the greatest kid – it is hard to not like the name when you meet someone who lives up to it!
on June 1st, 2011 at 9:17 am
my sons name is draven i cant find it on any baby name list and i love the name
on July 4th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
Maverick & Zachary. Quite common but nice.
on July 14th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
How do you pronounce Boaz?
on July 14th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
Two syllables, with Bo to rhyme with Joe or oh and as as in….as.
on October 10th, 2011 at 12:03 am
Ah, but Michele, when Chester can be shortened to Chet, doesn’t it revive the admittedly-tired Chester a bit?
Also, I love Rafe as a nickname for Rafferty and Rafael. I think it’s so neat that you used it as a stand-alone name for your boy, Larissa. Alexander and Rafe are a cool set!
Shepherd, Lev, Flynn, Crosby, and McCoy are my faves off this list. So great!
on February 29th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
When my son Shephard was born, his birthmom said yes, she liked the name Shephard, but she didn’t want it to be spelled the traditional way. So we we spell it Shephard. His official name on his birth certificate is Shephard Ansel, but we all call him Shephard Conley, to honor my father. We are hopefully going to legally change that someday
on July 3rd, 2012 at 5:04 pm
I love this list! The names are unique, but not invented or trendy.
on July 13th, 2012 at 6:03 pm
Great list. We are considering Edmond or Edmund. Most likely the latter.
on May 11th, 2013 at 10:20 pm
Great list! Atlas and Osiris are on my list for future sons. And I love Thor for a middle name.
on June 16th, 2013 at 3:05 am
I absolutely love Ansel, Adair, Lars, Tiernan, and Montgomery. If Lars went with our surname, it would be one of my top choices…
on June 21st, 2013 at 5:34 am
I love Shepard 🙂 x
on December 6th, 2013 at 2:14 am
I know this is outdated but I like both rafe and rafferty but pronounce them differently. I like either alone but would one consider rafe a nickname for rafferty if they are pronouncing them differently? Ive heard you can say rafe like raft or ray f (the way I do). Though I could see raff as a nickname for rafferty easily too. Thoughts? Also rafe is clearly not a ridiculous name to a lot of us. Ive been very taken with it not too mention that it was studley ben afflecks name on pearl harbor unless im mistaken.
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