Choosing Offbeat Boy Names
Oh, Name Sage, please help!
Two years ago, we named our first son Ralph. We loved how it was uncommon but how it still felt familiar. We also wanted a one-syllable first name to go with our longer last name. My husband and I joked that Ralph felt like an approachable person, someone you might meet drinking in a bowling alley. We call him Ralphie often, but we love that his given name is complete and stands on its own with one syllable.
Now Ralph is getting a brother in a few months. We can’t come up with another name that has the same offbeat, but unpretentious and approachable, feel, while still being one-syllable. The front-runner has been Gus, which we love, but I hesitate because it doesn’t feel complete— like people would always ask if Gus was short for another name. I know that might not bother most people but it bothers me.
I also really don’t like newer names or gender-neutral names.
Any guidance would be super helpful. I am seriously considering naming this second baby Ralph 2!
The Name Sage replies:
Let me say that I am delighted – thrilled! – that you named your son Ralph. It’s handsome and traditional, and so very underused.
Finding the perfect name for your first child can make naming siblings even harder. We get stuck trying to replicate the exact same qualities that make that first choice so great.
That’s why I’m making two lists.
First up: names that fit the Ralph 2 criteria in every way: traditional, one-syllable, offbeat, approachable.
But for the second list, I’m breaking some of those rules.
So often, the key to getting unstuck is figuring out what’s different this time around.
Allowing yourself to explore names that don’t check every box is a good exercise. It helps you identify your non-negotiables, but can also open your eyes to some new names that might be perfect with Ralph – even if they don’t quite fit the pattern.
THE PERFECT MATCHES
Clyde – Originally the name of a river in Scotland, Clyde ranked into the US Top 100 well into the 1930s. That’s Ralph’s heyday, too. If the ‘d’ ending isn’t quite right, the oh-so-English Clive might be another option.
THE RULE BREAKERS
Oscar – In many ways, Oscar is Ralph’s opposite. It hovers around the Top 200 in the US. And it comes in at two syllables, without an obvious nickname. But something about Oscar just feels like a brother for Ralph.
Woodrow – Strictly speaking, this is a surname. But it made the jump to first name status ages ago, thanks to US president Woodrow Wilson. Toy Story helps transform Woody into an accessible rarity, every bit as friendly as Ralph.
As much as I like lots of the names on the Ralph 2 list, I’m even more tempted by possibilities like Chester and Howard. If Frank, Floyd, and company don’t hit the mark, then maybe it’s time to move on to something just slightly different.
Readers, let’s hear from you! What matters most, maintaining the pattern? Or finding the perfect name?
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on March 4th, 2020 at 11:00 am
It’s not 2 syllables, but I think Walter and Ralph make a great sib set!
on March 4th, 2020 at 11:01 am
I mean It’s not one syllable haha
on March 4th, 2020 at 12:10 pm
Ralph is a cool 1940ish name that really hasn’t come back around yet. I like Sara’s considered names of Wade, Paul, and Mark, but they seem more mainstream than Ralph. The Name Sage’s idea of Hugh is right on target and yet a brother for Ralph, to me would be Roger.
on March 4th, 2020 at 1:41 pm
I I love Gus with Ralph and don’t think it sound incomplete at all. Really like Abby’s suggestion of Hugh, Frank, Oscar and Chester as well
I think Vince or Vinny has the same approachable feel as Ralph . Would love to see a sibset named Ralph and Vince or Vinny 🙂
Or how about:
Verne (Vernie so cute with brother Ralphie)
on March 4th, 2020 at 2:32 pm
Before i’d read much of the article and saw the name Ralph i immediately thought of a brother to Ralph named Frank.
on March 4th, 2020 at 7:36 pm
I love Gus with Ralph and wouldn’t let its nickname status stop you from using it. I think it works well on its own! Roy, Wade, Paul, Clark and Mark just don’t have the same retro, vintage feel to me. They seem dated from my perspective in a way that Ralph just doesn’t, despite it being an old name. Rex came to mind immediately if you don’t mind repeating a syllable. I also love the suggestion of Frank, Rufus, Chester and Oscar if you’re open to two syllables. Others that I think would go well with Ralph are Ted, Monty, Chet (on its own), Otis, Fred, Jasper, Rupert, Otto, Harvey and August (nickname Gus).
on March 4th, 2020 at 7:45 pm
Also Felix and Ned.
on March 4th, 2020 at 7:48 pm
My fave on your list is Roy. My fave suggestion is Lloyd. It doesn’t follow your rules, but what about Mickey/Mick?
on March 5th, 2020 at 12:55 am
Bart came to mind.
on March 6th, 2020 at 8:34 pm
Ralph & Craig
Ralph & Clark
Ralph & Frank
Ralph & Clive
Ralph & Glenn
Ralph & Bruce
Ralph & Keith
Ralph & Scott
Ralph & Holt
Ralph & Roark
Ralph & Ridge
Ralph & Boone
Ralph & Rhys
Ralph & Wells
Ralph & Reed
Ralph & Judd
Ralph & Ford
Ralph & Garth
Ralph & Miles
on March 10th, 2020 at 7:31 am
Ralphie and Frankie would be adorable!
on March 10th, 2020 at 7:53 am
I think Gus works really well although it is quite popular with all the Angus, Augusts and Augustus boys out there! If you love it, then it’s the name even if it’s more popular than you thought you would choose.
I also love the suggestion of Floyd. How cool is that name!
My own picks are Otis and Leroy!
Congrats on your second son.
on March 11th, 2020 at 1:03 am
I have to suggest Fred, although it could be a nickname a lot of people are named only Fred and it brings the adorable nickname Freddie.
I also love Ike , Hugh & Frank off the list. There is always the nickname Huey too for Hugh. And Clyde might be perfect!
From your list I also love Gus but understand your concern, and I love Clark.
Some other options you might like-
Ren (or Wren)
From my list my favorite is Sly!! Ralphie & Sly would be so cute!
If you go longer Stuart “Stu” would be really cute or Stanley “Stan” is Sidney “Sid”
on March 18th, 2020 at 10:35 am
I love Frank!
on May 27th, 2020 at 10:10 pm
As soon as I read Clyde, I thought it was PERFECT! I also really like the suggestion of Frank!
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