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?