Cool Baby Names: Which Are The Hottest?
What are the cool baby names?
That’s the first question most people ask us when they hear we have the unlikely profession of baby name experts. We hear it so often, in fact, that we wrote a book called Cool Names for Babies.
Still, when people ask us the question, we find ourselves stuttering and stammering.
Why? Mostly because cool is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.
Certainly, the websites that have sprung up purporting to direct you to cool baby names do nothing of the sort. They only pop up when you google cool baby names because they’re optimized for that popular search term (one of the hard facts of the rough-and-tumble baby name biz) and not because they know anything about cool….or even baby names, for that matter.
One way to identify cool baby names might be to look at what cool people are naming their babies. For the most part, this dovetails nicely with the names that nameberry visitors like best — yes, of course we’re cool! — and that are most searched for on the site. These tend to have traditional roots but an offbeat feel and include:
The problem with many of these names, however, is that they’re so universally identified as cool that really cool people consider them uncool. Really cool people are looking for names that nobody yet thinks are cool, but that are cool. Like what? No matter what example I give — Ralph, Harriet, Eileen for God’s sake — simply uttering it aloud will either make it instantly uncool, or make you think that I’m an idiot.
Another path to cool baby names is to adopt the names of cool people, real and legendary. For example:
ALICE (in Wonderland)
SCOUT (young heroine of To Kill A Mockingbird)
ATTICUS (yet another admirable To Kill A Mockingbird personage)
AUDEN (W.H., the poet)
DEXTER (Television’s most appealing mass murderer)
JASPER (artist Johns)
There’s also a kind of in-your-face cool that may appeal if you also think neck tattoos and heavy metal are cool. Not quite the nameberry style, but bad-ass names like Ryker and Breaker for boys, Karleigh and Destiny for girls are considered cool by lots of people.
And there are dozens of other kinds of cool baby names too, one to suit every taste and style, so many you could write a book about it. Oh, right. We did. If you want a cool name for your baby, check out Cool Names for Babies for thousands of great examples!
What names do YOU think are cool, and why?
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Charlotte Vera Said
on March 25th, 2010 at 2:22 am
Names that I think are cool but most don’t?
Beverley (for a boy)
Gertrude (love it!)
Other than that, I like the usual:
on March 25th, 2010 at 4:32 am
What an hilarious blog! Hmm … I will have a think on what names I think are cool, although two which spring to mind are Rocco and Mabel. I think that my husband’s name, Rupert, is cool, too, and I would love to meet a Constantine and an Isolde … and, of course, I am very biased about my children’s names.
I was thrilled to see one of my sons’ names, Jasper, up there, as well as a variation of Dorothea – Dorothy – the name we have chosen for one of the twins, as well as two of my own names – Winnie, plus one of my middles, Alice. Evidently I am effortlessly cool 🙂
on March 25th, 2010 at 4:46 am
Only problem is that a lot of these names will become soooooo popular in next 3-5 years that they won’t be cool anymore, just common. Already, here in Australia, Imogen, Ivy and Stella all made the top 100 Baby names of 2009.
on March 25th, 2010 at 6:16 am
I love Gertrude, too!
on March 25th, 2010 at 7:27 am
One of the boards I frequent has had quite a few of these names pop up. I know of a baby Eileen. I also know of a Winnie, Stella, Finn (two!), Lila and my nephew is Quentin (Quen). And I’ve heard of people using Jasper, Kai, Harper, and Matilda.
Our own list includes Vivian, Viola (rather than Violet), and Nathaniel at the top of the list.
I’m also a huge fan of Alice, which my husband hates. I love Dorothea, Beatrix and Edith as well.
Other not-so-cool names? Ned as a nickname for Edward; Philippa, Tamsin. I’m not sure of others… we’ve narrowed our baby name list down so much I’m losing track of others I like!
on March 25th, 2010 at 8:48 am
Well, I’m obviously biased about my own kids’ names – one is on the list (my daughter is Imogen), but we didn’t pick it to be ‘cool’. We wanted a name that had a whiff of England as a nod to dad’s nationality and almost every name we short-listed shared that quality. Are the other names we short listed or chose (Isadora, Lilian, Eleanor, Beatrix, Oscar, Oliver, George) cool? I’d say, probably not, but that’s fine with me – probably better that way.
Maybe the trouble with ‘cool’ names, besides the possibilities of either becoming super popular or sounding insane (which has already been pointed out) is that ‘cool’ is changeable and so, by definition it will almost certainly have a shelf life – and who wants their kid’s name to wear thin? That’s probably one of the reasons for bestowing a ‘classic’ name (many on the list are just that – revived classics). I think any name given to ‘be cool’ is probably pretty uncool in that context. I’d also submit that naming a child something as a Hollywood copycat falls into that “trying to be cool=uncool” category.
Truly cool is choosing the name that you feel suits your family and child best regardless of what others think – isn’t confidence in what you believe regardless of others the cool for all time?
on March 25th, 2010 at 9:01 am
My 3 year old was thrilled this morning when I told her that she has a “cool” name- Dorothy and Violet. We always knew she was cool, but that made it official.
on March 25th, 2010 at 9:16 am
What a great blog and what well worded & wise insight from “JNE”, Thank you “JNE”, it made me think.
on March 25th, 2010 at 9:45 am
I have to say, if you think Otto and Gertrude are such cool names, then change your name to those rather than subject a poor kid to living with them for the rest of their lives. If you truly wouldn’t be willing to live with the name forever yourself then you shouldn’t burden your kid with it. I agree with JNE: cool has a very short shelf life.
on March 25th, 2010 at 9:59 am
Here are some that I consider to be cool that I could never get my hubby to agree on (some are family names from my side which up the cool factor as far as I’m concerned):
Adler (for a girl though)
on March 25th, 2010 at 10:18 am
Fascinating blog !
I COMPLETELY agree with JNE & JustADad. I think what they said is true & they have really good points.
I think what is cool is relative. The person who uses Jayden and the person who uses Thaddeus both think they’re choosing ‘cool’ names. Many of those names listed like Dorothy,Millie,Maisie,Truman,Moses,Holden are not cool to me at all. Most of them make me think of the name snobs or geriatrics, to be honest. You know, the name geek that thinks they’re better or cooler than the rest because they used one of those names. Personally, the whole Dorothy/Maisie trend and the -aden trend are the same, to be honest.
To me, what is cool is a person choosing one of those names because they truthfully love the name & not because it’s cute, quirky, vintage,different, trendy etc To me, a cool name choice is choosing a name because you love it & know you will forever & that you’re prepared to stand for it. That’s a cool name & a cool baby namer to me – whether the name the parent uses is Beatrix,Jayden or Shiloh
I think my favourites are awesome, to be honest;but, it;s because I LOVE their, sound, their history, how I feel when I think about them or say them, their meaning – the idea of having a child with that name makes me happy. Not because I’m trying to be ‘cool’.
on March 25th, 2010 at 10:41 am
Wow I must be one cool chick! I didn’t even know the names I loved were ‘cool’ I just thought they were names that I really liked.
On my short list are:
Holden (middle name)
But there are so many many more that I truly adore which I am sure aren’t considered ‘cool’ by anyone’s thoughts, and I am okay with that because they are names that I am deeply attached to whether through family connections or literary gems!
Great blog, I hope people get some good ideas and stop googling ‘cool baby names’ and rather find cool for themselves!
on March 25th, 2010 at 10:43 am
I am one of those people who will be choosing a cool name with a side of quirk. See “Stella.” Perceptions do influence who we become, so of course I want to try to tilt the bar towards “awesome.” Grounded in some substance though, not “just” cool.
Clementine (how we met)
Ronin (“wandering samurai”)
Anything with an X in it, am I right?
Sawyer and Jasper are on my list too
on March 25th, 2010 at 10:55 am
Anything that other people think is “cool” usually earns my disdain because it soon looks like “trying too hard.” So don’t even try. I think the only truly cool thing is to pick a name you genuinely like and then make sure you don’t care what other people say about it. Stare people like me down if we turn our noses up at your odd spelling of a name or resurrection of some ancient family name.
on March 25th, 2010 at 12:17 pm
You know some names that were considered “cool” once? Tiffany. Crystal. Nicole. Now they sound like stripper names (no offense to anyone who has them – one is my middle name!).
I think it’s more important to find a name that truly resonates with you and has a timeless quality. Because cool can become soooo uncool.
on March 25th, 2010 at 12:36 pm
That’s what I wonder. What names were considered cool in the past and how have they aged? For instance, I think Tiffany and Crystal sound really dated and faddish in a negative way that Vanessa and Jennifer don’t (V. and J. still sound like names from the ’80s, but they don’t scream trendy). I wonder what is the difference? How can you pick a cool name that doesn’t have a short shelf life?
on March 25th, 2010 at 1:22 pm
I think Ireland and Phoenix are the ultimate “cool” names!
on March 25th, 2010 at 2:55 pm
my “cool” names are too cool to even publish. ha.
one i thought was cool from yesterday’s blog was the nickname Doro for Dorothy. (i think it might be george w. bush’s sister though…)
on March 25th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
Uhg! Bummer. We named our son Fynn (y instead of i)last year before the Glee craze. Not because we wanted to be cool but because we loved the name. He totally looks like a Fynn, too!
Charlotte Vera Said
on March 25th, 2010 at 3:50 pm
JustADad, don’t worry, the names I listed as those that I think are cool but no one else does are also names that I know I could never use. They’re my “if only” list of treasured favourites that I’ll only ever bestow on imaginary children.
on March 25th, 2010 at 3:50 pm
Jude is also Obscure, and that is always cool. For that matter, Arabella.
on March 25th, 2010 at 7:18 pm
The Coolest Names right now (imo):
Hattie, nn for Harriet
Leonora nn Lena
Millicent nn Millie
Paloma nn Polly
Vivienne nn Vivi
Susannah nn Zuzu
Alfred nn Alfie
Edward nn Teddy, Ted
Frederick nn Freddy, Fred
Peregrine (middle name)
on March 25th, 2010 at 7:20 pm
Wait, I want to change Susannah to Zuzanna nn Zuzu.
Boston Girl Said
on March 25th, 2010 at 7:50 pm
Well, as Pam and Linda said, cool is in the ear of the beholder. But there’s a general consensus on what’s cool and what isn’t…and I’ve *never* been cool in my life. It runs to my taste in names as well. All my favorite girls’ names are evidently as uncool as it’s possible to get: Susan (or my fave variation, Susina, which no one’s ever heard of anyway), Cindy, Toni, Jenny, Andrea, Karina…
There’s more leeway on boys’ names. My top fave is Christian. Also like Adam, Jonathan, Nicholas, Scott, Matt(hew), and sometimes Michael, depending on whether it reminds me of Michael Jackson, whom I got thoroughly sick of in the 80s due to massive overexposure and who now has half ruined the name for me.
But none of these are cool anyway by the current standards, so I guess that doesn’t matter… 😉
on March 25th, 2010 at 10:08 pm
Charlotte: I hope I didn’t sound strident. Didn’t mean to. I know someone considering Gertrude as a name, with “Tru” as the nickname. Me, I would just name the kid True and avoid the whole Gert prefix. Growing up, I knew a Gertrude (named for a much loved aunt) and she HATED her name. She went by Greta rather than Trudy or Gertie and changed her name legally to Greta when she was an adult. Her parents paid for the lawyer.
Charlotte Vera Said
on March 26th, 2010 at 2:11 am
JustADad: Aha! I figured there was a story behind the sentiments. Don’t worry, you didn’t come off as strident, only concerned :o)
on March 26th, 2010 at 9:35 am
Linelei — can’t believe I transcribed your name wrong. Sorry about that.
on March 27th, 2010 at 9:40 pm
Cool is to not care what is cool or uncool. Any list that says what is cool now is a starting point for people who do care to hop on the bandwagon. I’m not particularly fond of “trend-setters” either, icons of bold choice and coolness… I mean, do what you like, don’t do it to show off or be ironic or clever, don’t do it so your kid will have half a chance of being popular in school, or to compensate for how uncool you think you are or were. As soon as you start asking what is cool and someone tells you, you’re both uncool! If that person you asked was cool, they would tell you to not care what they think.
on March 27th, 2010 at 9:45 pm
on March 30th, 2010 at 9:57 pm
What is the origin of the name Shiloh, anyone one know? It has a masculine ring to me.
Anyway for me the cool boy names right now are the ones that have gone to the girls side. I just love the idea of a man named Courtney, Ashley, Shannon, Tracy, Shelby, Kerry, etc. Sounds cool to me.
on March 31st, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Off the top of my head, “Shiloh” means “place of peace” but look it up to make sure. It’s a Biblical place/historical place.
The problem with COOL is that COOL is a 5-minute phenomenon.
Back in 1999, Hannah and Abigail were COOL because they were so fusty. I loved how underused and fantastic they were.
But by the time I started having a lot of girls, Hannah and Abigail flashed in the pan, passed through COOLsville and headed straight for You Were Born In 2004, Weren’t You?
So anything you pick now that is recognizably COOL, by the time your kids are older, will either sound like
1. you were trying too hard, or
2. every other kid.
I sidestep this by just falling back on Japanese names. Which most Americans think is SO COOL.
But the names I’ve picked are, in Japan, either grandma names or Top 10 names.
My verdict: COOL = IMPOSSIBLE
on April 1st, 2010 at 12:13 pm
Ugh- the whole trendy/cool curse… Naming a child is somewhat like gambling. You want to find a name that you love, that you think your child will love, that is just perfect in every way… Once you find it, all you can do is hope against all hope, that millions of other parents don’t arrive at the same “perfect” name. The problem is that the really good ones run the risk of becoming overused and sounding more like tiltles than names. I cringe every time I read the name Maisie on these lists. My Maisie is almost seventeen years old and I can’t bear the thought of her name becoming like mine (Jennifer) when it was so unusual for so long… It’s already happened to my Liam (picked that one out 21 years ago) Maybe inventing names isn’t such a bad idea after all—eek!
on May 24th, 2010 at 4:30 pm
My favourite from the above list are:
Auden (though I feel with a simillar starting to Audrey, it sounds more feminine)
Truman (also has celeb connection, it’s the name of Tom Hanks’ youngest son)
My favourite that aren’t on the list are:
on May 28th, 2010 at 11:34 am
No matter which cool (or any other kind) of name you like, it has to go with the baby’s last name – unless you change the last name to go with the first name. There was a trend in boys’ names of putting a very Irish first name (Sean, for example) with Italian last names (Marcolina, for example). Although I’m sure this was meant to honor both parents’ heritage, I find it jarring. Then there are names that just don’t sound well together, like Shiloh Pitt, or Frances Jansen. Anyway, yes, “in the ear of the beholder” is right. My ear is different from others’ ears.
on July 29th, 2010 at 4:37 pm
Beauty of a name is in the ear of the beholder… over 20 years ago boys’ names Elliot and Graham were unusual, but not “weird”. So now it’s their turn as parents to come up with names! Our first grandchild is to be Maddox (boy or girl) – Maddox Levi if a boy and Maddox Elise if a girl… Well, guess what! She’s a girl! And Maddox Elise is not an overly used name for a girl, which is the way they wanted it to be.
Duncan pails Said
on August 14th, 2010 at 11:11 am
We are yet to find out the sex of our baby but have a fistful of girls names and only maybe 3 boys names.Gene,Jude and Louie.My wife only”likes” the boys names so would love some ideas!!
on October 13th, 2010 at 5:18 pm
My daughter´s name is Dorothy Gayle and we chose it because we wanted to stick with family names. I think it is a sweet name for a girl and it means- gift from God- which has a very close personal tie to how we found out we were expecting (long story). I was hoping that it wouldn´t become popular (what parent does?) but that is how the story seems to be playing out. My parents went with family names as well, my sisters (Amelia and Maryanne) got lucky because their names were far from popular the year they were born… of course MY NAME (Lauren) was almost top 10 and has been under top 20 since. I had hoped it wouldn´t happen to my kids but what are you going to do? I love her and we feel Dorothy suits her personality well; she´s very laid back and smart but has a little spice in her that she only shows people she knows well. We´ve been calling her Dot and Dotty and I LOVE her as all of them. I know we made the right choice reguardless of it´s growing popularity. Even if she is a one in a Million “Dorothy’s” out there, she is a TRUE Dorothy :0]
on October 13th, 2010 at 5:22 pm
Oh, Lauren, I don’t think you have to worry. Dorothy may be cool but I don’t think it’s in any danger of becoming mega-popular. Great choice and glad you love it — which is the most important thing!
on October 13th, 2010 at 5:34 pm
I know I shouldn’t worry, but I have been seeing more about her name growing among the masses and it was even used on the TV show House the other night, wasn’t ready for THAT :0]. I just hated how many people shared my name and don’t want her to feel the same way. I guess every parent gambles with that? But you’re right, Pam, we love it and that IS the most important thing!
on October 13th, 2010 at 5:37 pm
I think the best situation is if a name is well liked and is on the upswing in popularity, but isn’t in danger of getting TOO popular — and I think Dorothy fits the bill perfectly. I hear you re Lauren, but I don’t think Dorothy will be another Lauren or Jennifer or Ashley or Emma.
on October 13th, 2010 at 5:51 pm
I guess I’m a little paranoid because it happened to me. The majority of people who asked what name we chose, followed with a look of discust. I took it as positive feedback because that meant one less person the hop on the bandwagon :0] and once i caught wind of old-fashioned names making a comeback I was FOR SURE everyone would fall in love with “Dorothy” like we did. But that’s just my defense mechanism kicking in- plan for the worst case scenario.
on December 18th, 2010 at 1:24 pm
There is no way to win in the cool-ness game. Sooner or later, everyone gets their 5 minutes. Seriously, Gertrude is COOL?
My name is Rachel Elisabeth, although my family calls me Lisa. My mother picked Lisa & Matt out when the movie “Red River” came out (Elizabeth Taylor & Montgomery Clift). The Catholic church required saint’s names for baptism, so she chose Rachel to soothe my grandmother (her mother-in-law), but called me Lisa to tweak that same grandmother.
All of us (there are 9 children in my family) have “good Christian names,” all of which were almost one-of-kind when we were kids in the 60s — Mark, Matt, Chris, Greg, Lisa/Rachel, Carla, Lee Anne, Jay & Mary Michelle.
It’s astonishing to me to see how many have become very popular and then not over the last 40 years. I have nieces and nephews named Madison, Mackenzie, Ayden, Devon, Nicholas, Bailey,…I can go on and on…and all of them were one-of-a kind when they were named, and suddenly they were everywhere. And now you never hear them anymore.
on December 28th, 2010 at 4:52 am
I wrote down favorite baby names YEARS ago, right after I met my future husband (psycho much? Haha!) The name at the top was Lila. I’ve always adored that name. 9 years ago, I didn’t know of anyone with that name…now my 16 month old Lila has it, and I love we gave her a name I’ve loved since childhood. But I HATE that it’s on a cool list. I dnt want it to turn into the next Isabella, but it has the sound to make it to the top 20 soon. Nooooo! Ivy is another favorite, but it seems to be climbing the charts as well. I think most everyone agrees: you just can’t win! P.s. I don’t. Think Thelma and Hortense are in danger of becoming trendy if anyone wants a safe bet!
Ariadne Gianakos Said
on January 1st, 2011 at 10:25 pm
My Son Is Ryder Knox Gianakos.
I never thought , Knox , would EVER be on the “cool” list .
Hes Named After Pro Football Player Johnny Knox Tho .
on January 11th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
I love to look at these cool name list. But, just as a guide, for what not to use. Like most others said already “cool name will just be average” soon enough. Like everything else cars, clothes, music, movies. The clasic ones are always going to be the best. If cool is what everyone wants use it as a middle name. My 3 boys names are:
And the first name should fit with the last.
Dina W Said
on March 7th, 2011 at 8:41 pm
~genious, hip, cool name!!!
on May 4th, 2011 at 6:50 pm
Septemus is the world’s best boy’s name. Just saying. (Plus it’s where better then it’s little brother Sextus)
on July 10th, 2011 at 7:53 pm
on July 18th, 2011 at 7:02 am
Hmmm after reading this blog, and the comments I have gathered an opinion that is similar to urbanangel, justadad and jne. Cool is naming your child a name that you love and will suit your family and your child being unique and standing and making your own choices for your child. That truly is cool. For instance with Beckham’s daughter’s name even though I dislike Harper Seven it’s what they love and it suits them. They followed the trend of naming your child something unusual but it’s still unique. I have never been cool – more retro nerd lol- and I’m proud of who I am, because of my personality I never though my favourite names would come into ‘fashion’ and be considered cool. Now they are I’m really contemplating my favourite names especially Jacob which has become incredbily popular. My favourites are: Jacob, Noah & Levi and for girls Vivienne, Rose & Audrey
on August 8th, 2011 at 10:23 pm
wow…this is really interesting..i might give my daughter another name
on October 14th, 2011 at 3:27 am
I have the ultimate “cool” name picked out for my future daughter. And I’m not saying boo to a single soul, lest it suddenly and inexplicably become wildly popular. LOL Seriously, I live in fear that somehow it will gain incredible popularity before I have a chance to have children. Or right after! Please, no? lmao
on February 17th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
Hmm.. Here’s my current list of some faves:(first & middles, lots are left out!!)
Bria ( bree-ah)
on November 11th, 2013 at 12:01 am
@Macy I know a Shannon, Tracy, and Shelby all men! Along w a Kelly, Leslie, Morgan, and my sister knows a male Lauren. Consequently I too love traditional male names that have been feminized, on men, especially Morgan.
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