Cool Boy Names: They’re ending in R!

September 4, 2016 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

Boy names ending in r got a recent boost from an unlikely source: Olympic champion Michael Phelps.

Phelps might be the most decorated Olympian of the modern era, but his name? It’s one in the crowd.

Classic, Biblical Michael reigned as the number one name in 1985 – the year Phelps was born. In fact, Michael topped the charts from the 1950s until the late 1990s. Everybody likes Mike.

But when it came time to name his son, he and fiancé Nicole Johnson opted for something different. He told Jimmy Fallon that they didn’t want “a normal name.”

Their baby boy is Boomer, a name both bold and rare. My first thought was the Battlestar Galactica character, but Phelps and Johnson just plain liked the unconventional sound. The new dad added that his son is “definitely gonna be the cool kid.”

But it’s not just Boomer. R-ending cool boy names are having a moment. Wilder broke into the US Top 1000 last year, and the winner of this year’s Invent a Name contest is the edgy, outdoorsy Trekker. Other contest entries included Tracker, Raider, and import Elsker.

After years of two-syllable, ends-in-n names for boys dominating, maybe it’s time for ends-in-r names to be the new cool boy names. Here are nine possibilities inspired by Boomer.


Briar – Nature name Briar debuted in the US Top 1000 for boys and girls last year. While it sounds just like boys’ staples Brian, Bryson, and Bryce, Briar Rose is a fairytale character you might recognize from Sleeping Beauty. There’s no reason this thorny nature name can’t remain unisex – maybe Briar is the new Rowan.

Bridger – Legendary mountain man and guide Jim Bridger has at least a dozen places named for him, especially in Montana and Wyoming. That explains the name’s burst of popularity in the West, enough to put this one in the US Top 1000 in recent years. While Bridger was out of the rankings in 2015, it feels like a rugged, edgy, and cool possibility for a son.

Kaiser – Who would have guessed that MTV’s Teen Mom would become such a major influencer in the baby name game? Bentley and Gannon are just two of the bold boy names boosted by the reality series. Here’s one more: the regal Kaiser – derived from Caesar. Chosen by Jenelle Evans for her son in 2014, the name doubled in use to 140 boys in 2015. Creative/phonetic spelling Kyzer is climbing, too.

Calder – If Boomer and Kaiser are unapologetically bold, Calder feels more subtle. It’s a buttoned-down name, with ties to ice hockey – Frank Calder was the first president of the National Hockey League – and the arts – Alexander Calder was the name of three famous sculptors, grandfather, father, and son. If you love Carter and Parker, but want something less common, Calder makes a great option.

Valor Emile Hirsch chose this brave name for his son in 2013. Valor has climbed steadily since then, a brother for other modern virtue names like Justice. It sounds more like a name than, say, Courage, probably thanks to that stylish r ending.

Warner Do you remember Elle Woods’ first boyfriend in Legally Blonde? Warner Huntington III might have been unworthy of our hero, but he had a great name. Walker, Weston, Wilder … why not Warner? Early twentieth century college football coach Glenn “Pop” Warner was one of the most successful coaches of his era, and the movie studio founded by brothers Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner remains a major film studio today.

Evander Evander sounds like an EvanAlexander smoosh, but that’s just not so. Instead, it’s the name of ancient hero Evander of Pallene, as well as former boxing champ Evander Holyfield. If Achilles, Apollo, and Julius all make the current Top 1000, why wouldn’t Evander fit right in?

Keller – Irish surname Kelly became a 1970s favorite for girls. In more recent years, Kellen and Kellan have climbed into the Top 1000 for boys. Could Keller be next? As a surname Keller was given to the cellar master, another term for a castle steward. If you’d love to honor a Kelly, but want a fresh spin on the name, Keller is one to consider.

Eliezer Plenty of Biblical baby names are edgy and cool. Think of Asher and Ezra, Ezekiel and Jude. Eliezer – pronounced el eh EE zer or el ee AY zer – belongs to at least three figures from the Bible, including a son of Moses. If you love names like Boomer, but prefer something rooted in the past, Eliezer might be the name for you.

What are your favorite rare r-ending names for boys?

About the author


Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at

View all of Abby's articles


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