The country style embraces names from a wide range of origins, from nature to cities to the bible. They’re not traditional classics, but neither do they feel like modern inventions. It’s no surprise that many are popular in the country heartlands. For example, Wyatt, the 26th most popular name in the US, is in the Top 10 in 16 states, most of them in the South and Midwest.
If you like names that are cool with old-fashioned charm, and want to spread the country spirit wherever you live, here are 15 of our favorite country boy names (some are used for large numbers of girls too).
US 2018 rank: 146
Lots of biblical names have a cowboy vibe, partly because they were popular with parents in the late 1800s who settled in the “promised land” of the American West. Abel is a gently understated Old Testament name, with a can-do sound and the potential for Abe as a nickname.
US 2018 rank: 669
This sleek surname has strong country credentials thanks to the frontiersman Daniel Boone, one of the first Europeans to settle west of the Appalachians. Singer Eric Church used it for his son in 2011, and it’s been in the Top 1000 since 2015.
US 2018 rank: 253
Some of the most distinctive country names have a built-in nickname that’s just as good as the full form. Clayton gives you of Clay (as in singer Clay Walker); there’s also Colton and Colt, Clinton and Clint, Weston and West. Clayton is an unexpectedly enduring name that’s never been out of the Top 300.
US 2018 rank: 486
An occupational name with spiritual authority, and a cool nickname in the form of Deke. We have Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe to thank for its rise, after they used it for their son in 2003. A character in the show Nashville helped to give it a country flavor.
US 2018 rank: 219
A simple-but-cool surname with the X factor, Knox is originally Scottish but brings to mind Knoxville, Tennessee, named after revolutionary general Henry Knox. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt started the trend for this name, but other parents have run with it, including country singer Dierks Bentley.
US 2018 rank: 379
Beyond popular Jackson and Carson there are many more “son” surnames to discover. Lawson, meaning “son of Lawrence”, could be a way to honor a Lawrence (or Laurence or Lorenzo) in your life, although it doesn’t have to be. Others off the beaten track include Bronson, Dawson and Judson.
US 2018 rank: 73
A decade ago, few would have predicted Maverick would reach the Top 100. Today, despite its new-found popularity, it’s still a fairly distinctive choice that won’t be confused with any other name. It’s one of several active, free-spirited word names that are currently popular – others include Blaze, Chance and Ryder – and recalls the 1950s TV show Maverick, following the exploits of card-playing brothers in the Old West, long before Top Gun came along.
US 2018 rank: 458
In ancient Egypt, this place name meant “enduring and beautiful”; but name your kid Memphis today and most people will think of the cultural hub in Tennessee. Country singer Jason Aldean used it for his son in 2017. Other place names with a country vibe include Nash (for Nashville), Dallas, and Dakota.
US 2018 rank: 459 for boys (388 for girls)
The ultimate unisex country name, Oakley brings together a strong nature image, cool place-name style, and the legacy of gunwoman Annie Oakley. It’s no wonder it’s been rising almost equally for boys and girls, but it’s still a long way from being overused.
US 2018 rank: 167
Helped by country singers like Rhett Akins, this name has cast off its suave Gone with the Wind image and is now a laid-back surname name that’s on the upswing. If popularity is a consideration for you, remember there are probably more Rhetts around than the statistics show: some parents use it as a short form for names like Barrett and Everett.
US 2018 rank: 702
Conjuring up pictures of mountains and rocky outcrops, Ridge is a recent addition to the canon of rugged nature names, entering the Top 1000 in 2015. Other wilderness names include Forrest, River and Canyon.
US 2018 rank: 99 for boys (216 for girls)
Can you get more country than an old-time occupational name? Mix in a Mark Twain connection, and it’s easy to see why Sawyer has been a hit of the last decade for both sexes. If you prefer something outside the Top 100, names with a similar style include Fisher, Roper and Tanner.
US 2018 rank: 372
One of the most classic country names, Shane is the archetypal cowboy, thanks to Jack Schaefer’s novel and the 1953 movie of the same name. Although not as popular as it once was, this Irish version of John feels like it could settle down to become a timeless choice.
US 2018 rank: 523
Wilder gets a lot of love on the Nameberry forums, but is still surprisingly uncommon out in the wild. With literary and pioneering connections (thank you, Laura Ingalls Wilder), it makes a great alternative to popular Wyatt. If you like the sound and want to go even rarer, Wylie is another option.
US 2018 rank: 642
Casual nicknames are a staple of country style, so if Ezekiel is too much for you, Zeke – rarer than Jake and fresher than Zack – is great on its own. Other nicknames that can stand alone include Gus, Hank and Mack.
Over to you: which country boys’ names do you like best?
Clare Green writes Nameberry’s weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world. Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.