Goldilocks Classics for Boys: Holden, Noah, Wyatt and Beau

By Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

It’s been a great week for welcoming boys!

Eric Christian Olsen, Kate Levering, Fergie and Josh Duhamel have all brought home new sons.  The parents have something in common besides making headlines.  Their naming style might be called modern classic.

On Friday, Angela wrote about some appealing and underused choices, like Patrick, Lawrence, and Lewis.

This category is different.  These are names that would have been considered unusual – maybe even strange – just a few decades back.  But today, they’re mainstream, go-to appellations.

Call them Goldilocks names.  There are buttoned-down classics like James and George, and daring never-heard-before ones like Pilot and Zuma.  Goldilocks choices are at neither extreme.  They’re just right, falling into the wide middle: very wearable, but probably not your grandpa’s name.  Sure, they might be this generation’s Larry and Jerry, Ronald and Keith.  But they make for great choices in 2013.

Last week’s birth announcements were filled with this generation’s favorite names:

Wyatt – He brings to mind the Wild West, thanks to legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, and his history stretches back all the way to the Middle Ages.  But he’s at his most popular right now, ranking #41 in 2012.  Actors Eric Christian Olsen and Sarah Wright chose the name for their new son.

OliverWyatt’s middle name is Oliver, another name with rich history: think Cromwell and Twist.  Like Wyatt, he’s been a Top 100 pick in recent years.  But Oliver has been there before, back in the nineteenth century.  As of 2012, Oliver was the 73rd most popular name given to boys in the US, and seems on track to go even higher.  Wyatt Oliver is a pleasing combination – current, but not fleeting.

Noah – He’s the faithful builder of the arc, a Biblical patriarch name now heard on nearly every playground.  At #4 in 2012, Noah is the most popular name on this week’s list. He’s also ranked in the US Top 100 since the mid-1990s, making him a true modern staple.  After joking about choosing a wild name like Dirt, singer singer Michael Bublé and wife Luisana Lopilato went with the far more conventional Noah for their baby boy.

HoldenHolden was obscure when JD Salinger gave the name to his protagonist in 1951’s Catcher in the Rye.  It wasn’t until the 1990s that the name started to catch on.  As of last year, Holden ranked #296 – his most popular ever.  Drop Dead Diva’s Kate Levering and husband Reza Jahangari named their new baby boy Holden Robert.

Axl – Okay, the spelling chosen by Fergie and Josh Duhamel is a little unorthodox.  But Axel ranked #160 in 2012.  He’s an alternative to Alex, a Scandinavian heritage choice, a spin on the Old Testament Absalom.  There are lots of reasons to like Axel.  Lose the ‘e’ in this one, though, and most people think of Guns N’ Roses frontman, Axl Rose.  Not a bad reference, but maybe not quite a classic.

Jack – The middle name Fergie and Josh chose for Axl is another story – and a long one!  Jack has been an affectionate form of John for generations.  He’s long been bestowed as an independent given name, too, though John remains slightly more common.  Jack and John have both been eclipsed by surname form Jackson in recent years, but Jack feels like the steadier choice.  I’ve heard him as a middle more and more.  Could Jack be the new James?

ArcherArchibald has been obscure since the 1920s.  Archie held on longer, but he’s since faded, too.  But surname name Archer is on the rise, a smart, sharp A name that charted at #404 in 2012, and shows no signs of slowing down.  Elea’s report on Archer suggests that he’s poised for success in the UK, too.

Beau – He’s a Southern gentleman with a vibrant, upbeat sound.  Does Beau make you think of soap operas or Gone with the Wind?  He was briefly popular in the early 1980s, but never quite caught on.  At #311 in 2012, this could be Beau’s moment, bolstered by high profile arrivals like Cutter Dykstra and JamieLynn Sigler’s new son.

RoccoRocky is a raccoon, but Rocco is a saint.  He’s also been an established name for celebrity babies ever since Madonna and Guy Ritchie gave the name to their son in 2000, followed by plenty of Hollywood kids called Rocky and Rocko and so on.  Now actor Donald Faison and CaCee Cobb have given gone with the classic Rocco for their baby boy.

Which names would you consider modern classics for boys?  Do you think any of these names are likely to gain in popularity?

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14 Responses to “Goldilocks Classics for Boys: Holden, Noah, Wyatt and Beau”

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dramagrl19 Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 11:11 am

I really like the names Noah, Oliver and Wyatt. 🙂

Mclevine Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 11:19 am

Beau is fabulous and yes, makes me think of Gone With The Wind. I also like Jack, Holden and Noah.

littlebrownpony Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I wanted to name my son Beau, but we met with a LOT of family opposition and wound up making the safer choice, Owen. I don’t regret it, but MAN, I still love the name Beau.

tori101 Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Yes a fresh alternative to Archie – I love Archer – Archie is still so popular it seems in the UK it would be nice to hear Archie being replaced with the edgier Archer.

I also LOVE from this list…
Jack (still again this name is really popular in the UK and I kinda wish Jack was being replaced with Jackson or John so the popularity of Jack doesn’t make him sound dull)

Rin Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 5:58 pm

We considered Archer for our 2nd child, but it really didn’t work with our last name (despite trying to convince myself that it wasn’t too bad!). I was hung up on the combo, Archer Solomon, for quite a while!

sarahmezz Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Of these names, I like: Wyatt, Oliver, Noah, Holden, Jack, Archer and Beau. I’m not keen on: Axl and Rocco. Would I consider any of these names for a son? Maybe Beau. Maybe. I know they’re supposed to be “sweet spot” names, but I think they’re mostly (with the exception of Axl and Rocco) fairly popular/trendy name types.

MFBerry Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Holden and Noah are both on my list! I also like Archer, Beau, Jack, and Oliver.

Poppy84 Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Love this list! My 17 month old is Archer. If he hadn’t been Archer, he would have been Wyatt (which I would still ove to use if we have another boy).
Noah, Jack and Oliver are super popular where I live in Australia, so even though I like them, I couldn’t bring myself to use them.
I like Holden, but it is the make of car here (one of the big ones!), so it’s not an option.

maggiemary Says:

September 2nd, 2013 at 5:54 am

I love Noah, Beau and Archer.

peacebird10 Says:

September 2nd, 2013 at 9:50 am

I love most of these names, but I’m not sure Noah is much of a sweet spot. It’s a great name, but I think it will be way too attached to this generation to feel ‘just right’ for long.

EmilyVA Says:

September 2nd, 2013 at 11:14 am

I would have preferred John. Axl Jack sounds too much like Apple Jack.

I also like Axl, Oliver, and Noah. I don’t consider Oliver Cromwell, a repressive dictator, to be a good association.

iwillpraise Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 2:14 pm

There was a new forum poll started not long ago on which I suggested Oliver Wyatt as a sweet pair with older son Wesley Owen….who knew there’d be a Wyatt Oliver starbaby born a wk and a half after I responded to the thread???? This is an adorable name and I hope this doesn’t discourage our new Nameberry from using it.

I have always loved Oliver, but husband doesn’t appreciate it’s charm; I’ve also heard it so much on Nameberry in the last couple years that it really doesn’t excite me too much anymore. So apart from Oliver on this list, Beau would probably be my next choice.

iwillpraise Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 2:15 pm

P.S. I also know so many Noah’s that that one positively bores me anymore.

Chloe14 Says:

January 31st, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I love the name Wyatt. It sounds so sweet.

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