Jack, Jackson & Theodore: Who says it’s tough to name a boy?

September 29, 2013 Abby Sandel

The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

I’ve often said that if our second child were a boy, he would have gone nameless.

Blame it on our preferences.  My husband and I planned to source family names for our children, without thinking about the imbalance.  We have tons of women in our family, with a rich list of interesting names.  The pool of masculine names is much smaller, and repeats, again and again, over the generations.  Naming a second – or third or fourth – son would have required a willingness to reinvent some antiques and reconsider a few imports.

Is Zbigniew wearable in the US?

But let’s say that we were open to finding a great name, not one with family ties necessarily.  Just a name that would serve our child well from infancy into adulthood.

Happily, there’s no shortage of those.

The last few weeks have brought us birth announcements proving that naming a boy can seem effortless in 2013.

The nine most newsworthy baby boy names in the news are:

Theodore – If the parents are a 20-something actress and an indie pop singer-songwriter, you might expect an edgy name.  Something headline worthy, like Pilot or Wolf.  But Kaylee DeFer – most recently of Gossip Girl – and Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums – surprised us all with their impeccably classic pick.  The couple recently welcomed son Theodore Ignatius.

Jameson WestJames is evergreen.  With his longer surname sound, Jameson is just a little more current.  Thanks to his association with Irish whiskey, maybe he’s a bit daring, too.  Kathryn Morris, formerly of Cold Case, and her partner Johnny Messner welcomed Jameson and his twin brother last month.

Rocco McQueenJameson’s twin is RoccoRocco McQueen is just as all-boy as Jameson West.  The saintly Rocco has deep roots and a long history of use, but still feels like a tough guy.  McQueen might be a rarity as a given name, but Steve McQueen – once known as “The King of Cool” – seems like the kind of pop culture icon ready to inspire an unexpected middle.

KieranMitt Romney’s family is bigger by one this week.  Ben Romney and his wife Andelynne adopted a baby boy, a little brother for Soleil.  They’ve named him Kieran, which set off a huge flap on Twitter.  The trouble?  Their adorable little Kieran is African-American, and Kieran means little dark one.  Let’s give the Romney family the benefit of the doubt and assume they lovingly chose the name because it makes a great choice for a boy in 2013.

Jack Leon – Speaking of great names, former tennis champ Kim Clijsters and her husband Brian Lynch have a knack for choosing names that are just the tiniest different.  Jack is nearly as popular as John these days – and Jackson is more popular than both!  Their new son’s name has a casual vibe that feels modern without being too trendy.  The unexpected Leon – also a JoliePitt kiddo middle name – anchors Jack nicely.  Big sis is Jade Ellie.

Boston – Australian actress Brooke Harman and husband Jeffrey Walker are new parents!  They’ve welcomed a son named Boston Scott.  Along with Camden, this seems to be one of the place names gone mainstream in recent years.

William Hudson – You can see Nikki DeLoach as the mom of a teenager on MTV’s Awkward, but in real life she’s just expecting her first with husband Ryan Goodell.  Nikki and Ryan have already announced their son’s name: William Hudson.  I love this quote from a recent interview: “you don’t find a name, the name finds you.”  She has a great story of falling in love with the name, then discovering a family connection.

Arlo – This name might have been obscure just a few years ago, but suddenly I’m hearing quite a lot of Arlo.  He’s another great A name, a substitute for the very popular LeoElea’s list of sibling names for Arlo was filled with interesting combinations.  My favorite?  Arlo, Seth, and Nell.

Beckett – Let’s end with a great boy’s name that is in the news because of a girl.  Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, has welcomed baby #3, a little sister for Harper and Emerson.  Word is that little sister is called Beckett.  It’s a solid surname pick for a boy, a choice that has soared in recent years.  With built-in nickname Becky, it isn’t impossible to imagine a girl answering to this one, but somehow Beckett is still all-boy to me.

What are your favorite boy names?  Do you think it is harder to name sons than daughters?

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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