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Name Sage: Traditionalish Baby Boy Names

May 24, 2016 Abby Sandel

It’s off to the wild blue yonder for this week’s challenge! First-time parent Allison is seeking a boy’s name that feels traditional, but still slightly offbeat, with possible ties to their loved ones’ names and the world of aviation.  

Allison writes:

We are expecting our first little one at the end of September and I want to find the perfect name that will be a definite honor to someone in our life, but will also carry itself in originality.

Our baby’s sex will be a surprise, so we need a couple of girl and boy name options. We have a clear direction with a girl: My husband has always loved Amelia, and whether it’s currently trendy or not, I’m ready to let him have that pick. Also, it aligns with the fact that I was named after an aviation entity, Allison, my dad being a pilot.

My second pick for a girl would be Jonah, since his mother’s name is Joan. My mother is Lisa, so we could use Elisabeth (or something else?) as a middle to honor her.

We’re having the most difficult time, however, with baby boy names. Family names that I am trying to work with: David Carl (his dad) Paul Scott (my dad), Oliver, Douglass. We’re tending to like surnames as first name options: Brooks, Hayes, Abbott, Anderson, etc.

I was hoping to find an offbeat-but-still-classic first name and create a few options for a middle name that aren’t exactly the same name as the inspiration.

The naming process is overwhelming and we are trying to figure out where to start!

The Name Sage replies:

I think you’re wise to put personal significance before a name’s popularity. Amelia honors your father’s vocation and pleases your husband – of course it’s your top choice!

Let’s work on finding something every bit as appealing for a son.

Surnames with ties to aviation seem like logical choices, and happily there are many.

We can also work on taking inspiration from your family names. It sounds like you’re leaning towards keeping those in the middle spot. Since you’re open to reinventing the family name Joan for a daughter, I wonder if you’d also consider masculine forms of the name, like John and Jonathan, for a son’s middle name.

Here are my top suggestions for a boy’s name:

Davis Davis picks up on David, from his grandfather. It has that great surname style you like, including the ‘s’ ending of Hayes and Brooks. But it also works as an aviation-inspired name. Davis Aircraft Corporation was founded way back in 1928. While Davis has never been as popular as the classic David, it has a long history of use, and could wear well on a son born in 2016.

Hayes Hayes is already on your list, and it seems to strike exactly the right note. It feels traditional, but it is a little out of the ordinary, too. I went looking for an aeronautical tie, and found this: British aircraft manufacturer Fairey Aviation was based in Hayes, outside of London, in the early twentieth century.

Hardy Hardy fits right in with surname names for boys like Brady and Riley. It strikes a nostalgic note, thanks to amateur detective brothers Joe and Frank, of The Hardy Boys fame. And, of course, Hardy sounds like hearty – a positive association. British company Hawker Aircraft briefly manufactured a model called the Hardy in the 1930s. Despite the popularity of similar names, Hardy is relatively rare. It was given to just 43 boys last year.

Curtiss or Curtis – If names like Hardy and Hayes seem too thinly connected to aviation, Curtiss – as in the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, founded back in 1916 – seems like an obvious one to consider. But since both Curtis and Curt peaked in the 1960s, maybe it’s not quite the style you had in mind.

Charlie or Charles Charles is a classic, and though it’s not a surname name, I can’t resist including it on this list. After all, Charles Lindbergh was the first to cross the Atlantic solo, and Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Any of the Charles names could also be a nod to Carl, yet another member of this traditional name family.

Thatcher Thatcher seems like the kind of surname name that might appeal to you. And guess what? There’s a build-it-yourself, single-seater aircraft known as the Thatcher CX4.

Walker – Another ends-in-r name that feels traditionalish, Walker also has ties to the wild blue yonder, thanks to Walker Air Force Base.

Pierce – This might be a stretch, but Richard Pearse of New Zealand built a monoplane around the same time as the Wright Brothers. Spelled Pierce, it’s a surname related to Peter. While it has a long history of use, it’s never been common – and I think it exactly hits the traditional, but offbeat, note.

Because Davis touches on your family names and relates to your subtle aviation-inspired name, I love the idea of Davis Oliver or Davis Jonathan for a son. I also think a name like Charlie Hayes or Charles Pierce could be very handsome, and honor your loved ones beautifully.

Readers, what would you suggest to Allison? Are there other surname names with a traditional, but not too common, feel with ties to aviation?

About the author

Abby

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 namesage@nameberry.com.

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