Name Sage: What’s the Boy Version of Violet?

Name Sage: What’s the Boy Version of Violet?

Maria writes:

We are expecting a baby in July. We’re not finding out the gender – but that’s proving to be extremely difficult when it comes to names!

If it’s a girl, we have a list as long as my arm: Willow, Hazel, Lace, Maple, Olive, Violet, Eva, Sylvie/Sylvie, and Ruby.

For boys, I like Lars, Banjo, and Oak. But I cannot find any names that my husband and I both love.

I prefer older names, and don’t like traditional names like John or William. Can you suggest a boy’s name that would be similar to the girl’s names I’ve listed?

July is a long way away at the moment – but at the rate we’re going, if this baby is a boy he’ll be nameless or called Violet!

The Name Sage replies:

If I described your girls’ list, I’d call it eco-vintage revival. Names like Olive, Sylvie, and Hazel aren’t new, but they feel very current in 2016, thanks in part to their ties to the natural world. Some, like Violet, are very popular, while others are less familiar. But I don’t think any of them seem too far outside of the mainstream.

Then there’s your list of names for boys.

Lars, Oak, and Banjo are bolder choices, less familiar in the English-speaking world. (Though Banjo might wear better if you’re Australian.) When I enter those three names into our namehunter, it returns Halifax, Spring, Arpad, and Shade. Pretty daring!

Plenty of parents have different styles when it comes to naming sons and daughters, but I suspect that you’re struggling because your boys’ list is so different.

Assuming that you both generally like the mix of vintage and nature names on your list for girls’ names, I think there are plenty of possibilities that would work for a son.

Hayes – If you love Hazel for a girl, would you consider Hayes for a boy? The only connection between the two names is sound and maybe style. Hayes is a surname name, and a presidential one, too. (Though Rutherford B. Hayes isn’t as top-of-mind as, say, Abraham Lincoln.) It feels traditional, yet unexpected.

Everett – Back in the 1920s, Everett was a Top 100 name in the US. A century later, it feels fresh again. Everett also brings to mind the ‘v’ sound in several names from your girls’ list, including Eva, Violet, Olive, and Sylvie.

Emmett – Or perhaps you’d consider the similar Emmett? It’s as vintage as Everett. It’s also the name of the minifig at the heart of The LEGO Movie, which could be a plus – though he spelled it Emmet.

AbelMaple brings to mind Abel. It’s a capable-sounding choice borrowed from the Old Testament. While Biblical names can feel quite traditional, Abel has a modern sound. Plus, the similar word able makes this feel almost like a virtue name.

August – As a given name, August traces its roots all the way back to the Roman Empire. And yet, August is right at home with modern nature names like River and Rowan. It’s a great brother name for choices like Ruby and Eva.

JasperJasper is another name for boys with a long history of use, and ties to the natural world, thanks to the gemstone. Jasper Johns makes the name lean artistic. And while it’s the name of one of the vampires in the Twilight movies, I don’t think the association has taken the shine from Jasper.

Felix – One of the reasons names like Sylvia and Hazel feel modern despite their antique status is the presence of certain letters. Parents in 2016 are all about the edgy sounds of V, X, and Z. Jax and Zayden don’t quite seem like your style, but what about Felix? It has a great meaning – happy – and a long history of use.

Arlo – Your girls’ list includes Willow, and you’ve considered Banjo for a boy. I wonder if another ‘o’ ending name might appeal? Arlo brings to mind folk singer Arlo Guthrie. While it’s never been popular, it does seem like the kind of name that will fit in while still standing out.

My favorite suggestion is August. It’s as vintage as the choices on your girls’ list, and has ties to the natural world, too. My only hesitation is that you’re due in July!

If the possibility of celebrating August‘s birthday in July bothers you, then I’d say Hayes is my second favorite possibility.

Readers, looking at Maria’s list of girl names, what would you suggest for a boy?