Nameberry Picks: Best Cowboy Names

Heroes and villains, famous and infamous, real life, big and small screen characters and the actors who played them—there’s a whole genre of cowboy names that have a certain swagger and western twang all their own.

Here are a dozen of the best: who they were and why we like their names.

Beau(regard) Maverick was one of the B-named Maverick brothers in the long-running TV series, along with Bret, Bart and BrentBeau was played by future James Bond, Roger Moore, and the name Beau has retained both a southern drawl and a western twang.

Cole Younger (born Thomas Coleman) was a real-life Confederate guerilla during the Civil War, who then became an outlaw with the James-Younger gang. Cole has been in the Top 100 since 1997 and makes a strong but sensitive choice

Cheyenne Bodie was the lead character in the 1950s western TV series, Cheyenne, set right after the Civil War. A place name in many old cowboy movies, it became a legitimate first name with this show, and became a cowgirl name beginning in the eighties, reaching a high of 72 in 1998 and now ranking at Number 184.

Emmett Dalton was another bad boy—an outlaw member of the Dalton gang. Nowadays the name is associated with a character in the popular Twilight serieswhich helped propel Emmett up more than 200 spots in the past year, but it still has something of a far west feel.

Flint McCullough was a co-starring character on the seminal TV oater, Wagon Train.  Flint is the kind of heavy-metal macho moniker being considered by some parents today, along with cousins Steel and Stone.

Jedediah Smith was a trailblazing nineteenth century western Mountain Man and explorer.  Short forms Jed and Jeb have long been seen as cowboy names, but now some adventurous baby namers are choosing full names Jedidiah/Jedediah (as seen on The West Wing) and Jebediah.

Kit Carson (born Christopher) was a legendary Western explorer and Native American rights activist.  Kit is a longstanding nickname for both Christopher and Katherine; Jodie Foster put it on her son’s birth certificate.

Rowdy Yates was the flinty character played by the young Clint Eastwood on the Rawhide TV series from 1959 to 1966. But you certainly might be tempting fate by naming your little boy Rowdy.

Tex Ritter was an early pioneer of Country Western music.  His birth name was Woodward Maurice, but he was born in the state of Texas. Western state and city names and nicknames are pure cowboy, as in Nevada, Laredo, Laramie, Montana, Austin, Reno, and Dallas

Wyatt Earp—the renowned real-life frontier lawman of the American Old West produced many namesakes.  Wyatt, now at Number 60, is the highest it’s ever been as a baby name, and was actually the top boys’ name in the state of Wyoming last year, thanks to its Western charm.  Sheryl Crow used it for her son.

Yancy Derringer was the eponymous hero of a late 1950s TV western series, a former Confederate Army officer who carried a—yes—Derringer gun in his hat.  Even though Yancy has a certain swagger, it has never caught on—perhaps because it rhymes with ‘fancy.’

Zane Grey was the quintessential writer of romanticized Western novels such as Riders of the Purple Sage, and a buckaroo flavor has clung to his name, which has been in the Top 300 since 1996, and is now at a high of Number 235.  This would not have happened if he had stuck with his birth name—Pearl; Zane was his mother’s maiden name and his middle.

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20 Responses to “Nameberry Picks: Best Cowboy Names”

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SadieSadie Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 2:49 am

I have a certain draw to western names and so, its seems, does my family:
My uncle is Cole Richard.
My cousin is Christian Beau but goes by Beau exclusively.
My other cousin is Grady Cole which feels like a very western name.
Makes sense, they live in Colorado!
I love:
Maverick, Emmett (all southern to me), Dalton, Flint, Kit, Yates, Wyatt and I love the names East, West and North (obviously can’t use them all!). Poor south is on its own!

Emmy Jo Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 3:19 am

Zane is ranked number 35? That doesn’t sound right — I just checked the SSA database and it is number 235.

Cowboy names really aren’t my style, but I do think Zane, Wyatt, Yancy, and Kit are pretty cool.

linda Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 3:40 am

oops–Zane is now 235. Thanks, Emmy Jo.

Lola Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 9:52 am

Ooooh, Yancy! I love his gentlemanly air, so smooth & debonair! Zane’s pretty snappy & Kit’s adorable. I’m not a huge fan of cowboys in general, they’re strong but not polished. I prefer my boys names polished up a bit. One of my faves that feels cowboy but isn’t is Rex.
But Yancy gives me goosebumps!

Susan Chesney Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 11:46 am

I really like Cole which could be a nickname for Nicholas. Lots of choices there. Fun blog, Linda!

NameGoddess Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Another name to add: Zeb.
My favorite “cowboy name”.

The one I like best from the list: Kit.
However, I think of Victorian England with this one. What polar opposites!

Also, I actually know a real-live-Beau. It’s short for Beaumont.

NameGoddess Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

*Also, I live in Texas, and though I’ve never met a Tex, there are a surprising number of Austins, Dallas’ and Houstons! And there are quite a few Anthonys at my school (a la San Antonio).

NameGoddess Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

**I keep thinking of things! My grandfather grew up in a cowboy-esque family, and his and his brother’s names were/are:
Leroy (but really Albert)
Bob (for Robert)
Sid (for Sidney, my grandfather)
Grady (but really Paul Grady)

Becca Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I am really starting to like Beau which I find odd! Lol! I also like Emmett & Jedidiah! Also I really like Zeb too not on the list but a pp mentioned it!
Very interesting and fun blog!

katybug Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

@NameGoddess: The only real-life Tex that I know lives in Oklahoma, but I think he’s from Texas. Also, I think it’s a nickname, not on his birth certificate. Maybe it only works as a name outside the state of Texas?

katybug Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Also, I met a whitewater guide in Montana whose family named all the sons after places in the West: his name was Laramie and his son’s name was Cody, and they had a Cheyenne, Reno and Carson in the family. Interesting tradition and fun names!

corsue Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Roy Rogers would be a good one to add. My boys have very western names. I read somewhere that Jason was a pretty popular cowboy movie/TV name. Travis brings to mind country singers. My boys are Jason James and Travis Roy. I’ll have to come back to this post when I’m ready for another son.

Macy Says:

December 30th, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Nice to remember Cheyenne was cowboy once, before it went cow-girl…

Another name I associate with cowboys is Dakota, as well as Cody.

rachelmarie Says:

January 1st, 2011 at 3:25 am

@Sadie: I find it funny that you mention the cowboy names of your family from Colorado… Because farms and cowboys seem to be a weird stereotype of Colorado! But some of those names are heard rather often around here, in the suburbs.

I know a boy named Rowdy, a grade younger than me, and I’ve always thought his mom gave him a bizarre name. She was my PE teacher in elementary, and she said she chose unique names because every other name reminded her of a student she had.
I also know of about 2-3 Zanes at my school.

Charlotte Says:

January 6th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I love cowboy names! (Ecspecially since my family is full of cowboys…) One of my favorite cowboy names is Coy. It’s also my great grandfather’s name. LOVE.

Gabby Says:

July 21st, 2011 at 12:47 am

Here’s a few I like:

Casey (first name of a Hall of Fame cowboy)
Ely (as in the city)
Lane – Lane Frost rodeo cowboy

Lucky*Clover Says:

August 7th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I’m from Idaho and these names are normal here, especially Wyatt, which is very popular. Cole, Colton, Colter and even Colt are names that I hear quite often. Other western type names you hear are Weston, Ryder, Gunner and I know one little boy named Roper. Gus (character off of Lonesome Dove) is getting more popular and Bridger (Jim Bridger) is also on the rise.

laa Says:

August 24th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

i think Mack Maverick is a great name–strong sounding. i heard the name Mac is gaining popularity. 🙂

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Miladyrigel Says:

January 13th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I’ve heard of a couple of Rowdy’s; although I would never use it. My brother goes by Tex occasionally as a nickname, it used to be Rufus(I hated that nickname, thank goodness she changed it).
But yes, most names in Texas are of city names. Austin the most used I think.
Are all Caucasian sounding western cowboy names I see a lot in students.

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