Namesakes for Grandpas Donald & Doug

Namesakes for Grandpas Donald & Doug

By Linda Rosenkrantz

The mid-20th century in America was a great time for D-named boys. As exemplified by Mad Men’s Don Draper, there were about forty D-names in the top half of the 1950 boys’ list—including not just Donald but Don, Donn, Donnie and Donny; Darrell, Darrel, Darryl and Daryl; Duane and Dwayne; and Dennis, Denis and Denny, to name just a few.

So it follows that there are lots of the above who are now members of the granddad generation, whose descendants, not too keen on a baby Dwight or Delbert, in search of some updated honor names. To help, we first offer a few specific, directly related suggestions, followed by some more all-purpose D boy names.

Both David and Daniel, two perennially popular biblical boys, still remain high on the list—Daniel at Number 10, David at 18– so they’re still more than viable. By the same token, their popularity –almost 14,000 baby Daniels born last year, 12,000 Davids—may send some parents looking for a related alternative. For David, a logical choice would be Davis, a more modern-sounding surname sometimes defined as ‘son of David’. And for Daniel, an interesting option is Danilo, a lively yet sophisticated variation heard in several European countries.

Donald ranked at Number 14 in 1950, followed on the list by its four short forms. Dropping the final letter gets you to the handsome Irish Donal, with a long royal and saintly history of its own. Or you could reverse the Mad Men model and consider the occupational surname Draper. Other offshoots: Donovan, Donnelly.

There are lots of Grandpa Dougs around, as Douglas was a Top 30 name in the fifties. Here again, a slight switch takes you to the attractive Gaelic Dougal and Dougray, the latter attached to Scottish actor Dougray Scott, who adopted his stage name from his grandmother’s surname of Dougray.

Darellspelled at least four different ways—offers loads of appealing updates, from Darwin to Darius to Darby to Darrow.

Dennis was Number 17 in 1950. As with several other D names, an instant rejuvenation comes with the patronymic form, in this case Dennison, for either a son or grandson.

For the dated Duane, you might drop one vowel and arrive at the windswept, beachy Dune.

Dick , often given on its own to midcentury boys, would be almost unthinkable today. A much better choice would be Dixon, which actually means ‘son of Dick”–if Mason could be one of the hottest boy names—why not Dixon?

Probably the most outdated D-names ranking fairly high on the 1950 boys’ list is Delbert, at Number 277. Some possible subs: Delias, Dallas, Dalton or Dexter.

Three hot single-syllable names of the era were Dwight, Dale and Dean. Today’s parent could consider Drake, Dash, Dax, Drew, Duff or Duke instead.

And now for anyone seeking an all-purpose boy name starting with the letter D, here are a few more cool choices:

DashiellThough never on the SSA list, Dashiell is a hit with celebs (Cate Blanchett, Jason Priestley, Milla Jovovich)) and Berries (Number 78 on Nameberry). Detective writer Hammett took his mother’s maiden name as his nom de plume.

Declan –an engaging Irish saint’s name that’s already found lots of American fans: it landed on the US list in 1998 and has now risen to Number 122.

DemetriusThe Greek Demetrius might appeal to parents seeking a trending long Latinate name. Dimitri is the dashing Russian version.

Dermotappealing but still relatively rare here, the Anglicization of Irish hero name Diarmaid is represented by actor Dermot Mulroney.

DesmondSolid and sophisticated, with ties to the noble Bishop Desmond Tutu, it boasts the charming nicknames Des/Desi and Dez/Dezi.

Destry The surname of the male hero of the 1939 classic Destry Rides Again is an undiscovered treasure.

DjangoA D-name where the D is silent, Django was the dynamic nickname of great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, was heard in a Quentin Tarentino movie title, and is just beginning to catch on.

DuncanA jaunty Scottish royal and Shakespearean name that is slowly moving up the list.

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.