Namesakes for Grandpas Donald & Doug

Finding fresher D-names for boys

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.



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7 Responses to “Namesakes for Grandpas Donald & Doug”

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audreyannie Says:

November 11th, 2015 at 11:58 pm

When I’m looking at any list on name berry it no longer allows me to “see all” as an option, I have to click through all the pages and ads to see them. Is anyone else having this problem?

lesliemarion Says:

November 12th, 2015 at 12:19 am

I love D names for boys so I really enjoyed this.

David does feel a bit used up to me, though Davies and Davidson are nice options. My favorite though is Davenport. Sure it’s the old-fashioned name for a sofa, but ask the younger generation what a davenport is and most of them will say, “I dunno.” I love all its nicknames: Dav, Daven, Dave, Davey/Davy, Davies, Ven, Venn, Port, Porter. Davenport sounds both artistic and cool to me though its pet or nickname options offer variety of style — Porter for example sounds preppy and Dave sounds like the nice boy next door.

Other fresh sounding D names include Donegal, Dublin, Dunstan, Denholm, Denzel, and Dane.

Two of my very favorites are Dresden and Danube.

And there are so many amazing options to honor a Dennis dad or grandpa – including Walden, Hayden, Belden, Borden, Gardner, etc.

lesliemarion Says:

November 12th, 2015 at 12:22 am

Oops, I meant to spell Gardner, Gardener.

And also to say that I think Douglas is an amazing Scottish name. Manly with a kilt-quality to it as well as splendid nicknames including the ones Linda covered. I think of Douglas firs, the modern classic Christmas tree.

lesliemarion Says:

November 12th, 2015 at 12:25 am

I also forgot my new favorite of Dalziel. Donahue is cool too. And I even have a soft spot for Dudley!

Entangler Says:

November 12th, 2015 at 2:26 am

I too am a little tired of D names. I have 3 uncles who are Douglas, Donald and David. As well as growing up when Dylan and it’s million incarnations were popular. D tends to fall a little flat for me. I only have two D names on my long list, Dash and Darwin.

Though I have many with a prominent d sound in the middle that could be seen as honoring the grands. Specifically:

Suzannah Says:

November 17th, 2015 at 4:13 pm

I think it’s time the boys reclaim Devin and Dana.

natasha8 Says:

November 21st, 2016 at 11:18 pm

If you would like to honor a relative named ‘David’, ‘Douglas’, ‘David’, give them the name ‘David’, ‘Douglas’, or ‘David’ as a middle name. There is nothing wrong with a lot of the names mentioned and to give a son something like ‘Dune’ is not stylish, it’s loopy. Boys like having names that other boys have. I can see ditching ‘Darrell’ and I like ‘Darwin’ but something is not stylish just because it’s unusual. And btw, ‘Dick’ meant the same thing fifty years ago that it does today and there were loads of boys with that nickname rather than ‘Rich’ or ‘Rick’.

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