Rising Boy Names: 9 Ready to Roar

October 9, 2016 Abby Sandel
Rising Boy Names

By Abby Sandel

Last week we looked at nine girl names likely to soar. Head to a kindergarten class in five years or so, and chances are you’ll hear more of names like Luna, Liv, and Sloane. They’re stylish, on-trend, and attracting more attention from expectant parents.

This week, it’s the boys’ turn. As with the girls’ list, names currently ranked in the US Top 100 were excluded – though a few, like Ezra, could easily be the next big thing.

Some made our earlier list of shooting stars, names rising more than 100 places over the last year. Others are simply in step with current fashions, or generating so much buzz, that it’s easy to imagine we’ll b hearing more and more of these names in the years to come.

Here are nine boy names most likely to make their mark.

Axel Axel sounds so very rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s plenty traditional – a Scandinavian form of the Biblical Absalom. If traditional Alexander can spend nearly a decade in the Top Ten, the similar sounds of Axel ought to be enough to put this name into the Top 100.

Luca Way back in 1987, Suzanne Vega scored a pop hit with her mournful song Luka. The name was virtually unknown then. Fast-forward to 2000, and Luca – with the traditional Italian ‘c’ spelling – began a rapid rise. With Luke and Lucas so well-established, Luca feels like something just a little fresher, traditional but cool, too.

Everett Oliver continues to climb, and other v names for boys, like Levi and Evan, remain Top 100 favorites. That opens the door for more boy names with similar sounds to catch on. Everett combines the surname style of Beckett and Bennett with that sharp v, putting it among the most stylish of the ends-with-et names for boys.

Kai Mini names make a big impact these days, from Max and Jax to Ian and Eli. Kai marries a strong sound with ties to the natural world – the name comes from the Hawaiian word for sea, though there are other possible origins, too. Like Axel, it’s not far outside the current US Top 100.

River – Take the v from Everett, factor in the nature name appeal of Kai, and you’ll arrive at River. It’s a gentle nature name like Jasper or Rowan, with all the Hollywood allure of the late River Phoenix. Celebrities like Keri Russell have chosen the name for their sons, too, upping River’s cool factor.

Wilder – Another trend in baby naming are all of those ends-in-r choices, from Hunter and Harper to Parker and Piper. Wilder picks up on the sound, but that’s not the only reason this name is set to soar. It mixes the edgy vibe of Axel with the same appeal to the natural world as River and Kai. And yet Wilder manages to feel slightly buttoned down, too – a banker or a mountain guide.

Theo – Strictly speaking, Theodore already ranks in the US Top 100. So we’re already meeting an awful lot of baby boys called Theo. But just Theo, as a stand-alone name, seems like it could be big. After all, if Leo and Arlo and Milo stand on their own, why not Theo?

Atlas – Not so long ago, Atlas featured on lists of crazy celebrity baby names, courtesy of Anne Heche’s son born in 2009. But just a few years later, the name appeared in the US Top 1000. In myth, Atlas carries the heavens on his shoulders as a punishment. Today the same image conveys an air of capability and strength.

Bodhi Bodhi comes from the Sanskrit word for enlightenment, a spiritual concept with significance in Buddhism. It sounds just like Bode – as in Olympic champion skier Bode Miller. The mix of meaningful and sporty associations pushed Bodhi into the US Top 1000 in 2010, and could continue to take this name farther up the charts.

What are your favorite rising names for boys? Which names are you hearing more and more of lately?

About the author


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

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