By Linda Rosenkrantz
St. Valentine’s day always brings to mind romantic baby name possibilities, but more often than not they’re of the female persuasion, usually lacy, multi-syllabic Victorian pretties like Arabella and Melissande. But hey–there are plenty of romantic names on the boys’s side as well, whether through sound, meaning, amatory reputation or literary connections. Here are some of the best.
A bit obvious, perhaps, but what could be more apropos than this pair? In addition to the holiday connection, Valentine is the name of a devoted friend in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona and is also a major character in Twelfth Night. Valentino, long associated with silent screen Latin lover heartthrob Rudolph Valentino, was chosen by Ricky Martin for one of his twin boys.
The quintessential lover name, the Shakespearean Romeo has shed enough of his extreme Casanova image to become completely acceptable, especially after the Beckhams chose it for their second son in 2002. Romeo is now at Number 341 on the popularity list.
A dapper, devilishly handsome, Southern-accented name, meaning handsome in French, Beau has been on the Social Security list since 1967, now at Number 228, is 52 on Nameberry, and 38 in New Zealand. A celebrity favorite, it was picked by Art Garfunkel, Emma Bunton, Wendy Wilson and Jamie–Lynn Sigler for their sons.
Its amorous first syllable is enough to make this a recommended Latin creative choice, associated with the painter Modigliani. John Turturro named his son Amedeo in 1990; equally romantic relatives include Amias, Amyas, Amato and Amado.
In Greek legend, Leander was the ardent romantic figure who swam across the river Hellespont every night to see his beloved Hero, a priestess of Venus. A neglected alternative to the overused Alexander, Leander has never been on the popularity list, but is #372 on Nameberry.
Tristan has a long, dramatic resumé as the hero of the medieval romance Tristan and Isolde and as one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. It is currently at Number 101 and has been picked by several celebs, including Wayne Gretzky and Chris Hemsworth.
With its bookended O’s and exotic feel, this ornate Italianate twist on the name Roland has an impressive literary history, from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, and we’re surprised it isn’t getting more love. At Number 558, it’s down from its 1975 high of 246. Among the many other dreamy Italians include Leonardo, Luciano, Alessandro.
In C.S. Lewis’s popular Chronicles of Narnia, dreamy Prince then King Caspian falls madly in love with Lilliandil and makes her Queen of Narnia. It’s a name that has begun to attract attention from forward-looking baby namers—already Number 166 on Nameberry, though not yet on the national list. Actress Neve Campbell has a little boy named Caspian.
For centuries this name has had a long-haired, windswept image via its strong connection to the Romantic Movement poet Lord Byron, as have—to a greater or lesser extent—Keats, Shelley, Blake, Emerson and Poe. Actor Matthew Fox liked it enough to use it for his son, and the Berries have put it at 193—way higher than the rest of the population.
Rhett emerged from Gone With the Wind as one of the ultimate dashing, romantic names. Rhett has been seeing something of a resurgence—it’s currently Number 119 on Nameberry and 338 nationally, the highest it’s ever been, perhaps due to the popularity of costar Scarlett.
Of course this list could go on and on. Who would you add?