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Short Boy Names: Hal, Heath and Hugh

April 2, 2017 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

Do you like your boy names long or short?

For every Oliver and Sebastian, there’s a Leo and Kai. But lately celebrity birth announcements have trended towards the single-syllable. Benedict Cumberbatch named his son Hal, a little brother for Kit. Tori Spelling welcomed new baby Beau. We recently learned that The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun went with Jude for his firstborn, and so did musician Jaren Johnson.

Within the big category of short and sweet names for sons there are styles to suit nearly everyone. Let’s take a look of the up-and-comers from the US popularity charts, plus some that are big on Nameberry, organized by category. From old school revivals to modern discoveries, short boy names make for a long list of possibilities.

The New Cool Nicknames – Names like Zeke, Hank, Mack, and Ray aren’t new, but they feel newly cool today. If Jack is too popular for your liking, these three might substitute. The Nameberry Top 1000 also features Gus, Chet, Ike, Ned, and Fitz, four more fresh, cool possibilities with history to spare. Plus, of course, there’s the name chosen for the new Cumberbaby: Hal.

Old School Revivals – We often think of longer names, like Theodore or Nathaniel, when talking about vintage revivals. But names like Hugh, Clyde, Clark, and Blaise have stood as independent given names for centuries. They’re brief but complete. Berries also like Paul, Floyd, and Clive in bigger numbers than you might expect.

Super Quick Comebacks – We expect antiques to be recycled every century or so. But there’s another group of names that peaked more recently – and yet seem to be ready for revival anyhow. In the US Top 1000, Wayne, Neil, Craig, and Todd all rose in use – despite being popular into the 1960s and 70s. Berries also give the seal of approval to Scott, Dean, and Ross.

Word Names, Bold & Subtle Blaze is on fire, leaping up the US popularity charts. Word names continue to move towards the mainstream, with picks like Ace, Crew, and Dash heard more often. Berries also love animal names, like Fox, Wolf, and Bear. Other picks are tied to the natural world, but feel slightly subtler, like rising choices Heath and Clay, and Berry favorites Birch, Ash, Moss, and Flint.

Surname Names – Last-names-first aren’t new, but until now, the powerhouses have been two-syllable picks like Mason and Jackson. Now choices like Grey, Pierce, and Vaughn are trending, with Penn and Smith not far behind. Blaine might substitute for Top 100 favorite Blake; Briggs or Hayes for the rising Brooks; and Kane for all of the Cade/Kale/Cole names.

Throwback Cowboys – Names like Vance and Duke would be right at home in a 1960s Western – John Wayne, anybody? But lately they’re becoming 21st century favorites. Tori Spelling’s Beau fits here, too.

Rugged Novelties – Perhaps the fastest growing category of intriguing single-syllable boys’ names is a collection of rugged, edgy choices. They’re at home on the range, but would have been rare when the West was won. Instead, they’re favorites now, like Ridge, Boone, and Ford.

Modern Discoveries – No one answered to Juelz before the year 2000. Now it’s a Top 1000 pick for a boy born in the US. Kye is nearly as novel. Xan, Pax, Dex, Link, and Locke all appear in Nameberry’s list, too. Call it proof that creativity does not require extra syllables.

The ImportsZaid and Bram, Leif and Yves. Plenty of short, one-syllable names for boys are borrowed from other languages and cultures. Bram is big in the Netherlands where short names are the norm; History Channel series Vikings brought Leif back. In many cases, short names make easy, graceful imports compared to longer, more complex names.

There are still so many I’ve omitted! What are your favorite single-syllable boy names?

About the author

Abby

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 namesage@nameberry.com.

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