The ABCs of Boys’ Names

The ABCs of Boys’ Names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Everything you need to know about boys’ baby names, from A to Z.


While A is the second most-popular first initial for boys’ names (and the most popular for girls’), the real news is the rise in both the letter a and the a sound at the end of boys’ names. Think Joshua, Elijah, and Number 1 Noah.


Swedish parents were fined for naming their son Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, which they pronounced Abin. The name runs counter to Swedish naming laws, which rules that names cannot cause offense or discomfort.


Charlie, short for the traditional male name Charles, was given last year to 1551 boys’ in the US…and 1315 girls, making it one of the most equal opportunity unisex names.


Declan is one of the Top 5 names on Nameberry, rising quickly on the US list to join other new Irish hotties Liam, Finn, and Nolan.


Is E the new A? While A is still the most popular vowel starting boys’ names, it’s trending downward while second-place E continues to rise. Popular E names include trendy Ethan, biblical Eli, and classic Edward.


While F is one of the least-used first initials, there are a handful of F names that are trending upward: Felix, Flynn, and all forms of Finn including Finley, Finnegan, and Finnian.

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The classic George is on the rise since being chosen as the first name of the young prince, climbing onto the Top 10 in England and Wales.


If you guessed the most popular boys’ name starting with H was the fashionable classic Henry, you’d be wrong. It’s newfangled Hunter. Henry is only one place behind, but other hot choices include newbies Hayden, Harrison, and Hudson.


The Old Testament Isaac is very popular for boys, but spelling variation Issac is now in the Top 500.


J is still the most popular first letter for boys’ names, with five entries – Jacob, Jayden, James, Jackson, and Joseph – in the Top 20.


Boys’ names formerly starting with C can be Kardashianed too: We’re seeing Kameron, Karson, and Korbin.


L is the trendiest consonant for boys’ names, including Number 2 Liam along with the biblical Luke and Levi and surname-names Logan and Landon.

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Michael, the Number 1 boys’ name in the US for nearly half a century, can be credited with inspiring the Social Security list of most popular names, created by actuary Michael Shackleford to prove there were too many Michaels in the world.


Noah, the Number 1 boys’ name in the US, was once best-known as the creator of the biblical Ark. He joins Old Testament brethren Abraham, Isaiah, and Moses enjoying unlikely popularity as contemporary baby names.


Oliver is the Number 1 name for boys in England and Wales, with Oscar also among the Top 10.


The P is silent in Ptolemy, an Ancient Greek name turned crazy celebrity baby name when it was chosen by actress Gretchen Mol for her son. Ptolemy is so unusual that it does not even appear on the Social Security extended list of names given to at least five babies.


Though they sound very much alike, Quenton and Quentin mean “fifth,” while Quinton means “queen’s manor.”


R names that ruled the boys’ popularity list in the 1950s have fallen in favor, with Robert, Richard, Ronald, and Roger all dropping in the charts. Ronnie, oddly enough to the American ear, has reentered the British Top 100.


Though Sacha BaronCohen made his unisex name famous, a mere nine boys were named Sacha in the US in 2013 and only 21 named Sasha….versus over 700 girls.

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Theodore is the furthest-rising boys’ name in the British Top 100 and is also trending upward in the US, where it’s new to the Top 200. Theo, used in its own right, recently reentered the Top 1000 after a nearly-70 year hiatus.


The least popular first letter for baby names, with the Old Testament angel name Uriel the only boys’ name in the US Top 1000.


Though V has recently moved out of the Bottom 5 baby names, that’s largely thanks to the trendy girls’ name Violet. Boys’ names starting with V are only slightly more fashionable than those starting with U (meaning: not very).


William is one of the most fashionable of the classic boys’ names, second only to John in all-time popularity.


Xavier is the only X-starting boys’ name in the Top 100, but joining him in the Top 1000 are Xander, Xavi, and Xzavier.


Yael, pronounced with two syllables and sometimes spelled Ya’el or Jael, was the name of a woman in the Bible but is used for boys as well as girls in both the US and Israel, where it’s popular.


The Biblical Zachary has been among the Top 100 names for nearly 40 years now, with father name Zachariah and upstart Zackary also among the Top 1000.

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, and the BBC. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.