The Nameberry 9: Unusual but usable boys’names

October 14, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

For The Nameberry 9 this week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel finds a nonet of  familiar boys’ names that you might not have considered.

Are you watching The League?  The FX comedy is about a group of friends who form a fantasy football league.  Draft picks matter, in real sports as well as those played only on paper, and so the fourth season opened with a quandary.  Dad-to-be Kevin had traded naming rights for his newborn son in exchange for a better draft pick.  The new baby arrived, and Kevin’s buddy named the bouncing baby boy … wait for it …

Chalupa Batman.

Kevin and wife Jenny already had a daughter called Ellie, so you imagine that the couple might have preferred Logan, Owen, Jack, or William.  We can only hope that The League will eventually settle on another name for young Chalupa.  It’s too wacky of a plot line to leave there.

At the same time, Nameberry released the Top 100 for boys’ names (and girls, too, but we’re all Team Blue this Monday.)  And then a celebrity birth announcement sparked my thinking.  What are the mainstream, but not quite fashionable choices for boys?  Which names aren’t on anyone’s radar, but still seem perfectly reasonable?

It isn’t just the zone between the outlandish Chalupa and the ubiquitous Jacob.  What are the name thats aren’t exactly fashionable, but are still great names?

The list is surprisingly long.

Here are my nine top picks for boys that straddle the line between conventional and unexpected, based on the baby name news from last week.  None of these names for boys rank in the Nameberry Top 100, nor are they among the 200 most used names in the US – and best of all, they’re not likely to join their ranks anytime soon.

Dean – Part-Rebel Without a Cause, part-Harry Potter classmate, with a dash of Dean Martin and a sprinkling of academia, too.  Dean is the name of actress Bree Turner’s new son, a little brother for StellaDean didn’t make the Nameberry Top 100, though he ranked #284 in the US last year.

Bram – The Dutch rankings are out, and while most names are familiar – Lucas, Luke, Finn, Jayden – others are intriguing.  My pick for best import goes to Bram, the #2 name in the Netherlands.  He’s short for the Old Testament Abraham, but still sounds fresh and modern.  Plus if you’re expecting a Halloween baby, he’s a nod to Dracula author Bram Stoker.  He’s not in the US Top 1000, but Abraham came in at #192 and Abram at #444.

DonovanFor Real spotted Donovan in an Alaska birth announcement.  With names like Sebastian and Alexander solidly established as popular choices, why not Donovan?  At #254 in 2011, he’s not too far behind rising favorites like Declan, but still feels slightly less ordinary.

Leif – He’s a brother for Kai, an alternative to River.  Now that Leif Garrett is someone Great Aunt Tammy used to like, can we embrace this Viking name with a nature vibe?  For Real found Leif in use in Alaska, where he seems right at home.  I’d be more surprised to hear him popping up in Michigan or New Hampshire.  Leif didn’t make the US Top 1000.

ForrestBaby Name Pondering has been on a Halloween streak, and she’s suggested some subtle nods to the spooky season.  This one seems perfect for a boy born at any time of year – a preppy surname that feels just right on a rugged outdoorsman.  Dictionary spelling Forest could work just as well.  Like Leif, you won’t find Forrest in the US Top 1000.

Benedict – If Forrest is suited to the wilderness, doesn’t Benedict sound like an academic?  He’s recently spent time on the Nameberry homepage tag cloud, and I’m wondering why.  I’m the last to discover Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor playing the new Sherlock Holmes on the BBC.  Or maybe it is Catholic parents inspired by the current pope.  Regardless, I think he makes a great alternative to Benjamin.  While Bentley and Bennett are gaining, Benedict remains underused.

Payson – Yes, he feels like a trendy spin on Peyton and Mason.  But Eponymia had this one in her Arizona round-up, a place name borrowed from a surname.  If you’re looking for a name like Jayden that still stands out, Payson might work.  Like many of the names in this post, Payson fails to rank.

Gilbert – Also from Eponymia’s Arizona post, Gilbert has a pleasing association for Anne of Green Gables fans.  The gentle surname possibility comes with brisk nickname Gib built right in.  At #869 in theUS last year, Gilbert is the kind of name everyone recognizes, but no one shares.

Rafferty – You know when you hear a celebrity baby name and think instantly “that name will be huge?”  That’s what I’ve always thought about Jude Law’s son, Rafferty.  But Rafferty is now a teenager, and the name remains in very sparing use.  He was recently spotted in a Melbourne birth announcement, and he seemed completely charming, with or without the short form Rafe.  He’s not in the US Top 1000.

Which names would you add to this list?  Are there others that strike you as unusual, but still very wearable?  And why aren’t we calling our sons Dean?


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