The New Generation of Boys’ Names
Many of today’s most fashionable boys’ names carry a gender identity that’s decidedly masculine but not conventionally so, softer than macho but stronger than unisex. These boys’ names fall right in the middle on the gender scale, in contrast to their stylish female counterparts, which tend to be ultra-feminine (Arabella, Ophelia) or frankly boyish (Hayden, Frankie).
Many of these hot new boys’ names carry sounds that are soft and/or traditionally connected to girls’ names, such as vowel endings, and so depart from the classic male names once dominant. These stylish boys’ names with a fresh gender identity include:
Asher and Ezra
The hottest new Biblical boys’ names share vowel-heavy sounds and warm, positive meanings (happy and help), but for most of the 20th century, these two Old Testament names went almost completely unused in America. Both have climbed into very solid positions in the Top 100, and look to rise even higher.
- America. Both have climbed into very solid positions in the Top 100, and look to rise even higher." >
- Benjamin and Matthew have been widely used for so long they qualify as classics, yet compared with boys’ names ranging from Aaron to Zachary, Michael to John, both have soft sounds in the middle and retain a contemporary feel. Benjamin is now the Number 6 boys’ name in America, its highest-ever ranking, while Matthew has dipped down to Number 15 after decades in the Top 5." >
- Caleb and Jacob share a peculiar distinction: They are the only widely-used names, for either sex, that end in the letter “B.” (OK, there are also a few nicknames -- Bob, Deb -- but no other proper names.) Their unusual ending makes them showier than most conventional masculine names." >
- Ethan and Elijah, two immensely popular Old Testament names, carry a new masculine gender identity by virtue of their shared vowel beginnings and their soft sounds – th, j -- in the middle. Elijah carries the bonus of a vowel ending plus a similarity to the stylish girls’ name Eliza." >
- German-derived names have risen to prominence on the coattails of their popular sister names, Emma and Eva. Along with their connection to their female counterparts, both names share a conventionally feminine ending, usually found in such names as Annette or Scarlett." >
- Felix and Oscar are two geek-chic boys’ names enjoying a revival. Felix’s softness comes from his x ending, while Oscar benefits from his vowel first initial and s in the middle." >
- Isaiah and Isaac are the only two popular boys’ names that start with the letter I, with the vowel beginning lending its traditional softness. Isaiah and Isaac also both have the sibilant s in the middle and Isaiah carries the final touch of a vowel ending. These two Old Testament I names are both in the Top 100." >
- Sebastian is the name of characters in not one, but two Shakespeare plays, while Jasper owes much of its recent popularity to the Twilight series. While many of the names on this list have Biblical sources, Jasper and Sebastian are relatively pagan; Jasper is the name of a semi-precious crystal, and Sebastian is a demonym for people from the ancient city of Sebasta." >
- Kai is arguably the ultimate multicultural name, with lovely meanings in languages from all around the Pacific Rim, including Japanese, Maori and Hawaiian. Kylo, by contrast, has one clear source: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s the assumed named of the movie’s central villain, Kylo Ren, and captured parents’ imaginations so forcefully that it entered the Top 1000 in 2016." >
- Loyal Nameberry readers know that we’ve been boosters of names ending in the O sound for years. These are two of the best, with straightforward sounds and positive associations. They’re also, for better or worse, two of the most popular. Leo is in the Top 75; Theo is a bit further down, at Number 354. But most little boys called Theo have Theodore on their birth certificate, and that’s just behind Leo at Number 83." >
- Liam and Levi share a fashionable L beginning; a first syllable that sounds like “lee,” the trendiest suffix for girls’ names; and gentle sounds at the end. Liam has been the Number 2 boys’ name in America for four years running." >
- Lucas and his relative Luke have been in the Top 100 since the release of the original Star Wars. But if you drop the soft S ending, the name becomes something else entirely, with an Italianate feel and a vowel ending. Luca climbed up swiftly on the charts since its first appearance in 2000 and now sits at Number 151. Luca Quinn is the name of a charming, intelligent -- and female -- character on CBS’s The Good Wife and its sequel, The Good Fight." >
- Miles is said to be the English version, while Milo is the French version. Milo, in particular, sounds rascally and handsome, perhaps due to the growing fame of Gilmore Girls and This Is Us actor Milo Ventimiglia, while Miles still carries the cool of jazz musician Miles Davis. Their s and o endings are equally soft and distinctive." >
- Noah has been the most popular boys’ name in America -- even though, before 2009, it had never even been in the Top 10. Josiah is still behind, at Number 55, but we wouldn’t be altogether shocked if it overtook Joseph at some point soon. Worth noting: These are just two of many Old Testament boys’ names ending in “-ah” that are now white hot." >
- America. Neither is in the Top 10 overall. But Oliver is the most popular boys’ name in no fewer than eight states, mostly in the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest, while Owen is the Number 1 name in Vermont. Their round O beginnings place them in the group of stylish nontraditional boys’ names." >
- Don’t try to say these three names together fast unless you’re in the mood for a tongue twister. They all start with “Ro,” have two syllables and end in “N,” so they’re easily confused with one another. Yet they each have their own special cast. The resemblance to ronin, a kind of Japanese warrior, gives Ronan a slightly military feel. Roman -- the only one to crack the Top 100 -- is artsy but solid. And Rowen, meaning redhead, is dreamy, Celtic, and the only real unisex name – usually spelled as Rowan – of the three." >
- Soren is significantly more popular, at Number 568, while Stellan hasn’t yet hit the Top 1000. Their S beginnings and exotic origins situate them in the group of unconventionally masculine boys’ names." >
- Toby and Thad. Their s endings soften them and move them beyond the traditional." >
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on August 11th, 2017 at 1:44 pm
Since when is Jacob a girl’s name?
Liz Kent Said
on August 11th, 2017 at 1:54 pm
I love Jacob Thaddeus
on August 11th, 2017 at 3:11 pm
Sooooo many of my favorites make this list. I definitely have a “type.”
on August 11th, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Um, why does it say that gender identity takes a turn? These are all decidedly male names. If someone decides to use them for a girl, that doesn’t automatically make it a unisex name. And just because they share sounds with girl names doesn’t make them any less masculine. I get it, gender equality is a big issue. But can we not be so equal that it takes away what is special and unique about our genders? Don’t try to emasculate these names, please.
on August 12th, 2017 at 9:23 am
Interesting that nearly half of these “new generation” names are Biblical. I’m not sure if this speaks more to the conservativism of even the most stylish trends in boy names or to the rich variety of male names found in the Bible.
on August 12th, 2017 at 11:09 am
This post is utter nonsense and fails in its attempted argument. Kylo is the only “new” name here. Kai and Rowan are legitimate unisex names. Every other name you’ve listed is a conventionally masculine choice with an established history in the English-speaking world. Occasional usage on girls, similarity to popular girl names, and soft consonant sounds do not make a name unisex.
on August 12th, 2017 at 4:08 pm
I found the collection of names interesting but would have liked to see graphical representation of the name usage to back up any ‘trend’.
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