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Surname Baby Names Welcome the Next Wave

March 14, 2020 Clare Green
fresh surname names

Surname baby names have a whole family full of new members. In each generation, a fresh set of last names crosses over into the pool of surnames, from aristocratic families (Sidney, Howard) to patriotic heroes (Lee, Grant) to modern trends for occupational and “son” names (looking at you, Taylor and Jackson).

The great thing is that the pool of surnames is so large — and ever more diverse — that there are always more to discover.

Sure, they don’t all make good first names. I know families called Beer, Small and Bottomley, but I doubt any babies will get those as honor names. Even so, surnames give us hundreds of options that people will recognize and be able to spell, yet you won’t find on many other children.

Whether you’re hoping to honor someone or just searching for a cool name that no one else has discovered yet, we’ve got inspiration for you. Here’s a selection of fresh alternatives to six of the most popular surname names.

Instead of Everett

Beyond Everett, Eliott, Wyatt et al, here are some lesser-used surnames with a similar ending.

Alcott — This nods to both the author Louisa May and her abolitionist father, Amos Bronson Alcott.

Bartlett — This feels like a natural successor to Barrett.

Padget — The love-child of Bridget and Paige, this undiscovered gem treads the line between cuddly and edgy. Actor Paget Brewster showcases another spelling.

Truett — “True” is a popular sound in names right now, but Truett is still outside the Top 1000.

Wilmot — This could be a creative way to honor a William, or to get Will as a nickname. In centuries past it was used for both sexes.

Instead of Jackson

The “son” names are one of the most popular categories of surname names. For boys, as well as Jackson, there’s Grayson, Hudson, Carson, Jameson, Bryson – and that’s only in the Top 100. The biggest for girls are Madison, Addison and Emerson. Fortunately, there are plenty more that are familiar but not too popular as first names.

Gilson Gilbert is a darling vintage name, but this derived surname brings it up to date.

Jenson — From a form of John, this is popular in the UK thanks to racing driver Jenson Button, but lesser-used across the Pond.

Morrison — From Morris or Maurice, this surname is both literary (as in Toni Morrison) and musical (like the singer Van Morrison).

Pierson — This would be an original way to honor a Peter.

Robinson — This name has strong literary credentials — both Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson — and several clear-cut nickname options.

Instead of Lennox

Every generation has its favorite Scottish surnames. Last century, it was the likes of Gordon and Keith. A decade or two ago, Mackenzie and Cameron were at their peak, and today parents are turning to unisex options like Blair and Lennox. But in the richness of Scottish family names, there are still many underused possibilities.

Blane — This ancient saint’s name has echoes of cool names like Blake and Zane.

Cairns — On-trend S ending? Check. Cool surfer vibes? Check. Ever appeared on the charts? Nope.

Forbes — Here’s another name with that stylish ending and a businesslike vibe, thanks to the magazine.

Guthrie — This is from a place name meaning “windy place”.

Macleod — Behind the unusual spelling, this clan name has an appealing pronunciation, “Ma-cloud”.

Instead of Lincoln

Lincoln, Madison, Kennedy, Trumanpresidential surnames are a well-used category of names. How about some lesser-used surnames from politics? To redress the balance a little, these are all names of female US senators.

Boxer — former California representative Barbara Boxer has an interesting but uncharted occupational name.

Caraway Hattie Caraway was the first elected female senator, in 1932.

Felton Rebecca Latimer Felton was the first female senator in 1922.

Moseley Carol Moseley Braun was the first female African-American senator.

Snowe Olympia Snowe is undoubtedly one of the most romantically-named incumbents.

Instead of Mason

You’ll probably know that occupational baby names are a huge trend of recent decades. Names that were once fresh, like Taylor and Tanner, have given way to others such as Cooper, Sawyer, and of course Top 10 favorite Mason. So what’s next? Here are some

Baxter Baker is in the Top 1000 but Baxter, originally its feminine equivalent, is much lower. Surprisingly so, given the popularity of X-factor names like Bexley and Daxton.

Faber — The Latin word for “smith” sounds like a streamlined form of Fabian. It’s also the surname of a French saint.

Mercer — Meaning “merchant”, this name can be found on streets in New York and London, which gives it a metropolitan flavor.

Renner Avengers actor Jeremy Renner has put his surname, meaning “messenger”, onto the radar.

Ward — Sure, it could be short for Edward or Howard. But it stands strong alone as a name meaning “guardian”.

Instead of Skyler

With Dutch origins, Skylar (and its variant spellings) is a popular surname name that’s been imported from another language fairly recently. Here are a few more ideas of European surnames that could be international first names.

Brodsky — Parents are using poetic surnames like Auden and Keats. Why not this Russian-American Nobel Prize winner?

Cortez — This is a virtue name, meaning “courteous”, as well as a Spanish surname.

Devereux — Slightly cheating here: Devereux is of French origin but more common in the English-speaking world. Regardless, it has an upper-class air and is a creative way to get an O-ending name.

Rossi — The most common surname in Italy feels like a unisex update to Ross (though they have different origins).

Schmidt — Ending on a wild card! Sure, Schmidt has a few extra letters (to anglophone eyes), but so does Saoirse, and that hasn’t stopped parents embracing it.

Do any of these surname names inspire you? Can you see any of them climbing the charts? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

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