Traditional Male Names with a Wow Factor

December 3, 2019 Abby Sandel
traditional male names

by Abby Sandel

Their firstborn’s name mixes the old-fashioned and the familiar, with plenty of meaning, too. Let’s help them find a brother name that’s every bit as great!

Kirstyn writes:

We absolutely love our son’s name: Augusten Emery Axel. His first name has family ties on both sides. I lean towards German or Scandinavian names and Latin ones. I like that it is a little old-fashioned and uncommon but still recognizable. While we mostly use the full name, it has several nickname options, too, plus it’s a saint’s name.

We recently found out that we are expecting our second son.  The idea of trying to name another boy is daunting, especially when you’ve already used what seems like the perfect name.

We have a couple of rules for baby number two. Because our (very French) last name starts with a B and ends with a long O sound, we don’t want names that start with either of those.  We would prefer not to use another A name, and we’d like to use two middle names again.

We’ve considered Edmund, Ignatius, Linus, Lionel, Magnus, and Marcus as first name. Family names we might consider for middles include Fabian, Freeman, Henri, and Wallace.

I like Ansel and Bernard, but we’re avoiding A and B names. And my husband vetoed Ebenezer.

My current list feels uninspiring.  I would love to hear your suggestions!

The Name Sage replies:

Augusten Emery Axel feels like a traditional boy name, but oh my, does it have a lot of wow factor. I can see why it’s tough for another name to measure up!

Looking at your current list, the name that leaps out at me is Ignatius. It’s recognizable but rare. There’s clearly a saint connection. And besides Iggy, nicknames Nate and Nash work beautifully, too.

But let’s add a few more possibilities:

Corbinian – Maybe this name is just too different, but it checks a lot of boxes. It’s the Latinized form of an eighth century Frankish saint’s name. It would be spelled Korbinian in German, but I like it better with a C in English, probably because Corbin is more familiar as a given name.

Evander – While it looks like an EvanAlexander mash-up, Evander is actually the Latin form of a Greek name meaning good man. Since he was a Trojan war hero, the name is broadly familiar, but seldom heard. Like Augusten, it offers a few nickname options, but works well in full, too.

Johannes Giovanni is a big, dramatic name with classic roots, but it’s not quite your style, right? So maybe Johannes would appeal. Johannes is used in Scandinavia and Germany, but it’s the Latin form of John, which is originally Hebrew – and saintly. Pronouncing the J like a Y might trip up some people, but I think it has that same cool, old-fashioned vibe.

Leonidas – I noticed Lionel on your current list, and I think I’d put it right behind Igantius in terms of wow factor. But there are lots of longer lion-inspired choices for boys, including Leonidas. The downside: the original bearer was an ancient warrior king of Sparta, which doesn’t quite fit your preferred inspirations. But sound-wise, I think it has potential. For a longer Leo name with saintly bona fides, there’s the Germanic Leopold, worn by more than one saint.

Matthias – Classic Matthew is declining in use, but international forms are on the rise. Besides the romance language Mateo, Matias, and Mathias all gained last year. But it’s Matthias that seems like Augusten’s brother to me.

Raphael Raphael might be a little more popular than Augusten, but I think it has the same style. It’s instantly familiar, but relatively rare on a child. Nickname Rafe is quite dashing. And it reminds me a little bit of Ansel, too.

Theophilus or Theodoric Just as Augusten is a rarer version of so many August names, what would you think of a longer Theo possibility? Strictly speaking, Theodoric is unrelated to Theodore, despite the similarities; instead, it’s cousin to the German Dietrich. Theophilus is Latin, and appears in the New Testament. Either way, I think it sounds just right with Augusten.

Evander Fabian Henri is my favorite so far, and I think Augusten and Evander are just plain fun to say together.

But I love the almost scholarly appeal of Augusten and Theophilus. Together, they sound like they ought to be having lots of deep and thoughtful conversations. Theophilus Henri Freeman, maybe?

Lastly, I’m still not sure any of these top Ignatius. Like Augusten, it seems to straddle the line between quirky old-school and current favorites.

But let’s open it up to the community, because I know they’ll have some great thoughts. What’s the best name for a brother for Augsten Emery Axel: Evander, Theophilus, Ignatius … or something else entirely?

Abby Sandel is the creator of name blog Appellation Mountain and writes Nameberry’s Name Sage column, offering wise advice on baby name questions submitted by Berries every other Wednesday.  Abby lives outside of Washington DC with her husband and two children, Alex and Clio. You can reach her on Facebook , Instagram and Pinterest. For a chance to have your questions answered on Nameberry, contact Abby at

About the author


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

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