Undiscovered Baby Names for Boys
By Abby Sandel
Ever feel like all of the best baby names for boys are already taken?
It isn’t so. There are hundreds of great boy names that have yet to enter the US Top 1000.
The smallest stars of Fuller House, Netflix’s latest nostalgia-rich series, are a great example. Twins Dashiell and Fox Messitt play Tommy Fuller, the youngest son of DJ Tanner–Fuller. DJ was the eldest sister in the original series. Now she’s back in the San Francisco house made famous by the 1990s sitcom, along with sister Stephanie and BFF Kimmy.
It takes some looking, but there are plenty of names for boys that are stylish in sound and rooted in history, but have never quite caught on in the US.
Dashiell – Novelist Dashiell Hammett makes this name literary and sophisticated. Obvious nickname Dash makes it sporty and fun. Given to a mere 123 boys in 2014, Dashiell has been used in small numbers since the 1980s. The name picked up momentum after The Incredibles used the name for the older super-hero son in 2004. Just Dash cracked the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2014, but both names remain nicely underused. Huxley and Auden are two more surname names with literary ties that are under-the-radar.
Fox – Dashiell’s twin brother is Fox. It’s a very different name, style-wise, borrowed from the natural world instead of the literary one. And yet, it hits the same rare-but-stylish note as Dashiell. With names like River and Jasper so popular, parents continue to turn to nature for fresh baby naming inspiration. Plus, The X-Files is back, with Fox Mulder on the small screen again. Everest, Rio, and Wells are three more offbeat nature name possibilities.
Boone – We love presidential surname names, and names that feel quintessentially American, like Levi (an Old Testament name that brings to mind blue jeans) and Ford (a surname name tied to the automobile industry). So how about Boone, as in frontiersman Daniel? It’s just outside of the current US Top 1000. More names that hit the same note include Penn (as in Philadelphia founder William) and Revere (as in Paul, he of Midnight Ride fame).
Zev – Like your names short and snappy? Modern favorites like Jax are gaining ground, but there are plenty of possibilities with longer histories of use. Zev means wolf in Hebrew. It was given to 148 boys in 2014, making it rare – but not completely unknown. Other names with the same vibe include word names like Link, Zen, and True.
Finnian – Irish names have long been popular in the US. Liam is a current Top Ten favorite, and Ryan and Connor have been favorites for years, with fast-rising choices like Declan and Ronan racing up the charts. But rarer choices abound, including Fin– names like Irish saints’ name Finnian and legendary Fintan, as well as imports like Cormac and Breccan.
Dempsey – While we’re looking at all things Irish, surname names like Riley and Brady have been big in recent years. Dempsey – as in boxing legend Jack Dempsey – has the same upbeat sound, but is far less common. Other ends-in-y surnames with a similar vibe include the English Rigby and Ramsey.
Linus – This Greek mythological name was worn by several popes, but is most famous today as the blanket-toting member of The Peanuts gang. Linus was given to just 163 boys in 2014, making it a name that’s both instantly familiar and seldom heard. It’s a good alternative to names like Felix and Ezra that are already on the rise. More vintage names that are underused in 2016 include Lyle, Roscoe and Rufus.
Benedict – Benjamin is a traditional choice for a son that’s never been more popular, and surnames like Bennett and Benson are on the rise, too. But how about Benedict, boosted by handsome leading man Benedict Cumberbatch, and an equally reasonable way to get to Ben? The saintly name was popular with popes, and has a long history of use. 137 boys were given the name in 2014, suggesting that the actor behind Sherlock has put his unusual given name on the map. Other unexpected long forms of popular names include Leopold for Leo and Phineas for Finn.
Thayer – Ends-with-r surname names are a popular category, from favorites like Hunter and Carter to up-and-coming choices like Archer and Thatcher. But it’s also a category with plenty of undiscovered options. Thayer, a cousin to Taylor, seems like a promising option, given to just 51 boys in 2014. Keller, Decker, and Ledger are three more names attracting attention in 2016, but still nicely under the radar.
What are your favorite unusual baby names for boys?
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on March 7th, 2016 at 12:02 am
Linus I love and Benedict/Benedick are great names (provided one is up for the last syllable of Benedick).
I love place names for boys as well as gem names. Tree names too. Much prefer them to macho names like Wrecker/Drecker.
on March 7th, 2016 at 4:13 am
Lots of these are on my list, though admittedly a few of them feel a little bit more mainstream here in the UK.
Love Dashiell/Dash, Fox, Zev, Link, Linus, Rufus, Benedict and Leopold!
on March 7th, 2016 at 9:08 am
I love so many of these names! Fox, Zev, Breccan, Thayer… Great list!
on March 7th, 2016 at 9:12 am
Fox is on our *very shortlist if this baby turns out to be a boy. I’m glad to see it on the list because I worry the non-naming world isn’t ready for it yet!
on March 7th, 2016 at 9:40 am
A few others that I love and rarely hear:
on March 7th, 2016 at 12:40 pm
Love Thayer! Sounds so handsome and distinguished.
on March 7th, 2016 at 4:19 pm
We love Linus!
Other’s we love:
on March 9th, 2016 at 12:31 pm
Love Dashiell and Fox. Fox has definitely been on my list for a long time and I have such a soft spot for Dashiell/Dash!
I’ve added Kit, Birch, Pine, Bennett and Bridger on my list.
on March 9th, 2016 at 12:38 pm
I really like the name Dempsey.
on March 9th, 2016 at 10:47 pm
Finbar is my cousin’s name. It’s an Irish Saint. Conlan is another great Irish name on here – look it up, you’ll love the meaning. I once met a man whose first name is Kerrigan, and he was called Kerr for short, how cool! I also met a guy named Carrick, that’s a really great undisovered Irish gem don’t you think? Not sure which I love more,, Kerrigan or Carrick. I like Carrick because if his grandfather or dad were named Rick he could be named after Rick.
on March 10th, 2016 at 3:05 am
I’ll admit I struggle with Benedict, I can’t see anything but traitor. However, knowledge of our (US) history is becoming weaker so maybe the association to the infamous Arnold will fade in time over here.
Dashiell, Fox, Zev, and Finnian are great! I think Anders would fit in nicely too.
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