Unusual Baby Names: 14 great under-the-radar choices for boys

Last week, we unearthed 14 under-the-radar names for girls, none of which is in the current Top 1000, and this week we are doing the same for the boys. Unlike their sisters’ choices, some of these unusual baby names are more quirky than classic, though we’ve included some ancient and biblical goodies, and a couple of admirable imports. All of them were more popular in the past— and we think the time has come for their second act.


Abner

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Poor biblical Abner got rubified by the dim-witted hayseed comic strip character L’il Abner, which ran in the Sunday papers for 43 years. We think it’s time to polish up the image of the name of the Old Testament commander of Saul’s army. Another noteworthy bearer of the name is Abner Doubleday, a Civil War Union general often credited with inventing baseball.

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41 Responses to “Unusual Baby Names: 14 great under-the-radar choices for boys”

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mclola Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 12:37 am

lots of good name choices (a few on my list), but Simeon always makes me think of a monkey.

sarahmezz Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 1:03 am

You’re right about the boys names being much less quality than the girls names! The only choice here I really like is Cormac.

maddiejadore Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 2:27 am

Guy reminds me too much of Fahrenheit 451, which is a story that haunted for quite some time. But I really like Cormac, I love it! I’m so glad that this name has been discovered for me!

Finuneby Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 8:01 am

I really like Augustine from this list. What’s funny is I have friends who have named their sons Otis, Nigel and Magnus all in the past three to four months. And the one with an Otis also has an Augustine nn Gus! They must be pretty cutting edge!

vanessaaball Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 8:02 am

Magnus, Otis and Ford are a few of my favorites. 5 years ago my husband was trying to convince me to name our son Clifford, after his grandpa. I said only if we insist on the nickname Ford instead of Cliff. We chose something completely different. Gordon is growing on me. I love the movie Stand By Me and the nickname Gordy. Gordon has family history for my husband and is the tartan worn by my Father-In-Law when plays bagpipes.

HerMajesty Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 8:23 am

Cornelius, Denver, Abner, and Aurelius where already on my list, but Otis & Cormac will be sure to join them shortly☺

Titus245Mama Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 8:40 am

I love Augustine. We’re seriously considering it as a middle name, in honor of both the church father and my great grandfather (named August). My oldest son has campaigned for Cornelius (and Caspian) for this baby, but I’m pretty sure it’s due to his current fascination with all things Narnia. 🙂 Simeon has made our short list for boys on several occasions. Maybe someday.

Kibby Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 9:07 am

Augustine sounds far more feminine to me than anything else. Cannot warm up to any of these names personally!

Mego0801 Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 9:08 am

Otis and Guy don’t pass as legit names for me… I didn’t care for Ephraim (sounds like refrain), Milton, Nigel, Simeon, or Abner (I’ve met a little Abner on a soccer team!) Magnus makes me think of a Trojan product… I sincerely dislike the character of Cormac on Harry Potter, and that dislike carries over into his name. Considering how popular HP is and will be, I would definitely not use it as a name just yet! Cornelius also makes me think Harry Potter, and corn. I despise the Nascar driver Jeff Gordon, so that might color my view, but I think Gordon is an audibly and visually displeasing name, I would never choose it. I love August, not necessarily Augustine, and wouldn’t that be the feminine version if Josephine is considered feminine?

I’m not all negative all the tine, I swear! I love Denver and I really can’t tell you why! I dislike place names and I’ve never been to Denver, I just LOVE the way it sounds!! If my significant other wasn’t such a die hard Chevy man i’d totally have Ford on my extremely short name list! I love Ford trucks, I love that it can double as a nature name so it would fit my other names perfectly! Too bad about the Chevy man in my life!!

JessicaT11 Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 9:16 am

Milton is the red stapler guy from Office Space.

UselessKitty Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 9:46 am

Some of these names are great, but some are just terrible. I love Magnus the most, but despise Guy, which isn’t uncommon where I live. I went to school with at least three or four of them and have an uncle Guy as well. I love Cornelius, Cormac, any of the August names. Heck even Denver has some appeal. Gordon is bland and middle aged. Hate the nn Gord or Gordy. Ford is too tied in with the car company.

encore Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 9:53 am

I don’t usually like unusual boys names although I love them for girls. But I really liked this list! One of my favorites recently.

charlieandperry1 Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 10:41 am

Some really lovely names up there. Loving Magnus and Simeon 🙂 As for Nigel, ‘tea-and-crumpets British’? Is that really how you guys see it?! Perhaps it’s just me- I think of it as a ‘dated 1940s/1950s old man’ name, kind of similar to Brian. I’d be surprised to see it on anyone younger than 50.

I do like Gordon, but Mr Brown has ruined the name for me. However, I did name my cricket bat Gordon 😉 Milton- I just think of Milton Keynes :/

Danni Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 10:54 am

This list (even if I don’t love every name) makes me so happy! I love challenging the stand-by names for boys that are viewed as “masculine” and “normal.” Not that names like Michael or Patrick or Joseph aren’t lovely–I love all three!–but it seems like lately I’ve had numerous conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds that want to stick with traditional “boys” names so their sons will have an easier life. All I can think is: how boring.

Even if I hate the Aiden-Jayden trend, it seems to have helped our society rethink what a boys name can be. “Boys” names can be soft and sweet just as much as a “girls” names can be tough and to the point. Hurray for reconsidering sex and gender traditions!

I liked seeing some lesser used biblical names on this list, especially Abner. He sounds so friendly and sweet to me. I like Cormac, Ford, and Nigel, too, for lots of reasons. Is Ford too tied to the car company?

Denver is an interesting one! It might have to go on my list. Denver always registered “girl” for me because of the character in “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. But after reading this list, I think it’s a name that can genuinely suit anyone, regardless of gender.

fieldpetal Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 11:45 am

I like this list. I love old fashioned, under-used names–these are much better than seeing the same names over and over again.

Ephraim is very popular at my school, but it’s a great name.
We also had two Augustines a few years ago–one was a girl nicknamed Auggie.

I like Nigel, Magnus and Otis best.

norskelove Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 11:53 am

I like Magnus and Cormac, and I have always loved Ephraim! Otis is growing on me. I grew up with a Ford in my neighborhood, his family called him “Ori” (ore-ee)

tori101 Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Hmm I preferred the girls 14 under-the-radar list to the boys.

But still I love Augustine which is really majestic and handsome. I also love Aurelius, which has a similar feel to Augustine.

I also love Otis and am confused by his lack of popularity.

Magnus is great too!

BritishAmerican Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I spotted a toddler boy Denver a year or so ago locally. Not one I’d use personally, but I liked it a lot on someone else’s son. 🙂

I also know of a preschool Simeon locally too.

I like Cormac and Otis and Ford.

Since I ‘named my 3 kids after Thomas trains’ 😉 I should like Gordon. I went into labor the first two times whilst watching Gordon Ramsey on TV – I should have made Gordon a middle name. 😛 😉

I should like Nigel more than I do too.

Lexie Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Ford has been a favorite of mine for a few years ago after I had seen a character in a movie with that name. Such a strong name 🙂

skizzo Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

14 terrible names imo, I’m glad they havent or are unlikely to, make a big splash anytime soon.
Denver and Otis are the least offensive, but still not my boat whatsoever. Magnus is just awful.

skizzo Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

and by the way, I love unusual underused boy names (I hate names like Joseph, John or William), but these ones were total misses imo.

frustratedauthor Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I love several of these! Augustine and Ephraim are two of my absolute favorites. I have a soft spot for Cormac, Nigel, Otis. I’m not sure that I’d use Denver or Ford, but I can easily see both as names, as they have been used in my family.

roseymaam Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Ephraim and Otis are both on my list. I love them.

jpruitt76 Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Not a big fan of any of those except for Cormac. I like Nigel and Ephraim but not sure I could see using either IRL.

moseycillbrand Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I love Gordon! That was the first name I thought of when I found out I was pregnant the first time. Two daughters later and I haven’t had a chance to use it yet…I like Otis, Milton and Cormac too.

strawberrytree Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I have always really liked Cormac and Nigel, and a baby Magnus I recently met has made me like that one too. I don’t think Ford is usable in the US/Canada because of the car company. The reference is inescapable (hey, Ford Escape!).

I know several French Guys, but I do not like the English pronunciation at all. I always pronounce it ‘Ghee’ in my head.

peach25 Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I like Gordon, probably because I had a beloved uncle, and a long-ago boyfriend nn Gordo. Prefer Augustus or August to Augustine. The rest leave me cold, although I could see Nigel for a cat!

EmilyVA Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I like Ephraim (Everwood). I also like Denver and Guy, who were two cool guys I went to school with and are in their twenties. Abner is a dud, YMMV. I read a book where Cornelia was called Neely. I don’t love Cornelius. Nigel would be a good cat name, peach25.Otis is a pug to me.
All in all some of these names are not very good.

ruolan Says:

March 8th, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I like a lot of these… Abner is a family name. Cormac is catchy and I like it better than Cameron. I like Ephraim said as 3 syllables, but not 2. Milton, Nigel, and Simeon sound like intellectuals, while Ford and Gordon are strong every-man names.

tabitha Says:

March 9th, 2013 at 6:24 am

Nooooo! Please don’t let Cormac get too popular! 😉

thompssn Says:

March 9th, 2013 at 7:39 am

Cormac is my 5m old twin boy’s name!!! 🙂
(His sister is Cordelia.) I also had a great-uncle Denver Davis. I always thought it was a cool name.

Jamesina66 Says:

March 9th, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I like Au-gus-tin pronouciation, for Augustine, not the Au-gus-teen one.

katybug Says:

March 9th, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Fun list! I agree it’s challenging to find under the radar gems for boys. Really liking Gordon, Otis and Cormac

DylanRhys Says:

March 9th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

When I saw “below the top 1000,” I was expecting that names like Lyle or Judson, names in tune with modern times, would show up, not Ephraim or Cornelius.

Saracita00 Says:

March 9th, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I’m afraid I wouldn’t call these “great” under-the-radar choices — Gordon, Otis, Nigel, Milton, Ford…really? They need at least another 40 years on the shelf before they are ready to come out again. Denver is just dreadful. On the other hand, Cormac is a favorite of mine though not enough to use it, and Ephraim pronounced with three syllables is cool in a pioneer sort of way.

carolinemchd Says:

March 9th, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Cormac is such a great name with so well-stabilished roots! I love it, though I can’t think of any nicknames right now. Would be endearing to see a little Cormac running around the playground.

Augustine nn Gus is also lovely.

lolabelle_12 Says:

March 10th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I am not sure if anyone has commented on this yet. Toby Maguire and his wife Jennifer named their son Otis Tobias a few years ago. I always thought it was a unique choice!

jenjenbarnes Says:

March 11th, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I feel like Conrad could go on this list.

13 at 12:12 pm Says:

April 8th, 2013 at 11:12 pm

13 at 12:12 pm…

unusual baby names for boysBaby Name Blog – Nameberry…

wickedjr89 Says:

October 31st, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Personally I think they have a good reason they are not on the top 1000. The only one I like at all is Gordon and that is only because of the character Gordon back on Lizzie Mcquire.

AliciaDawn Says:

July 15th, 2015 at 9:31 pm

Abner was my grandfathers name and I have a cousin named Denver so I’m pretty familiar with most of the names on this list. 🙂

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