Unusual Boy Names Starting with C and K: Seeking fresh ideas

June 13, 2017 Abby Sandel

They’d like to stick with another C or K name for their baby on the way. The only problem? None of their favorites feel like The One.

Calla writes:

My husband and I are expecting our second, and much wished for rainbow baby, in September. It’s a boy! We have a 5-year old daughter named Corina Rose. My name is Calla Rose and my husband’s name is Kaelin.

We would really like to find a name that begins with the letter C or K, but find ourselves only liking names that do not.

We both like the names Arlo, Jamison, and August, but I just feel like my poor little guy will feel so left out.

We have been down the list with Campbell, Corbin, Calvin, Caleb … nothing fits.

Please help!

The Name Sage replies:

This one hits close to home. My husband and I are both As. So is our son. Then along came our daughter … and she’s a C! We had good reasons for choosing both our kids’ names, so I didn’t fret too much about the mismatch. But about a year ago, our Clio – she’s 8 now – asked why she was the odd one out.

For every parent who hesitates over family name themes, a great many children seem to appreciate fitting into a pattern.

That said, if no C or K choice feels like your son’s name, I’m here to tell you that yes, he might ask why. But you’re absolutely not the first family to break a tradition. And as long as you can explain how much you loved the name you did choose, there’s really no problem opting for a different first initial.

But that’s not your question. Right now, you’re after an undiscovered gem of a boy name starting with C or boy name starting with K.

While I’ve heard of Calla, Kaelin, and Corina as names, none of them rank in the current US Top 1000. They’re familiar, but pretty rare. While your boys’ list mostly avoids the Top 100, it seems like the names you’ve considered are more mainstream. It’s not unusual for parents to prefer different names for daughters than sons, and often our boys receive slightly more mainstream names.

And yet I wonder – could that be the disconnect, rather than the C/K challenge?

Let’s put it to the test. I’ll suggest some C/K names outside of the current Top 1000.

Calder – I’ve suggested this one a few times recently, but it remains rare. If you like Campbell, but it’s not quite the name, maybe surname Calder would suit? It has a subtle nature name vibe, and also brings to mind ice hockey and modern art.

Callahan – If you like Calvin, I wonder if Callahan might appeal? On the downside, it repeats the letters of your name exactly. And yet that could make it an honor name for you. Like Calvin (and Calder), nickname Cal is an option.

Carsten Carsten is a Dutch and German form of Christian, but that’s a tough connection to see in American English. Like many of these names, it could easily be spelled Karsten, too.

Cassian, Cassius – Both ancient names come from an old Roman family name and boast centuries of use. The first syllable is pronounced like Cash, which could make for a cool nickname – though just Cash is far more popular than either of these longer forms.

Cian, Kian – I’m breaking the rules here, because Kian ranks in the US Top 500 currently. But it’s an unexpected choice that reminds me of dad’s name. Plus, it comes from Irish myth and legend, which might be a bonus.

Keane – Surname name Keane is cousin to Cian. It’s short and complete, and the similarity to the word “keen” might appeal, too. Keen can mean sharp, as in intelligent. It can also mean enthusiastic. Positive associations, both.

Kenelm Ken names can feel dated – who doesn’t have an Uncle Ken? – or they can be fresh, like rapper Kendrick Lamar. Kenelm is just plain different, but it’s not made up. It comes from an Old English name that fell into disuse after the Middle Ages, but remains a possibility.

Kipling – For something completely unexpected, and yet widely familiar, Kipling might appeal. It’s associated with Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling, but he’s far from the only one. It has a distinctive sound that fits with Calla, Kaelin, and Corina while still standing out.

My favorites for you are Carsten, Kipling, and Cassian/Cassius. That’s because while they share the C/K initial and sound, they also feel different from your names. Since your daughter shares her first initial with you, I might be inclined to favor a K name, so father and son have that in common, which puts Kipling – or maybe Karsten, Kassian, or Kassius – at the top of the list.

Readers, I know I’ve overlooked dozens of possible C and K names for boys. What would you suggest?

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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