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Vintage Boy Names: What to call Cora’s Brother?

January 31, 2017 Abby Sandel

Update: He’s here! Welcome to the world, Charles Christopher, called Charlie. Thanks to all for your help!

Danika writes:

We are stuck! Our son is set to arrive in April, and we’re not in love with any of the names on our short list.

Our daughter’s name, Cora, felt right from the start. We’re not having the same feeling with any of our choices this time around.

I really like to use family names somewhere in the mix, and the meaning of names is important as well. Our daughter’s middle is Brewster, a family surname, and we’re considering Christopher, Cameron, Thornton, or Guy for a middle.

Some names we’ve considered:

Mason – Kind of an honor name as my husband’s grandfather was a mason by trade. Top of our list, but concerned about popularity.

Beau– Short and sweet like Cora, but how do they go together?

Max(well)- We both really like this one, but I grew up with a dog named Max so it’s off the table.

TheodoreLove Teddy, but afraid it doesn’t age well and don’t like Ted. Husband is not a fan of Theo.

Oliver/Ollie– Sure thing for a while until we wondered if he’d resent us for this name as he got older! Decided the possibility was too strong.  And we have two close friends with dogs named Ollie.

Griffin– Aligns with my husband’s heritage (Welsh/Scottish), but still on the fence.

I obsessively look on nameberry for ideas, but I’m coming up empty in terms of anything new.  Please help!

The Name Sage replies:

We name strangers. This is the privilege of parenting; it’s also why naming can feel like such a challenge!

Ready for some good news? The names we pick almost always feel like a fit, even if it takes a few days of getting to know our new addition.

Let’s talk about Oliver, and your concerns that your son won’t like the name. Most parents today are children of the 1980s or early 90s. Back then, Oliver was solidly out of favor. We grew up with sweet, bespectacled Cousin Oliver on re-runs of The Brady Bunch, and Dickens’ Oliver Twist on our assigned reading lists.

Today, the name’s image has transformed. Oliver in 2017 is the equivalent of Andrew or Kyle in the 1980s – not new, but newly fashionable. It is popular throughout the English-speaking world, including the US, where it currently ranks Number 19. Actors, athletes, and musicians have chosen the name for sons in recent years. And it’s the perfect vintage boy’s name for Cora’s brother.

If I haven’t convinced you to re-consider Oliver, I think Mason also deserves a second look. You’ve noted that family history and meaning are among your top concerns. True, Mason has ranked in the Top Ten for the last few years. But your Mason would have a compelling story behind his name. And those stories can make the most common name shine.

So I think your perfect name might already be on your shortlist! Oliver Thornton or Mason Christopher, maybe?

But since you asked for some new ideas, let’s see if we can come up with a few.

Gavin Gavin shares Oliver’s ‘v’ sound and the Welsh/Scottish roots of Griffin. We can trace the name back to the Middle Ages, but it has appeared in the US Top 100 since the year 2000 – without ever becoming too popular.

JasperFifteenth century Welsh nobleman Jasper Tudor would become the uncle to King Henry VII of England. So while the name is Persian in origin, it has a history of use that matches your husband’s heritage. Jasper shares Oliver’s –r ending, and is every bit as vintage as Cora.

OwenWhile we’re talking Tudors, Jasper’s dad was Owen. Another Welsh name with history galore, it splits the difference between current favorites like Mason and vintage style of Oliver and Jasper.

Henry – Like Oliver, Max, and Theodore, Henry has gone from neglected classic of the 1980s to white hot favorite of the 2010s. If you love those names, you might consider Henry, too. One big advantage? If you’re worried about nicknames – Teddy for Theodore, Ollie for OliverHenry requires no shortening.

Since it sounds like you’re really stuck, let’s have a poll. I’d love to hear if readers agree that Oliver and Mason deserve a second look, or if there’s a better name out there.

About the author

Abby

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 namesage@nameberry.com.

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