Literary Names for Boys
Literary names for boys are derived from characters in books from all genres. Some of these literary heroes and anti-heroes, such as Romeo and Tristan, come from works of fiction written centuries ago, while others, like Harry and Snow, are contemporary.
Along with Harry and Romeo, other literary boy names in the US Top 1000 include Atticus, Axel, Holden, Magnus, Orlando, Rhett, Samson, and Santiago. Some names for boys remain inextricably tied to their literary namesakes, such as Heathcliff, Gogol, Ishmael, and Zooey.
Here, a selection of the most distinctive literary boy names from books. It might also be worth checking out your own bookshelves for literature-inspired baby names that are relevant to you.
Origin:Aramaic, Latin, Greek
Meaning:"of the forest; or prayed for"
Description:Silas is both a mythological and Biblical name, hitting its highest popularity point ever in the US last year. Now ranking firmly in the Top 100, Silas is a longstanding favorite with Nameberry visitors.
Description:Atticus, with its trendy Roman feel combined with the upstanding, noble image of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, is a real winner among boy names. Atticus entered the US Top 1000 in 2004 and is a firm Nameberry favorite.
Origin:Latin diminutive of Judah
Description:Jude is a modern star, maintaining a steady level of popularity -- but not TOO much popularity -- for more than a decade now. Thank Jude Law and the great Lennon-McCartney song "Hey Jude", double-handedly responsible for propelling Jude up the charts.
Origin:Latin and Old German
Meaning:"soldier or merciful"
Description:Milo is most commonly considered to be Germanic name derived from the Latin word miles, meaning "soldier." However, there is evidence to suggest it also may have independently spawned from the Slavic root milu, meaning "merciful." Milo predates brother name Miles, a variation that evolved when the name immigrated to the British Isles in the Middle Ages. Mylo is an alternate spelling.
Origin:Latin from Greek
Meaning:"person from ancient city of Sebastia"
Description:Sebastian is derived from the Greek Sebastianos, meaning “from Sebastia.” Sebastia was a city in Asia Minor—modern day Sivas, Turkey. Sebastian is a name with a substantial history, first as the third-century martyr whose sufferings were a favorite subject of medieval artists, then as the name of memorable characters in such varied works as Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Tempest and Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
Origin:Scandinavian from Latin
Description:Magnus is a Latin name, literally meaning “greatest,” that has a Scandinavian feel. It dates back to Charlemagne being called Carolus Magnus, or Charles the Great. Norwegian king Magnus I, named after Charlemagne, introduced it to his culture, and thus Magnus was the name of six early kings of Norway and four of Sweden. It is still a highly popular name in Denmark and Norway.
Meaning:"bringer of treasure"
Description:Jasper originated as a variation of the Latin Gaspar, which ultimately derived from the Persian word ganzabara, meaning "bringer of treasure." As a given name, Jasper’s etymology is unrelated to that of the gemstone, which comes from a Semitic word meaning "speckled stone." Jasper is the usual English form for one of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the infant Christ according to medieval tradition and appears in the Bible as a reference to the stone itself in Revelations 4:3.
Description:Sawyer is a surname with a more relaxed and friendly feel than many others, and is one of the hottest occupational names right now, with the Nameberry seal of approval. Sawyer is becoming one of the top unisex names. Both Sara Gilbert and Diane Farr used Sawyer for their daughters, while it was given a boost as a boys' name by the character Sawyer on Lost, an alias for the character really named James Ford.
Description:Archer is an Anglo-Saxon surname that feels more modern than most because of its on-target occupational and Hunger Games associations. And it's a nice way to bypass the clunky Archibald to get to the cool nickname Archie.
Description:Rufus is a rumpled, redheaded (it was the nickname for red-haired King William) ancient Roman name popular with saints and singers (e.g. Rufus Wainwright); now, Rufus is on the cutting edge of cool.
Description:Phineas is the English variation of Phinehas, a Hebrew name likely derived from the Egyptian name Pa-nehasi. Pa-nehasi, meaning “the Nubian” can also be translated as “the bronze-colored one.” The Egyptians distinguished themselves from their Nubian neighbors through differences in skin tone.
Description:Holden is a classic case of a name that jumped out of a book and onto birth certificates--though it took quite a while. Parents who loved J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye are flocking to the name of its hero, Holden Caulfield -- not coincidentally in tune with the Hudson-Hayden-Colton field of names. (Trivia note: Salinger supposedly came up with the name while looking at a movie poster promoting a film starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield, though other sources say he was named after Salinger's friend Holden Bowler.) Another impetus was provided by a soap opera character introduced in 1985.
Description:Unlike perennials William, John and James, Edward is a classic that moves in and out of fashion. This royal Anglo-Saxon standard has benefited in recent years from the popularity of the hot hero of the vampire sensation Twilight — Edward Cullen — who has given his name a new infusion of cool.
Meaning:"noise or sorrowful"
Description:Tristan -- known through medieval legend and Wagnerian opera -- has a slightly wistful, touching air. This, combined with the name's popular "an" ending, makes Tristan very appealing to parents seeking a more original alternative to Christian.
Description:The sophisticated Edmund and its nearly-identical French twin Edmond are coming out of mothballs now that Edward, inspired by Twilight, is once again a hot name.
Meaning:"pilgrim to Rome, Roman"
Description:It wasn't so long ago that Romeo was considered as outre for an American baby as Casanova or Cupid. But that really changed when David and Victoria Beckham chose it for their second son in 2002, a path followed by Jon Bon Jovi.
Origin:English from Dutch
Description:Rhett has been more tied to Gone with the Wind than even Scarlett, but now we're hearing rumblings of its finding new and independent favor among parents, perhaps emboldened by the growing popularity of Scarlett.
Origin:Greek, name of a tribe
Description:The Dorians were an ancient Greek tribe, one of the three major pre-Spartan tribes. It literally means “of Doris,” a Greek district, or “of Doros,” referring to the son of Helen of Sparta. Dorian derives from the Greek doron, meaning “gift,” along with related names such as Dorothy and Dora.
Origin:Italian variation of Roland
Meaning:"famous throughout the land"
Description:Orlando, the ornate Italianate twist on the dated Roland, with a literary heritage stretching back to Shakespeare and before, has appealing book-ended o's, and is open to combination with almost any last name, a la British actor, Orlando Bloom.
Origin:English variation of Barnabas, Aramaic
Meaning:"son of consolation"
Description:Barnaby, a genial and energetic name with an Irish-sounding three-syllable lilt, is an ancient appellation that manages to be both unusual and highly attractive and deserves to be used more than it is. A sweet-spot name that's a real winner.