Classic Boy Names

Classic Boy Names

Classic boy names, those that have been well used in the English-speaking world over time, are an elite group. Classic boy names may be Biblical names, traditional saints' names or royal names, or boy names with roots in ancient languages, such as Jacob and Alexander.

Along with Jacob and Alexander, other classic boy names at the top of the US popular names list include William, James, Benjamin, Michael, Daniel, Matthew, Henry, and Joseph. Some classic names for boys that are not used as often as they used to be include Philip, Francis, Harry, and Hugh.

Most classic boy names have ranked highly for more than a century and have been widely used for hundreds of years. Even so, classic names for boys go through fashion cycles of their own, with new classics such as Felix, Jasper, and Oliver taking over for Old School classic boy names such as Robert and Richard.

The classic boy names below are ordered by their current popularity on Nameberry.

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Classic Names

Boy Names

  1. Theodore
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "gift of God"
    • Description:

      As unlikely as it may seem, Theodore is a hot new hit name, vaulting into the Top 10 in 2021 for the first time ever and rising three more points last year to rank at Number 7.
  2. Felix
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "happy, fortunate"
    • Description:

      Felix is one of those ancient but nontraditional names for boys that have come into favor over the past few decades, a favorite of parents who want a masculine name with history and heft that breaks ranks with the standard Franks and Freds. Felix is also an international darling, ranking in the Top 100 in several European and English-speaking countries.
  3. Oliver
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "olive tree or elf army"
    • Description:

      Oliver is an international star, ranking near the top of the charts in the US and throughout the English-speaking world, along with a host of European and Latin American countries, from Norway to Chile, Slovenia to Switzerland.
  4. Henry
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "estate ruler"
    • Description:

      Henry is back. The classic Henry climbed back onto the Top 10 in the US in 2021 for the first time in over a century, and now stands at Number 7.
  5. James
    • Origin:

      English variation of Jacob, Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "supplanter"
    • Description:

      James is one of the classic Anglo-Saxon names, a stalwart through the ages that is more popular—and yes, stylish—than ever today. It recently came out Number 1 in a poll of America's favorite boys' baby names, and is the most common male name, counting people of all ages, in the US.
  6. Arthur
    • Origin:

      Celtic
    • Meaning:

      " bear"
    • Description:

      Arthur, once the shining head of the Knights of the Round Table, is, after decades of neglect, now being polished up and restored by stylish parents, inspired perhaps by the new generation of royals. Arthur has led the list of possible names for the young British princes, chosen as a middle name for Prince Louis, son of William and Catherine, Prince and Princess of Wales.
  7. Jasper
    • Origin:

      Persian
    • 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.
  8. Leo
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "lion"
    • Description:

      Leo is a strong-yet-friendly name that was common among the Romans, used for thirteen popes, and is now at its highest point ever in the US thanks in part to Leonardo "Leo" DiCaprio.
  9. Oscar
    • Origin:

      English or Irish
    • Meaning:

      "God spear, or deer-lover or champion warrior"
    • Description:

      Oscar is one of the most stylish Old Man Names of our era. While it's softened slightly in popularity over the past 20 years, that may be considered a very good thing.
  10. Miles
    • Origin:

      English form of Milo
    • Meaning:

      "soldier or merciful"
    • Description:

      Miles, which has a permanent veneer of cool thanks to jazz great Miles Davis, is a confident and polished boys' name that's an American classic. Always ranking in the US Top 1000, it's been drifting up the charts for the past half century but has never been TOO popular.
  11. Elias
    • Origin:

      Greek variation of Elijah, Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "Yahweh is God"
    • Description:

      Strong, charismatic, and sleek, Elias has followed in the footsteps of Elijah and Eli to become a popular choice among parents today.
  12. William
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "resolute protection"
    • Description:

      William is one of the most enduring of classic names for boys. It's also among the most popular boys' names, as American parents see it as being ideally conservative yet contemporary, and hands-down the most popular baby name beginning with W of all time.
  13. Julian
    • Origin:

      English from Latin, variation of Julius
    • Meaning:

      "youthful, downy-bearded, or sky father"
    • Description:

      Cool and charming, with plenty of flair and sophistication, Julian manages to strike the balance between being a sensible classic and contemporary choice. Appealingly international, it is no wonder Julian is a rising star.
  14. Nathaniel
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "gift of God"
    • Description:

      Nathaniel was derived from the Hebrew name Netan’el, meaning "gift of God," composed of the elements natan, meaning "to give," and ’el, in reference to God. The name is featured several times in the Old and New Testaments, typically spelled Nathanael. In the New Testament, Nathanael is also known by his other name, Bartholomew.
  15. Isaac
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "laughter"
    • Description:

      Isaac has shaved off his biblical beard and leaped into the upper echelon of popular boys' names, outrunning cousin Isaiah. A favorite of the Puritans, Isaac has never dipped below Number 400 on the US list of top boy names.
  16. Benjamin
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "son of the right hand"
    • Description:

      Benjamin is a biblical name that has enjoyed widespread favor for decades, ranking in the US Top 50 for almost half a century and the Top 10 from 2015 until 2023.
  17. Thomas
    • Origin:

      Aramaic
    • Meaning:

      "twin"
    • Description:

      A solid classic with plenty of history, Thomas strikes the balance between strength and gentleness. A favorite in the UK, a staple in France, and Australia, and never absent from the US Top 100, Thomas feels like a safe bet and a name that fits into any era.
  18. Alexander
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "defending men"
    • Description:

      Alexander has been in a Top 25 boys' name in the US for 30 years now. But namers are still attracted to its imposing historic pedigree.
  19. Louis
    • Origin:

      German and French
    • Meaning:

      "renowned warrior"
    • Description:

      Kate and William shocked the world when they announced that they'd named their third child Louis -- Prince Louis Arthur Charles, to be more precise. But we've been predicting a comeback for this classic name for a long time.
  20. Jack
    • Origin:

      English, diminutive of John
    • Meaning:

      "God is gracious"
    • Description:

      Jack may have fallen from its Number 1 place in England, but in the US it's as popular as it was at its height in the 1920s and 1930s. A durable, cheery, everyman form of John, Jack ranks as one of the most popular boy names starting with J.