116 Unique Middle Names for Boys
Meaning:"bearer of the heavens"
Description:Previously thought too powerful for a baby boy – who would have to be strong enough to carry the world on his shoulders – Atlas has joined the pantheon of Greek and Roman god and goddess names now in the realm of possibility, along with Mars, Zeus and Apollo. It was one of the fast-rising names on the list in recent years in the USA, jumping from oblivion in 2012 into the Top 500 in 2015, and climbing several hundred places higher since then. Anne Heche was one of the first to make this audacious choice, but several celebrity parents have followed suit.
Description:River shares the tranquil feeling of all the water names, and seems to have pretty much escaped its past strong association with River Phoenix and his unfortunate fate. Keri Russell and the Taylor Hansons both have sons named River, Natasha Henstridge used it as the middle name of her boy Tristan, and Jason Schwartzman pluralized it for daughter Marlowe Rivers.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:Orion is a rising star, with both mythical and celestial overtones.
Description:Bodhi is a Sanskrit name translated as "enlightenment" or "awakening" which relates to a Buddhist concept, wherein Bodhi is synonymous with the state of nirvana, being freed from hate, greed and ego. The Bodhi tree is a large fig tree under which the founder of Buddhism received enlightenment. Spelling variations include Bodie and Bode.
Description:Bear has suddenly lumbered onto the baby name landscape. Perhaps inspired by British adventurer Bear Grylls (born Edward Michael), first celebrity chef Jamie Oliver used it as the middle name for his boy Buddy, and more recently Alicia Silverstone called her son Bear Blu., followed by Kate Winslet's Bear Blaize. It's part of a current trend normalizing once aggressive animal names like Wolf and Fox. Bear is now Number 218 on Nameberry and in the Top 900 in England.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:With mythological names rising, the handsome son of Zeus and god of medicine, music, and poetry among many other things might offer an interesting, if high-pressure, option. But if Romeo and Venus are now deemed baby-appropriate, why not Apollo? Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno might inspire some parents. And now that it's been chosen by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, it could take off as their first son's name—Kingston—has.
Description:Fox is one animal name backed by a longish tradition, and then popularized via the lead character Fox Mulder on X Files. Fox is simple, sleek, and a little bit wild, and could make an interesting middle name.
Description:Long associated with the Churchill family and common in the West Indies, the distinguished Winston has tended to be neglected here. The exception was during the World War II period, when Winston Churchill was a towering figure and his name reached Number 234. It's now enjoying something of a renaissance.
Origin:Animal name or diminutive of Wolfgang
Description:Wolf is a name with a split personality. It can be seen as one of the fierce animal names, like Fox and Bear and Puma, with a touch of the werewolf, or it can be viewed as a quieter, Wolf Blitzer kind of name, fairly common in German (where is pronounced Vulf) and Jewish families, sometimes as a short form of Wolfgang.
Origin:Word name; also diminutive of Cassius
Description:Whether it's due to its economic connotations, or its link to American legend Johnny Cash, this name is widely used, and has been used by several celebrities including Annabeth Gish and Joshua Morrow.
Description:King is a name that sends a mixed message. While some might think of it as more fitting for a canine, others see it as a strong name with offbeat style and a full court of rich associations, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Elvis.
King Vidor was an important early Hollywood director; King Camp Gillette invented the safety razor.
If it's king names you're after that aren't King itself, see our list of Names with Royal Meanings or other lists and blogs on royal names.
Origin:Latin from Greek
Description:Yes, it's the name of the brightest star in the sky, but can't you just hear people saying, "Are you serious?" Singer Erykah Badu used it as a middle name for son Seven.
Origin:Dutch and German, from first name Hendrik
Description:Hendrix is one of those hip rock and roll names, like Lennon, Jagger and Presley, that have been used by fellow celebs and others, to honor the seminal guitarist/singer/songwriter Jimi. And this one has the trendy 'x' ending, as well, helping to propel it up the charts and into the spotlight.
Meaning:"lover of God"
Description:Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's middle name could make an interesting pick for music-loving parents--if only in middle place. Amadeus is the title of a Peter Shaffer play which became an award-winning film in 1984.
Description:Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn put this name in play as a first name, but David Bowie (born with the considerably less marketable moniker of David Robert Jones) dyed it blond and gave it charisma. He changed his surname in 1965 to avoid confusion with the then popular Davy Jones of The Monkees, and especially since his death, his admirers have seen it as an increasingly viable baby name namesake.
Description:A spiritual word name used by actor Zoe Saldana for her son.
Description:Valentine is an attractive Shakespearean name with romantic associations, but those very ties to the saint and the sentimental holiday have sent it into a decline, one which we think may be about to turn around.
Description:Sky is an ambigender nature name that was first legitimized as the character of Sky Masterson in the 1950 musical Guys and Dolls, played in the film version by Marlon Brando. It's a name we appreciate for its clear, wide-open feel, less hippyish than others like Rainbow and Starlight, and makes an appealing middle name possibility.
Description:The popular single-named alternative singer (born Bek) has given this cool nature-meets-surname name a new lease of life. Another notable bearer is Beck Weathers, a Texan pathologist who survived the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, which was covered in the book and film Into Thin Air.
Description:Better than Capricorn or Cancer, not as usable as Leo, the name of the Roman god of war becomes more possible as a baby name every day, as mythological names take the place of biblical names.
Description:Nova might be a much more commonly used a girls' name, but enough parents saw unisex appeal in it for it to debut on the US Top 1000 for boys in 2017. Nova is an astronomical term for a star that suddenly increases in brightness, then fades.
Description:Pax, one of the variations of names meaning peace that are newly popular in these less-than-peaceful times, got a lot of publicity when chosen by Brad & Angelina for their Vietnamese-born son. Parents attracted to Pax may also want to consider Paz, the unisex Spanish version, or Paxton, a growing-in-popularity surname choice that shares that magical X-factor.
Description:This simple, elegant name offers something for many kinds of parents, from writers and history buffs to photographers to Pennsylvania dwellers. Most famous bearers are comedian Penn Jillette and Gossip Girl hottie Penn Badgley, both of whom were given this distinctive name at birth. Long obscure, Penn seems destined for greater usage.
Description:A biblical place name with trumpeting verve and strength.
Description:Chosen for their daughter by Bruce and Demi (inspired by the To Kill a Mockingbirdcharacter), and for her son by Tai Babilonia, an interesting choice for either sex, with overtones of a "good scout" and the upstanding qualities of a Boy/Girl Scout.
Origin:Diminutive of Huckleberry, word name
Description:Though forever tied to Huck, short for Huckleberry, Finn, this is an undeniably cute short form that may have some life as part of the hipster taste for names like Duke and Bix.
Description:Though some may find such names rather harsh and severe, increasing numbers of parents are gravitating toward this kind of flinty, steely, stony single-syllable name.
Origin:Roman mythology god of war
Description:The name of the Roman god of war began to sound less intimidating when Erykah Badu gave it to her daughter, and musicians Thomas and Bruno Mars (the latter born Peter Hernandez) have given it a modern edge. Mars actually could make a pleasant, planetary middle name for either sex.
Origin:English word name
Meaning:"dragon; or, male duck"
Description:A simple one-syllable name that has been on the popularity list since the mid-1980s, Drake is most associated today with the single-named rapper (born Aubrey). The name peaked at Number 197 in 2010 and has since been on a slow decline, but it still can be counted among the stylish contemporary boy names starting with D.
Origin:Irish, diminutive of Quillan or Quiller; also English word name
Description:Quill is a unique possibility for the child of writers -- even if they do use computers rather than pens; could also serve as a rhyming tribute to an ancestor named Gil, Phil, or Bill (or Jill).
Description:One of the fierce new animal names new to name lists, helped by its strong x-ending.
Origin:Latinized variation of German Tillman, “one who plows the earth”
Description:One of the coolest of names, thanks to legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk, who inherited this Latin-sounding German name from his father. It has been used very sparingly since the 1960's, with just a sprinkling of baby boys receiving the name each year, though it's one of the unique baby names we predict will get much less unique as more parents embrace its quirky charms.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:The name of the brave, resourceful hero of Homer's epic saga has almost always been considered too weighty for a child to bear, but at this point, some brave, resourceful parents out there might be willing to take it on.
Description:Jupiter's partner Juno has entered the mainstream, so it's possible that her divine mate could follow. But not necessarily for boys — Jupiter is over 75% female, thanks to its similarity to Juniper. Actress Ashley Tisdale welcomed a daughter named Jupiter Iris in 2021, which could shift the balance even more towards the girls.
Description:Windswept and dramatic, but perhaps asking for trouble. Quite popular in Denmark and Sweden, where it derives from Stromr, which is a fairly common surname. Storm Thorgerson is a famous bearer of the name - he designed iconic album covers for Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Cranberries, Anthrax, and Pink Floyd.
Origin:English occupational surname
Description:Booker would make for a very cool name, for writers, reformers, R & B fans and those wanting to pay tribute to Booker T. Washington.
Description:Words are not always easy to translate into baby names, but the implications of being straight and swift lend this one great potential as a name. It also has the popular o-sound ending, which brings it further into the realm of possibility. Rising rock star Aja Volkman pulled a gender switch when she named her daughter Arrow Eve.
Meaning:"hawk, a bird"
Description:Animal names are on the rise, especially more of the aggressive Hawk-Fox-Wolf variety than cute little Bunnys or Robins, and Hawk is a prime example.
Hawk is more commonly heard as a surname, represented by uber-skateboarder Tony Hawk, a pioneer of modern vertical skateboarding. Variations include Hawke, as in actor Ethan, Hawks, as in Golden Age movie director Howard, Hawking, as in scientist Stephen, and Hawkins, as in musicians Coleman, Screamin' Jay and Sophie B, and was recently given to his baby boy by quarterback Tony Romo. There have been characters named or nicknamed Hawk in The Revenant, The Path and Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels. Hawk ranks at Number 699 on Nameberry.
Origin:Place-name and Irish
Description:Relaxed, laid-back cowboy name with broad appeal, although none of the western place-names packs the same style power they did a few years ago.
Meaning:"Roman messenger god"
Description:Adventurous parents are starting to look back to names of ancient gods like Mercury, Zeus, and Apollo. This one is also a planet and a metallic element, and has a friendly nickname, Merc. The Roman god Mercury, which derives from the Latin words for trade or wages, is the patron of tradesmen and travelers and the fastest-moving planet in the solar system. Mercury is the planet associated with the sign of Virgo, so this is one of the prime names for Virgo babies.
Meaning:"greenish blue color"
Description:Cyan is a highly unusual blue-green color name, a classmate of Celadon and Cerulean. It does come with the homey nickname Cy.
Description:Like Sky and Sunshine, this fluffy name from the hippie 1970s has floated back onto the naming radar.
Origin:French and English
Description:St. Landry was a seventh century bishop of Paris, founder of the city's first hospital. The name is more familiar in recent years thanks to legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, an association that makes this a sports hero name, as well as a thoroughly masculine one. Landry is also in use for girls in the US. Landry is one of the oldest surnames in France, dating back to the medieval period, and is particularly popular among Cajun-Americans. It has been on the Social Security list since 2010.
Meaning:"village with crosses"
Description:Crosby is an attractively laid-back Irish surname with retro musical associations to Bing and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and with a jaunty air. Crosby Braverman was the name of a character on the TV show Parenthood, played by Dax Shepard.
Description:The nature boy version of the Scandinavian Leif, which actually means "heir". In the creative-naming Phoenix family, Leaf is the former name of the actor we know as Joaquin.
Description:Now that names like Cannon and Gunner, fit for comic book heroes, are rising up, Rogue may fit right in.
Description:Hard and shiny, Steel projects an image that's smooth, macho...and cold to the touch.
Description:Peyton is the most-used spelling of this popular name, thanks to football star Peyton Manning, but it's playing increasingly for the girls' team. The Manning family excels in all-star names, with brothers Eli and Cooper and dad Archie.
Origin:Word or occupational name
Description:We hesitate to call Bandit an occupational name, any more than Rogue or Vandal are occupational names, yet its use by one of the bandmembers of My Chemical Romance (for his daughter: we're not even going to go there) undoubtedly owes a debt to occupational cousins from Pilot to Parker. Recommended for use by rock stars with full-time nannies only.