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American Boy Names

American Boy Names
by Pamela Redmond

American boy names range from place names to hero names to Native American names to boy names with a Western ring.

The top American boy name is Jayden, an invented variation of the Biblical Jadon.

Along with Jayden, American boy names that rank in the US Top 400 include Hudson, Nolan, Easton, Colton, Maverick, Bryson, Jase, Jace, Kayden, and Sawyer.

A little further down the list are Hendrix, Maverick, Dakota, Drake, Holden, Dallas, Austin, Cash, Justice, Lincoln, and Shane. Of course, not all these names are American in origin, but they are used as first names almost exclusively in the US.

Unique American boy names on our recommended list include Booker, Poe, Huck, Jericho, Tennessee, Langston, West, and Hiawatha.

Quintessentially American baby names for boys include the following.

SawyerHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "woodcutter"
  • 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.

HudsonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "Hugh's son"
  • Description:

    Hudson has risen quickly up the charts after emerging at the bottom of the list in 1995, now solidly in the Top 100.

MaverickHeart

  • Origin:

    American
  • Meaning:

    "independent, nonconformist"
  • Description:

    At the rate it's growing, Maverick soon won't seem like such a maverick anymore. Heard first in a 1950s James Garner western TV series, and then as the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun, Maverick symbolizes an unfettered, free spirit.

WilderHeart

  • Origin:

    Surname or word name
  • Description:

    New to the US Top 1000 in 2015, Wilder is on many parents' possibility lists, one of the new generation of bad boy names growing in popularity. Wilder got a big boost in interest through Goldie Hawn's grandson, born in 2007, via son Oliver.

JaydenHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Jaden or Jadon, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "thankful"
  • Description:

    Although there is a genuine Biblical personage named Jadon — in the Old Testament, he helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem — this version of the name can also be considered a modern invention. Jayden combines the “jay” sound found in the name Jason with the -den suffix used in names such as Aiden and Hayden. Other spellings include Jaydan, Jaydyn, Jaydon, Jaydin, and Jaden.

RykerHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "rich"
  • Description:

    As a stylish name, Ryker has three big things going for it: its Ry beginning (as in Riley, Ryder, and Rylan), its two-syllable rhythm, and its er ending. A nice surprise for many is it's "rich" meaning. While this may not be a factor beyond New York City, there is an infamous prison there called Riker's Island. Ryker is one of the trendiest German names for boys in the US.

AustinHeart

  • Origin:

    English, shortened form of Augustine
  • Meaning:

    "great, magnificent"
  • Description:

    Austin is one of the most attractive city names for babies, with an attractive southwestern feel, place-name panache and the solid base of having long been an Anglo-Saxon surname and a first name since medieval times. Austin reached the Top 10 in the 1990s, but has been gradually slipping down the list.

HoldenHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "hollow valley"
  • 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.

NolanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "champion"
  • Description:

    Nolan is one of the rising Irish surname names, in the spirit of Conan and Ronan, partially inspired by pitcher Nolan Ryan-- who was named Lynn at birth, after his father. Nolan is a cheerful, friendly traditional Irish surname with the appropriate meaning of "champion," and one of the new attractive boy names starting with N.

LincolnHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "town by the pool"
  • Description:

    Lincoln cracked the Top 50 for boys' names for the first time in 2016, more than 150 years after the death of its most famous bearer. This is especially remarkable because, as crazy as it seems now, Lincoln was deeply out of fashion as recently as the late 90s, consistently hovering near the bottom of the Top 1000. This admirable presidential choice with a stylish two-syllable sound projects the tall, rangy, upright, image of Honest Abe. Bill Murray is father to a son named Lincoln, and Kathryn Erbe's boy Carson has Lincoln for his middle name. Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard gender-bent it for their daughter.

RyderHeart

  • Origin:

    British surname
  • Meaning:

    "cavalryman, messenger"
  • Description:

    Ryder, one of the current favorite er-ending boys’ names, has been in the spotlight since Kate Hudson and her rocker husband Chris Robinson chose it for their son in 2004. Very popular in several provinces of Canada, Ryder was chosen by John Leguzamo for his son and adorns Boy Meets World star Ryder Strong.

CashHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name; also diminutive of Cassius
  • Meaning:

    "hollow"
  • 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.

JettHeart

  • Origin:

    Mineral name
  • Description:

    Aviation enthusiast John Travolta put this fast-paced name in the lexicon when he used it for his late son, and George Lucas followed suit.

CadeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "round; or, barrel"
  • Description:

    Strong, ultramasculine, and modern, Cade shot up the popularity lists around the millenium—it was as high as Number 201 in 2001—along with cousins Caden and Cale, but has been in decline since. It's Like Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Melanie, and Beau; it was worn by a character in Gone With the Wind.

    There's a Cade Skywalker in the Star Wars universe, and Keith Carradine named his now-grown son Cade.

JaceHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, diminutive of Jason
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord is salvation"
  • Description:

    Jace may sound like only half a name -- it's usually pronounced like the first half of Jason though some may consider it a spelling-out of the initials J. C. -- but it's a popular choice for baby boys. Jace has been heard on such TV shows as Teen Mom 2 and Duck Dynasty.

DaxHeart

  • Origin:

    French place-name
  • Description:

    The appealingly energetic Dax, with its trendy X-ending, re-entered the Top 1000 in 2007. Its somewhat sci-fi vibe emanates from his appearance as a fictional being in the Star Trek universe, seen on the TV show "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." The Power Rangers character Dax Lo was the Blue Ranger.

EastonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "east-facing place"
  • Description:

    Easton is a stylish Ivy League-ish place and surname name, more modern than Weston, on its way up for both sexes as part of the new direction baby names are taking, as in North and West. Easton was used for her son by Jenna Elfman--and by Elizabeth Rohm for her daughter.

HendrixHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch and German, from first name Hendrik
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • 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.

JaxHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    Jax is the Dex-Jex-Pax type of x-ending cool -- possibly too cool -- variation of Jack or nickname for Jaxon or Jackson.

GunnerHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Gunther
  • Meaning:

    "bold warrior"
  • Description:

    The kind of nouveau macho name favored by NRA-leaning parents. Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers gave it to his son in 2009. Gunnar is another spelling that makes the name a bit less militaristic.

ColtonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "from the coal or dark town"
  • Description:

    Colton is a trendy two-syllable choice, with the popular 'on/en' ending.

BoHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse nickname
  • Meaning:

    "to live"
  • Description:

    A popular name in Denmark, in this country Bo has some cowboy swagger and a lot of substance in its minimal two letters. In Mandarin Chinese, Bo means "wave".

TrippHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    The extra p makes Tripp more of a name and less of a Trip. Usually a nickname of a boy who's a third, but Tripp is sure to get more attention in its own right now as the name of Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol and Levi Johnston's son.

DenzelHeart

  • Origin:

    Cornish
  • Meaning:

    "from the high stronghold"
  • Description:

    This old Cornish name took on a whole new identity via Denzel Washington, who has inspired several thousand namesakes. The actor was named after his father, who was named for a Dr. Denzel, who delivered him.

ShaneHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicized variation of Sean
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Shane ambled into the picture via the 1953 movie, adding a cowboy twist to its Irish essence. Shane is even more popular in Ireland than in the USA or the UK. Singer Siobhan O'Connor and actor Kevin Sorbo have sons named Shane.

ColtHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Meaning:

    "young horse"
  • Description:

    Colt is the kind of unconventionally macho name that is so trendy right now, because of or in spite of its association with horses and guns.

DashHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Dashiell, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    Dash is a nickname that can stand on its own and sounds, well, dashing. Connected these days with Kardashian enterprises.

StoneHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • 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.

JerichoHeart

  • Origin:

    Biblical place-name
  • Description:

    A biblical place name with trumpeting verve and strength.

SkyHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • 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.

SaintHeart

  • Origin:

    American word name
  • Meaning:

    "saint"
  • Description:

    Saint as a descriptive word name was first chosen by rocker Pete Wentz for his younger son (baby brother is Bronx), and now Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have catapulted the name into the celebrity stratosphere by choosing it for their baby boy. The couple called their baby "Saint" throughout the pregnancy because his conception had been so difficult. Saint was named in our predictions for the top baby name trends of 2015, on descriptive word names which also include Royal and Noble, King and Rogue. Saint is moving beyond the group of names that are only celebrity baby names and into the general lexicon.

KyloHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Kyle
  • Description:

    Kylo Ren is the villain played by Adam Driver in the seventh Star Wars movie, released in December 2015. The original Kyle has sparked many variations, including Kylie and Kyler. Kylo, which takes on the fashionable o ending, is sure to follow for those who don't mind crossing to the dark side. It debuted on the US Top 1000 in 2016 -- and indeed, was the year's fastest rising boys' name.

DrakeHeart

  • 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.

GatsbyHeart

  • Origin:

    German surname and literary name
  • Meaning:

    "from Gaddesby"
  • Description:

    Gatsby is one of the most famous literary surnames, borne by the titular character of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The book's Jay Gatsby gussied up his surname from Gatz, whose meaning is given variously as left-handed, cat, God, and person from Gat. As a first name, it's got a lot of energy and that great literary pedigree.

MemphisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek and Coptic place-name
  • Meaning:

    "Enduring and beautiful"
  • Description:

    A place name with so much history, from Ancient Egypt, where so many pyramids were built, to the US blues southern city. The name also has a great meaning. Although it's being given to babies of both genders, Memphis (unlike most place names) is much more common for boys than girls.

HuckHeart

  • 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.

StetsonHeart

  • Origin:

    American surname
  • Description:

    Most known as a popular brand of Western hats, this surname has a brief history as a given name. It charted in the US Top 1000 in 1989 and 1991-95. It has been experiencing renewed interest in the last few years, having reentered the popularity charts in 2013 and now ranking its highest ever at Number 709.

DukeHeart

  • Origin:

    English rank of nobility
  • Description:

    While John Wayne and Duke Ellington are worthy role models, the reason Duke is currently enjoying a revival and returned to the Top 1000 in 2013 as one of the year's fastest-rising boys’ names is more likely due to the name given to high-profile TV couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic. Christened Edward Duke, he has always been called by his middle name, just as Edward Duke Ellington was. Duke is just one of several aristocratic titles being increasingly used by ordinary citizens.

LandryHeart

  • Origin:

    French and English
  • Meaning:

    "ruler"
  • 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.

BookerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational surname
  • Meaning:

    "scribe"
  • 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.

DallasHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name and Irish
  • Meaning:

    "skilled"
  • 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.

LangstonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "tall man's town"
  • Description:

    The great African-American Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes put this one on the map; actor Laurence Fishburne adopted it for his now grown son, born in 1987. Despite these popular associations, the name didn't make it into the US Top 1000 until 2013. This name is even less used in England or Wales, where as recently as 2014 no births were registered using this name.

KymaniHeart

  • Origin:

    Eastern African
  • Meaning:

    "adventurous traveler"
  • Description:

    One of the most popular African names for boys, Kymani has been in the US Top 1000 list since 2008. Spelled Ky-mani, it's the name of Bob Marley's son.

KaidenHeart

  • Origin:

    Spelling variation of Kaden, modern invented name
  • Description:

    This version of Kaden is also a popular choice and one of the many boys' names starting with k that can also start with a C, as in Caiden, Cayden et al.. Kaiden Alenko is a character in the video game Mass Effect.

IkeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Isaac
  • Description:

    Ike, once the quirky one-person nickname of President Dwight Eisenhower, has morphed into a cool kid nickname of the early 21st century. The rise of Isaac and the stylishness of short down-to-earth nicknames like Max and Gus means that many parents like Ike once again. In the Top 200 (!) at the end of the 19th century, Ike fell off the Social Security Top 1000 by the end of Eisenhower's presidency in the late 1950s but may rise again -- though our guess is that more modern parents will put Isaac or Isaiah on the birth certificate.

PeytonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "fighting-man's estate"
  • 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.

PoeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "peacock"
  • Description:

    An evocative unisex one-syllable name, Poe is most distinguished by its literary reference. Edgar Allan Poe was an influential American author and poet, credited with inventing the genres of detective and science fiction, which might provide inspiration for parents who are fans. And now its choice as the name of the hero played by Oscar Isaac in the new Star Wars movie is sure to catapult it from literary choice to major favorite.

DakotaHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name; Sioux
  • Meaning:

    "friendly one"
  • Description:

    An early and still one of the most popular unisex names, also a place name and name of a Native American people in the northern Mississippi valley, which makes it a controversial baby name choice. While the popularity of Dakota is trending downward for both genders, it's one of those rare genuinely gender-neutral names that is used for nearly equal numbers of boys and girls.

HuckleberryHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name and literary name
  • Description:

    Everybody knows Huckleberry Finn, the Mark Twain character named, Twain said, for the 19th century slang term for "humble." A few modern parents have put it on a birth certificate, including "Man Vs. Wild" star Bear Grylls, who, like many parents, will call the boy the much more manageable Huck. It was also the name of a child on TV's West Wing,

BrysonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Brice"
  • Description:

    A surname name that can transition to first -- it entered the Top 1000 in 1980 and is now firmly in the Top 100. Actress NeNe Leakes chose it for her son. R&B singer Bryson Tiller's popularity may have played a part in accelerating Bryson's rise.
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