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20 Boys Names You’ll Want Dibs On, With Five Letters Or Less

If parents are struggling to find just the right name for their little one, it can sometimes help to make random decisions about the number of syllables or the number of letters in their name. This can knock the possibilities down from endless to a slightly more manageable “almost endless”.

You may choose a specific number of letters or syllables because it makes a pleasing rhythm with your surname or it might be that you have noticed how expensive those personalized wooden puzzles you can buy are and that they charge by the letter. Choosing a shorter name makes nursery decor more affordable - what a bonus!

Of course, we are being a little glib about that last point, but in all seriousness, deciding to limit the length of your child's name can genuinely help whittle down a long and unwieldy list into something with just a handful of suggestions. It also gives the family fewer names to either make fun of or dramatically gasp at when you tell them which name your son might be carrying with him through life.

So enjoy a browse through a group of deliciously random names with nothing in common except their letter count. If one of these doesn’t float your boat, at least we might inspire you to choose a name for no other reason than it’s letter count.

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20 Ronan

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Derived from the Irish word rón which means "seal" and “awn,” which is generally held to imply "little" or "small", Ronan is an Irish boy meaning “little seal.”

An ancient Celtic myth says that Selkies were seals that lived in the water like other seals but who also had a shape-shifting ability. The Selkies were able to shed their seal skin and walk up onto the land, posing as people. The human beings with whom the Selkies interacted were never aware of their secret and the Selkies were often depicted in romantic tragedies that unfolded when the people they loved discovered who they really were.

Until now a name seen predominantly in certain regions of Ireland, Ronan has spread beyond the borders and is slowly working its way around the world.

19 Bryce

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Bryce is an alternative spelling of Brice which in turn is a Latin version of a boy name from Gaul - Bricius, meaning “speckled.”

A relatively common Scottish surname, it is another of those last names that have lept the threshold and have begun to enjoy a new life as a first name. In the tradition of many ancient surnames, it is likely to be derived from a nickname, possibly because all of those ancient Celts were freckled?

An alternative meaning comes from the old Celtic word which means “alert” or another prospective root is the Welsh “ap + rhys” meaning ‘son of the ardent one.’

This strong, masculine name peaked in popularity in the US at the turn of the century when it hovered around the bottom of the top 100 names list. This makes it a common enough name to not be too out there but unusual enough for you not to bump into another Bryce any time soon.

18 Edsel

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Peaking briefly in 1929 at number 399 in the top one thousand boys names, Edsel saw a passing popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly because it was the name Henry Ford gave to his son, who was born in 1893.

This spelling has been changed from the original of Etzel who was a fictional character from the medieval German saga the 'Nibelungenlied.' In this epic tale, Etzel was a thinly disguised version of Attila the Hun who was called Attila by the Gothic-speaking people of Eastern Europe, despite the fact that his real name was Avithohol.

This 5th-century leader of the Huns, a nomadic people from an area that covered what we now call Hungary to Turkey in the east and as far as central France in the west, is one of the greatest historical figures we know of.

17 Orson

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The root of this name is the Latin word “Ursus” meaning bear. The Norman French had corrupted the word to “ors,” while maintaining the meaning and the English used Ors -son, meaning “bear cub” as a nickname for a male child of a large, bear-like man,

Orson and Valentine were twin brothers in a story from the 15th century. The pair were abandoned in the woods during infancy where Orson is carried off by a bear and raised in the bear's den, as one of its cubs. He becomes a wild man in the woods and survives by living as a bear would. Valentine meanwhile is rescued and brought up as a knight at the court of Pepin.

When both boys have become men, Valentine finds Orson in the forest and tames him before making Orson his servant and friend.

16 Efrem

Efrem is a variation of the spelling of Yefram, which in turn is the Russian spelling of the name Ephraim. It comes from the Hebrew name אֶפְרָיִם ('Efrayim) which means "fruitful,” or “multiplying.” In the Old Testament of the Bible, Ephraim is a son of Joseph and Asenath and the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The pronunciation depends on where in the world you are, either “EFF-raym” or “EFF-rem” and a common nickname is Eph.

You are probably not going to bump into any other little Efrem's in the playground or at the park, so you are all but guaranteed an exclusive name. However, as with all unusual names, be prepared for a few raised eyebrows from those who aren’t so ready to take a walk on the wild side.

15 Alcee

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This name is the French form of Alcaeus, the Latinized form of the Greek name Αλκαιος“Alkaios,” derived from αλκη “alke” meaning "strength". Alcaeus of Mytilene was a lyric poet from the Greek island of Lesbos who is credited with inventing the Alcaic stanza. So if you have a strong literary, historical or mythological background or interest, Alcee is a fabulous name that doesn’t sound too “out there.”

This name works for a number of reasons. It is short and snappy and would go with a variety of surnames. It doesn’t have any strong cultural connotations, so people are not going to be saying “Alcee, oh like…?” and you will probably be able to baffle your entire family with this choice.

One word of warning. It does sound a lot like the incredibly popular Alfie so you may be correcting from that point of view for many years to come.

14 Lewis

Common in France due to its use by the French royal family and aristocracy, Louis, pronounced “Loo-is” or “Loo-EE” is still a hugely popular name in the western European country. With a more obvious pronunciation than its French cousin, Lewis is a medieval English version of the name, which derived from the German name Ludwig

A top 30 name in the United States in the late 1800s, Lewis has gradually fallen out of favor, now languishing at around the 600 mark in popularity, losing out to the French spelling, so now is a great time to snag this awesome name for your son before others realize what a hidden gem it is.

Lewis is also the name of a Scottish isle in the Outer Hebrides, part of Lewis and Harris and the name of Lewis as an island is thought to be Norse or Gaelic, probably meaning "marsh."

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13 Titus

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As ancient names have begun to enjoy a slow revival, Titus has joined the ranks of other names such as Silas and Linus as they begin to reappear in our naming traditions. With the classical Latin pronunciation of “TEE-toos,” this might cause a little confusion but if you are to use the now more common pronunciation of “TIE-tass”, your little one will not have to grow up correcting people constantly and getting funny looks because people think he is being pretentious.

The origin of the name is unclear. Some believe it may come from the Latin titulus meaning "a title of honor," but this is just the best guess. So if you are looking for a name that will have a deep and significant meaning behind it, this is not the name for you.

If, however, you are looking for something unusual but pronounceable and easily spelled, Titus might just be the name for which you are looking.

12 Royce

Royce is a medieval English variant of the name Rose, which was, in turn, a medieval nickname for somebody with rosy cheeks. Some historians say that it could also have developed as a surname for someone who lived near roses but whether one or both histories are true, the first use of the word as a name was recorded in the early 14th century.

The use of Royce as a first name is not, as many people might think, from Rolls Royce and an extension of the fad of using car names such as Mercedes, Bentley, or Benz. Royce was recorded as in use as a first name in the United States during the mid-1800s.

A brief spike in popularity occurred after Royce was used as the name of a character in the Twilight and in True Blood, which might put you off.

11 Arian

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There are a number of possible meanings to the name Arian. First of all, it might be a male version of the Greek girl's name Ariana which means “most holy.” Arian could also be an updated, modern version of the ancient Greek name Arius which means “immortal.” In Welsh, the meaning of the name Arian is “silver”, derived from the Greek name Arion, a mythological magic horse born to Poseidon and Demeter. Finally, it could be considered a change of spelling of the Sanskrit (Hindu) word Aryan or “ārya”, meaning “noble, high-born.”

In the US the name has become popular in some areas due to football player Arian Foster. It is from Arian Foster’s parents that we get the name’s fifth meaning. They chose Arian as an abbreviated form of Aquarian, even though Foster is actually a Virgo. Aquarian means “water-pourer,” “water-bearer,” and “holder of knowledge.”

10 Hardy

This short name comes from the surname which developed from the Middle English word "hardi" meaning "brave, hardy." In Old French "hardi" means "bold, courageous" which comes from the Old Frankish word “hardjan”, meaning "to make hard."

Hardy was an uncommon but regularly used first name up until the early 1950s, when it suddenly fell off of the name radar. A mere 43 boys were given the name Hardy in the United States last year, so it is still most certainly floating around but is not very high up in the atmosphere.

One word of warning, this might be a difficult name for a little one to live with on the playground and just as difficult to live with when they grow up. Continually having to say “Yes, I did say my name is Hardy” will no doubt start to wear pretty thin.

9 Cohen

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The surname Cohen is as familiar to the Jewish as Smith is to the English. The Jewish Kohens are distinguished as hereditary priests directly descended from the biblical Aaron (the brother of Moses and who was appointed by God as the first High Priest of Israel). As a forename, Cohen is a recent 21st-century choice. It is most popular in Canada, where it ranked as the 48th most popular boy’s name in 2010 and is gaining an unlikely following as a first name among people unaware of its religious heritage.

The character Seth on TV's The O.C. who was commonly called by his last name, Cohen, may be one reason why the name is suddenly popular. One word of caution, some people may find the use of the surname Cohen as a given name offensive on religious grounds so be sensitive to this possibility.

8 Emery

This much more snappy and far more manageable form of Emmerich was introduced to England by the Normans but was never particularly popular. By the end of the middle ages, it had virtually fallen out of use altogether.

The meaning of Emery is unclear because although it is a form of Emmerich, the actual meaning of that root name is foggy. Emmerich is a German name, in which the second element, ric meaning "power." The first element may be ermen which means "whole or universal," amal meaning "work or labor", or heim which means "home." Therefore it could mean “universal power,” “power of work,” or “the power of home,” nobody can be quite sure. Any meaning you give it has extremely powerful and hard-working connotations, perfect for a young boy.

7 Gauge

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Both the names Gauge and its alternative spelling Gage are vocabulary words meaning “to ascertain by exact measurements.” The words come from the Old French “jauger” which was a rod or a pole used for measuring. The word is also connected to the Germanic “galgo” which gave us the modern “gallows.”

After a time, during the 14th century, the gallows meaning fell out of usage in the English language, and Gauge became exclusively used as a measurement word. Gauge became an occupational surname used for a “gage man” who was either in charge of checking weights or measurement, or he was money lender or surety agent against lent money (as in a mort-“gage”). Gauge has been growing in popularity as a first name in the United States since the beginning of the 21st century.

6 Meyer

Relatively popular around between 1910 and 1920, Meyer came about as a name after English speakers misspelled Meir when they heard the name in the middle east. Meaning “giving light” in Hebrew, Meir is a very popular name in Israel and among Jewish communities around the world.

Meyer is also a German surname which means “leader” or “mayor” so you could decide to use both meanings and have your sons name mean “a leader who lights the way.”

Meyer Wolfsheim is a fictional character created by F.Scott Fitzgerald in his novel The Great Gatsby, and the name also pops up all over when you begin to Google it. A destroyer in the US Navy, a township in Michigan and a cookware firm, Meyer is familiar enough not to be thought of as exotic but uncommon enough as a name for it to feel exclusive.

5 Abner

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If you are looking into the up and coming trend of choosing late 19th century or early 20th century names for your child, but don’t want to be making the same choice as everyone else, how about taking a look at Abner?

A strong and distinguished sounding name, Abner has its roots in the Bible and was brought to the English-speaking world during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries. Here, it remained a popular choice, and it traveled with the Puritans to North America in the 17th century.

Meaning "my father is a light" in Hebrew, Abner is soft and cute enough for a little boy while still being sturdy enough for a grown up with this name to be taken seriously. Easy to say, easy to spell, pronounced how it looks, Abner looks to be a winner all around.

4 Freyr

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Freyr was the name of a Norse God, and the name means "lord" in Old Norse. Together with his twin sister Freya and his father Njord, Freyr was part of the group called the Vani, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. Freyr was said to "bestow peace and pleasure on mortals” and was often depicted as a phallic fertility god. The husband of the frost giantess Gerd, he may have originally been called Yngvi, with the name Freyr being his title and Freyr is also seen as an ancestor of Swedish royalty.

This depiction will probably not bother younger children as they are not known for their extensive knowledge of Norse mythology, but there is no telling if this will be a proud boast or an embarrassment when your son gets older. 

3 Miles

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A strong and straightforward first name Miles, sometimes alternatively spelled as Myles, has slowly grown in popularity in the United States, currently hovering just outside the top 100 most popular boy's names.

It is often associated with the Latin word Miles, meaning "soldier" but is more likely to be an English form of the German name Milo which was brought to England by the Normans in the Middle Ages. The meaning of Miles has been lost to the sands of time but in a way that makes it all the more perfect as a choice because it has no strange baggage or other odd connotations.

Just be wary of how it sounds with your surname. There are records of one child in Tudor times being named Miles Long, and you don’t want to inflict something like that on your kiddo now, do you?

2 Caleb

A suddenly popular name in North America and other English-speaking regions of the world, Caleb is a prime example of how the meaning of a name can really matter to some people. On the website Behind The Name the definition is given as “dog” but in the user comments there is great debate about whether or not this is accurate, mostly because it would seem that people want to use the name but don’t want their kid to be effectively called “doggie.”

Many contributors cite the similarity between a number of Hebrew words, but although, Abarim-Publications, which is a site that delves into the history of many biblical names in great detail, does explore other possible roots, their conclusion is the Caleb does, in fact, mean dog. Mostly because the Hebrew word which is the root for Caleb is onomatopoeic and is, in fact, the equivalent to saying woof!

1 Edgar

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The name Edgar was knocking around England for many years before the 10th-century king Edgar the Peaceful. After the Normans conquered England, the name, which comes from the words ead, meaning "wealth, fortune" and gar, meaning "spear," all but disappeared until Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Bride of Lammermoor' which tells the tragic love story of Edgar Ravenswood and Lucy Ashton.

19th-century literary fans pounced on the name, and it was revived and became popular once again, not least of all when Edgar Allen Poe began publishing. Possibly the most famous bearer of the name, Poe is still revered today as a master of early horror.

It is not a name that jumps out at you immediately but the more you consider the name Edgar, the more it grows on you until you don’t remember a time when you didn’t like it.

References: Abarim-publications.com, behindthename.com, nameberry.com, momjunction.combabynames.netbabynamesofireland.com

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