20 Of The Most Popular Boy's Names From The Last 500 Years

There are names that never go out of style and seem to have existed forever. Since naming a child is one of the most important tasks mom and dad will complete for their child, choosing a good name may mean going back centuries to see which names lasted and which were just trends.

If mom and dad know they are having a boy, they can narrow their search to male names, and if they look at what's been popular for the last half century, they will have a strong list of contenders. From the name of a genius to a name that has evolved into a popular kids' cartoon character, from the name of "the boy who lived" to names of three members of a popular British band, these names are classic, simple, and lasting.

These names are recognizable, but most aren't overused, and they are strong without emitting too much machismo. Many have great nickname options, and they're names that grow with a boy from infant-hood to old age. Because these names have been around for centuries, there is little chance of a child with one of these names having to deal with someone not knowing how to pronounce or spell his name. That's an added benefit many kids beg for!

Since everything old is new again and retro is the ultimate fashion statement, choosing from this list offers mom and dad a chance to be both trendy and eternal, taking a classic name and creating a style all their own.

20 Albert

When people hear Albert, they often think of Einstein, with good reason. Even this name that has German roots means "bright" or "noble", and Albert Einstein was considered a pretty bright guy!

This name was extremely popular for eight decades, and even now it still sits on the top 500 list in the United States at an impressive number 440. It comes with a plethora of built in nicknames, such as Al, Bert, or Bertie. Uniquely male, no parent has to worry that this name will be confused for one that is gender neutral if that matters to them.

This name also has a royalty connection since Prince Albert married Queen Victoria and caused a surge of popularity for the moniker. For a literary connection, Albert Camus, both a writer and philosopher, can be an inspiration.

Naming a child Albert doesn't guarantee he will be a genius, but it does mean he will have a strong name that will grow with him.

19 Arthur

With a variety of famous Arthurs to choose from, how do we choose? There's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of the still popular stories about Sherlock Holmes. There's, of course, the leader of the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur was the name of a major character in the novel, The Scarlet Letter, and it's also the name of the animated aardvark who appears in a childrens' TV show of the same name.

Arthur is everywhere, and after centuries on the scene, the name shows no signs of losing steam. It is in the top 300 names in the United States, and it was a top 20 name for over 40 years! Possible nicknames are limited and pretty much end with Art, but the name is short and simple enough to stand on its own.

18 Charles

Still a top 50 name in the United States, Charles was in the top ten for decades. With French and German roots and a meaning of "free man", Charles is a classic that connects to many different areas of society.

The addition of the nickname, Charlie, gives this name and even wider reach, and Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, and Charlie Brown are just a few famous Charlies. Though Charlie is also used as a female name, Charles is uniquely male.

For parents who want a playful classic, Charles is a good choice. Unlike some names on the list, this name has never fully fallen out of favor, so mom and dad will need to know that before making a choice. If they are looking for a throwback that is not common, Charles might not be for them. If they don't mind that their child may go to school with a few other kids named Charles, then it's a perfect fit.

17 David

A Hebrew name that means "beloved", David is a moniker steeped in Biblical significance. The Biblical David, the one who slayed the giant, Goliath, was also royalty, a king and songwriter. He inspired artists, and the Star of David serves as a symbol of Judaism. For parents who want religious or spiritual connections, this name is at the top of the list.

David is also still popular, landing in the top 20 in the United States. This name is timeless, classic, and works for a little boy, an adolescent, or a full-grown man. It's simple to pronounce and spell and easily recognizable most anywhere in the world.

Though usually a first name, David can also serve as a connecting middle name. It's short two-syllable sound has a nice cadence, and parents don't have to worry about this name becoming obsolete. If it hasn't happened for centuries, it's probably here to stay!

16 Edward

Most recently known as the vampire love interest of Bella from the Twilight series, this name of English origins that is still in the top 20 names in the United States offers a plethora of nicknames, such as Eddie, Ed, or Ted, and it remains popular without being overused.

There were many Edwards both on the Mayflower and in the Jamestown colony, giving this name a historical context. Kings for centuries have used this moniker, giving it appeal for those who like royalty.

When it comes to celebrities, there are many who have this name. Edward Norton of Fight Club fame who also appeared in the critically acclaimed Birdman is one of them. Edward Burns, who starred in Saving Private Ryan, is also famous for both acting and being married to supermodel Christy Turlington.

This name tends to fall in and out of favor with parents, but it never truly disappears. Like the vampire from Twilight, it seems to be immortal.

15 Frederick

Like most names on this list, Frederick has tons of options for parents who want to give their children a long, formal name but call them a shorter nickname. Fred, Freddie, or Rick are nickname options, but the full name of Frederick is not too hefty for a child.

This name means "peaceful ruler" and has German origins, but historically it is most well known as the name of the great Frederick Douglass, a slave who rose to power as an activist. It's also the name of much loved TV personality Mr. Rogers from Sesame Street.

Fred Astaire adds celebrity and sass to this choice, and it is a name that is well known but not overly popular. Still in the top 600 in the United States, it's possible for a child named Frederick to have a friend of the same name, but it's not likely. For parents who want to avoid the trendy, overused choices but not go with something out of touch or unrecognizable, Frederick is a great pick.

14 George

Prince George of Cambridge put this name back on the map, though it never really left. Former presidents and kings, as well as current singers and actors, proudly have this name. It's always been a top choice and shows no signs of losing steam. It's Greek and means "farmer".

Still in the list of top 200 boy names in the United States, George was in the top ten for decades before falling off slightly. Despite the fall off, there are plenty of Georges around: George Clooney, George Stephanopoulos, and George Bush are just a few.

This name is extremely popular for characters who appeal to children, such as the monkey Curious George, the father living in space, George Jetson, and man in the forest, George of the Jungle.

George Washington, first president of the United States, is who people commonly think of when they hear this name, but whether parents choose it for its historical significance or just because they like the sound, it's a strong name.

13 Harry

The name Harry has been around for centuries, but it is now associated with being the moniker of the "the boy who lived" in the Harry Potter novels. J.K. Rowling forever painted an image of Harry as the spectacle wearing boy with the lighting-shaped scar on his forehead. For the parents who want a strong literary connection to classic novels, the name Harry can't be beat.

This name means "estate ruler" and is in the top 1000 names in the United States. In England it is much more popular, with Prince Harry being a well-known Harry in that country. Though Harry is often seen as a form of Henry, the name can stand on its own without needing another name for support.

Harry Houdini, president Harry Truman, and singer Harry Belafonte all have this moniker, and it works for a man at every stage of life.

12 Henry

Of German origin and meaning "estate ruler", this name has been around forever but may be at the peak of its popularity right now. Coming in in the top 30 in the United States, it is very possible that a child with this name will frequently meet another boy who has the same one. However, that's not a reason to pass this one over.

Henry James and Henry David Thoreau provide literary connections, while businessman Henry Ford appeals to the parents who look for business success. Many royals have been named Henry, and famous baseball player Hank Aaron's first name is Henry.

This short two syllable name is easy to spell and say, and it is a name that fits any boy. Uniquely male, a child with this name won't share it with girls, but as previously mentioned, the popularity of the name may mean he shares it with many other boys.

11 James

James for the most part is a male name, though celebrities Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively used it for their first daughter. The name means "supplanter" and is of Hebrew origin. In the United States, it is in the top 10 names for boys, making it both a lasting name and an immensely popular one.

Also a surname, James has connections to the New Testament in the Bible and is full of possibilities for nicknames. Jamie, Jim, and Jimmy are options, but James is one of those names that stands well on its own.

Kings have carried this name, as have entertainers James Taylor, James Marsden, and James Corden. The popularity of this name may be its only downfall since parents will know when they call for James in the middle of a crowded park they will likely have at least five kids turn around.

10 John

Uniquely male and meaning "God is gracious", this name has Hebrew origins and was the name of one of Jesus' disciples who considered himself loved by God. John the Baptist is also an important Biblical John, and the religious connection kept this name extremely popular for over four decades.

Finally, in the mid twentieth century, John lost some steam, possibly due to its connection with the anonymity of "John Doe". For whatever reason, it lost it's shine but is now making a resurgence, landing in the top 30 names for boys in the United States.

John can also be spelled Jon as actor Jon Hamm spells his name. For parents who like the name but want something more unique, John is a great middle name option. It's also a great first name choice for Beatles lovers who want to honor the deceased John Lennon.

9 Joseph

Joseph means "Jehovah increases", and it is another name with Hebrew origins that has been around for centuries. Used in both the New and Old Testament of the Bible, parents who want a name with religious significance can't go wrong with this one.

Joseph can be shortened to Joe or Joey, but Joseph works for a baby as well as a man. This name is in the top 25 names in the United States, and that's low for this moniker. Popular throughout history, there hasn't been a time that we know of when it has completely fallen off the radar. That means parents will be giving their kids a classic, popular name. Though it holds more appeal than the flash-in-the-pan trendy names, Joseph is still popular enough to keep a child from viewing their name as unique.

8 Michael

The meaning of this Hebrew name is a question, "Who is like God?", and it ranks in the top 10 names for boys in the United States. It held the number one spot for years, and it is never far from the top, offering nicknames such as Mike and Mikey.

Michael was an angel in the Bible, and all three major religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, recognize Michael in their text. For the more entertainment-focused parent, singer Michael Jackson helped catapult this name publicly, as did basketball player Michael Jordan.

Michael is generally considered a male name, though if spelled Michal, this name can be used for a woman. Due to Michael's ongoing popularity, a child with this name will have friends who also have it. That's not a bad thing, but parents have to decide if they want something more unique or are simply okay with having a classic.

7 Paul

This name of Latin origin may mean "small", but this name has been large and in charge for centuries. The parent who wants Biblical or religious names does not lack in choices from this list, and Paul is no exception. Paul from the New Testament helped create the Christian church and was killed for his faith.

Paul is also the name of one of the two living Beatles, Paul McCartney. The name became infamous after the Beatles hit the scene, and many parents may be drawn to it if they are music lovers. Though this name is only in the top 200 names in the United States, it's recognizable. Plus, not being higher on the popularity list makes it alluring for parents who are also looking for a name that stands out from the crowd a bit.

Paul Revere and Paul Newman are famous Pauls, and this name doesn't stand a chance of disappearing from the public anytime soon, if ever.

6 Peter

Peter is of Greek origin and means "rock" since the name was given to Simon in the New Testament to symbolize his importance as a founder of the Christian church.

Peter Pan gives this name a feel of eternal boyhood, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a childhood classic. However, this name is not childish. Fit for both a boy or man, it is not used as often as many names on this list and is perfect for parents whose requirements are classic, simple, and a bit rare.

Peter comes with the nickname Pete, but the name is short enough not to need one. Falling just outside of the top 200 names for boys in the United States, this name will offer a child an easy to say choice that hasn't saturated the naming market. Plus, for the parents who love music, there's always the connection to musician Peter Gabriel.

5 Richard

Considered to be of German origin and meaning "dominant ruler", Richard has been around for centuries and still falls in the top 200 names for boys in the United States. Though Richards popularity has waned, for a name that has been around this long, being in the top 200 still says a lot about this names popularity.

Richards can go by Dick, Rick, or Richie, or they can stick with the more sophisticated full name. Richard Nixon, the president marred by scandal, is someone people think of when they hear this name, but actor Richard Gere, comedian Richard Pryor, and businessman Richard Branson are also famous Richards.

Richard is also a surname, and parents will find that their children have a unique name, if a classic one, if they choose this moniker. The name could come back to an even more popular place in the naming culture, but for now it's a safe, sparsely used retro find.

4 Samuel

Meaning "told by God" and coming from Hebrew origins, Samuel is one of those rare gems that never seems to fall out of favor. Perfect for the parents who want a religious connection, Samuel was the name of a child prophet who God spoke directly to in the Old Testament. It's also become an all-around love name for boys and men, spawning nicknames Sammy and Sam.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson, singer Sammy Davis Jr., and baseball player Sammy Sosa are but a few famous Samuels. There was also inventor Samuel Morse and writer Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.

Sam and Sammy are also short for Samantha, but Samuel is uniquely male. Due to the popularity of this name, it's likely there will be more than one Samuel on the playground, but the name is so perfect, most parents don't care.

3 Thomas

This name originates from Aramaic and means "twin". Inventors, actors, and presidents have had this moniker, and so has a disciple from the New Testament. Though he was labeled doubting Thomas, Thomas still followed Jesus Christ until he was martyred. After being around for centuries, this name still ranks in the top 100 for little boys in the United States.

Tom and Tommy are great nicknames, and Thomas is an exclusively male name that is also a surname. In fact, for a parent who wants to pay homage to a family member with the surname Thomas, naming a child this moniker will do the trick.

Many saints have been given the name Thomas, as have inventors and philosophers. A child named Thomas is in good company all the way around, and even though the name is popular, it's not as prevalent as others on the list.

2 Walter

Coming from German origins and meaning "army ruler", Walter still lands in the top 400 names for US boys, making it perfect for parents who want a classic that isn't covering the naming market.

Walter White, drug creating school teacher from the hit show Breaking Bad, brought this name back into the public eye. But don't worry, children named Walter will not automatically be experts at making meth. The name has been around for centuries, and it has the precious nickname Walt.

Actor Walter Matthau, creator Walt Disney, and reporter Walter Cronkite are but a few famous Walters. Though many may see this as an old man name, it's actually fine for boys. If mom and dad are still concerned, Walt is a super friendly kids' name, and then the child can choose to go by Walter later in life.

1 William

This name meaning "resolute protection" is from English and German origins, and though it has always been popular, it is now in the top ten names for boys in the US. With connections to former US presidents, English royalty, and actors, this name is perfect for any little boys out there.

William can also be shortened to Bill, Will, Willy, or Billy, but many parents prefer the distinct, distinguished sound of the full name. Prince William keeps this name connected to royalty, and four US presidents have been named William.

William Shakespeare gives this name an obviously prominent literary connection, and Will Smith offers a contemporary connection for parents looking for a name associated with entertainment.

This name is very popular, and it always has been. For parents who want something more unique, William is not a good choice, but for parents who want a forever classic, it's a great fit.

Sources: MSN.com, Nameberry.com, Behindthename.com, Sheknows.com

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