When I was picking out a name for my son, there just didn’t seem to be many appealing names for boys. I could think of a million beautiful, melodic, sweet names for girls, but when it came to boy names, I was stumped. In talking to mom friends who also had boys, I found many of them had the same experience.
What is it that makes choosing boy names so hard when girls’ names are so easy? It’s hard to say, but for the boy names on this list, parents have definitely made their feeling known. The names that are plummeting fast include trendy names and spellings, as well as traditional mainstays like “Joshua.” Some have been on a steady decline for years, while others are falling off a recent spike.
Either way, for moms-to-be they just want their boy to stay ahead of the trends, steer clear because unfortunately, these just aren’t cutting it for baby boys anymore.
On the other hand, picking a less popular moniker could mean a kid isn’t stuck being the bazillionth Noah or Liam in his class. There’s something to be said for bucking the trend, which may inspire a little one to blaze his own path, too. Plus, if mom is dead-set on a name, it’s still best to follow her heart.
And if her son is already stuck with one of these names on the downswing, no worries—by the time her little one gets older, his name may be rising again.
BTW, my son ended up being called Samuel, a name that’s been ranked steadily around number 25 for the last two decades.
Jaydon is one of those names with many different spelling variations, but for some reason, this one is nearly dropping off the charts! It had been on the rise until its peak at number 415 in 2007, but since then has been falling nearly 100 spots every year. Jaydon just squeaked into the top 1000 at number 999 in 2015 (2016’s official name list isn’t out yet). Wow!
The more popular variation of the name, Jayden, is doing much better. Although it’s fallen out of the top 10 where it peaked at number 4 in 2011, it’s now still at number 20—not too shabby. What a difference one vowel (“e” instead of “o) can make!
Jaydon, which might have originated from the Biblical Jadon, meaning “thankful,” is really a modern invention. The name and its variants gained popularity as celebrities chose it for their children, such as Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett, and Jayden Spears, Britney’s now-10-year-old.
Craig is one of those traditional names that people just flat out don’t like anymore. It’s been constantly dropping ever since the 1980s, if you can believe it! It’s fallen over 500 spots in the last 10 years, and is now way down the list at 913. Poor Craig!
One reason for its lack of popularity is that there really haven’t been many famous Craig’s in recent past, unless you count James Bond actor Daniel Craig. The name itself is a bit harsh-sounding, and softer names seem to be more on trend lately.
Its meaning is hard, too—literally. From the Gaelic, Craig is a Scottish name deriving from “crag,” or “rock.” Someone named Craig would, therefore, indicate a man “from the rocks.” You can just picture a rocky Scottish cliff—and the fear of falling off it, just like this name did! But, the name is still more popular in its native Scotland.
I was surprised this name made the list of unpopular names. Tyler sounds so modern and trendy, doesn’t it? I picture a cute little prepster in a bowtie and cap. Anyway, true, the name is still in the top 100, but it’s been falling ever since the nineties when it peaked at number 5. In the last five years, it’s dropped nearly 50 spots! While not a total bust, naming your kid Tyler is just behind the times—which in a way is worse than being out of the spotlight for a while, because in that case you can claim it’s “vintage” or “rediscovered.” No suck luck for Tyler.
Meaning “maker of tiles,” Tyler is an occupational name from England. Along with Taylor, another occupational name, the potentially unisex Tyler was definitely more popular a generation ago. There aren’t too many current celebs with the name, which could account for its popularity drop. But there are a couple famous Tylers today: actor/writer Tyler Perry, celebrity chef Tyler Florence and Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey.
This traditional moniker has been a staple of boy names seemingly since its biblical origins. But in recent years this male mainstay has been plummeting. Ranking in the top 10 at number 7 in 2006, since then it’s dropped all the way to 30. While still popular, it’s definitely on the downturn. Variants Andre and Andres are also falling.
The appeal of Andrew could be in its origins—after all, it does mean “strong and manly.” Originally from the Greek, Andrew was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles in the Bible. Parents may also like Andrew because of its nickname possibilities, including the playful Andy and the preppy Drew. Although there hasn’t been one particular celeb to bump the name back up into the top of the list, Andrew and its nicknames continues to crop up in popular culture: The Walking Dead actor Andrew Lincoln, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, actor Andrew Garfield and tennis star Andy Roddick. But even so, parents have just been losing interest.
OK I’ll admit, I have never heard of this name before—probably because I don’t follow soccer. Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is a Brazilian soccer (or football, as they’d say) star who also has played for Barcelona, and rose to fame about five years ago. This could account for the name suddenly appearing in the top 1000 in 2012 and jumping up 250 spots to number 550 in 2014.
But parents quickly lost interest in the name, because 2015 saw Neymar dropping almost a whopping 200 places back down to 790. How quickly they rise, how quickly they fall. Although, it’s possible that we’ll see another boost when the 2016 results come out, as Brazil won the gold medal in the Summer Olympics. Stay tuned!
If you’re curious, the meaning of Neymar seems to be of unknown origin. The closest to an explanation we can find is the name is a mash-up of Netuno (Neptune) and Mar (Mars) in Portuguese. It’s pronounced NAY-mar.
Am I the only one who hears Rachel Green from Friends pronouncing this “Joshu-AH” when I see it? Anyway, like Andrew, this traditional name is still up there on the list, despite its drastic drop after holding the number 3 spot for five years, from 2002 to 2006. (Friends ended in 2004. Coincidence?) But Joshua fell out of the top 10 in 2010, and has been falling since. It’s currently number 33.
An Old Testament name, Joshua means “the Lord is my salvation.” You’d think with popular fellow Old Testament moniker Noah currently at the top spot, Joshua would be gaining momentum instead of losing it, but it seems it’s being washed away with the flood (get it? Noah? flood?).
In any case, it is, as Rachel Green pointed out, a beautiful name, with a soft “sh” in between vowels. And although she was not partial to the nickname Josh, it’s a good option that fits a mop-haired little boy. Can’t you just see it? C’mon, let’s get this name back to the top 10 where it belongs!
This unisex name shows that differences in popularity can be gender-specific. Peyton for a girl had been on the rise, peaking at 42 in 2009 and then ranking steadily in the 50s with a slight drop to 72 in 2015. Peyton for a boy, however, is not faring as well.
After likewise rising with girl Peyton, boy Peyton peaked at 125 in 2007 and then started tanking. It’s currently all the way down at 260. This all while Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning found great success for his team! With a celeb in the limelight, it’s surprising that Peyton has fallen as much as it did. Although Peyton might get a boost in the 2016 results because of Manning’s Superbowl win, now that he’s retired expect the name to continue to dip.
The English origin of the name is a little unclear. Some sources say it is from a town in England, others say it means “from the fighter’s farm.” Either way, you’re probably not going to pick this one for its meaning—if you do pick it at all.
Nope, that’s not a typo. Jonathon is a variant of Jonathan, which has stayed fairly steady in the 40s for the last few years. Jonathon, on the other hand, has been dropping for many years, with a huge downswing in the 2000s. Since 2012 when it was at 653, it’s fallen drastically to 880.
Does this go to show trendy spellings, especially of well-known, traditional names, never stay popular for long? Maybe. There are so many different ways to spell this name, and most of them are dropped slowly—but there’s just something about that “o” that people don’t like. “Johnathon” with a second “h” is also falling hugely, and is almost off the chart at 915 (in comparison, Johnathan, with two “h”s but without the second “o,” isn’t doing as poorly).
Although there are a couple of professional sports players with this spelling variant, there doesn’t seem much point naming your son Jonathon. The second “o” might just add confusion and set a kid up for a lifetime of misspellings.
This traditional Irish name had been holding steady for many years but started a drop-off in the 2000s that’s been picking up steam. Since 2010 Sean has fallen over 100 points and currently stands at number 211. It’s variants, Shawn and Shaun, are also in decline.
In the eighties and nineties, Sean, Irish for John, gained popularity despite the fact that it’s not pronounced the way it’s spelled due to name’s Gaelic origins. Sean was even more popular than its phonetic version, Shawn. But in recent years the name seems to have fallen out of favor in the face of newer Irish choices, and has been replaced by lilting monikers like the popular Liam (from William), which stands at number 2, and Aiden, which stands at number 13.
Nevertheless, famous Sean’s abound: Sean Connery, Sean Combs, Sean Astin, snowboarder Shaun White and singer Shawn Mendes, just to name a few!
The very old-fashioned sounding Alfred has been majorly falling for years, with sharp drops in the past 10 years—except for 2014. Inexplicably, in that year the name shot up in popularity from 960 to 793, a huge jump that would be followed the next year by a huge loss, as Alfred fell back to 920.
An English name meaning “wise counselor,” Alfred brings English servants to mind, from Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth to ginger-haired footman-turned-chef Alfred on Downton Abbey. Not to mention the actual butler service you can hire called Alfred (really, Google it).
The name certainly has a vintage sound to it, but nicknames could modernize it—think of a cute little Alfie, Fred or Freddy. Although it appears not even the 2004 Jude Law romance Alfie could tempt moms to revive this moniker. Parents of late simply have not been taken with the name, despite its one-year blip in 2014.
This happens to be one of my favorite boy names—although my husband wasn’t going for it when we had our son (the aforementioned Sam), it will be on my list if we ever have another boy—whether the name is popular or not. And for some reason, parents just aren’t into the name as much as I am. The traditional spelling, Zachary, fares better, although it’s still been dropping a few spots every year. But Zackary has been on a steeper decline, last year losing almost 70 spots from the year before to land it in number 750. Variant Zackery has dropped even further, from 739 to 913.
All the spellings derive from the same meaning, “the Lord has remembered,” and has its roots in the Bible. Although it’s an old name, there’s just something about the first letter “Z” that makes it feel youthful and fresh. Can’t you just picture little Zack (or Zac, or Zach) with his first bike or skateboard? The name is all over Hollywood, with celebs Zac Efron, Zach Galifianakis, designer Zac Posen, Elton John’s son Zachary, and lots more. Still, Zackary is just losing momentum.
To me there is only one Denzel—Denzel Washington, that is. The Oscar-winning actor’s rise to fame coincides with the name’s rise in the 1990s, when it peaked at number 311. But since then, despite surges in 2002 and 2004, the name has been sharply declining. Today Denzel has dropped all the way at the bottom of the top 1000, coming in at 984.
Originally a Cornish name meaning “from the high stronghold,” it does in fact sound strong and manly. Plus, any name with a “z” in it sounds cool, doesn’t it? Still, parents just don’t have the attraction to it as they did twenty years ago (I wonder if the same can be said for the actor). But, Denzel Washington is nominated for an Oscar this year for the movie Fences. Could another surge be on the way as the actor comes into the limelight again? Only time will tell.
Another old-fashioned name, Gilbert has been on a steady decline for over 20 years. But despite almost falling off the charts at number 988 in 2012, the name had a sudden upswing in 2013 and 2014, rising to 891 and 893 respectively. But the rise was short-lived—now Gilbert dropped just as suddenly, hanging on at 983.
The name Gilbert always reminds me of Gilbert Blythe, Anne Shirley’s love interest in the classic Anne of Green Gables books. But despite the opportunity for the soft nicknames Gil or Gilly, something about the consonant-heavy second syllable “-bert” in the full name sounds harsh, which could account for its decline. With Germanic roots, the name means “shining pledge.”
There aren’t too many references to Gilbert in today’s popular culture, another reason the name has dropped so much. What do you think, parents—is this name due for a revival?
This is one spelling that to me just looks wrong. It could be because I’m Italian, but I just can’t get behind the “y” at the end, which butchers the traditional spelling of Giovanni. Maybe that’s why the original has been on an upswing for a couple of decades, holding at between 120 and 130 the last few years, but Giovanny has been tanking.
Giovanny smacks of trendiness. It peaked in 2010 at 618, but since then has fallen spectacularly, and now stands at 968. The name’s sudden rise and fall shows that parents at first thought it was cool to change the spelling—but quickly changed their minds.
The Italian form of John, Giovanni and its variants means “God is gracious.” Italian names tend to be popular because of their soft cadence and vowel-heavy sounds—especially for girls (see Sophia, Ava, Isabella, Mia and Olivia, all top 10 names). It’s a beautiful name, but just stick to the original spelling.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! This strong Irish name reminds me of a warrior king, probably due to its rhyming with “cannon.” It shot to popularity in 2014, jumping from spot 839 all the way to 412. But its rise did not last long. Now it has dropped back to number 532, signaling that this name is one with a bright but brief reign.
Gannon means “fair-skinned” or “fair-haired,” further conjuring the image of an Irishman of yore. But what of the recent popularity of the name? It could possibly be because Teen Mom 3 star Mackenzie McKee named her first son Gannon (the reality star has a penchant for unusual names: her daughter is Jaxie and her second son is Broncs).
For you Legend of Zelda fans, Ganon was also the bad guy in the video game—but that might mean your son may also bring to his teachers and bosses the thought of someone who’s up to no good!
This British name peaked in the nineties and has been on the decline ever since. In the last few years, Trevor has dropped over 100 spots to land it at number 306. Although among Brits it conjures a working class lad, in the U.S. it’s thought of more as a rich jock-sounding name (as most British monikers are).
The disdain from across the pond exhibited by many online commenters seems to be reflected to a lesser extent by American parents, which could account for its drop in popularity. Trevor, originally a Welsh name, means “from the large village.” Famous Trevors seem to be few and far between, unless you count Neville Longbottom’s toad in the Harry Potter series, or Thomas the Tank Engine’s friend Trevor the Traction Engine! Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, also hosts The Daily Show, and there are several professional sports players with the name.
I think of this as a thoroughly American name that brings to mind the spirt of the Old West, probably due to the famous cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody. But actually, this name has English roots, and means “helpful.” Cody peaked in the nineties at number 24, but has fallen sharply over the last 20 years. It now stands at number 237.
Although Cody can also be a girls name (currently off the charts of the top 1000, but peaked at 741), it has a strong yet free-spirited sound to it that makes it perfect for a little boy. Even so, there aren’t many Cody’s in popular culture, which has probably contributed to the lack of interest from parents. The name has definitely past its prime, but to me it still retains a bit of freshness—all it might need is one celebrity couple to give their child the name to push it back up the charts again.
There must be something about the name Seth that inspires a humorous personality, as evidenced by funnymen Seth Meyers, Seth Rogan, Seth Green and Seth MacFarlane. Or maybe this comedy association is actually what’s turning parents off—who wants a little wisecracker giving them grief at every turn? The name peaked in 2000 at number 63, but since then has plummeted to spot 278.
Seth is a Hebrew name meaning “appointed.” In the Old Testament Seth was the third son of Adam and Eve, after Cain and Abel—after Cain killed Abel, Eve believed God “appointed” another child to her. With its single syllable and soft “s” and “th” sounds, Seth brings to mind a gentle and quiet guy (comedic talents notwithstanding). I always think of Seth Cohen, played by Adam Brody on the early 2000s TV series The OC—he was quiet and funny too, remember? But neither the biblical association or the soft, sweet sound of the name has been enough to keep this moniker popular with parents.
Mitchell is the cooler-sounding version of Michael—but it’s still been falling fast for years, currently at number 585. The original Michael is still hanging on in the top 10, right now at number 9, but has relinquished the number one spot that it help throughout the nineties. Maybe Michael’s drop-off is also reflected in its lesser-used cousin Mitchell.
Mitchell is an English variation of Michael, also meaning “who is like God.” It actually was commonly used as a last name—think folk singer Joni Mitchell or Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell—but then branched out as a first name. The ready-made nickname Mitch brings to mind a confident, too-cool-for-school kid (for some reason I picture him flicking his surfer hair to the side). But it’s still falling out of favor, especially without too many Hollywood stars using the name. The only one I can think of is the character Mitchell Pritchett on the TV series Modern Family, who has a kind but high-strung personality that wouldn’t exactly inspire confidence in the name!
Body burst onto the charts in 2006, likely due to the popularity of Olympic skier Bode Miller. But since hitting its high point at number 774 in 2010, Bode’s been gaining speed downhill and now crashes in at 845.
Pronounced Boe-DEE (which could set a kid up for a life of mispronunciations), this name oozes extreme-sports attitude. It’s a total surfer (or skier, or skateboarder or snowboarder) name. But will it be taken seriously? Parents initially dazzled by Bode Miller’s charm might have quickly realized it’s not a very practical name! Can you picture lawyer Bode? Doctor Bode?
Variant Bodie has made it onto the charts in the last couple years but remains way down at number 965. Bodhi, a Sanskrit name meaning “enlightenment,” has actually been on the rise, with a slew of celebrity couples including Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green giving the name to their babies. Bodhi also brings to mind the surfer classic Point Break, which was remade in 2015. So if you like the name but want to stay on trend, Bodhi, not Bode, seems to be the way to go.
A name with infinite spellings and variants, Brandon was a top 10 name in the nineties, but has dropped steadily since then and now stands at number 82. Similar names like Brendan, Branden, Brendon and Brenden are likewise falling.
A good, strong boy name, Brandon has English roots and means “broom-covered hill” (a broom is a type of weed). So that’s probably not a reason to name your son Brandon; although the Irish Brendan has a much nicer meaning, “prince.” Brandon’s popularity in the nineties may be due to the character of Brandon Walsh on the original Beverly Hills, 90210 TV series. But lately, trendier “B” boy names have taken over, like Brayden, Beckett, Branson, Bennett, Bryson, Bentley and Bradley.
What is it about two-syllable boy names that start with “B,” especially “Br”? Somehow, they just keep evolving in endless variations, so it’s understandable why Brandon got left in the dust.
With a couple blips in the past ten years, most notably up to number 508 in 2006, Deshawn has been dropping fast and has almost fallen off the charts at spot 995. A modern invention, Deshawn is popular in the African-American community, but parents have not been feeling it as much lately.
The prefix “De-“ generally means “son of,” so this name could signify “son of Shawn,” although many babies born with the name don’t actually have a dad named Shawn. And as we know, Shawn (and Sean) have also been falling in popularity, so this name could be following in its footsteps. Variants Dashawn and Keshawn have actually dropped completely off the charts.
So why the change? This trendy name has been pushed aside, but in my research I couldn’t find any other African-American names that are on the upswing instead. This could signify that those names are being used less as a whole.
Markus has been on a roller-coaster ride, with some ups and downs, although its overall trend has been a shocking decline. It’s surprising compared with its variant Marcus, which has only been dropping a few points every year and currently stands at 168. Markus, on the other hand, had a bump up to 740 in 2014 but then fell rapidly to 865, its lowest point in the last 30 years.
Although replacing “k”s for “c”s can be very trendy, in this case it wasn’t very long-lasting. Marcus is an ancient Roman name—you may remember the emperor Marcus Aurelius, from history class (or the movie Gladiator). Fittingly, it means “warlike,” and definitely brings a feeling of strength and power to the otherwise simple name Mark, which is actually also trending down. And although the “k” seems to give the name a more masculine feel, if you want to stay more on trend, go for the “c.”
A unisex name with different spelling possibilities, Sidney has been plummeting and is at its lowest point ever in its history, at number 947. Its female counterpart is also tanking, as is the spelling Sydney (although the girl version of that spelling remains somewhat popular).
The name has two meanings, one from the French Saint Denis (say this with a French accent and you’ll get it), and the other an English place name meaning “at the wide island.” Although Sidney sounds very modern for girls, for a boy it sounds quite old-fashioned, which could be why parents just aren’t looking to name their sons this moniker. But, the nickname Sid sounds a bit tough-guy, doesn’t it? (Think the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious.)
Although not especially prevalent in pop culture now, Sidney Crosby is one of the hottest pro hockey players today. And the name always brings to mind the groundbreaking actor Sidney Poitier, not to mention the city of Sydney, Australia. But overall, Sidney is just not on the minds of parents.
How can you say this name and not think of the especially hot actor Channing Tatum? Sigh… What was I saying? Oh right, the name. With his hit movie Magic Mike in 2012, Channing shot up in popularity that year to number 514. Unfortunately, his name is no longer as hot as he is. After its sudden rise, it dropped fast and now stands at 784.
Channing has dual origins: one from the English meaning “people of Cana,” and a more appealing meaning from the Irish for “wolf cub” (aww!). It was traditionally a last name, such as Stockard Channing (Rizzo in the movie Grease) or Broadway’s Hello, Dolly! star Carol Channing. But in recent decades the name gained popularity as a first name as well, and has even been used for girls. Sometimes though, when a name becomes so linked to one rising star like it did with Channing Tatum, it burns out just as fast.
Sources: Social Security Administration (ssa.gov), Nameberry, SheKnows, BabyCenter