There's something about cowboy culture that we all love. It's not about the boots and hats, the horses and all, although those are pretty cool too. It's about being authentic — being close to the earth and nature, making decisions and dealing with the consequences.
While there are still some cowboys these days, most of us think of the Old West, when men took off to pioneer the land in the center of the country. We've learned a lot about it through books and movies, and there are lots of legends that we love. Even the stories of the bad guys were exciting and fun. And the music tells the tales. For some of us, it's truly inspiring, so much so that we can find some great baby names for our little buckaroos.
From the bad boys Jesse James and Billy the Kid to the good guys in Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp, there are great names everywhere. We also find a lot of inspiration in the places of the Old West that turn into wonderful place names for a little cowboy — and we go way beyond the old "Tex" stereotype. Moms may be surprised what we've roped up.
Here are 25 cowboy names for boys.
There are a lot of cowboys that could inspire great baby names. One of the biggest legendary cowboys is at the top of our list, and his name is experiencing a pretty big resurgence of late.
Wyatt Earp is not only one of the biggest names to come out of the Wild West, but he is also a good man. He was a lawman who worked with his brothers to stand up to some of the biggest, most notorious bad guys who caused problems throughout the region.
Wyatt's famous showdown with the Clanton brothers in Tombstone, Arizona has been the subject of many movies, and he's been portrayed by hunky actors like Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner, which may be why the name stands out as masculine and handsome. Everyone knows the name and smiles when they heart it.
Just like the legendary figure, the name means "brave in war." It's also the name of the lead character in "Easy Rider," and while it definitely brings the masculine swagger, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis did unisex fans a favor by giving the moniker to their daughter several years ago. While it definitely brings us back to the last turn of the century, the name has surged this century, reaching 33rd in popularity in 2016.
For this next name, we're going to something that might work for cowboys in Ireland as much as in the West. It's a last name turned first name that has great nickname appeal and a growing group of fans. Jameson definitely rolls off the tongue the same way that the whiskey of the same name does, and while there aren't any legendary cowboys that share the name, we think that it definitely gives the vibe that a mom and dad might be looking for.
Jameson has that masculine but sensitive kind of groove to it. It makes you think of a man wearing a Stetson with dirt on his jeans who can take care of just about anything that happens in life.
He's got a swagger but not because he is full of himself — it's just a cool aura that comes from being confident in yourself.
Jameson might mean "son of James," but there are some girls who bear that moniker these days, so it's not so tough that it turns some moms off. It's less popular than Wyatt, but also on the upswing. In fact, rocker Pink and her husband Carey Hart gave the name to their little boy in 2016.
While Liam has become a popular alternative to William, we think that moms and dads who are looking for a cowboy name could bring a resurgence back to Billy, which is already on a role with the son of Jimmy Kimmel who we all have fallen in love with as he battles through heart defects.
Anyway, Billy was once the ultimate bad-boy name, thanks mostly to Billy the Kid.
Born William Henry McCarty, the famous gunfighter had a rough start at life, and that lead to a life of crime. He was one of the most notorious outlaws in the Old West, who was thought to have killed 21 men before he died at the age of 21. He wasn't really a good guy, but thanks to the portrayal of him in "Young Guns," many of us have a little more positive impression of him. As cowboys go, though, he was certainly a legend.
William has always been one of the most popular names out there for babies, and it still remains in the top 10. While it was the third most popular name in 2016 for boys, its nickname Liam was actually No. 2. That's why we think it's entirely possible for Billy to become the alternate. While Liam is more hipster, Billy could work for the rugged types who like cowboy names.
Thanks to a lot of legendary stories and plenty of John Wayne movies, cowboys are synonymous with lots of things other than cows. One of them is definitely guns. Whether they are good guys are bad guys, people who survived the Wild West had to be good with a gun, which can protect them from everything from wild animals to outlaws. It's not a negative, just a reality for people in the old days of the cowboys. And that's why we're recommending the next name on our list, Remington.
The name was originally a last name, but it's been used for first names for decades, although not all that often. While the name has its place in the ballrooms of the upper crust, it's also the name of an arms brand that is more than 200 years old.
It could work for a cowboy or an executive, which is something that might appeal to parents. And while it definitely has a masculine edge, there are girls that hold the name as well. It's a name that appealed to self-proclaimed country girl and rocker chick Kelly Clarkson for her son, and we love it too. With a nickname like Remy, it's got all the positives that we could imagine for a cute and kind little cowboy.
Place names may seem like a new trend these days, but it was definitely a thing during the Old West days. Think of "Tex," a character in every cowboy movie ever made, right? Well, we won't put Tex on our list, but there are a lot of other great places that immediately make you think cowboy but that could also have appeal otherwise. Our first choice in that category is Denver.
The capital of Colorado is known as the Mile High City, but even though it has all the makings of modern civilization these days, we bet that you'll spot plenty of cowboy hats in the crowd.
The city's history dates back to the Gold Rush, which brought plenty of cowboys to the territory, and it was definitely one of the most important locations in pioneering the West. It's also great for any sports fans who love the Broncos or the Rockies.
The name is unusual, and it was most popular about 100 years ago, which makes it great for the vintage name trend. It also could work for a boy or a girl. We think it's a great place name choice for a little cowboy.
A little buckaroo who loves horses and boots could have no better name than, well, Buck. The name is a perfect choice for any parent who loves the nickname trend for a full name, and it could pay homage to a number of last names in the family, including Buckley or Buckelew. But the name also stands on its own as a nature name, as the word is a term for a male deer.
Young Bucks are spirited, sweet and protective, and they love the outdoors. We think it's a great name for a kid and it will grow with him as he becomes a strong, upstanding man.
It may be unlikely that anyone other than a grandparent remembers Buck Rogers, but he was once a pretty stories character in movies. Yet at the same time, pretty much everyone knows and likes someone who has been called Buck. It's definitely a masculine name that has the friendliness and confidence of a good guy cowboy. We can see him singing "Home on the Range," while strumming the guitar on the porch. The name was fairly popular 100 years ago, but it dropped off the charts in this century. We'd love to see it make a comeback for all the sweet cowboys out there.
We know a little Guy — yes, we mean Guy with a capital G — and we think that it is the perfect name for a cowboy kid as well as a good outstanding young man. The name is definitely vintage — it's pretty much unheard of these days even though it was in the top 200 for the first half of the 20th century. We're sure that Jimmy Stewart would have played a good guy named Guy in a great western, so that is why this is on the list.
The name may seem a bit off since we now use the word guy in common vernacular, but just think about it. It definitely has the masculine edge to it, and it has the connotation of cool and collected.
We think that it evokes confidence and a swagger. The name means "guide" or "teacher," which makes us think of the leader of the cowboys who are riding through undeveloped territory. He's the one teaching them the ropes and making sure that everyone is safe around the campfire. He has an ease about him that makes everyone else feel confident and assured, and whether he is in a barn or a boardroom, he is someone that everyone aspires to be. Guy is a good egg, and a cowboy we all love.
Biblical names have always had a special place in our hearts, and there are lots of other people who enjoy taking a name that has a special significance in that collection of stories for inspiration for their lovely little ones. We found one that comes from the Old Testament that is also great for little cowboys. It's Levi, the name of one of Jacob's sons who also shares his names with the most popular brand of blue jeans around. Levi was also the name of the apostle Matthew in the New Testament before he took on a new moniker with his new life with Jesus.
Levi is definitely a name that has some swagger. It's got the casual but cool connotation like a well worn pair of jeans.
And while it's an old name that has bene around for centuries, it's fairly uncommon for parents who are hoping their little cowpoke will stand out. The name is on the rise since Matthew McConaughey chose it for his son, but it's still only reached No. 42. We think it's a great choice for a good God-fearing boy who loves the outdoors and days riding horses ending with nights in front of a campfire.
One syllable names are definitely hot these days, and we love how they pack a punch in a small amount of time. For this next one, it takes just a few letters to actually give a couple of cowboy connotations, so we think that this one is high on a lot of lists — Colt.
A true cowboy is all about horses, and colt is the term for a spirited young horse, specifically a male who has the potential to be fast like a racehorse.
A colt is an amazing steed with a lot of heart, just like what you want to see in your little boy. It's also the name of a gun brand, which harkens us back to the days of the Old West gunslinger. In fact, some people will think of the gun before they think of the horse term. But the name certainly represents someone who is strong and brave and able to handle their own. A little Colt may get into a bit of trouble, but he'll have a good heart and a lot of energy, and he'll always be ready to make things right. He will grow into a man who is a true friend and a strong individual.
There's another one syllable name that works wonderfully for a modern cowboy. It's a directional name that is also a partial place name, and it packs a powerful image in just a few letters. West is a great option for anyone who is looking for a less traditional name that would work well in the 21st century.
Cowboys are most known for pioneering the Western United States. They were brave in setting out for places unknown to better their lives, and we think that it would be a great tribute to name a little cowboy after the place that they conquered — West. It's a name that evokes the image of a sunset over the Rockies, and it makes us want to pick up a guitar and sing by a campfire.
As a unisex name, West is definitely a cool guy. While we understand the allure of the names North, South or East, it's West that gives a real rugged and brave quality.
The names Wesley and Weston have been coming back, but the more uncommon and individualist West works better for a cowpoke who loves riding the range. It's not so obvious that it wouldn't work in the boardroom, but West might be happier leading his company from in the field, we think.
These days, people might think of Ryder as a motorcycle name, but it also works great for a cowboy who loves to be in the saddle. It conveys sure-fire spirit, the ability to lead the pack but also go with the flow, and it's just fun and interesting.
Ryder was definitely originally meant for a horse lover.
It means "cavalryman" or "messenger," according to Nameberry, and while it seems to have been around since the Wild West days, the name was just inside the top 1000 in the 1990s, but it has reason to just outside of the top 100 only two decades later. The name is especially popular in Canada, Nameberry says, but it's one of our favorites as well.
The name has a tough guy edge to it, although there are some people who have used it for their daughters. And as the name of the highest trophy in golf, it still has the aristocratic air to it at the same time. While some people may think of Winona Rider, we often envision Ryder Strong, the bad boy with a heart of gold from "Boy Meets World," and although we're certain he had never spent much time on a horse, the basic characterization is the same.
A lot of us only know about cowboys because of what we have seen depicted in movies, but there is also a classic novel that has probably shaped our perceptions more than John Wayne ever did. The novel "Shane" was written in 1949 by Jack Schaefer, and it's still on top reading lists for teens today.
The title character is definitely one of the most upstanding heroes from the western genre, and we think that is a great inspiration for a baby named Shane.
The book is about a boy who lives in Wyoming in the late 19th century. His father is battling a nearby homesteader for the right to his property, and Shane is a cowboy who comes into their lives and helps them stand up to the men who are trying to take away their farm. Shane is mysterious, and people are worried that he is an infamous criminal, but instead he proves himself to be an upstanding character who is brave and righteous and definitely a hero. Shane is a twist on the more common Sean that means "God is gracious." It surged in popular after the movie based on the novel came out in the 1950s, but it's become less popular in the last few decades. We think it's a great name for a rugged individual with a proud heart and a brave character.
Cowboys are men of the outdoors. They may not work directly with the soil, but the ground underneath their boots is an integral part of their life. In some parts of the country, it's more of a clay than anything else, and that makes Clay a great option for a baby name. It works on a lot of levels, as Clayton and Clanton were the names of a lot of famous figures from the Old West.
We picture Clay as a bit more refined than the typical cowboy.
This one wears his bolo tie and boots as he works to change lives as a politician or another service field. He might be an oil man or a banker, but he is as comfortable on a horse as in a Mercedes.
We think there is an air of Southwestern charm to the name Clay. He's a smooth talker who isn't likely to be the one inside the prison bars. He's more likely to make the laws than break them. It's a great nickname name, and it works if you like one-syllable nature names. We think there is a lot to like about it, on top of the fact that it fits well on a cowboy.
It's time for another place name on our list. This one is more unusual, but that fits well in the modern era. We can't all be Brooklyns or Bronxs. We think there is a good place for a cowboy name among the place names, and a great fit would be Arizona. That state is the center of cowboy culture, where men fought to set up their homesteads not too long ago. While Phoenix is rising among the popularity ranks these days, we think that its home state of Arizona should be just as popular for people who love the West.
Arizona means "little springs," a name dubbed from a Native American tribe.
It was more widely used in the late 1800s and early 1900s not long after the territory became a state. But we think that it is ripe for a comeback. It's also a name that has been used for boys and girls, although it was once more popular for girls. It has great nicknames, include Ari and Zona and Z. It's definitely cool and interesting, just like a cowboy. It reminds us of the red peaks sticking out over a rugged landscape. It takes a determined and brave boy to conquer that land, and that's why we love the name so much.
Here's another kind of old-fashioned name that seems straight from the ranch — Cody. We think that the name became popular after Buffalo Bill Cody started bringing his tales of the Wild West to the rest of the country. Buffalo Bill grew up in the Kansas territory. He was a Pony Express rider for a while, and a war hero for his service as a scout in the Civil War and the Indian War. He started a traveling show that told legends of the West, and he was probably one of the biggest entertainment cowboys around.
Cody is a name that became pretty well used in the 1980s and 90s —in fact, it reached the Top 25 for a while — but it dropped off of the popularity list after that. There are very few baby Codys around, so the little one will stand out with this great two-syllable option. According to Nameberry, it means "helpful," and it definitely has that connotation to us. It's a name for a good cow hand who keeps us entertained at the campfire with singing and jokes. He's a jovial guy who is a great friend. We think that's a great person for a little boy to grow up to be.
There's something really charming about this next one. It gives us the impression of a Southern or Southwestern gentleman who will hold the doors open for all the ladies and tip his hat and say "Yes'm."
We love the name Wade for all those connotations and more, and we think it's a top notch option for parents looking for a sweet little cowboy name.
Wade is an English name that means "at the river crossing," according to Nameberry. It's a refreshing twist on Wayne but and a less trendy option than Cade. We think that it blends the old-fashioned and the modern. We haven't met a lot of Wades but we can think of a few that we have loved on television, including the charming bartender on "Hart of Dixie." He's also the first name of the Deadpool, although most people probably missed that part. Wade might be a person who finds trouble, but it's usually because he is standing up for what is right and being a loyal friend. He's handsome and polite, and he can dress up his jeans and boots or get them dirty when he has to. Wade is a great name for a kid whose going to keep you on your toes but will always have your back.
A lot of the names that we've talked about on our list are pretty tried and true. They were pretty popular back in the days of the Old West, but still loved today. This next one, though, has never really topped the charts . It's a name that might work for parents looking for something that has the heart of the cowboy but really stands out as different. It's another place name, although the town looks very different today than it did in the Old West — Reno.
Reno is known as the Biggest Little City in the World. People come to visit for the casinos, but they stay because its a great Nevada town close to the mountains and Lake Tahoe.
The city, though, has its roots in the Gold Rush when cowboys came out tot he West in search of dreams. While some people think of the bright lights and fun atmosphere of the hotels, others think of the large fields and the horses that roam there. It's a great town and an even better name. It could work for a boy or a girl, someone that's bound to be willing to take a chance and try to live their dream.
We love old-school nicknames. So many of them work for great cowboy names because they are casual and friendly. They give the impression of someone who won't shy away from getting his hands dirty, and he loves the outdoors and horses.
We think a great possibility is Hank, a name that can be used as a nickname for Henry but stands well on its own.
It may be Hank Williams Jr. that gives us the impression, but it's a great name for a cowboy. Of course, it also works great as an ode to a sports icon, thanks to Hank Aaron. It's a one-syllable name that gives a positive impression from the very start. The dad from "King of the Hill" is another Hank that makes us laugh, and we even loved the grumpy octopus with the name in "Finding Dory." Hanks usually find a way into our hearts because they work hard to meet their goals while being fun and friendly, just like a cowboy.
Hank is a name that has never been at the top of the charts but it's had a big uptick this decade. That's because it's a one-syllable name that gives a lot of character.
Our next name is also a great nickname that has become a stand-alone sensation because it really conveys all it needs to in one quick syllable.
In fact, it just needs two letters to take our minds to the range, where the deer and the antelope play.
The name Ty does so much while also ticking off several possibilities of people that could be credited. Tyler and Tyson were really popular a couple of decades ago — probably a little too popular — so this gives it a modern edge in a simple setting without much fuss.
Ty Cobb is probably the most famous person with the name. He's a baseball player who was known for his Southern charm, although he also had his faults. There are also television personalities Ty Burrell and Ty Pennington. The name is outside of the top 500, but that just makes it unique and more personal. Of course, the person who caused us to place it on the cowboy list is Ty Murray, who has been hot on the rodeo circuit for a long time now. He's become a bit of a legendary cowboy in modern times, which is why his name is perfect for this name list.
We're certain that this next name isn't on many parents' radar, but it's a perfectly charming choice for a boy who has a great heart and was born to be in a saddle. Morgan is the name of one of Wyatt Earp's brothers who did a lot to help him keep order in the Wild West. He may not have been as famous as Wyatt, but that means his name is also a great choice for a mom and dad who wants a little more obscure name. In fact, it definitely fits in the category of a name that everyone has heard of but no one has met a person with it.
Morgan was originally a name that belong to the boys, although in the past several decades or so it has been slightly more popular for girls. It's a somewhat forgotten unisex choice, which makes it a perfect candidate for a lot of millennial parents these days. There are two huge film stars from past generations that share the name, although they are different genders — Morgan Freeman and Morgan Fairchild — and while neither of them have been known for playing cowboys, we think it works really well for a boy who loves to spend time around a campfire or riding the open range.
We imagine a Morgan is more of a soft-spoken, sentimental type. He tips his cap politely and makes sure that everyone is safe and secure. Morgan Earp was a good guy, and we have no doubt that a little cowboy with that name will be too.
Here's another nickname name that works great for a cowboy. Pete — as in Pistol Pete — is a fun short name that works great for a kid who loves to play cowboys or a man who does it for real. It's a name for a person who walks into an Old West town like he owns it and then rustles up some steers for branding. He can rope a calf in 10 seconds flat. In short, he's a cowboy through and through. His friends know him well, and he's liked all about town. Pete is definitely a genuine guy with an easy smile who is one of the most popular cowpokes around.
Pete is a nickname name for Peter, which means "rock." He's sturdy and dependable and also ruggedly handsome.
Peter, of course, is a name from the Bible. He's one of Jesus's most trusted apostles who is utterly devoted to making the world a better place, although he makes some mistakes too. There are legendary Petes in all walks of life, from Pete Rose to Pete Sampras to Pete Townsend. In the West, Pistol Pete is a mascot for a number of universities where cowboys get their education — in fact, three colleges have mascots that go by that name, University of Wyoming, New Mexico State University and Oklahoma State University. Those are all places where the cowboys roam, so we think that Pete is definitely a great name for any parent looking for a cowboy name for their little rascal.
We had to have at least a couple of bad guys on this list, since the legends of the Wild West are filled with them. There's one cowboy that stands out, and he also has an awesome name. That's Jesse James, the notorious bank robber. Jesse has been portrayed as a kind of Robin Hood figure in movies. He may have been given some of his spoils to support the troops in the Civil War, but the truth is that there isn't much evidence of that.
He may have just been an outlaw.
We didn't put James on this list, although it's definitely a great cowboy name as well. But James doesn't need any help these days. It's been in the top 10 for decades. But Jesse is also an amazing choice. It's Biblical — it's the name of King David's father, which means it is in the lineage of Jesus. And it means "gift." We love the flow of the name; it just exudes casual and comfortable and confident, just like cowboys do.
Jesse James is such a legend that there are other celebrities who have taken on the moniker and gained recognition as well. There's a reality TV star named Jesse James who is known for his prowess with motorcycles, and there is also a female Jesse James, now Jesse James Decker, who is a country singer. That's because it's a great name.
This name comes from the good guy category of the Old West cowboys. Pat Garrett was a lawman who worked to keep his community safe, so he is a legend that is definitely worth passing his name along to a little baby. Pat wasn't always a great person. He harmed a fellow buffalo hunter, and although we don't know the circumstances, Pat turned himself in. The authorities declined to prosecute, and after that Pat turned to a life of upholding the law. He was the sheriff of two different counties in New Mexico. Pat is mostly well-known for his pursuit of Billy the Kid, who was robbing and harming so many people that the community was terrified. They captured Billy once, and he was scheduled to be hung, but he escaped. Finally, Pat caught him in a showdown, and the reign of terror ended.
Patrick is a great name, but it doesn't give us the image of a cowboy so much as an Irishman. But
Garrett, that's a name that sounds like it came straight from a John Wayne movie.
It's a variation of Gerard that means "spear strength," according to Nameberry. The name was on a mini-revival in the '90s, when it reached the Top 100, but now it's slipped to the 300s, which is a good place for a somewhat unusual but not unheard of name. We can bet a boy named Garrett will love horses and spend his days outdoors. He'll take care of his community and do all that he can to be protect people — in short, he'll be the one you want in your corner when Billy the Kid comes to town.
We've talked a lot about the Old West and the legends that have us still loving the cowboy lifestyle. But there is one person that has done the most to keep those stories alive for us. No, it's not John Wayne, although he sure did his part. It's John Ford. Ford was a filmmaker who directed a lot of those John Wayne movies we are talking about plus many more. He won four Academy Awards for best director and one of those films, "How Green Was My Valley" won the best picture award. Some of his most renowned films include "Stagecoach," "The Searchers," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," and "The Grapes of Wrath."
John Ford was known for shooting on location, which is why we've got such great images of the rugged terrain of the West in our minds and our hearts. He's an unofficial cowboy who loved the land, and that is why we think he would be a great inspiration for a baby name.
We're choosing his last name for this list because Ford seems like a stalwart, strong moniker for a little cowhand.
It's a nature name that definitely reminds us of the simple, true life as a cowboy. We think it's a great one-syllable choice for a boy who rocks his boots and hat.
We've got one last place name for our list. It's a great name that immediately makes you think of the plains. It's Dakota, a name that could be used for a cowboy or a cowgirl, and that has a lot going for it.
It stands out in a crowd while not being seen as too weird, and it evokes a person who is individualistic and brave.
It's also got a great nickname — did you know that football star Dak Prescott's name is actually Dakota?
Dakota is originally a name from the Sioux Native American tribe. It means "friendly one," which gives us the impression of the cowboy with the 10-gallon hat and the grin just as big. Some people think that the name might have gone to the girls because of the uber-famous actress Dakota Fanning, but the name is just as popular for boys as for girls. That is to say that it is used as often for one as the other, but it's still thoroughly in the unusual category. The name had surged into the top 100 in the '90s but it's closer to the 400 mark now. We think it's a great authentic cowboy name that will give a little boy a great start in life. He'll be right at home on the range with this one.