It is one of the hardest choices that parents face when they have a baby – what to name him. Some people choose names that have connections with other family members or names that match nicely with their surname. However, some parents decide that they want their child to have a flattering or unusual name and take inspiration from mythology, literature or music.
Celebrities who have decided to go off the rails with their name choices have been reviled, such as Frank Zappa with daughter Moon Unit and Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin with their daughter, Apple.
However, if a name has a special meaning or personal relevance, it can be a sweet and flattering tribute. Those who have experienced great life tribulations may also choose to pay tribute to endurance or recovery. Those who wish to inspire their child to greatness may wish to choose a name that has a meaning that conveys this thought.
Whatever the choice of name, it is likely to be shortened, so possible forms of the name should be considered. It is all very well to choose a special name like Maxim if the parents are aware that the name will most likely be shortened to Max for most of the child’s life.
Columbus was a popular name for boys in the late nineteenth century. It is a well-known surname, but today is a less popular first name. It has been used as a name for around 6,500 boys in the United States since 1880, according to Baby Names Hub.
However, due to some popularity with celebrities, it has made a small resurgence in recent decades. Lady Helen Taylor named her son Columbus, meaning dove in Latin, and this brought it more openly into the public domain. The actor, Columbus Short also made the name more well-known.
This super cool name is short for Zedekiah, which in Hebrew means ‘The Lord is Just’. There have been several references to the name in recent popular culture, including a character in Pulp Fiction and one in Men in Black.
Of course, Zed is the British pronunciation for the final letter of the alphabet, so can be used as a name in its own right. It has become more popular recently, possibly because of its usage in video games and anime, with Zeddicus in the Sword of Truth series and a character in the anime, Kiba.
After the massive popularity of the Harry Potter series, what could be more flattering for a little boy than to be named after one of the heroes of the books, Severus Snape? Also, it appears in one of Harry’s fictional children’s names, so if a parent wants a tribute to J.K. Rowling’s books that is a bit more unusual than Harry, Severus, meaning seventh is a good choice.
The name was also used in Roman times and is known as a gladiator name, so Severus gives a little boy a heroic name with strong connotations.
Jupiter is well-known as the name of a planet in the solar system and means father of Zeus in Latin. In Roman mythology, Jupiter was a Roman god and he presides over heaven and light according to Baby Names. The Romans believed that Jupiter was the king of all gods.
It is still a rare name for a boy that peaked in popularity in the early 1990s. However, given its meaning, it provides a wonderful name for a little boy to live up to.
Lancelot is a name of French origin that has increased in popularity since the 1980s. The name is known from Arthurian legend, which depicts Lancelot as being a trusted and brave knight of the Round Table.
The literal meaning of the name is ‘land’ or ‘servant’ and is often shortened to Lance. There are many famous men who have used this shortened version, such as the cyclist Lance Armstrong and American football star Lance Briggs. It is used in literature, notably in William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice where the spelling is Launcelot.
Of course, we know this name from Mark Twain’s, Huckleberry Finn and its shortened version of Huck. Explorer Bear Grylls named one of his sons Huckleberry. It is actually a reference to an American berry similar to a blueberry according to Baby Name Wizard. Its literal translation is ‘sweet berry’.
Of course, it may be given by parents who are fans of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Huckleberry Hound! The name is very unusual but has enjoyed a resurgence in the 2010s. The shortened version of Huck is more popular in Australia.
In Babylonian, Balthazar means ‘Baal protect the king’ or in English, ‘Lord protect the king’. It was used in the Bible and it appeared in the sixteenth century in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors reports Best Little Baby.
Of course, it is perfect for a Christmas baby as it is the name of the one of the Three Kings who visited Jesus, along with Caspar and Melchior. It peaked in popularity in the early 2000s and has been sporadic throughout history infamous names, including Balthazar Getty, the great-grandson of John Paul Getty.
Of English or French origin, the name Bastien means ‘revered’ or ‘venerable,’ so is quite a name to live up to. In Latin or Greek derivation, it means ‘from Sebastia’. It is more commonly used as a shortened version of the name Sebastien, the French spelling of what we know as Sebastian.
Mozart wrote a piece called Bastien und Bastienne, so classical music fans may choose this name as a tribute to the composer. The shortened version of Bas is commonly used, although this may be a derivative of Sebastian.
Hunt is not a common name, although it was a character in the A-Team, so fans of that show might choose it for their son! The name Hunter is more common, and Hunt can be used as a shortened version of this name.
It has derivation in the English language and the name means to ‘pursue’ or ‘chase’ and was used as a nickname for a medieval huntsman. It is more commonly known as a surname and is sometimes used by parents to pay tribute to a family member to continue the use of a name that might otherwise by lost within that family.
Raoul is the French version of the name, Ralph and means ‘wolf counsel.’ Its origins are in the German and Old Norse languages. It has not been a popular name but regained a little popularity with fans of Phantom of the Opera, which features a character named Raoul.
Those who are fans of the artist Raoul Dufy have been inspired to use the name as well. It is also a form of the more popular name Rudolf, made famous by the 1920s actor, Rudolph Valentino.
Kipling, often shortened to Kip, is an English name that evokes inspiration from the author Rudyard Kipling. It has a rather unusual meaning, according to The Name Meaning, that being ‘he who cures salmon or herring’ or ‘cured salmon’! A more appealing meaning is ‘from Cuppel’s people.’
The shortened version, Kipp means ‘small pointed hill’, and was popular in the 1960s. however, the longer form Kipling is used in tribute to Rudyard Kipling, the author of Just So Stories and Kim.
The name Adonis harks back to Greek mythology and comes from the Phoenician mean ‘lord’. Aphrodite found the infant Adonis and took him to Persephone in the underworld to raise and he grew to be very attractive.
The two goddesses argued over who could have him, so Zeus decided Adonis would spend one-third of each year with each woman, and then one third with whomever he wished. According to Behind the Name, Adonis was killed by a boar and the anemone flower grew from his blood.
It is a name that people associate with male beauty and so is a super flattering name for a young boy and gives him plenty to live up to.
Hero is an ancient Greek name whose meaning has not changed with the passage of time, as it meant a man of courage or ‘brave man of the people’. It was used by William Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing and has regained popularity in recent years.
The name can obviously be given to a boy who represents courage or heroic qualities of the father or parents. It gives a boy a lot to live up to, but certainly shows that the parents had high expectations of him!
Atticus comes from the Greek, Latin language and means ‘from Attica’. It evokes notions of Atticus Finch in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, especially after Gregory Peck’s performance in the movie. This led to Atticus Finch being named as the greatest hero in American film history.
It has been used by celebrities as a child’s name, for example, Daniel Baldwin and Isabella Hoffmann chose it for their son born in 1996. More recently, Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix used the name for their son in 2008.
This name comes from the German language and means ‘brave as a lion’. It has positive connotations from the Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci, regarded as one of the greatest creative minds of all time.
Obviously, there have been more recent uses of the name with Leonardo DiCaprio bringing the name to the forefront, as well as the slightly less positive association with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The name steadily grew in popularity after Leonardo DiCaprio’s success in Titanic and subsequent movies.
Raffaele has Hebrew and Italian origins and means ‘God has healed’. It is, therefore, a beautiful name to choose for a baby that has been unwell or who have come into a family where illness has been removed.
It has an alternative spelling of Raphael, with Raffaele being the Italian spelling of the name. it is more popularly used in its shortened version of Raff. It is a very popular name in Italy, ranking in the top 50 most used names for boys according to Baby Name Wizard.
This is another name that comes from Greek mythology. Apollo was a son of Zeus and a god of music, medicine, and poetry. Space fans may use the name in tribute to the space missions, and those who love the Motown era could choose it because of its association to the Apollo Theatre, which launched so many of its stars.
Celebrities have used the name as well, with Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale using the name for one of their sons.
Caesar is of course known as the legendary Roman emperor, and actually means ‘long-haired’! Because of the infamy of Emperor Caesar, it came to denote a great leader, and derivations of the name led to titles such as Kaiser and Tsar, according to Think Baby Names.
It is a name with associations to William Shakespeare as well, after his plays Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. It has an alternative spelling of Cesar, which is more commonly used as a boy’s name.
The Phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from the ashes and regenerates, has been given a further lease of life due to its appearance in the Harry Potter series of books and films, hence has been chosen as a name for more baby boys.
It comes from the Greek word for crimson and is a symbol of immortality. As the trend for using places as baby names increases, those heralding from Phoenix, Arizona, have chosen the name, as have fans of the late actor, River Phoenix.
This is a fine name to give to a boy, it means ‘the exalted one’. It has origins in Greek and Latin, where forms of the name include Augustine and Augustus, which means majestic. The imperial title ‘Augustus’ was bestowed by the gods.
In the 2000s, the name reached its highest popularity in the United States. It has appeared in popular literature via Ernest Hemingway as a character named Agustin appears in For Whom the Bell Tolls. He is a noble character who is extremely loyal.
Obviously, this name is popular among football fans because of the legendary soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo and the Brazilian race car driver, Cristiano Da Matta.
It is a Latin name meaning ‘Christian’ or ‘Follower of Christ’. Similar Italian names are rising in popularity because of their romantic connotations and pleasing sound, according to Oh Baby Names.
Although not widely used, it is popular in Latin cultures, particularly those of Portuguese origin. In 2017 it ranked at 853 in a list of American boys’ names.
Fans of Jimi Hendrix love this unusual name and have paid tribute to their musical hero by giving their son his surname as a first name. In Dutch and German, it is used in the version Hendrik.
It has a trendy overtone, just like other names that respect great musicians, like Jagger, Lennon, and Bowie, which have also been used as forenames. The addition of an ‘x’ at the end of the name gives it an added appeal. Celebrities have used the name for their children, including the rapper Shwayze.
We know the word legend in common parlance, meaning an event of majestic proportions. A great name for a little boy who has caused a momentous change in his parents’ life.
There are many musical references to the word legend if parents are paying tribute to a favorite song with the name. Songs by David Bowie, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison all sang songs with the word legend in the title.
The name first appeared on baby name charts in the 1990s and has increased in popularity during the 2000s.
Ezra is a name of Hebrew origin that means ‘helper’. It is the name of a book in the Old Testament of the Bible, recalling the events of a Hebrew prophet.
There are a few famous Ezras including American poet and critic, Ezra Pound and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. Actor, Ezra Miller was recently seen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It has regained popularity in recent years and is used by parents who prefer a biblical name that is a little more unusual.
This super flattering name from the French and Latin language, means ‘greatest’, and who would not want to confer that moniker on a baby boy? It is a popular name in Slavic countries, particularly Russia, and is also used as a shortened version of Maximus, a name made famous in the film Gladiator.
It is also a shortened version of the name Maximilian, meaning ‘great’ and has the common shortened version of Max.