Have you ever wondered why society has gone crazy over vintage boys’ names like Henry, George, and Owen but have stopped short over the likes of Herman and Seymour? What about tried and true boys’ names--the ones that span generations yet are still holding strong? Names like Michael and Jonathan. It can make your head spin as you try to predict the names of the future as well as select the moniker perfectly suited for your unborn son.
So, you want to call your son something that stands out among the crowd yet is still largely well-known and recognized. Then take a step back in time while going against the grain. It should not be considered a well-kept secret that there’s an entire layer of relatively untapped name gold tucked away in the past. These are the names of your father, your grandfather, and older family friends.
Continue reading for 42 boys’ names you just don’t hear anymore. Maybe one of them will stand out as the perfect gem of a name you've been looking for.
The name Alan is currently in excellent standing in Poland and Mexico but seriously fading in North American society. Shrouded in mysterious origins, the name has been documented in France as early as the 6th Century.
Meanings for Alan vary yet include “little rock”, “handsome” and “harmony”. It’s also been coined as a slang term for “fox” and even possibly “deer”.
Another origin story for the name Alan suggests it evolved from a tribe of Iranian people known as the Alans who migrated to Europe sometime in the 4th or 5th Centuries. Either way, there is no arguing that the name Alan has ancient beginnings.
While spelling can vary with Allan or Allen, typically one “l” signifies a first name and a double “l” is reserved for surnames. If you are a fan of the two-letter nickname Al but aren’t all that crazy about Alan, the names Alistair and Albert are both available and underused boys’ naming options as well.
Having strong German ties, the name Arnold means “eagle power”. Brought to England, the name faded considerably soon after the Middle Ages but experienced a brief resurgence in the 19th Century. Despite losing its luster by today’s naming standards, it is most often associated with star power. Famed bodybuilder turned actor turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and professional golfer Arnold Palmer both bear the out-of-fashion name.
Arnold also proved quite popular among beloved television characters. If you remember the catch phrase “What ‘choo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” – then you also probably remember it was one of the funniest things about Gary Coleman’s portrayal of Arnold in sitcom Diff’rent Strokes. And before actor Pat Morita was Mr. Miagi, he was Arnold, the owner of the gang’s hang-out in beloved sitcom Happy Days. If both of these portrayals are before your time, then you are sure to recall the popular animated show from the 90s called Hey Arnold.
If you are a fan of the uniqueness but aren’t completely sold, variants of Arnold include Arend, Arndt and Arnoud. And a similar sounding, yet underrated boy’s name is Armand.
Yet another boy’s name rife with secret origins, the name Arthur may have possibly arisen from the Celtic word “artos” meaning “bear” or from a medieval Roman family called Artorius. There is also the famous legend dating back to the 6th Century about King Arthur though whether he was real or fictional is still up for debate.
A couple of other origin stories include Arthur coming from the Celtic term “art-vrig” meaning “bear king” or the ancient Irish name Artur.
While well-used in England back in the Middle Ages and once again in the 19th Century, Arthur has quietly receded into the shadows. That said, it currently ranks as the #3 choice for boys’ names in Belgium.
The name Arthur has also fared quite well in the literary world as it is the name of two prolific writers: Arthur Miller who penned Death of a Salesman and was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe; and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famous for being the mastermind behind characters Sherlock Holmes and Watson.
A couple of interesting variants include Arturo and Artair. And of course, the cute nickname Artie should be viewed as a major selling-point.
Bearing roots in both Ireland and England, the name Barry is sometimes considered to be the anglicized version of Irish names Bairre and Berach. The boy’s name Barry is translated as meaning “spear” or “fair-haired”.
Despite the name not topping any current trendy list for boys’ names, it is still relatively well known and is most often associated with musical legends Barry Manilow and Barry White. There is also an athletic element to the name as well considering it was the moniker of now-retired baseball star Barry Bonds.
Another little-known fact about the name Barry is that this was what U.S. President Barack Obama went by for most of his childhood and youth. It wasn’t until he attended college that he opted to go by his full name. If you are still uncertain about this name, let the unusual nickname Baz help you decide or consider a close alternative such as Barney.
The name Brent peaked in popularity during the 1970s, however remained high on the popular list of boys’ names in Belgium until 2012. Another interesting tidbit about this vanishing boy’s name is that Brent was once used as a nickname for a criminal who had been branded in punishment for his crimes.
According to statistics, there have been less than 140,000 men named Brent within the U.S. since 1880 up until present day. So if Brent is one of your preferential baby boy names, then rest assured you have lots of wiggle room. As well, most Brents kicking around today are in their mid to late 40s so chances of your son having to be referred to by his first name and last initial in class are slim.
And for any avid bird watchers out there, Brent is also the name of a specific type of goose. So there’s that too.
A few interesting spelling combinations are Brendt and Brentt. Similar-sounding names include Brenton, Brett, Brad, Brant and Brentley.
Scottish in origins, the name Bruce was made popular by Scottish king, Robert the Bruce in the 14th Century. You may remember his character from the 1995 blockbuster Braveheart.
Currently, the boys’ name Bruce is most often affiliated with bad-ass machismo thanks to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Willis, Bruce Lee and even Batman’s alter ego Bruce Wayne. An interesting side note: actor Bruce Willis’ first name is actually Walter – another boy’s name you don’t hear all that much.
An extremely popular boy’s name in Australia – at one point Bruce was used as slang to refer to any man from down under – the name has definitely dimmed in trend-factor by North American standards. If you like the sound but Bruce doesn’t do the trick, a few interesting variations include Brix (the place name in France where the Bruce family is known to have originated), Bryce and Bruno.
Often considered to be the German form of Charles, the name Carl is thought to have traveled into U.S. society back in the 19th Century along with German immigrants. While the name has clearly paled in modern day North America, it is currently still a popular baby name choice in both Danish and Swedish society.
In ancient times, the name often depicted a man of low birth, basically a commoner. Eventually, the name’s definition came to mean “fellow” or “husband”. And even with the name’s humble beginnings, variants of Carl such as Charles, Charlemagne and Charlotte have come to be favored by royalty.
Despite the fact that you may not necessarily know any Carls at this point in time, the name has many famous bearers including: the late American astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan; baseball player Carl Yastrzemski; late American actor Karl Malden; German revolutionary socialist Karl Marx; and American actor and director Carl Reiner (father of Rob Reiner).
Sometimes spelled Karl, the name has alternative forms such as Carol, Carlos and Carlo.
Meaning “clear” or “luminous”, the boy’s name Clarence has taken an unjust beating by being associated with dorkiness. But this name definitely has huge potential for making a come-back based on adorable nicknames alone! Think about it for a minute – pet names for Clarence include Clancy, Cleo and Clare.
The name has made a name for itself in the varied field of politics (Clarence Thomas), science (Clarence Birdseye who invented frozen food) and law (Clarence Darrow). As well, you may remember that Clarence was the name of the guardian angel in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.The name Clarence peaked in popularity in the 1890s, was still listed as #18 for popular boys’ names in 1900 and has steadily been in decline ever since.
So, if one-of-a-kind is your top priority when choosing a boys’ name, you may have found your winner. And if you love the name but the nameless baby you have on board is a girl, then any one of these feminized versions will do the trick: Claire, Clara and Clarissa.
This short but strong boy’s name was a trendy option back in the 1880s. Derived from the word “clerk”, the name Clark was used to describe a clergyman or a man within a religious order. Despite its popularity flickering briefly in the early 1900s, Clark had an uptick in usage again during the 40s and 50s thanks to film heartthrob Clark Gable.
And, of course, we can’t forget that Clark Kent is the name of Superman’s alter ego – he may not have been as brash and daring, but was definitely handsome and dashing in his own way.
Faster than a speeding bullet, it seemed that Clark was back on the rise as of 2012. But go to any supermarket on a Saturday morning and most likely you won’t hear any mothers bellowing the name Clark to the frenzy of children running around. So, chances are if you choose to name your son Clark, he’ll be the one and only within his class.
Derived from German words for “brave” and “counsel”, the name Conrad was the name of a saint in the 10th Century. It also proved to be a favorite for medieval German royalty. Despite resurrecting briefly in the 19th Century, Conrad has largely disappeared in current times.
Currently there are under 50,000 Conrads kicking around in the United States with the highest concentration per capita milling about in Pennsylvania.
A couple of notable bearers of the name Conrad include hotel tycoon and great-grandfather to Paris Hilton, Conrad Hilton as well as British writer Joseph Conrad. He penned the 1899 novel Heart of Darkness which the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now was based upon. On a side note, Joseph Conrad had anglicized his birth name from its original mouthful which had been Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski when he was born in the Ukraine back in 1857.
Besides Konrad, another European version of the name is Corrado and diminutive forms are Connie or simply Con.
Originating from an English surname meaning “courteous” or “polite”, Curtis can be found in the works of William Shakespeare, specifically as a character within The Taming of the Shrew.
And if anyone has ever uttered the phrase “You’re being such a Curtis” to you – do not necessarily take it as a compliment, especially if you are eating with your mouth open. In ancient times, it was often used as a nickname for a refined person but tended to be used ironically.
Derived from a middle English term comprised of “curt” meaning short and “hose” as hosiery, it was sometimes considered a slang term for a short-statured person. Robert, the son of William the Conqueror was often referred to as Curtis due to his diminished height.
Despite being a recognizable name, it remains low on almost all lists of boys’ names. It is sometimes spelled Kurtis and can easily be shortened to Curt.
Possibly derived from a French surname, the boy’s name Darryl means “darling”. It has a nice ring to it, even though it is not currently winning any popularity contests. It also may have originated from “d’Airelle” which means a person from Airelle, France. Going off topic for a moment, Airelle happens to be the French term for huckleberry.
Another shout-out from a popular 80s sitcom Newhart, you may remember the famous line: “Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.” That elicited much applause and laughs on each weekly episode.
Another 80s reference to this fading boy’s name is baseball player Darryl Strawberry. This power-hitting outfielder left his career in the 90s due to a series of personal problems and setbacks.
Spelling options abound including Darrel and Daryl. It can also be abbreviated to Darry. And thanks to female actor turned serious environmentalist Daryl Hannah, the name can easily be transferred to a baby girl if you’re expecting a daughter.
Before there was “The Donald”, there was just the name Donald. Love him or hate him, Donald seems to be a boy’s name that just doesn’t resonate with today’s young parents.
Scottish in origin, Donald is thought to be a version of the Gaelic name Domhnall meaning “world ruler” or “dark stranger”. The final “d” is most likely a result of mispronunciation of the original name by English speakers who just couldn’t get a handle on the Gaelic version.
Perhaps the name Donald is most famous thanks to a bad-tempered duck who serves as second fiddle to Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
Even though the name reached its pinnacle of popularity in 1930, practically everyone knows a Donald or a Don, but according to recent statistics, the majority of them are aged 55 and over. In the U.S., only 1% of males under the age of 13 are named Donald.
The name Douglas is believed to have Scottish roots and to have originated as an anglicized version of a surname of a powerful Scottish family – the Earls of Douglas. It has been in use as a first name for boys since the 16th Century.
A lesser known tidbit about the name is that in England during the 17th and 18th Centuries, the name Douglas was mostly used as a girl’s name before switching back over to the other gender.
Meanings for Douglas vary from “dark stream” or “dark water” to “dark stranger” – we can all agree the name has “dark” connotations.
Currently, over half a million men named Douglas reside in the U.S., however the majority of them live in Vermont and are over the age of 30. So if you like the name but are looking to avoid contributing to a surplus of Douglases, then you are relatively safe.
Sometimes considered a stuffy first name, Douglas can easily be shortened to Doug, Dougie and the lesser known diminutive Glas. Similar sounding alternatives include Dougall and Duncan.
Meaning “song”, the boy’s name Dwayne originated from the Irish surname Dubhan which means “black” or “dark”. Peaking in popularity back in the 1960s, the name may receive new life thanks to wrestler turned superstar actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. And for your information, The Rock’s middle name happens to be Douglas – another oldie but goodie mentioned in the previous point.
The name is also a slightly varied version of basketball star Dwyane Wade’s first name. And if you remember the sitcom , the spin-off from The Cosby Show, then you are sure to remember main character Dwayne Wayne played by actor Kadeem Hardison.
Similar sounding to another faded classic Wayne, you can vary its spelling with Duane, Dwain or Dewayne. You can spice it up further by adding in an unnecessary apostrophe in order to create D’Wayne. The combinations are seemingly endless. And while not considered common, there are female versions of the name listed as well which include Dwayna and Dwaynee.
Eugene is definitely one boy’s name you don’t hear so much anymore. Sometimes shortened to Gene, the name comes from the Greek word “eugenes” which means “well born” or “noble”. Despite the fact that once upon a time (from the late 1800s until about 1940) this name basked in popularity, it’s currently experienced some hard knocks.
One of the main characters in Disney’s 2010 animated movie Tangled even goes so far as to change his name from Eugene to Flynn.
Brimming with religious undertones, Eugene was the name of a couple of notable bishops in the 5th and 7th Centuries and four popes. It is sometimes considered to be an anglicized version of Irish names Eoghan (pronounced like Owen) and Aodh (pronounced Eh).
So, even though Eugene may have faded into obscurity, this may make it all the more desirable to you as a one-of-a-kind boy’s name for your son. And if not, it’s worth noting that currently the female form Eugenie is considered quite stylish.
With French, Latin and Italian roots, the name Francis means “free” or “Frenchman”. It first became a popular name during the Middle Ages thanks to St. Francis of Assisi born in 1181. His actual name had been Giovanni but he was called Francisco because his father was in France at the time of his birth.
The name can be found in England as early as the 1300s. However, it wasn’t until the 16th Century and onward that Francis caught the attention of the rest of the world as a boy’s name. This may be due to the fact that it was during this time that other countries began noticing and admiring Italian Renaissance culture.
This classic boy’s name hit its high point in popularity in the 1910s. If you’re thinking about it as a name choice, keep this in mind – you really can’t go wrong with a nice solid name like Frank. While currently just over 87,000 U.S. men bear the name Francis, the majority of them reside in New York state.>
Besides Francisco, variations include the names Franklin and Franco.
This once popular boy’s name has an air of strength about it possibly due to the fact that in medieval times it was a trendy choice among powerful rulers.
Considered to be the anglicized version of the German name Friedrich, Frederick means “peaceful ruler” or “power”.Comprised of elements “frid” meaning peace and “ric” meaning power, this name has many ties to the scientific community. Frederick Jones was an inventor known for developing refrigeration machinery in order to efficiently transport food and blood during World War II. And Frederick Sanger (born in 1918) was a British scientist and two-time winner of the Nobel Prize.
Currently in England and Wales, Frederick ranks as #81 although in the U.S. it is just shy of the top 500 boys’ names, so if you’re worried about wall-to-wall Freds, the coast is clear for the time being.
Cute nicknames abound including Fred, Freddy and the less commonly used Fritz.
Derived from the Old English name Garwig meaning “the spear of battle”, the boy’s name Gary reached its height of fame in the 1950s. According to numerous websites, this once very popular and trendy name choice is heading the way of the dodo bird. So if you’re looking for a cause to support, consider helping the dwindling black rhino population or name your son Gary in order to save this moniker from full-on extinction.It currently resides extremely low on the U.S. naming charts and is basically nowhere to be found in most other countries.
An interesting and useless factoid about the name states that a theatrical agent from Gary, Indiana offered up Gary as a suggested stage name for his client Frank J. Cooper who became better known as Gary Cooper. His fame is often said to be the driving force behind Gary’s popularity during the 1930s until the present. Gary is also sometimes considered to be a diminutive form of the names Gareth and Garfield.
A few cute nicknames for your consideration include Gare, Gaz and Gus. European variations are Gehri, Gehry and Gehr.
German in its origins, the name Gerald made its way to England before dying out some time during the Middle Ages, probably in the 1200s. It remained strong in Ireland however, reappeared in England again at some point during the 17th Century, regained some of its lost momentum in the 19th Century before hitting its peak in the 1930s.
Meaning “ruler of the spear” thanks to its elements “ger” (meaning “spear”) and “wald” (meaning “rule”) it is sometimes considered to be a variant of lesser-used name Gerard.Currently, there are just over 370,000 Geralds residing in the U.S. but most of them live in Wisconsin and are in their 70s. Only 2% of Geralds are aged 12 or younger.
A couple of different versions of Gerald include Geraldo, Geralt and the highly unusual Geralg. And of course, Gerry or Jerry are nicknames. For girls, there is Geraldine or Geralda.
You would probably not be hard pressed to find a few Harrys kicking around in schoolyards today, but most likely their full name would not be Harold. Based on the Old English name Hereweald, it can be defined as meaning “army” and “power”. Scandinavia had the similar sounding boys’ name Harald which faded in popularity during the Middle Ages, but came back with gusto in the 19th Century.
Back in the U.S., the name Harold peaked in the 1920s and has been patiently waiting to reclaim its moment in the sun.
Despite the moderate success of 2001 stoner film Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, the name is still hanging low. Currently, there are just under 400,000 Harolds living in the U.S. with the majority of them over the age of 54. Even if you think it horribly old-fashioned, there’s no denying the awesomeness of its diminutive Hal.
Once strictly known as an English surname, the name Howard seems to have arisen from multiple sources. There is the similar sounding German name Hughard, the Scandinavian version Haward and the French form Huard.
Most likely based on the surname of the English noble family known as Haward, Howard means “high guardian” or “ewe herd”. It also is associated with bravery thanks to its elements “hug” meaning “heart” and “hard” meaning “brave” or “strong”.
Howard peaked during the 1910s and does not currently register on any top name lists which definitely ups its exclusive factor.
A couple of famous Howards within the entertainment industry include Howard Stern, former shock-jock turned actor turned judge on America’s Got Talent. He initially replaced judge Piers Morgan in 2012, and left the show himself in September 2015. Despite losing a Howard, America’s Got Talent still has a Howie with Canadian actor and comedian Howie Mandel judging since the show’s fifth season in 2010.
Abbreviated forms include the already mentioned Howie and the less commonly used Ward.
Originally a Scottish surname of nobility, Keith comes from a place-name located in Scotland. That said, it’s been in use as a first name since the 19th Century. It is possibly derived from the Celtic word “cet” which means “wood”. It may have arisen from the ancient German nickname “Kit”, an affectionate term for “offspring”.
It hit its high during the swinging 1960s which makes a lot of sense since New Zealand born country singer Keith Urban was born in 1967.
While there are currently more than 480,000 Keiths living within the U.S., most of them call North Dakota home and are between the ages of 30 and 54. Only 3% of boys named Keith are under the age of 12. Obviously while the name enjoyed some glory during the 60s, the number of Keiths have been diminishing ever since.
If you’re in search of a boy’s name that is virtually impossible to shorten, then look no further than Keith. And if a feminine version of the name is what you are after, then consider Keitha or the more intricate Keithia.
Thought to be the anglicized version of Scottish boys’ name Coinneach (pronounced Kurn-uh or Kon-ik), Cinaed (pronounced Kin-nee), Cionnaith (pronounced Kyun-ith) and Cionaodh (pronounced Kyun-ay), Kenneth was the name of a Scottish king back in the 9th Century. The name became famous outside of Scotland, mainly thanks to Sir Walter Scott who named the hero in his 1825 novel The Talisman>, Kenneth.
Most certainly the full given name of Barbie’s beau, Kenneth reached its top level of popularity back in the 1940s and 50s and has been in decline since then. A couple of variations of the name include Kennet, McKenzie and Cormack.
A famous American Kenneth is country singer and songwriter Kenneth Ray Rogers – better known as Kenny Rogers. While there are more than a million Kenneths residing in the United States, they are mostly concentrated in Michigan and only 4% of them are under the age of 12.
Short, strong and abbreviation-free, the boys’ name Kirk hails from the Old Norse word “kirkja” meaning “church”. American actor Kirk Douglas chose it as his new anglicized name as he prepared to take Hollywood by storm. Born in 1916, the father of actor Michael Douglas was originally saddled with the mouthful Issur Danielovich Demskey so shortening it to Kirk Douglas was probably a wise decision.
Another highly visible example of this name in action is with fictional character James T. Kirk. Originally portrayed by Canadian-born actor William Shatner, Kirk was the captain of the Starship Enterprise in television’s Star Trek series during the late 1960s and later in a few follow-up movies. More recently, Kirk’s character was reprised by actor and heartthrob Chris Pine.
That said, despite popping its head up here and there, Kirk remains pretty much underground in current society. Another similar sounding, one-syllable name is Dirk.
Quite possibly derived from the religious word “laurel”, the name Lawrence reached some level of fame from St. Laurence the Deacon who was martyred in Rome back in 258. Full of religious connotations, there are over 237 churches in England alone that bear the name Laurence.
A second origin story has Lawrence possibly originating from the ancient name Lorens. The spelling with a “w” is typically used for a first name while the “u” spelling is generally reserved for a surname.
Despite peaking in the 1940s, most everybody nowadays knows a Larry. The name comes up often in show biz – Larry King is a famous American radio and television host; as well, Larry is the first name of comedian, actor and renowned grump Larry David.
But make note that Larry is not the sole nickname attached to Lawrence. A few alternatives include Laurie, Loren and Laz. European variants of the name are Laurent, Lorenzo, Lourenco and Laurenz.
The name Leonard has roots in England, Poland, Holland and Germany. Meaning “brave lion”, the name became quite common in England during the 19th Century due to the fact that it was the name of several saints.
In present day, Leonard is still a popular choice of name in Poland, but is in hiding in most other countries. It’s the full given name of popular musician/actor Lenny Kravitz. Musically speaking, Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen bears the name as well.
There is a Star Trek association with this name also, considering the late actor Leonard Nimoy portrayed Dr. Spock in the original television series and early films.In terms of Italian usage, it would be remiss not to include two of the most famous Leonardos in history: Leonardo Da Vinci – painter of The Last Supper and Mona Lisa; as well as American actor Leonardo DiCaprio, known for his intense character-driven movie roles.
It also offers up a plethora of diminutive forms including Lenny, Leon, Len and Leo.
French, English and Dutch in its origins, the name Louis is thought to be a form of the boy’s name Ludwig. Back during medieval times, the name Louis was often saved for royalty. Following the French revolution and the execution of Louis XVI, this boy’s name became even less common.
In terms of the American entertainment industry, the name Louis is quite prevalent. There is current comedian, actor and , Louis C.K. On the music scene, we have musicians Lou Reed (originally born Lewis Reed) and Louis Armstrong, a jazz pioneer and musical legend.
Not to pigeonhole the name, there is the French inventor of Braille, Louis Braille; British writer Louis Carroll, writer of Alice in Wonderland; and French designer and fashion guru, Louis Vuitton.
Unusual variants of the name include Clouis and Clovis. Another interesting bit of information is that while in Britain you’d be more likely to find boys named Lewis, while in the United States the spelling Louis is more consistently used.Its popularity peaked in the U.S. in 1910, however Louis remains a high ranking choice of name even today in Belgium and France.
Considered a derivative of Mars, the boys’ name Martin has origins spread all over the map. Variants include Morton, Merton and Marsden. This boy’s name hit its high during the 1880s, yet it still enjoys some level of fame in Chile and the Czech Republic.
There are many instances of the name Martin within Hollywood including actor Martin Sheen, father of famous bad boy Charlie. Martin was one of the stars of the movie mentioned earlier, Apocalypse Now. Currently, you can find him on Neflix’s hit show Grace and Frankie. Then there is actor/comedian Martin Lawrence and lead singer of band Coldplay, Chris Martin perhaps more famous for his conscious uncoupling from former spouse, Gwyneth Paltrow.
One of the most historically instrumental examples of the name Martin resides in Martin Luther King Jr. – the Baptist minister and social activist who played a major role in the American civil rights movement and was assassinated for the cause in 1968.
Derived from the Latin name Maurus which means “moor”, this boy’s name has been floating around since the 3rd Century. Moors were people of mixed Arab and Berber descent living in the Middle Ages. Some of the more notable bearers of the name included a 6th Century Byzantine emperor and later, the 17th Century Dutch Prince Mauritz. The name Maurice has also been borne by famous soldiers yet peaked in popularity during the 1910s.
The name is still out there – you just need to know where to look. For example, British actor Michael Caine is actually a Maurice. There is also famous late Australian Maurice Gibb – one of the founding members of superstar pop group from the 60s and 70s, The Bee Gees. And here’s one more to boot: Maurice Sendak – the American author and illustrator of numerous children’s books but most famously Where the Wild Things Are.
Variations that are similar include names Morris, Mauritius, Maury and Mauro.
Another name difficult to shorten, the boy’s name Paul originated from the Roman family name Paulus which means “small” or “humble”. Often associated with religion and the bible, St. Paul is said to have founded Christianity. On an interesting biblical note, the name first appeared in the bible as Saul and was then changed to Paul.
The name Paul has also figured heavily within American history – most notably in Paul Revere who is famous for his ride in April of 1775 where he warned of the impending British invasion. His father was named Apollos – so perhaps Paul was considered a shortened version?
Pronunciations vary with Pawl in English, Pol in France, and Powl in Germany. Despite the name being ubiquitous, Paul peaked in the 1960s and has been on the decline ever since within North America. However, it is presently a high ranking boys’ name in both Austria and France.
This regal sounding name means “king” and comes from the Latin name Reginaldus, which in turn is a variation of the name Reynold. Derived from elements “ragin” meaning “advice” or “counsel” and “wald” meaning “rule”, Reginald has never been considered a popular moniker despite the fact that it has been consistently in use for well over 100 years.
Peaking in popularity during the 1960s, Reginald is the given name of superstar Elton John. Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight (there are three names up for grabs!), Elton opted to shorten his given moniker by merging the names of blues legends: Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.
Reginald also carries a bit of weight in the world of professional sports. There is former baseball star Reggie Jackson, basketball player Reggie Miller as well as football players Reggie Bush and Reggie White – all of them originally Reginalds.
Variations of the name Reginald include Reinhold, Renaud and Ronald; nicknames are Reggie, Reg and the understated Rex. If you are looking for a feminine version of the name, then consider Regina.
Originally an Old English surname derived from the place-name Rodney Stoke in England, the boy’s name Rodney reached its pinnacle of first name fame back in the 1960s.
Another origin story states the likelihood of the surname Rodney deriving from the ancient nickname Hroda which means “famous”. It appears to have first made the leap to given name status some time in the 1700s in order to honor the British naval officer, Admiral George Brydges Rodney. He was born in 1718 and eventually given the title of Lord Rodney. From there, it gained momentum as a popular boy’s first name.
Currently, Rodney resides low on the totem pole of popularity which means it’s ripe for the picking as an exclusive boys’ name. And as for the Rodneys that do currently exist, most of the American ones are in their 50s. If you are after a more formalized version of the name, then consider Roderick as a distinct possibility.
Scottish in background, the Scots changed the boys’ name we know as Ronald from its original Scandinavian form Ragnvaldr. Found primarily only in Scotland and England throughout the Middle Ages, the name Ronald has come a long way and is pretty much recognized worldwide nowadays.
Meaning “ruler’s counselor”, Ronald was within the top 10 boys’ names of the 1930s and 40s. It has presidential standing considering Ronald Regan was the 40th U.S. president. If you happen to be a fast food junkie and want to pledge allegiance to one of the biggest franchises in the world, then you can easily honor McDonald’s clown mascot, Ronald McDonald, by using the name for your son.
It still rears its head up now and again as seen in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Character Ron Weasley bears the name and plays a vital role within the wizarding community. That said, the name Ronald is still very underused in today’s society.
This boy’s name first originated as a nickname for a redhead. Derived from the French surname Roussell (which means red-haired), the name Russell peaked in the 1910s yet made a half-hearted comeback in the 50s and 60s before steadily declining in popularity.
That said, there are several instances of the name making its way through the entertainment industry. There is veteran tough guy actor Kurt Russell whose name is an example of two fading classics in the naming world. Then you have another macho bad boy of film, Russell Crowe who was born a New Zealander and has worked his way up to A-lister within the United States.
There is also British comedian and actor Russell Brand. Love him or be eternally annoyed by him, he is just another current example of the name Russell in action. The majority of Americans named Russell live in Utah and are between the ages of 30 and 54 so you should be safe choosing this name for your son. Nicknames include Russ and Rusty.
Meaning “stone clearing”, the name Stanley hit its high point back during the 1910s though it did reach moderate popularity once again thanks to late American director Stanley Kubrick as well as the character Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire.
Originating as a place-name in England, Stanley eventually transferred over to surname status and is one of the oldest English family names to date. From there, it somehow managed to make the leap to first name territory. Despite the fact that it is often considered terminally old-fashioned, there is the possibility of Stanley following in the footsteps of the boy’s name Henry and making a full comeback to a charmingly vintage name choice.
Comprised of elements “stan” meaning stone and “leah” meaning wood, Stanley is also considered to be an anglicized version of the Polish name Stanislawski and the Greek name Anastasiou.
There are many reasons to choose the name Stanley for your son – either you are honoring a family member, you like the classical vibe it exudes or you are the world’s biggest hockey fan hoping to pay homage to the sport’s largest championship trophy.
Having Greek and Latin roots, the name Steven means “garland” or “crown” and reached its peak popularity during the 1950s. This seemingly standard boys’ name was firmly rooted within the top 100 boys’ names for 70 years before eventually fading into relative obscurity.
Despite the fact that society is full of Stevens, it is rare to find many under the age of 30. In fact, the majority of American Stevens that are out and about are between the ages of 30 and 54 and congregate mainly in Wisconsin. If you are concerned that your son would be one of many Stevens, you can rest assured that only a paltry 5% of boys under the age of 12 have the name.
A couple of famous Stevens include Steven Tyler, lead singer of rock band Aerosmith and former judge on American Idol as well as the late Steve Jobs, computer genius and co-founder of Apple.
Alternative names based on Steven include Stephen, Stefan and Esteban.
This boy’s name enjoys a large array of spelling combinations. Meaning “tender”, the name Terrence gained traction in the 1940s before dropping slightly in popularity and bouncing back in order to peak during the 1970s.
While the name apparently originated from the ancient Roman name Terentius – where the name Terentius comes from is anyone’s guess - there is the possibility that it has Latin roots or is derived from an Aramaic word meaning “heart”.
Dating back more than 2000 years, Terentius was the name of a 1st Century B.C. Roman scholar and a 2nd Century African slave turned playwright which resulted in him earning his freedom. However, it wasn’t until two famous saints bore the name that it quickly caught on as a popular choice for boy’s name and spread into a variety of other languages.
Diminutive forms include the popular Terry and the lesser known Telly. One more useless fact about this boy’s name is that the spelling of Terrance is a touch more popular than Terrence.
Another boy’s moniker that people will have a difficult time in butchering as well as abbreviating, is the name Todd. With Scottish and English origins, the name is said to have derived from the Middle English word “todde” meaning “fox”. Used as a medieval nickname to describe a person who looked like a fox or who demonstrated slyness, it eventually became an extremely popular surname in Scotland and Northern England but tended to be spelled as either Todde or Tod.
The surname Tod can be found in written documents dating back to the mid 12th Century – however it wasn’t until the 20th Century that Todd started gaining momentum as a boy’s first name. Currently, there are just under 350,000 men in the U.S. named Todd with the majority living in South Dakota. Only 1% of Todds are under the age of 12 as most of them are between the ages of 30 and 54.
Todd hit its high point in the 1960s and has been losing ground ever since.
Even though boy’s name Victor peaked in the 1910s, it has been yo-yoing on the name charts ever since. Derived from the Latin meaning for “conqueror” or “winner”, Victor has religious Roman beginnings as it was the name of several early saints as well as three popes. Its religious aspect seems to have derived from the Christian view of Jesus Christ’s victory over death and sin.
While not a popular choice in name throughout the Middle Ages, it was resurrected in the 19th Century and currently ranks very high in Denmark and Belgium. It’s believed to have become a trendy boy’s name in part thanks to American actor Victor Mature who was born in 1915.
Presently, there are a bit more than 330,000 men in the U.S. named Victor, but only 18% of them are under the age of 12. If you want to dress it up with more of a European look, consider spelling it Viktor. And of course if you are after a girl’s name, there is the super popular and classic choice of Victoria.
I have it on good authority that this boy’s name is super cute for a tyke and is the perfect name to follow your son into adulthood (it is the name of my 6-year-old son). Despite the fact that Walter may call to mind days of yore, it may currently be experiencing a spike in popularity considering it is the name of main character Walter White in Breaking Bad as well as a recent addition to the cast in the recent rash of Muppet movies.
Meaning “army ruler”, Walter has German, Swedish and Norwegian roots to name a few. The name eventually made its way over to England where it replaced an ancient yet similar name Wealdhere. In an interesting side note, when popular in medieval England, the name was often pronounced “Water”.
A few interesting variants of the name are Walther, Waltraut, Walterio and Walteer. Cute nicknames are abundant and include Wally, Walt, Wall and Watt.
The name Winston was first noted as a surname based on a place-name in England. Meaning “joy stone”, Winston is thought to be based on the Old English boy’s name Wynnstan. It is derived from elements wynn (meaning “joy”) and “stan” (meaning “stone”).
Most often associated with former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965), the name is considered to have become a first name originating within the Churchill family back in 1620. At that point in time, the first Winston Churchill was baptized with his mother’s family name and this tradition continued. Thanks to the eventual Prime Minister, Winston caught on as a popular first name within the rest of the world.
Despite revelling in its popularity throughout 1910 to 1920, it hit its high note in the 1940s and has been spiralling downward ever since. Diminutive forms include the winsome Winny and Win. Interesting feminized versions are Winstine and Winstina.