On naming your son

What should we name our son? He’s due in August, we like classic names that aren’t too common. We just can’t settle on one and I think you’d be great at this.


Off the top of my head, I’m feeling Gabriel, Rowan, Oliver, or Winston. If I think of more names that I like, I’ll let you know.

(Everyone feel free to jump into the comments section with your suggestions. Let’s name this little dude.)


260 thoughts on “On naming your son

        • Gaybeard says:

          Alaric was also the name of the Visigoth who sacked Rome in 410 CE, though you’re probably right about where they got it from.

          • Ellen says:

            No, I was actually thinking of the Visigoth! Had no clue there was a character on the CW of that name.

            (I love Gothic and Frankish names. If I were naming a kid, I’d be looking at Theobald, Theodoric, Radegund, Clothilde…. it’s probably a good thing I’m not procreating.)

  1. Courtney says:

    I’ve been into Scottish names these days: Calum, Graeme, Ewan

    Other favorites: Byron, Grady, Levi, Tucker, Eli, Finn, Wyatt

  2. RocketGrunt says:

    I’ve always liked Sebastian.

    If there’s a book or game or movie both of you like, you could pick a name of a favorite character.

  3. Lin says:

    I’ll never have kids, but if I ever had a son, I would name him Gabriel.

    Don’t pick Avery. It’s very over used by parents today, like Catherine was twenty years ago. Your kid will be one of a million Avery’s.

    Old saints sometimes provide good names, regardless of your religious affiliation. Names like Adrian, Dominic, Sebastian, Lucian, Matthew all fit the “classic but uncommon” criteria.

  4. Gaybeard says:

    On the off chance you meant classic names from my homeland: Nikola, Aleksa, Marko, Uroš(h), Vuk (vook), Milan, Ilija (Ilya).

  5. Werewolfmary says:

    Hugo or Hugh, Bruno, George, Frank or Finlay would be on my list.

    If it was a girl I’d pick Oona or Fern.

  6. Anna says:

    Elliot, Michael, Kieran, Dylan and Soren are all on my top 10 baby boy names list. I’m currently dating a Lee and I think the name has an attractive ring to it, but that’s just me 🙂

  7. Shanleigh says:

    I want to put in a second vote for Noah. I’ve also always loved Calvin, ever since Calvin O’Keefe was my first literary crush.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      They don’t want common names, so no go on Noah. It’s been in the top five since 2011, and the number one name for 2013 and 2014 (the last year that the SSA has released data for).

  8. DoDo says:

    Harlan, Graeme and Ronan were on my list. Settled on Remy Jack. I love my son’s name, still love the other ones too.

  9. Rose says:

    Taking a few from above, but I like: Adlai, Ari, Ian, Liam, Ezra, Erik, Felix, James, Idris, Harrison, Hugh, Oliver, Graham, Gabriel, Rhett, Pierce, Elliot…

  10. Plagarism says:

    Gabriel is a gorgeous name. Oliver is what I would name my child if I had one. I love Danforth (go all out) or Elliot as well.

  11. Plagarism says:

    Gabriel is a gorgeous name. Oliver is what I would name my child if I had one. I love Danforth (go all out) or Elliot as well.

  12. KG says:

    I like the names William, Julian and Lucien for a boy.

    As someone with an unusually spelt name, I would ask on behalf of your child that you give them the usual spelling of whatever name you choose. People never seem able to spell or pronounce my name properly without a lot of hand holding. Same with my sister, who has a common name with strange spelling even relatives seem very baffled by.

  13. Sumatra says:

    I am pretty impressed that out of however many comments, not one person mentioned gender politics around assigned at birth sex vs. gender. Name your baby whatever feels right, and make him the promise that you will support and nurture him wherever he may fall on the gender spectrum.

    • Chi says:

      But which pronounciation? The English or French?

      Nobody has mentioned Germanic names. Olaf, Adolph, Jurgen, Hans…etc. As a black person with a French name(Yves, born in the 80s), if you want a name that isn’t common, go to old languages and other cultures. If I ever have a child, dude is getting a kickass Hindi/Hindu name. Krishnan or Shiva or Gayatri/Gita if it’s a little dudette. Kali is another favourite. Sanskrit names are amazing and powerful.

      If you’re going for unique, borrow names from other cultures.

        • Chi says:

          Dolph, then. Dolph Lundgren carries it off then.
          People still name their kids Joseph, don’t they? (Joseph Stalin?) Victoria, Elizabeth and various English names? The names of the English Royals who oversaw the colonisation of entire continents along with the consequent massacres? All those pilgrims who showed up to the Americas and killed off the Native Americans and herded the rest into reservations?

          If we’re going to base names on what famous people with them did for evil, the only names we’d have will be Jesus…

  14. Butter says:

    Hunter. My cousin named her baby that and I’m jealous she got to it first. Elliot, Simon and Arthur are also nice. Rowan is good, too.

  15. Kristy says:

    Speaking of which– my boyfriend is a II. This reminded me of the feeling of having to name our son a III, which is kind of a weird feeling since I never cared much for legacy names. So… I’ll be finding nicknames?

  16. Papaya says:

    I love the name Lucas. I also used to love the name Jonas (but then the Jonas Brothers came along and I had to take it off the table). Like someone else mentioned, I also like the name Hunter.

  17. Raibean says:

    Guys… they said UNCOMMON names. Try not to hit names in the top 1000 (for 2014). Like Gabriel, #24; Rowan, #239; Oliver #32; Winston, #538. Lee, #701. Avery, #13 for girls and #186 for boys. Noah is literally #1; Grayson is #63, Ethan is #6.

    My idea? Look at the top baby names from the 1920s and cross-reference them with the top 1000 for 2014. (I can’t seem to find 2015 lists? Weird.)

    Clarence, Norman, Bernard, Floyd, Milton, Cecil, Luther, Lyle, Lonnie… All on the 1920s list but not the 2014 list.

    • The Coquette says:

      Norman? Clarence? Cecil? No. No, no, no. Take your annoying numbers and shitty names and go sit in the corner.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      They said “names that aren’t too common.” You think that means nothing in the top thousand? I’m sorry, but that’s insane.

      Probably more like outside the top 40 or 50.

    • J Lynn says:

      If you want the 1920s, go for my grandpa and his brothers: Harold, LaVerne, Elmer. And Richard, too, but only if you use the nickname Dick. Guarantee there won’t be many Elmers at daycare.

    • Rainbowpony says:

      I kind of agree. I’m in prime baby years and like 50% of the names on this list are babies I know. I know a gabriel, theo, anders, soren, noah, oliver, Avery and wyatt, ethan, and owen and shane.

      • Werewolfmary says:

        I was going to comment the same only that it’s greater than 50% at my kids school for the names above. There is an Oliver or Olivia in every class. Noah, Gabe, Lucas, William, James, Wyatt etc. Lots of Dylans, Jacks, Evans and Ethans too. Their names became Evan C and Even P because there are so many.

    • WilhelminaMildew says:

      I like Luther and Lonnie! Let’s see who I can remember of my male relatives (or my parents friends) born in the eighteen somethings or the nineteen oughts, teens, twenties, and thirties: Earl, Edwin, Homer, Vincent, Gerald, Jack, Beauford (went by Booboo), William, Albert, Van, Alfred (Alf), Donald, Harold, Dempsey, Tye.

      I know there are some I’m forgetting. My parents knew a lot of people who’s names my brother and I thought were really odd or interesting when we were little kids.

  18. VeryOff says:

    Instead of finding a name that’s classic. You could try finding a word you wish for your child. It could be a virtue, influence, future or hope. And then try to find the name that is derived from or means that.

  19. Barefootsie says:

    I’ve always loved the name “Henry.” It’s well-known but not common in the last few generations. It’s a name that’s warm and suits pretty much any age bracket you can think of (adorable baby name, cute tween name, crushable teen name, dependable adult name, sweet old man.)

  20. K. says:

    I had a great uncle named Finner, probably born in the late 1910’s or 1920’s. If I were interested in having kids, that’d be my boy name pick.

  21. Monster says:

    Archibald, Elysian, Rawley, Poe, Thaddius, Lucius or Lucian, Ross, Mason, Tully, Harrison, Seamus (shay-muss), Dana, St. John (sin-jin), Sterling Hayden.

    You can also look at last names that work as first names. I think this was a trend 15 years ago, but maybe you’ll find something you love that way.

  22. J Lynn says:

    Luke/Lucas, Matthew, Franklin, Vincent and Anthony are classics that have no bad associations for me. Also Keith.

    For a wild card, I like Ulysses and August.

    Evan is good for a Gen X revival!

    Is it time for a George revival? Nah, too Bushy. Too bad!

    Personally I’m really tired of Celtic names for non-Celts, and cowboy-Western sounding names like Cody for non-cowboys, but that’s just my opinion.

  23. Lotcal says:

    My mum’s parenting advice is always:

    Tip 1: don’t tell people what you intend to name your kid before it’s out. Once it’s out people can’t give you their two cents.

    Tip 2: everyone will have their own opinions. Ignore them all. No one has any idea what they are doing.

  24. Micol Brunelli says:

    I vote Alexander, Robert and William.
    David is one of my favorites, although it’s not really old-fashioned.

    • VeryOff says:

      Do you often go places where you’re uncomfortable and then announce that you wish ill? I’m trying to imagine showing up at a coffee shop and yelling, “hipsters should burn.”

  25. E says:

    If you go with an Irish/Scottish/Celtic name, *please* research and make sure it’s spelled properly. It really breaks my heart when Americans bastardise Irish names.

    Some of my favourite Irish akes names are Cian (key-an), Ruadhán (roo-awn), Diarmuid (deer-mid) and Domhnall (Doh-null)

    Gabriel is gorgeous. Victor is good too. I’ve always liked Jude.

    I hope OP comes back and tells us what they picked.

      • E says:

        “linguistic prescriptivist”

        it has nothing to do with class. i’m just a person from ireland, living in ireland who at one point lived in the states and noticed a lot of instances in which irish names would be mispronounced, misspelled, etc. not even that they’d use certain less popular variations of a spelling, but just blatantly get it wrong.

        This shit, for example. Quinn and Tierney are surnames, not fornames. Siobhán and Sinéad should have fadas on them. Bartley idk what to even tell u. It’s this I have in mind when I make these comments but look, whatever, class me classist if u want.

        • VeryOff says:

          I’m with you even though it feels pretentious to pronounce Laurent as the French do. I just hear all these people say low-rent and I imagine that hurts.

  26. FlyBy says:

    Consider a name that has lots of possible nicknames, is gender neutral (or readily gender-swappable), or both. I’m in favor of giving kids as much leeway as possible to define themselves, and names are a huge part of that.

    • Quinn says:

      Quinn fits that criteria. I swear to god I have the most inviting name for nicknames. All of my friends call me something different. At my last job my coworkers made a game of inserting my name anywhere it rhymed with a syllable. “This person’s here for their quinnterview.” “I’m feeling mexiquinn food for dinner.” It was slightly obnoxious but also cute. Name your kid Quinn. He’ll turn out great.

    • Monster says:

      Phillip works for this. Think “Phil’d in” etc.
      Felipe is also nice. Like the horse in Beauty and the Beast.

    • WilhelminaMildew says:

      It’s a good thing I never had kids (and never will) because I hate names that make easy nicknames. It seriously grates on me to hear beautiful names like Stephen, Micheal, or Edward shortened to Steve, Mike, or Ed. Or Kathryn/Catherine to Kate or Cathy. I mean, great if that’s what the person wants to be called, but I’ve found most nicknames/shortened forms are often bestowed by other people who for whatever reason don’t care to say the full amount of syllables.
      Or pronounce it right! I once had a friend with a beautiful name of French origin, that NOBODY could get right, even though it was spelled just like it was pronounced. They either called her the harsh sounding Americanized version, or mispronounced it a different way after a European actress with a similar name became famous in the 80s. Once somebody actually asked me “Why do you call her {pronounced correctly}?” Uh, because that’s actually her name?
      And yes, it really bugged her, but it had been happening most of her life and eventually she just got tired of having to continually correct just about everyone.

    • WilhelminaMildew says:

      I have known real life people named (by their parents at birth): Bronco, Bronson, Athena, and Apollo.
      Bronco, Apollo, and Athena are siblings.

  27. Quinn says:

    Quinn is obviously the best name in the world, and it’s unisex. I also love Kieran and Graham. My friend just had a baby and named him Hank and I think that’s just the cutest.

  28. Charlene says:

    I’ve always been partial to Adam, Rupert, and Ben.
    I also like Oliver, Leonard, and Arthur.

    Hell, you can pick any two (one from each row) for his name and middle name.

  29. Ouitney says:

    Ugh, yes yes yes to Rowan. I’ve also loved Lawrence/Laurie, Walter and Gilbert.

    ETA: Judah!

    ETA Again: Finnegan? Is that too trendy?

  30. Anna says:

    I’d go for Karl, Joseph or Vladimir, a couple of my faves.
    Also I still can’t believe I lived to see the day that Dear Coquette discussed baby names.

    • J Lynn says:

      Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Putin? You probably didn’t have those guys in mind, but it jumped out at me!

      • Anna says:

        Vladimir Lenin, not Putin !!!! Bravo (and thank you) for getting the joke.
        I initially wanted to add Friedrich (Engels) to the mix, but that was too obvious.
        Baby names trolling aside, I still stand by these solid proposals.

    • VeryOff says:

      I don’t understand. What’s there to hate? You don’t have to participate in the slightest. They’re not exhibiting thoughtlessness or ignorance…

          • VeryOff says:

            Hating parents is like hating rain. Equally justified, and useless. My guess is that what you really hate is in you.

          • VeryOff says:

            @whoami This part is delicious. Either Lin will become a parent or not. If they become a parent, they will be all of the “just…so many things” that they hate. If not, then there will be a beautiful, hatred shaped hole in them that is the silhouette of a parent that never was and should never be. the icing is that ego’s retort, “you shattered my paradigm bro.” Bwaha. I’m confident that Lin is male, so I am missing the biological clock hormone fantasy I was cooking up. Oh well.

          • Lin says:

            Salty? What are you, twelve?

            Also, don’t bolster that confidence too much. I’m a woman in my twenties. I’m sorry that I’m not willing to spend time and explain my decision to not have kids to anons on the internet, it’s just that your opinion means very little to me.

          • VeryOff says:

            And your decision not to have kids opens this gaping hole through which you pour unfocused hatred towards parents. Yeah, no skin in that game. No issues at all. Just chillin and hatin as naturally as breathing.

            Still haven’t heard a reason to hate parents or kids. Even better, haven’t heard a reason why you would spare the time to even comment on people naming their kids.

            If you really don’t care…why did you read the fucking comments let alone the post itself?

            At least I was wrong about your gender so I can maintain my shitty batting average.

    • J Lynn says:

      I don’t much care for nuclear family life, but for some reason thinking about names is still really fun to me. I guess because I like thinking about words in general, and names are just a type of word.

      When I’m tempted to scoff at today’s trends (superficial Celticism, for instance) and the names not to my own taste, I remember that every generation has its names that seem dated, if not outright silly, in retrospect. In my age cohort, it’s the innumerable Jasons and Jennifers. Sure some of them turned out to be awful, but many turned out great. Among Boomer men, it’s Larry, Gary, Jerry and Barry. Only recently are Millenial women with all the various spellings of Kaitlyn and Brittany beginning to live down the trendiness of their names and be taken seriously as grown-ups. Once upon a time parents thought Bertha and Gladys were lovely names for daughters, now they’re cliche comical stereotype names for “old lady.” Even the recent course correction for “old fashioned” names (at least among middle class whites) will be generational and class markers too, all those Emilies and Emmas and Simons and Samuels, not to mention the masculinist Hunters. And so it goes … Probably centuries ago in old Europe someone was saying, “I think we’ve had enough Gretchens, I prithee!”

      • VeryOff says:

        I find the name thing to be beautiful because…what is a name? It’s the hopes of expecting parents. It’s the context and meaning that that life builds around it. In a way, a name for a child is impossible. Normally we know what something is or does before we name it. Children are the opposite of that. Usually we name things so that we can “own” them or predict them. Again, children represent something else…potential, and possibility. We name things so they can be referenced by other people, but the most important reference is for the person themself. We name things because both ourselves and the thing we name will be around and require reference. But those names will outlive us. It signifies a beginning and an end. So naming children is one of the most awesome ephemeral acts ever invented.

      • WilhelminaMildew says:

        I was born in the late 60s, and ended up with a first name so trendy that there was *at least* one other person with my same name in every class I had in grade school (the year there were 3 others, two of which had my same last initial? I went by my middle name.) In junior high & high school, it was a little more spread out, but I still was in school with a few dozen others. I’ve had 5 or 6 good friends with my same name, and my brother dated a number of girls with my name (even married one.) And I *know* my mom had no idea how popular it was, she just thought it was pretty.
        PLEASE DO NOT NAME YOUR KID A TRENDY/POPULAR/VERY COMMON NAME. I am the voice of lived experience, and let me tell you, it fucking sucks.

        • VeryOff says:

          There were so many guys named Chris where I worked that we started numbering them. C1-C7. “Go get C-5, he’ll know.”

  31. Timea says:

    I recommend an app called “Baby Names” from the Apple Store. Dylan and Gabriel are lovely names. I also think Guy, Christian, Victor, and Andrea are Continental European classics.

  32. PolicyChick says:

    Having a name that is flexible for nicknames is nice. I have the most boring name in the world which lends itself to no shortening or nicknames. Alexander is a handsome name. I also love the name Jonathan – it means ‘gift from god’.

    • Yes, it does. Jo, or Ya, is one of the 72 names of God. Nathan is nahtune, which is the past form of the verb “to give.” So it literally means “God gave.

  33. Aletheia says:

    Going to have to put my votes in with Arthur, Alexander, or Sebastian. 🙂

    Though you may want to consider having a girl name picked out, just in case? I’m pretty sure ultrasounds have advanced in the past couple of decades, but my mom was told my sisters and I were all boys until we were born… (and aunt was told – by a different doctor! – that my male cousin was a girl, so there’s that).

  34. sam galetar says:

    Re: Your blog must get lots of page views. Why don’t you monetize it? Throw some ads on the site, make some cash.
    Ew, gross.

    Sam: every day you rise higher in my appreciation. what a totally RIGHT thing to do, and what a perfect response!

    from The New Hacker’s Dictionary (…

    Right Thing /n./

    That which is compellingly the correct or appropriate thing to use, do, say, etc. Often capitalized, always emphasized in speech as though capitalized. Use of this term often implies that in fact reasonable people may disagree. “What’s the right thing for LISP to do when it sees (mod a 0)? Should it return a, or give a divide-by-0 error?” Oppose Wrong Thing.

    • Kathyglo says:

      I think there was a character on the series Justified with the name Grady How about Raylan, he is pretty cool!

  35. Rega says:

    Coquette, I think you’ve successfully and thoroughly confused the FUCK out of the person who asked the original question. Instead of a few suggestions to help make their decision, the now get to trawl through five hundred odd suggestions. Wow. Great going.

  36. Rowan says:

    This made my fucking day 😀 Being a female with this name is awesome but there is some confusion that happens from time to time. One time in summer camp I got assigned to the boy’s cabins.

    Rega chill the fuck out. Couples like these are already used to trawling through lists and databases for cool names and she already gave them a few personal suggestions off the top of her head.

  37. notmyname says:

    Isaiah hasn’t been mentioned so I thought I’d put that in. I’m sterilized but of course I still have a baby name picked 😉 what’s wrong with me, Coke?

    Also, Bernard is an old classy name (and you might have a presidential nominee by then so you can have your 15 minutes of fame in your local paper, when he’s born.)

  38. Angua says:

    Late to the party here, but you gotta keep it timeless and simple. Don’t be the jerk parent who insists on naming your child Sibylla because no one will remember the weird Crusade created “royal” lineage of Jerusalem or whatever. Don’t go too old school with the European names either, IMO, because it’s rough going through your life with a name only your immediate relatives can directly pronounce. I say that as a child of a very Irish family lineage whose had a hyper traditional name that made teachers look like they wanted to cry.

    Classics are good because they’ve fallen out of style at the moment and they age well as you grow older, like my mom used to say “How are you going to deal with being ‘Braydiin’ at 70?” – Richard (Bonus: as an adult he can ask people to address him as Dick, without irony), Oliver, Matthew, William, Arthur, Henry, Brandon, Thomas, Alexander, Edward or Edmond if you really like Dumas. Or Sue. Coz it builds charachter according to Johnny Cash.

    Just don’t name the poor child after a city (especially in Texas), an old timey trade name that would normally be a last name, the first thing you see when you look up from your keyboard, or anything that might make people think you did drugs with Frank Zappa once or many a time.

  39. J says:


    I enjoy surnames for first names. It’s also classic while currently being uncommon.

    Congratulations on the baby!

  40. Clare says:

    Rowan is a great suggestion! Although I might be partial, as it’s very similar to Ronan, which is what we named our son. 🙂 I feel like it could pose as an option for girls, too.

    You should let us know what you went with! Congrats!

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