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Where Are The Traditional But Rare Boys' Names?

My son was born three weeks ago, and we still haven't decided on a name! My wish list is: three syllables, obviously a boy's name, not too popular, and without a shortened version that is more common than the whole name (e.g. Fred for Frederick). Do you have any suggestions for me? I would like his name to coordinate with his siblings' names, Ariana and Genevieve.

- Stuck for Boys' Names

Why does it seem like the world is full of girls' names that are traditional and attractive but uncommon, while boys' names of that description are rare birds?

We can try to blame history. In generations past, boys' names didn't go in and out of fashion as much as girls' so there aren't as many neglected antique boys' names to revive.

I believe, though, that the biggest factor isn't the names themselves so much as our standards for them. We tend to ask something special of a "traditional, masculine" name. We ask it to be in English.

Compare your daughters' names, Genevieve and Ariana, to your male specimen Frederick. Genevieve and Ariana are imports: Genevieve a distinctly French name that had a brief American vogue in the early 20th Century, and and Ariana a variant of the Italian name Arianna ("Ariadne"). But Frederick, while it has German roots, is an American staple, familiar in English for centuries. Famous examples range from the Jane Austen hero Captain Frederick Wentworth to the abolitionist writer Frederick Douglass.

Since you're interested in coordinating your son's name with his sisters', let's try sweeping the slate clean and starting again. Taking the girls' names you love as our starting point, where does the path lead? It leads abroad.

If you're willing to consider the naming traditions of other languages, you'll find a whole new field of traditional, masculine possibilities. Some, like Giuseppe and Stanislaw, might seem a little too tied to a single national origin. But in this age of the European Union, names that cross borders easily are hot choices.

I recommend scanning lists of popular names around the world for globe-trotting ideas. European hits such as Raphael, Dominik, Tobias, Dimitri, Fabian and Marius could fill your requirements...and coordinate better with Genevieve and Ariana than any English-only name could hope to do.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

May 27, 2014 9:24 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I second the suggestion of Dominik! I prefer the spelling Dominic though.

May 27, 2014 11:57 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)


May 27, 2014 12:08 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)


May 27, 2014 12:09 PM
By Valerie (not verified)

How about Ferdinand? That's a classic name which is not too popular, as far as I know. Also Benedict, Xavier, Leopold, Peregrine, Barnaby, Anatole, Inigo, Matthias, Gideon, Lucian, Alistair.

Or the Roman emperors' names like Julius, Augustus, Lucius, Claudius, Hadrian, Florian, Constantine, etc.

I also love Raphael, Marius and Dominic (spelled with a 'c').

May 27, 2014 12:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Josiah, Nathaniel, Edmund (not three syllables, but blends well with the other names), Gabriel

May 27, 2014 12:12 PM
By Rayne of Terror (not verified)

I had a boss named Adelmo and I just loved that name. The only reason I didn't use it for my boys was I felt it was too tied to that one person so we chose different European names, one Italian and one Dutch, both with family ties.

May 27, 2014 12:31 PM
By Httyd4eva (not verified)

How about Jaune? It's French for yellow and is the name of one of my OC's 'Jaune (French: yellow) Vert (French: green) Haddock. And it's definitely a name I'd consider about 13-14 years from now when I have my first baby ( if it's a boy of course, the girl would be Abriella (French: strong one of god)

Peace out yo ;P

May 27, 2014 12:37 PM
By Cabo (not verified)

Harrison? Diederich? Tolliver? Oliver? Anderson?

May 27, 2014 12:58 PM
By Lisa (not verified)

Tobias, Jeremy or Jeremiah, Magnus,Fabio, Roger...

Some are not 3 syllables, but I think they go well with your sib set and are less common.

May 27, 2014 1:00 PM
By Anonymous

Beauregard? I also like the suggestion of Ferdinand.

May 27, 2014 1:08 PM
By Agnetha (not verified)

How about Julian?

May 27, 2014 2:16 PM
By Ronald K (not verified)

Your son's name is hiding in plain sight. Look at your grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers-- there's 28 men right there-- and their brothers.

And don't run away from the short forms, but embrace them. Frederick will demand to be called Fred on the playground, so as not to appear prissy. (Boys don't think like moms!) it's either that, or "Spike".

A young man in our neighborhood told me his big sister's boyfriend used to torment him with the old pet form of his name. He steeled himself and pretended it didn't bother him. After a while, it didn't.

Now he's the only 25-year-old Dick in the state.

May 27, 2014 3:40 PM
By Annee (not verified)

Not all are three-syllable, but I think they go well with Genevieve & Ariana:


Good luck!

May 27, 2014 4:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Rowan, Oliver, Anderson

May 27, 2014 4:39 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I suggest Solomon or Donovan

May 27, 2014 6:00 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Right away I thought of Alistair & Donovan for you. Technically I guess Don could be a nickname for Donovan, but Don is so out of fashion right now I doubt most people will go there if you don't.

I also really like the suggestions of Solomon & Sebastian. You may also want to consider the "no possible nickname" rule. Lots of kids with longer names don't go by nicknames these days. If the parents don't use a nickname (even an obvious nickname) other people probably won't either. And technically, Genevieve has 2 pretty common & obvious nicknames (Genny & Eve), even if you choose not to use them. Eliminating this "rule" would open you up to great names like Benedict or Tobias.

In addition to all the really good suggestions already made, I'll offer Gideon, Thaddeus, Malachi & Atticus.

May 27, 2014 11:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Short names - Finn or Zeke aka Finley and Ezekiel

May 28, 2014 12:26 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Isaiah, I love your girls names.

May 28, 2014 4:11 AM
By Valerie (not verified)

P.S. Orlando!

May 28, 2014 12:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)


May 28, 2014 8:12 PM
By Master138 (not verified)

I also really like the suggestions of Solomon & Sebastian. You may also want to consider the "no possible nickname" rule. Lots of kids with longer names don't go by nicknames these days. And don't run away from the short forms, but embrace them. Frederick will demand to be called Fred on the playground, so as not to appear prissy.

Agen Bola

May 28, 2014 11:04 PM
By friv4 (not verified)

I was very happy to bring joy to you

May 29, 2014 1:12 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love the name Paddington.

May 31, 2014 8:19 AM
By Missarcasm (not verified)

I am so curious to find out what name you chose for your son! So many terrific suggestions here - I just wanted to add some of the names of students I currently have: Ferdinand, Donis (from Adonis), Garibaldi, Osiris, Isaiah, Aveson - pretty good collection, though some are not so traditional. I also love Orion, though it might be too similar to Ariana. I hope you'll update us with your decision!

June 1, 2014 8:44 PM
By Girls Games (not verified)

great names that I want you to make your decision.

June 3, 2014 12:26 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

nice info gan, thx :)

June 5, 2014 12:37 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)


June 17, 2014 1:44 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Jericho :)

June 23, 2014 4:12 PM
By Christi with an I (not verified)

My 10 year old is Richard and goes by Ricky. it isn't as long as you wanted but it is a clasic that is rarely used. He is generally the only Rick, Ricky or Richard around. Some coach somewhere will make a nickname out of whatever you name your son but most teachers will call him what you prefer unless he askes them to call him something else. Although that being said, Ricky did have a teacher who called him Richard all year long even though he never refers to himself that way and we don't either. It was kind of odd but it was only one teacher.

June 24, 2014 10:28 AM
By Stuck for a boys name (not verified)

Thank you for all the suggestions! We were leaning towards Sebastian for a long time, but decided to go with Dominic.

June 25, 2014 3:19 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't usually post, but your wish list described my son's name: Solomon. Genevieve was a consideration for a girl's name, so I think we have similar tastes. If you've already decided on another name, I'm sure it's perfect for your baby boy. Best wishes.

August 12, 2014 11:08 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I was going to suggest Atticus, but I see you picked Dominic. Great choice!

August 13, 2014 9:09 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)


August 13, 2014 9:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My baby boy who's due October 5th will be named Ezra Sage. but I also love the names Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Sebastian.

August 14, 2014 3:34 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)


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