Written by Linda Rosenkrantz for Nameberry
Last week, we unearthed 14 under-the-radar names for girls, none of which are in the current Top 1000, and this week we are doing the same for the boys. Unlike their sisters' choices, some of these names are more quirky than classic, though we’ve included a few ancient and biblical treasures as well as a couple of admirable imports. All of them were more popular in the past -- and we think the time has come for their second act.
Poor biblical <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Abner">Abner</a> got rubified by the dim-witted hayseed comic strip character L’il Abner, which ran in the Sunday papers for 43 years. We think it’s time to polish up the image of the name of the Old Testament commander of Saul’s army. Another noteworthy bearer of the name is Abner Doubleday, a Civil War Union general often mistakenly credited with inventing baseball.
There’s <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/August">August</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Augustus">Augustus</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Augustine">Augustine</a> -- all viable choices, but Augustine is the one that’s undeservedly completely under the radar. It’s most strongly associated with the illustrious fourth century saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, whose teachings and writings had a tremendous influence on early Christianity philosophy. Augustine’s other Latin name, Aurelius, makes for another interesting possibility.
He’s the name of a legendary high king of Ireland (<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cormac">Cormac</a> Mac Art), a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist (Cormac McCarthy, born <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Charles">Charles</a>), and a <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Harry">Harry</a> Potter character (Cormac McLaggen) -- so it’s no wonder that Cormac is on track to be part of the new wave of fresh Irish options -- though he hasn’t hit the Top 1000 quite yet.
This ancient Roman family name was well used in turn-of-the-last-century America, ranking as high as Number 142 in the era of railroad magnate <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cornelius">Cornelius</a> Vanderbilt. Cornelius has been seen as the Minister for Magic in Harry Potter and a professor in Prince Caspian. And if the nickname Corny is a turn-off, you could substitute Neely, as used in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Interesting international form: Kees.
A more all-year-round Colorado place name possibility than <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Aspen">Aspen</a>, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Denver">Denver</a> has been unvisited for a while, but with its trendy ‘er’ ending, it now would fit right in with all those popular occupational surname names. The one noted first-named Denver was Denver Pyle of The Dukes of Hazzard; those representing the surname include singer <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/John">John</a> (born Deutschendorf) and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Bob">Bob</a>, who played Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Ephraim">Ephraim</a> is a pleasing but neglected Old Testament name -- he was the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. In the past he was frequently seen in literary classics by Dickens, Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and others, and on nineteenth century birth certificates as well. His presence as shape-shifter Ephraim Black in the Twilight franchise might inspire some modern baby namers.
Though most familiar as a surname (President <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gerald">Gerald</a>, auto-industrialist <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Henry">Henry</a>, actors <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Harrison">Harrison</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Glenn">Glenn</a>, director John, rocker <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Lita">Lita</a>), <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Ford">Ford</a> also works well as a strong, one-syllable first; <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Owen">Owen</a> Wilson used it as the middle name of his son <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Robert">Robert</a>. In addition to its automotive reference, it can be thought of as a nature name, a ford being a shallow part of a river or stream.
It would have seemed logical for stalwart Scottish <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gordon">Gordon</a> to have shared in some of the popularity of the trendy, unisex <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Jordan">Jordan</a> a few years back, but au contraire -- this once Top 100 name dropped off the list completely several years ago. Perhaps it’s because some of its current bearers have an older image (UK PM Gordon Brown) or a rambunctious one (celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay) … but we’d like to see it come back.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Guy">Guy</a> was a Top 100 name for a quarter of a century, but is nowhere to be seen today. It's had a wildly divergent group of well-known bearers, from French writer Guy (pronounced gee) de Maupassant to British political figure Fawkes to bandleader Lombardo (born Gaetano) to 50’s hunk Madison (born Robert) to actor Pearce to director Ritchie to the Sesame Street Muppet Guy Smiley. But the bottom line is: Is Guy just too generic for your special little guy?
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Magnus">Magnus</a> has rapidly morphed from powerful Swedish royal appellation meaning “great” to up-and-coming starbaby fave, having been chosen by <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Will">Will</a> Ferrell, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Elizabeth">Elizabeth</a> Banks and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Kirsty">Kirsty</a> Swanson for their sons. All three of the Scandinavian names picked by Ferrell and his Swedish wife <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Viveca">Viveca</a> Paulin -- Magnus, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Matthias">Matthias</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Axel">Axel</a> -- are definitely on the rise.
The challenge here is to erase from your mind the image of your Great Uncle <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Milton">Milton</a> (and/or the old TV comic Uncle Miltie Berle, born Uncle Mendel) and think instead of Milton as the elegant upper-class British surname it once was, and of the epic verse of the great poet John Milton -- just as you have succeeded in doing with <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Stanley">Stanley</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Sidney">Sidney</a>.
A name that Yanks have tended to see as too overly tea-and-crumpets British, but we see that as adding to its charm. <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Nigel">Nigel</a> Bruce was the original Dr. Watson to Basil (another one) Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes, Nigel is Duran Duran’s John Taylor’s birth name, Nigel Tufnel is the fictional lead guitarist in Spinal Tap, and high-profile photographer and reality show personality Nigel Barker has modernized it.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Otis">Otis</a> is both cool and classy, via the timelessly bluesy voice of Otis Redding and the connection to society figures like publisher Otis Chandler. Though he’s been off the charts since 1995, we predict that Otis, with its friendly and energetic O-beginning and combination of strength and spunk, will come back in a big way, quite possibly as the next Owen.
Parents seeking a less simple version of <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Simon">Simon</a> could consider the possibility of this original Hebrew version of the name, with its rhythmic sound similar to the growing-in-popularity <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gideon">Gideon</a>. The first known <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Simeon">Simeon</a> was the second son of <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Jacob">Jacob</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Leah">Leah</a>, who gave his name to one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Simm makes for a friendly nickname.
More Baby Name Stories
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/classic-baby-names-for-girls_n_2784227.html">Classic Baby Names For Girls That Are Just Under-The-Radar</a> </strong><strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/27/unusual-baby-names_n_1916813.html?utm_hp_ref=baby-names">20 Unusual Baby Names That Are Going To Be Trendy</a></strong> <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/16/baby-names-2013-trends_n_2140160.html">The Top Baby Name Trends For 2013</a></strong> <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/baby-names">See All Baby Name Stories</a></strong>
Earlier on HuffPost: