We realize that “American Boy Names” is a loaded phrase as we’re aware that “American” means many different things to many different people. That being said, we do feel names that originated in the United States are special and many of them deserve attention from new parents. These baby names celebrate American heroes, salute American literature and art, honor Native heritage, emphasize American places, and cherish the many folks that have come together to form our collective identity.
Many of these American boy names are popular today but some have fallen from fashion. We wanted to offer you a variety of appellations, many of which originated here in the US both old and new, that pay tribute to the diverse nature of our democracy and the 330 million people that identify as Americans. Simply put, these are the best American boy names that you will scarcely find anywhere except here. Check out these quintessentially American boy names that sound like home.
Check Out These Resilient American Boy Names!
Kai is a top 100 name for boys today, making it one of the most popular American boy names today! The name comes from Hawaiian origin and means “sea.” It’s a gender-neutral name so it’s also appropriate for baby girls (although it’s much more popular for boys today).
Jayden is an American convention coming from the Hebrew name Jadon, meaning “thankful.” It’s one of the most favored American boy names today, ranking in the US top 50!
We think it’s safe to say that we have Mark Twain to thank for the rising popularity of Sawyer as a given name. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has captivated American audiences for over 100 years now. Sawyer is an English Occupational name that means “one who saws.” The name has been highly favorited since the 1990s.
Believe it or not Wilder is one of the new favorite American boy names today. It’s only gained popularity in the US, however! The name is a surname from German that means “hunter.” A great namesake, Douglas Wilder was the first African American to be elected Governor of Virginia.
JD Salinger‘s The Catcher in the Rye is inspiring American parents to choose the name Holden after the novel’s protagonist Holden Caulfield. Holden is an English surname turned given name, meaning “hollow field.”
The names of American cities work well for American boy names. Austin is a unique form of Augustine, a name from Latin that means “greatest.” If you love the name of this Texas town, you should definitely go for it! You won’t be alone, however, as this is a most popular choice today.
Good old Abraham Lincoln has helped keep this amazing name alive in the US. While it is popular in English-speaking communities around the world, Lincoln has a particularly special spot in the hearts of most Americans. Lincoln is more popular today in the US than ever before! It means “from the town by the pool.”
Denzel is a Cornish name found more in America than England today! How did this happen? You likely know the answer! Superstar Denzel Washington has inspired thousands of new parents to choose the name for their sons making it one of the most favored American boy names. Denzel means “from the upper stronghold.”
One of America’s favorite dads, Dax Shepard was named for a character in a Harold Robbins novel, The Adventurers. Dax has become a popular name in the US and while it might also belong to a spa town in France, it’s unrelated. You’ll only find Dax among American boy names.
The ultra-masculine Cade is a name that’s now-popular in the UK but Americans started the trend of using the surname as a given name. Cade hit its highest popularity in 2001 but it’s still going rather strong. Cade means “barrel.”
Hendrix is a Dutch form of Henry, meaning “estate ruler.” However, it’s not too popular a given name among Dutch speakers. No, seminal guitarist Jimi Hendrix is who has made this appellation popular in the US. It’s one of the most popular American boy names today and it’s on the rise!
Thanks to the popularity of names like Skyler and Tyler, Sky has emerged as the next logical step for Americans parents to go. Well, logical to some. Sky is a trending name that has not fully taken off but we expect it to if the trends hold. Sky is a nature name but also means “scholar.”
For better or worse, gun-loving parents in the US have propelled Gunner into popularity today. The name is, on its face, an occupational name for someone who is a gunmaker. But, it could also be considered an Anglicized form of the Scandinavian name Gunther.
As you know, one of America’s most beloved exports to the rest of the world are its movies. The Star Wars franchise has proven a worldwide success inspiring parents to choose names from from these popular American films. Following the release of 2015’s installment, Kylo landed on the US top 1000 names for boys in 2016. It also ranked in England for the first time that year! Kylo is simply a variant of Kyle.
A name of the delta in the US, Memphis comes from Greek as an ancient place name in Egypt. It means “enduring.” In the US, it’s become one of the popular American boy names among parents who love Blues music.
The Kardashians hold a lot of sway in American pop culture. We suppose they are our closest thing to royalty… However you feel about that, after the name Saint was chosen by Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the name experienced a surge of popularity, going from virtually unused as a given name to a household one for many parents!
Would you believe that Dallas has been in the top 500 most popular baby names for boys since 1880? Well, it has! You won’t encounter this given name often in the UK but it is a form of a Scottish and Irish name that means “skilled.”
One of the most distinctly American boy names we found, Rowdy has an interesting history. The word “rowdy” originated in the US as a nickname for a rough, lawless backwoodsman. Midcentury TV series Rawhide featured Clint Eastwood playing Rowdy Yates which is likely responsible for the interest in Rowdy.
Despite it only being one letter shy of the word “laundry,” Landry has emerged as one of the new American boy names that’s only taken hold here. Landry is one of the oldest French surnames recorded which might explain why the name has been a popular choice (for both boys and girls) among Cajun Americans. The name has been in the US top 1000 since 2010.
A surname that’s now a widely-used given name in the US, Bryson means “Brice’s son.” NeNe Leakes chose it for her son, only putting more momentum behind the name. The popularity of R&B singer Bryson Tiller surely doesn’t hurt either!
An occupational name, meaning “scribe,” Booker has only been used widely as a given name in the US thanks to Booker T. Washington. Many American babies were named for the figure during his lifetime and following his death in 1915. The name was last popular in the 1960s and we’re not sure this will make a comeback.
Similar to Rowdy, Buster is an offbeat nickname-name that ended up very popular given one in the US. Born in 1895, Joseph Frank Keaton would later become known as Buster Keaton a leading actor and director of the silent film era. We likely have his influence to thank for this name being seen as a possibility. You won’t find many Busters in the US today, but would you mind it if that changed?
Yes, the name Cannon is one of the popular American boy names today. You won’t find it as a given name practically anywhere else in the world. This English occupational name means “clergyman” even though it sounds like it should be “boom.”
Today, the name Cheyenne is most popular among girls. However, it ranked in the US top 1000 for baby boys as far back as 1951. We think this Sioux name sounds great for boys. It means “people of a different language.”
One of the most popular American boy names for a decade, Colton has finally taken off outside the US as a mildly popular choice in England today even though the English originated the name! Colton means “from the coal town.” We have American soap opera General Hospital to thank for introducing this name to expecting American parents.
Scout has emerged as a popular choice for girls in recent years thanks to the character from To Kill a Mockingbird (and Demi Moore choosing the name for her daughter) but we think the name also sounds great for boys. The name means “listener.”
Too closely associated with a trendy neighborhood in London for the Brits to consider Camden as a given name, Camden has proven one of the most popular American boy names today. The name has Scottish origin and means “winding valley.”
A surname-name that’s only ever been popular in the US, Stetson has English roots and means “fighter.” Stetson named a popular brand of Western hats which has likely made this name a popular choice once in the early 1990s and again today.
Yes, the name of the great Keanu Reeves should now be considered one of the fastest-rising American boy names today. The name has Hawaiian origin and means “cold breeze over the mountains.” The name is just outside of the US top 500 most popular names today, expect to hear this charmer more and more.
One of the popular American boy names since the 1960s, Flint, is a uniquely American given name. We’d love to hear this rugged-sounding name return! Flint originated as a nickname before become a habitational name meaning “from the outcrop of flint.”
A cute name that’s been popular in the US since the 1960s, Colby is enjoying renewed favor among new parents. This cute yet bold name means “coal town” from English origin.
Hang on to your hat for a second while we explain the origins of the name Chance. Chance comes from French as a form of Chauncey which is a name that originated in Middle English. As a name, Chance is unique to the US. It means “chief secretary.” The name has held steady in the US top 500 for boys for the last four decades.
Penn comes from Celtic origin and is seen more often as a surname, meaning “enclosure.” However, we feel the mildly popular name has remained is due to Pennsylvania (coming from William Penn). We think this cool surname-name has life in it yet and hope to hear it more often in the future!
An unlikely hit among American boy names today, Kyson is cousin to Tyson, and it’s a great option is the dad’s name is Kyle as this name means “son of Kyle.” Ty is such an endearing nickname for Tyson and we find Ky to be just as engaging. Kyson is a new favorite, landing in the US top 500 for boys in 2016, it’s still on the rise!
Now, Our Top Favorite American Boy Names!
Dakota is an American name taken from a Native-American Sioux tribe known as the Dakotas, an indigenous people who dwelled in the northern region of the Mississippi Valley. The name of the Dakota tribe derives from a dialect of the Lakota Sioux language meaning “friend, ally.” This name is seen as a unisex option for many parents with it in the top 500 most popular baby names for both. You could also go with another American invention, Kody, as a nickname.
Early, black pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige inspires this American baby name for boys. Spike Lee chose this name for one of his children. Satchel might be an eccentric option, but it is a completely American invention as a name. If this is “too out there” but you still like, consider at as a nickname.
Kaiden, Kaden, and Caden are all spellings of the same invented American baby name. We like the elaborateness of Kaiden for this very simple-sounding name. However, all three spellings of this name rank in the US top 1000 most popular baby names. The name has exploded so much in the US that parents in the UK have begun using it as well! The Kaiden, spelling was in the top 500 last year!
Many people consider Jace a diminutive form of Jason, and it totally can be, but it is an invented name that likely comes from a combination of two names or an elaboration on the initials JC. Jace first debuted on the US top 1000 in the 1950s before it fell out fashion and returned with fury in 80s rising to the top 100 today. Jason is a Greek name meaning “to heal.” Jace is sometimes considered the Hebrew form of Jason.
Whether it’s due to its economic connotations, or its link to American legend Johnny Cash, this name is widely used (it’s in the top 500 today), and has been used by several celebrities including Annabeth Gish and Joshua Morrow. Cash is considered currency in the US and we could just leave it at that, but Cash can also be considered an American form of Cassius which is a Latin name meaning “hollow.”
African-American journalist Hiawatha Bray is a singular modern bearer of this name of a Native-American leader immortalized in Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha. Hiawatha comes from the Iroquois tradition and means “he makes rivers.”
Tripp originated as an American baby name due to its use as a nickname for someone who’s a third. As in, “triple.” Another P was added and Tripp was born. The name debuted in the US top 1000 in 2008 and it has been chugging right along ever since. Leave it to Americans to turn a word that means “to fall” into a baby name.
At the rate it’s growing, Maverick soon won’t seem like such a maverick any longer. Heard first in a 1950s James Garner western TV series, and then as the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun, this name is an American invention plucked from pop culture. Maverick is an American baby name meaning “independent.” This curious name is a top 100 choice today.
Raylan Givens is the cowboy hat-wearing US Marshall created by writer Elmore Leonard and starring in the television series Justified. The Ray part of the name is of course a traditional choice, usually meaning “wise.” But, the -lan part of the name likely came from an old surname. Raylan is an American baby name that you will only find in the US and it has been on the rise since 2008, ranking at 662 last year.
African-Americans invented jazz music and with it, the name that would eventually be inspired by it, Jazz. The term jazz comes from a slang term, jasm, which means “pep” or “energy.” Jazz has long been considered a nickname for Jasper, but we know it can stand all on its own. Although this name has never appeared in the US top 1000 for boys, we see that changing in coming years.
Bode is an American baby name with an uncertain origin. It’s absolutely American but agreement on whether it comes from a surname or as a different form of Bodhi, a Sanskrit, Buddhist concept that means “enlightened,” has yet to reach a consensus. The name has been off and on the US top 1000 since the early 2000s.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. have a son named Rocky, which means it might have finally shaken off its Sylvester Stallone image. Rocky was once considered a nickname for Rocco, an Italian name meaning “rest.” However, the American baby name, Rocky has more in common with pop-culture here today. It was only a couple of years ago that the name was picked up in the UK. Rocky has been on and off the top 1000 in the US since the 1940s!
Americans invented a term when they coined “huckleberry” as a term for a species of plants only found in North America. It was a dialectal invention coming from “hurtleberry.” We associate the name with Mark Twain’s Huckleberry “Huck” Finn today. Thus, Huck is an American baby name and a nature name and a literary name. This name has been used by a few celebrities like Brad Paisley for his son, and we expect this name to continue to grow in popularity in the coming years.
When playwright Thomas Lanier Williams adopted the pen name of Tennessee, he created a new possibility among American place-names, although it’s decidedly bulky in size. Reese Witherspoon brought it back into the spotlight when she chose it for her son. Tennessee has Cherokee, Native American origins meaning “meeting place” and “winding river.”
While it may sound a little dated, Lamar is a name that has never been outside the US top 1000, but it is in danger of falling off the list! Lamar is likely an invented name coming from English by way of French as a surname meaning “dweller by a pool.” You do not encounter this American baby name anywhere else in the world.
For trendy parents, Aspen has emerged as an attractive gender-neutral option. The name of a Colorado ski resort town, and the name of an American species of Populus trees. Aspen sounds, crisp, cool, and fresh. Expect this American baby name to land in the top 1000 by next year.
Tyshawn is a name formed from the Ty-prefix like Tyler and the name Shawn. This American baby name is an invention that honors members of the family. The name has been in the US top 1000 since the early nineties and we hope it stays there for a long time yet.
Jax is an American baby name invented likely to be short for Jaxon and Jackson. However we got, Jax is here to stay. Once considered just a name for soap opera characters, new parents have propelled this baby name to the US top 500 over the last decade.
Did Americans invent the concept or term Justice? Obviously not! However, we are the only country in the world where this concept has been applied to a given name. Making this American baby name truly special. Justice works like a virtue name and it is given to both little boys and little girls today.
Dutch settler Jonas Bronck is how the Bronx got its name. The Bronx, one of New York City’s most beloved boroughs, works well as applied as a name. Similar to Brooklyn, Bronx is the new kid on the block that parents are warming to. We expect Bronx to be almost as big as the name Brooklyn for baby boys soon enough.
Buzz is an American invented nickname best worn by Buzz Aldrin and Buzz Lightyear. McFly rocker Tom Fletcher transformed this from midcentury short form to modern cool name when he used it for his newborn son. We think the buzz around this American baby name is well earned.
Bo has a history as a Norse name meaning “to live.” But, we are more interested in its American use as an alternative form of Beau, a French name meaning “handsome.” Bo is the casual Americanized version of the name and it’s been popular for baby boys here since 1977. It ranked at its highest since 1979 last year and it is tracking to be more popular than ever before.
Ike, once the quirky one-person nickname of President Dwight Eisenhower, has morphed into a cool kid nickname of the early 21st century. The rise of Isaac and the stylishness of short down-to-earth nicknames like Max and Gus means that many parents like Ike once again. This American baby name was once hugely popular in 19th century and we think it’s time for a comeback after over 50 years off the top 1000 list. Ike is short for Isaac and means “laughter.”
The prefix La- was historically used by the Free Black People of New Orleans in the 19th century to indicate paternity. Thus, someone named Lashawn was the son of Shawn. We love the -shawn names and Lashawn would be the perfect American baby name for a boy with a dad named Shawn. It could be you just love this name, which we would not be mad at either! Lashawn was last popular in the seventies when it spent the entire decade on the US top 1000 list.
Alaska’s Denali National Park is the home of the highest mountain in the US, officially renamed Denali in 2014, endowing the name with a lofty feel. There were 20 boys and 55 girls given the name in 2014. From the indigenous Koyukon name of a mountain in Alaska, Denali means “great one.” This is our favorite American baby name for boys and we hope it takes off! It is a dreamy appellation.
There you go! Do you feel like you’ve just had a slice of apple pie, watched a football game, and traveled the entire US? There are plenty more American boy names to choose from that did not make this list! If you did not find the perfect name, we urge you to look at more of our lists, and to think of places, people, and things that have shaped this country for inspiration!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 Check Out These Resilient American Boy Names!
- 1.1 Kai
- 1.2 Jayden
- 1.3 Sawyer
- 1.4 Wilder
- 1.5 Holden
- 1.6 Austin
- 1.7 Lincoln
- 1.8 Denzel
- 1.9 Dax
- 1.10 Cade
- 1.11 Hendrix
- 1.12 Sky
- 1.13 Gunner
- 1.14 Kylo
- 1.15 Memphis
- 1.16 Saint
- 1.17 Dallas
- 1.18 Rowdy
- 1.19 Landry
- 1.20 Bryson
- 1.21 Booker
- 1.22 Buster
- 1.23 Cannon
- 1.24 Cheyenne
- 1.25 Colton
- 1.26 Scout
- 1.27 Camden
- 1.28 Stetson
- 1.29 Keanu
- 1.30 Flint
- 1.31 Colby
- 1.32 Chance
- 1.33 Penn
- 1.34 Kyson
- 2 Now, Our Top Favorite American Boy Names!
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