Finding a cool name for your baby boy is not an impossibility and there is no need to resort to making up your own name. In fact, many ancient baby names hold the promise of uniqueness and because they might have fallen from favor over the centuries, they sound super fresh to the contemporary ear. These storied baby names sound distinguished and refined and come from a variety of languages and naming traditions.
We decided to take a deep dive into ancient names to discover which appellations will work best for new parents today. We turn to Olde English, Byzantium, Rome, Classical Greece, and more to find the most attractive options. Many of these names have a history in legend and myth that make for a fun discovery for your little one as he comes of age. Here are 25 ancient baby names for boys that new parents today should consider resurrecting. Not stuffy and plenty of fun, we promise!
Xerxes is a royal name that belonged to two early Kings of Persia. Xerxes the Great invaded Greece in the 5th century. Xerxes has Persian origins and means “hero among heroes.” Names with X and Z in them are all the rage right now and this one has not one, but two X’s. While this name has never been popular in the US, we feel it could hold promise for a little boy today.
Lucius Septimius Severus was a Roman emperor from 193 to 211. The ancient name Severus has literary credentials as well appearing in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and the Harry Potter books as a mean professor. Severus has Latin origins that mean “stern.”
Atlas, thankfully, has garnered attention from new parents who have propelled this name to the US top 1000 most popular names for boys. Atlas has origins in Greek mythology as a name for a figure with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Thus, this name means “bearer of the heavens.” The name entered the US top 500 last year and it is a steady climber!
In ancient Roman history, the name is associated with Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, the last of the so-called “Five Good Emperors.” Aurelius could join other Emporer names like Augustus and Julius if parents give it the attention it deserves. Aurelius has a most attractive meaning in “the golden one.” This ancient, Roman clan name has never taken off in the US, but we see so much potential for it.
Stately Gaius, pronounced GUY-us, was in the name of many ancient Romans, including Julius Caesar. Little-used before the year 2000, it now feels like a fresh possibility in the revival of Latin boys’ names like Atticus and Cassius. While this name is not widespread yet, we see that changing in the years to come. Gaius has Latin origins and means “to rejoice.”
One vehicle to get you to the nickname Oz can be found in Ozias, a Greek name mentioned in the Bible, that means “salvation.” While this ancient name is not currently on the US top 1000 we foresee this name becoming the new Oswald as it has the attractive Z and a gentle sound to it.
The ancient Philo (AKA Philo of Alexandria and Philo the Jew) was a Biblical philosopher who attempted to merge Greek and Jewish thought. He had a name that’s great for dough but sounds even better as a moniker for a little boy. Philo mad the US top 1000 one year, in 1881. It’s time to bring this baby back! Philo has Greek roots that mean “loving.”
Thor, the powerful name of the Norse god of thunder, strength, and rain, would make a bold statement today. The Norse elements that comprise this name mean “thunder.” Thor was once a popular choice in the US from 1961 to 1971 but it has not made the US top 1000 since that time. As you might expect, the ancient name is still popular for baby boys in Sweden today.
Ivo is a boy’s name of German, Irish, Dutch origin meaning “yew wood, archer.” While this name has never been popular in the US, it is currently a favorite in England and the Netherlands. The name has belonged to a few Medieval saints and noblemen. We would love for this handsome option to come to America.
Classical and Shakespearean name that may appeal if you like long, flowing and multicultural baby names. Demetrius has been popular in the US since the 1950s and for good reason, it’s beautiful. This Greek name is associated with the mythological figure many Greeks aligned with, Demeter. Thus, Demetrius means “follower of Demeter.”
Bruno is a popular name throughout Europe and South America that deserves more attention here. It’s a colorful name that means “brown.” St. Bruno of Cologne was a nobleman who founded the Carthusian order of monks in 1084. Bruno, with its German origins, should be much more popular than it is, but it is still found in the US top 1000.
Cosmo is the name of the Arabian-born patron saint of doctors. Today, you will mostly find this name in Italy as it has Italian and Greek origins that mean “order” or “beauty.” The name was last popular in the US in the 1920s, but we see its fortuned changing in the near future. Find a more energetic name, we dare you!
Decimus is one of the Roman numeral names that was used in large Victorian families as a name for a tenth child. The Latin name does, indeed, mean “tenth.” Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus was the full name of an assassin of Julius Caesar.
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Parvaiz would certainly stand out in American classrooms! This elegant Persian name means “luck” and “happy.” What more could you want in a baby name meaning? You will also find this name spelled as Parviz and both come from the same Middle Persian root. The twenty-second Sassanid King of Persia was named Parviz.
A literary name in the story of Ben Hur and the novels of Anthony Trollope has the feel of Roman antiquity that is beginning to appeal to many parents. Quintus was one of only about twenty male first names in ancient Rome. Like Decimus, this one was given to a “fifth” child as that is its meaning. Quintus Aemilius Laetus was a Praetorian Guard from Roman Empire.
Tamerlane was the name of an ancient Mongol warrior, remembered primarily today through the works of Christopher Marlowe and Edgar Allan Poe. The name has Turkish or Persian origins and means “iron” or “Timur the Lame.” Unfortunately, this elegant choice has never taken off in the US.
The Greek mythological Orion was the legendary hunter who pursued the seven daughters of Atlas, was slain by the goddess Artemis, and then placed as one of the brightest constellations in the night sky by Zeus. Surprisingly, Orion was a top 500 name last year. The name means “the hunter.” Calixto is known in Spain as the name of three popes, one of whom was the martyr, Callixtus I, regarded as a saint.
Calixto is known in Spain as the name of three popes, one of whom was the martyr, Callixtus I, regarded as a saint. This absolutely stunning Greek name means “beautiful.” So, you can see the meaning matches the name. Calixto is the main character in the Spanish classic, Fernando de Rojas’s Tragicomedy of Calixto and Melibea.
A bold baby name that parents should definitely consider brining back to life, Cicero was last popular in the US in 1910. It’s been 100 years so we think it is more than safe to revisit this one. Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar and Academic Skeptic who played an important role in the politics of the late Roman Republic. This Latin name means “chickpea.” Chickpea!
The ancient name Horace sounds old school because the ancient name was once one of the most popular baby names for boys in the US. It has not been a favorite pick since the seventies, however. Horace has Latin origin meaning “timekeeper.” Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.
The Roman statesman known as Cato the Elder was born Marcus Portius, the Cato added in tribute to his natural judgment, practical wisdom, and political expertise. Thus, this ancient baby name means “all-knowing.” You scarcely encounter this name today, but it was a favorite for new parents from 1880-1891.
In the Bible, there are two people named Lazarus, the better known being the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany whom Jesus raised from the dead. There have been also several saints named Lazarus. The name has Hebrew origins and it means “God is my helper.” We think this name is so old that it could feel new once more, even though it has never been widely used in the US.
Magnus, a powerful name with a commanding presence, is one of the newly unearthed ancient appellations. Magnus is a Latin name meaning “greatest.” What’s not to love? Norwegian king Magnus I, named after Charlemagne, introduced it to his culture, and thus Magnus was the name of six early kings of Norway and four of Sweden. The name is still very popular across Scandinavia today.
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. Victor of the Cimbric and Jugurthine wars, he held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. Today, the ancient baby name is mostly found in Germany and France. It has not been popular in the US since 1881. The name is related to the God of War, Mars and thus means “warlike.”
Titus was the name of a Roman military commander who became Emperor. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is one fine example of the use of this name. The name has been on the rise in the US since the 1990s and it is more popular today than ever before. This Latin name means “title of honor.”
There you go! We hope you enjoyed and feel inspired by these ancient baby names for boys. Each one has a storied past yet would make for an appealing and contemporary-sounding choice today. Roman names have become very fashionable again and so we were sure to include many on this list as they are really speaking to new parents these days. Happy baby name hunting!
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 25. Xerxes
- 2 24. Severus
- 3 23. Atlas
- 4 22. Aurelius
- 5 21. Gaius
- 6 20. Ozias
- 7 19. Philo
- 8 18. Thor
- 9 17. Ivo
- 10 16. Demetrius
- 11 15. Bruno
- 12 14. Cosmo
- 13 13. Decimus
- 14 12. Parvaiz
- 15 11. Quintus
- 16 10. Tamerlane
- 17 9. Orion
- 18 8. Calixto
- 19 7. Cicero
- 20 6. Horace
- 21 5. Cato
- 22 4. Lazarus
- 23 3. Magnus
- 24 2. Marius
- 25 1. Titus
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