Let’s face it: the last-name-as-first-name trend is here to stay. Just ask any Mason, Everly, or Jackson! Giving your child a traditional last name as their baby name can sound totally sleek and sophisticated—it’s why Madison was such a popular girl’s name a few years back. But it can also backfire badly, particularly when the name chosen has negative connotations (Nixon, anyone? Apparently, in Utah, yes.)
Sometimes there are practical reasons for giving your baby a last name as his or her first name. If you don’t want to hyphenate, it can be a great way to pass on your maiden name without creating a total tongue-twister for your offspring’s future driver’s license. Or maybe there’s a mentor, friend, or public figure you want to honor, but their first name just doesn’t work for you. If you love their last name and want to make their legacy last, go for it!
But sometimes, the last-name-as-first-name trend just goes too far. Bexley, for instance, is currently listed in Nameberry’s top 1,000 baby names, popular with parents who can’t decide between Kingsley, Paisley, and Becky… and decide to go with the worst of all three. And O’Brien may work if you have a simple, one-syllable last name—but if you’re already working with something super Irish-sounding, people may start to mistake your kid for a pub.
So what are some un-obnoxious surname baby names out there? We’ve rounded up a few of our faves below.
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Last Name Baby Names for Girls
One of the names of the original American Girl Dolls, Addison (or Addy) is a strong statement name for parents who like gender neutral options.
If this name sounds kind of wispy and elfish to you, there’s a reason: it originally derives from an Old English word meaning “ruler of the elves.”
This cute unisex surname originally meant “bailiff.” Perfect if you want a girl-boss daughter who knows how to lay down the law!
Cutting-edge parents are already naming their boys Brooks, but we think it would be a cool alternative to “Brooke” or “Brooklyn” for a girl, too.
If you like names like Emily or Emma but want something a bit less popular (and bonus! adorably gender neutral), look no further than Emerson.
A sweet mash-up of Emily, Beverly and Eva, Everly is perfect for parents who like the classics but want to go a little bit rogue.
This popular boys’ name is starting to crossover to girls, too. Try it out if you want something that toes the line between classic and creative.
Another unisex winner, Gray is a moody beauty—and clearly ideal for a gray-eyed babe.
Joel Madden, Patricia Arquette, and Nicole Richie all chose this sophisticated name for their daughters. It means “army,” but will always have connotations of Jean Harlow, the classic film star.
There’s a reason this name has been so popular for girls lately. It’s a classic that goes great with one- or three-syllable last names!
Most people think of it as a nickname for Kimberly, but all on its own it mimics the #1 Korean surname—and sounds seriously cool.
It’s both the name of the town where the CIA headquarters are located and the name of actress Mariel Hemingway’s daughter. It’s a very common surname in England, but less widely used as a first name, so your child would stand out from the crowd.
Names with an X are super on-trend right now. This last-name-as-first-name has been used with boys before, but we think it would be so cute and original for a girl.
There’s something posh-sounding about this English last name. Maybe that’s why it’s currently the 101st most popular girl’s name in the United States.
Q names are so unusual…and so much fun. Maybe that’s why so many parents are choosing Quinn as a first name for their boys and girls.
This Irish last name means “courageous.” So perfect if you want your little girl to grow up brave!
Sure, there may always be a whiff of Tom Sawyer here, but we think it’s a very cute name for a spunky kid.
It’s hard to separate this name from actress Sutton Foster, but we’re positive your baby will make it all her own.
Speaking of celebrities, Taylor Swift vaulted this name into popularity. But even if you’re not into the princess of pop, it’s a wonderfully sophisticated name for a baby girl.
The name “Whitney” got a lot of use in the 80’s thanks to Whitney Houston, and now it’s making a comeback. In addition to a being a lovely English surname, it’s also a famous museum in NYC.
Last Name Baby Names for Boysvia GIPHY
Anderson Cooper made this name famous, and we think it would sound so good with a one- or two-syllable last name. It can also be shortened to Andy, which is just adorable.
This Irish last name could make a great nod to playwright Samuel Beckett for parents who love theater and literature.
A cool take on the more traditional Brian, this last-name-as-first-name is also the name of New York City’s Bryant Park, which abuts the New York Public Library and once hosted Fashion Week.
There’s something energetic and friendly about this Irish surname, which is a popular first name for both boys and girls.
Part of a cohort of English profession-names (Sawyer, Miller, etc), Carter means “cart-driver.” Use it and your son could really go places!
Actor Channing Tatum has helped popularize this last name, which means, fittingly, “young wolf”.
Coopers were barrel-makers back when this was a thing. Can you think of anything cuter than a pair of twins named Carter and Cooper? We can’t!
A classic surname that’s a good alternate for parents who like David, but want something a bit fresher. Plus, it means “beloved”. What could be more fitting?
Way cuter than the traditional “Dickson” and a great way to honor a relative named Richard or Dick, while keeping things decidedly modern.
The great thing about this Irish surname is that it can be shortened to “Finn,” which is cool no matter how you cut it.
Both a last name and a bird of prey, this is a strong choice if you want your son to soar.
Literary parents love this creative last-name-as-first-name for boys. You can’t help drawing parallels to writer Aldous Huxley, whose creativity and vision helped shape our world.
Who better to name your son for than good ol’ Honest Abe?
Masons work with stone and brick: two materials with distinctively masculine qualities. Also, this name can be shortened to Mace, which is just plain cool.
A fun, sporty name that means “park keeper”, we love this for a boy (or a girl!) who is always game to get outside.
A simple, elegant name with tons of personality. It has its share of famous bearers (including train stations in iconic cities), and is a great nod to the power of the pen, too.
There’s something lovely about this nature-based name, which also happens to be a last name. Perfect for families that love the outdoors!
It’s the most common last name in America, but it still feels fresh as a first name—for boys OR girls.
This Welsh name was popular in the middle of the 20th Century and is just starting to make a comeback. Consider it a great alternative to Sean.
If you’re looking for a more classic name but feel William is a bit too classic, Wilson could be your perfect pick. The name means “son of William”.
Are you considering a last name as first name for your baby? What are some of your favorites?
YA author, freelance writer, fan of books, beats, babies, Brooklyn. Check out my latest YA novel, When The Beat Drops, out now.
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Baby Name Generator
No baby name sounding good? Want a quick way to generate unique baby name ideas? Try our baby name generator below!
Set your terms (sex of the baby, number of letters, popularity, etc.) and then get a list of names that meet your criteria. Maybe the perfect name is just waiting to be generated for you.