Choosing a name for your baby boy can be tough. Striking the right balance between stylish yet timeless is a difficult task. We’re here to help! Step aside William and Henry, it’s time to discover classic names that bring vintage elegance but not ubiquity. These names have been used for centuries and have either been forgotten or worse, simply neglected by new parents for decades.
We decided to take a look at names rooted in ancient civilizations, varied traditions, and even the Bible for inspiration. These are baby names you probably have heard or read through the years but have not cracked the top 1000 baby names chart for quite some time. These baby names for boys offer unlimited charm without being overly used and therefore carry with them plenty of character and uniqueness. Here are 25 classic yet unusual baby names for boys that will appeal to your granny while not sounding like a grandpa name.
Ewan is the preferred Scottish form of the Gaelic name Eoghan. This handsome name means “born of the yew tree.” The name is pronounced YOO-un even though many will try and conflate it with Ian. Actor Ewan McGregor is responsible for the broader reach of this name outside the UK.
Orson has been a trending baby name for boys since the 19th century in the US. This name has Latin origins and means “bear cub.” Orson wells was born George Orson Wells but dropped the George for his more distinctive middle name.
Although the name Basil has herbaceous appeal, the name is actually Greek and means “regal.” Basil was on the U.S. popularity list quite regularly up till 1970, reaching a high of Number 328 in 1904. It’s since fallen off the charts which is unfortunate. Bring back Basil!
We’re only making plans for Nigel. Nigel is a name that’s seen by many in the US as an upper-crusty British moniker. That should change as this classic Irish name has plenty of charm and strength. The name means “black-haired.”
If you’re looking for an Irish name that’s a little softer than Nigel, consider Niall. Although it looks and sounds similar to Neil, this name has way more style. Niall is pronounced nye-al and means “cloud.” How dreamy!
Clive is a name that hasn’t been popular in the US since the 1930s. What a shame! Clive is a fantastic name that’s vivacious thanks to the “live” included. Clive is an English name that means “lives near a high cliff.” If you are juggling Cliff or Clive, go with Clive.
Cosmo is a name for boys you’ll most commonly find in Italy even though it has Greek origins. As you’ve probably guessed, this name shares its roots with cosmos and means “order” or “beauty.” Cosmo has not shown up on the top 1000 names in the US since 1913. What a shame!
Tobias is a hot name right now, ranking in the top 300 names for boys in 2019. If you’re after something a touch different, consider Tobin a surname that’s related to it. The name has Greek origins but originated in Hebrew. It means “God is good.”
Angus was one of the most popular given names for boys until the 1920s. It’s a Scottish name that’s been Anglicized from the Gaelic name Aonghas. In Irish myth, Aonghus was the god of love and youth. Not too shabby! Angus means “one strength” and we can totally get behind that.
Conan is a boy’s name of Celtic origin meaning “little wolf.” Isn’t that precious? Conan has been associated with Conan the Barbarian starting way back in the 1930s after writer Robert E Howard created the character. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously portrayed the character in the 1982 film.
Now that such Old Testament patriarchs as Elijah and Moses fill the playground, Boaz seems downright baby-friendly, having more pizzazz than many of the others, perhaps a potential alternative to the extremely popular Noah. Boaz is a Hebrew name that means “swiftness.”
The patron saint of comedians and dancers, also known as St Vitus, has a name that is both the ultimate everyman and has a hint of British aristocracy. Guy is a remarkable French name that’s teeming with potential. This gentle name means “guide” or “leader.”
Morris is a name that enjoyed immense favor in the US until the 1990s. This stately-sounding name is the English form of Maurice and means “dark-skinned.” This name comes with one of the best nicknames ever, Mo, baked in.
Leander was a most popular name in the US up until the sixties and it’s a mystery how it went from a top pick to virtual obscurity. Leander is an extremely popular name in Norway now, but you rarely find it in the US. The name has Greek origins and means “lion-man.”
Like Leander, Jules was one of the most popular names for boys until the middle of the last century. It’s currently a reigning favorite in France and originated in the language as a form of Julius which means “youthful.” Jules is a perfect gender-neutral option as it works splendidly for both girls and boys.
Because of the epic scope of Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad, the term “homeric” implies work on an enormous scale. We must say, the name feels larger than life. Homer is a fabulous name that was fairly popular in the US until the 1980s. The name has Greek origins and means “pledge.” This is a perfect name and one of our favorites on this list.
A most unusual, traditional baby name, Aloysius was a hot name for baby boys born in the early part of the 20th century. Aloysius is the Latin form of many more common names like Louis, Luis, Luigi and the uncommon but symphonically familiar Ludwig. The name means “famous warrior.” You’ll find this name most popular in Ireland today.
In Roman legend Romulus and Remus were the founders of the city of Rome. Romulus has the prettier name of the two. However, the legendary Romulus killed his twin brother to make Rome more in his image. So, don’t foster narcissistic tendencies if you choose this name for your son! It means “of Rome.”
The Shakespearean character Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is King of the Fairies, but the name, with its strong ‘O’ beginning, projects a far more virile image than that. This English name means “bearlike” or “noble.” Unfortunately, this name has never hit the top of the charts. Let’s change that, parents!
Waldo is a German nickname name that’s much better than its formal form, Waldemar. The weighty reputation of writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson adds a measure of spine to the name. Waldo means “to rule.” This name was exceedingly popular in the US until the 1940s when German names were frowned upon thanks to a pair of World Wars.
If Waldo doesn’t bring enough whimsy for you, consider this other O-ending name. Cato has not appeared on the popularity charts since the 1880s. It’s a fabulous name that definitely deserves a revisit. This Latin name means “all-knowing” and carries a statesman-like reputation thanks to Cato the Elder of Roman Antiquity.
Rufus was a top 500 name in the US until the sixties. This very old Latin name means “red-headed.” Rufus is mentioned in the New Testament as the name of a son of Simon the Cytherian and there are several St. Rufuses. This name is sure to make a comeback so get ahead of the trend and choose it for your baby!
Esau is one of the neglected E-beginning boys’ biblical choices that we like a touch more than Elijah or Eli. it’s been off the popularity lists since 1902! If you’re not particularly picky about a name’s meaning, this would be an option as the Hebrew name means “hairy.”
Leif is a perfect Scandinavian name that’s making a comeback. The name became associated, in the US, with 1970s teen idol Leif Garrett. It peaked on the charts at number 654 in 1970, dropping off completely in 1987. This handsome and nature-adjacent name means “descendant.”
There you go! 25 baby names for boys that have been forgotten and neglected. These classic monikers sound excellent and are not worn out today. We hope you feel inspired by this list and will consider one of these excellent names for boys.
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. Lev
- 2 24. Ewan
- 3 23. Orson
- 4 22. Basil
- 5 21. Nigel
- 6 20. Niall
- 7 19. Clive
- 8 18. Cosmo
- 9 17. Tobin
- 10 16. Angus
- 11 15. Conan
- 12 14. Boaz
- 13 13. Guy
- 14 12. Morris
- 15 11. Leander
- 16 10. Jules
- 17 9. Homer
- 18 8. Aloysius
- 19 7. Romulus
- 20 6. Oberon
- 21 5. Waldo
- 22 4. Cato
- 23 3. Rufus
- 24 2. Esau
- 25 1. Leif
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