In the early 1900s, German names with strong constants were popular. Names such as Friedrich, Heinrich, and Wilhelm for boys could be found around the world. In Germany, some classical names remained popular for several decades during the 1900s, meaning today you can find many first names such as Günter, Hans, Jürgen, Karl, Klaus, Michael, Peter, Stefan, Thomas, Walter, and Uwe. You would not and will not find many of these names in the US thanks two a couple of World Wars. Several decades have passed and names that sound typically German are being considered once more.
Germany has stricter baby-naming rules than we have in the US and a baby’s name must be approved by the Standesamt before it’s printed on a birth certificate. Luckily, most states in the US don’t have the same naming rules and you can feel free to go wild! German Americans are the largest of the self-reported ancestry groups by the United States Census Bureau in its American Community Survey. That means nearly 50 million Americans report having partial German ancestry. The largest wave of German immigrants came to America between 1820 and WWI. So, a German name might be an afterthought at this point, but there some excellent options to inspire new parents. Here are 25 handsome German baby names for boys.
Kurt is the diminutive form of Kurtis and means “polite.” Kurt’s popularity has fallen dramatically since the nineties and although it enjoyed huge favor in the sixties, seventies, and eighties, this name is no longer on the list of top 1000 names. We likely have Kurt Russell to thank for its rise and Kurt Cobain‘s tragic death for its fall. It’s an excellent name!
Jannik is the preferred Dutch and German form of the name, John, a name that means “God is gracious.” If this name sounds a little funny to you, you would not be alone. This very Olde World name has never been featured in the top 1000 in the US.
Derek was a Top 100 name in the U.S. for 25 years, from 1970 to 1995. It’s now in the top 500. While this name sounds quintessentially English, it is actually a form of the German name, Theodoric. The name means “the people’s ruler.”
Emerson makes for a perfect unisex choice. This name means “son of Emery.” This serious-sounding name associated with transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson would make for a smart moniker for your child.
A favorite Norman name, Walter was extremely popular in medieval England (when it was pronounced “Water”), and in this country from the 1870s through the 1940s. Today, the name is still beloved and rests firmly in the top 500. The name sounds strong, because it is! It means “army ruler.”
Roland is a chivalrous old name made famous by the supposedly eight-foot-tall romantic hero and nephew of Charlemagne, celebrated in medieval poetry and song. Roland gets a cute Spanish makeover with the diminutive, Rollo, which makes for a cute nickname! Roland means “famous throughout the land.”
If Jannik was a step too far for you, consider the other popular German form of the name John, Johan. For much of the 21st century, Johan was not a name you’d find outside of Europe. Since 1998, the name has exploded in popularity and it’s now a top 1000 name for boys.
Archie is such an old name that it predates the German language that eventually adopted it. The Teutonic name comes from Archibald which means “truly brave.” We have the royal baby, son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aka Harry and Meghan to thank for the resurgence of this amazing name!
Tomas bridges a linguistic divide between German and Portuguese as the name can be attributed to both languages. In both, this name means “twin.” Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’ which is a very old form of this name. Tomas feels contemporary as well as classic and parents are beginning to adopt the name instead of Thomas.
Though well used at the turn of the last century, Otis was off the charts for two decades from 1995 to 2014, and now sounds like a fresh choice. This German name means “wealthy” and has a classy, bluesy, coolness thanks to Otis Redding. In 2015, Olivia Wilde chose the name for her son which is currently helping drive this name back into the top 500.
You can spell the name Kellan as Kellen, both are appropriate. You’ll find this name in both German and Irish traditions. In German, the name means “swamp” which is… not great! But, in Irish, the name means “slender.” Kellan is a wonderful name that gives us the super fun nickname Kell.
Bruno is a popular name throughout Europe and South America that deserves more attention here. The name means “brown” and would be a perfect pick for a little boy born in autumn. Although the name is in the top 1000 in the US, it peaked in popularity way back in the early 1920s.
Stephan is a Greek name that means “garland.” You’ll find the German form of the name, Stefan, favored in Poland, Russia, across Scandinavia, and throughout Germany, of course. Stefan sounds like Stephen’s sophisticated European cousin. This name had a moment in the US in the nineties but has slipped since then. Bring it back to its former glory, parents!
Boden entered the US top 1000 in 2014. It’s a possibility thanks to similar names Owen, Logan, and Mason. We love Boden! The name can be found in both English and German traditions. In English, the name means “hill shaped like a bow.” In German, the name means… “floor.” But, don’t let that stop you from picking this handsome name!
Alaric is an ancient regal name that sounds modern enough to be considered today. Alaric was a traditional name for the kings of the Ostrogoths, the most famous of whom was Alaric I, the King of the West Goths who sacked Rome in 410. Alaric has very German origins and means “all-powerful ruler.” Believe it or not, this is a top 1000 name in the US today.
Jeremias entered the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2016. It’s the German form of Jeremiah, a Hebrew name that means “appointed by God.” Jeremiah is the favorite form of this name in the US, but we love the character and charm of Jeremias.
After three decades off the US Top 1000, it reentered in 2013. While it might sound like a name specific to Appalachia, Harlan is actually a very old German surname that means “rocky land.” This name is both gentle and strong and we highly recommend it.
Hugh might seem like a very English name, but its Germanic roots predate Latin. Hugues and Hugonis got picked up by Middle Latin as Hugo. The name means “mind.” Whether you decide to go with either form of this name, Hugo and Hugh are both exceedingly handsome. Both names can be found in the top 1000 and Hugo has now become the more popular of the two.
Emery has been traditionally given as a boy’s name, but over the past decade, it’s become much more popular for girls. We love this name for a boy. The name means “industrious.” Amelia is the feminine form of this name.
Rudy is a name that’s been in the top 1000 since record-keeping began in the 1880s. It’s a shortened form of the name Rudolph which means “famous wolf.” Rudy is such a cute name!
Because no one likes the traditional form of this German name, Adalfuns, people have turned to Alonso and Alonzo instead. Both are perfectly acceptable forms of a name that means “noble and ready.” This name spread around Europe centuries ago and is now more common among Spanish and Portuguese-speaking parents.
Carl is the preferred German form of the French name, Charlemagne. Carl sounds much cooler than the English form of the name Charles. Carl means “free man.” The name is in the top 1000 but it’s the least popular it’s ever been in the US. Meanwhile, it’s a top 50 name in Germany today.
Adler is a German surname that is beginning to be used occasionally as a first by stylish parents. Adler has a great meaning that should speak to American parents: “eagle.” The name has never appeared in the top 1000 but we foresee that changing in the very near future.
Ivo is an unusual, catchy name with the energetic feel of all names ending in ‘o‘. Hardly heard in the U.S., it is used more frequently in England, as is the related Ivor. Currently, this German name is most popular in the Netherlands and for Dutch-speakers more broadly. The name means “yew wood” or “archer.”
Otto has enjoyed a meteoric rise that began after the dust settled from WWII. The name is now in the top 500 in the US and will likely be even more popular next year. It would be a welcome alternative to Oscar. This playful name means “wealthy.”
There you go! 25 handsome German names for boys that would certainly work today. We hope you feel inspired by these classic baby names and will consider one for your baby boy!
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 1 25. Kurt
- 2 24. Jannik
- 3 23. Derek
- 4 22. Emerson
- 5 21. Walter
- 6 20. Roland
- 7 19. Johan
- 8 18. Archie
- 9 17. Tomas
- 10 16. Otis
- 11 15. Kellan
- 12 14. Bruno
- 13 13. Stefan
- 14 12. Boden
- 15 11. Alaric
- 16 10. Jeremias
- 17 9. Harlan
- 18 8. Hugh
- 19 7. Emery
- 20 6. Rudy
- 21 5. Alonso
- 22 4. Carl
- 23 3. Adler
- 24 2. Ivo
- 25 1. Otto
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