New parents are increasingly seeing opportunities beyond just the connective tissue for middle names by seizing it as a way to inject added meaning into a moniker. A middle name with strong personal meaning might be the name of a cherished friend or family member, a surname retrieved from your family tree, or — in the case of the meaningful baby names here — a choice with an inspirational feel.
These mostly word names should inspire parents to not rely on safe bets, and instead, go after an option that encourages a tangible hope. No, we are not telling you to pick a word willy-nilly and then call it a day. It is meant to be an actual name that holds meaning for a family and brings even more charm and character to a name. Meaningful middle names for boys are more than just a bridge between first and last. Explore the possibilities with our 25 favorite options.
Dash has gone mainstream thanks to its connection with the Kardashian name, but we do not think that is driving parents to give this name to their baby boys. Dash sounds both dashing and energetic which has propelled it into the top 1000 baby names for boys in the US. It began its journey as Dashiell, a French surname with unknown meaning. Over the years it evolved as a popular nickname. We think it works beautifully as a middle name.
Irish author, poet, and playwright Oscar Wilde, infamous for his wit and flamboyance might inspire you to pick the name Wilde, an English surname meaning…. “wild.” You can just cut to the chase if you wish and go with Wild. Either way, both make for an exceptional middle name for a baby boy or girl.
Strong is one of the best middle names for boys because it conveys strength right from the very start. If you are looking for a robust middle name option, go with Strong. It works well with most first and last names and fits right in.
Today, Cash is a top 500 pick for boys, but before that you would be hard pressed to find someone with it as a given name unless you looked back in time to the 1890s when Cash was a unique and mildly popular choice. It was seen as a shortened form of Cassius, a Roman name that means “hollow.” We like it because it conjures memories of music legend, Johnny Cash.
Ballad is an English word name that would be the perfect masculine answer to the now-popular Aria. Ballad, of course, means “poem” or “song,” but it also comes with the cute nickname Lad baked in. The name is currently trending on a number of baby name databases as a favorite option among parents considering baby names.
Actor Zoe Saldana chose the name Zen for her son born in 2016 and we expect many more parents to follow her lead in the coming years. Zen refers to the Japanese form of Buddhism that treasures meditation and intuition. This name works well as a middle name as an alternative to Zane with a rosy meaning.
Justice is an attractive name that’s enjoyed a renaissance since the 1990s. We love it as a given first name, but find it works extremely well as a middle name option as well. Justice is a rare virtue name (Faith, Grace, Prudence, etc.) for boys that sounds similar to the Roman family name Justus which is probably how it came into common use. If you are after a name with a righteous meaning, this would be the one!
Leaf is the nature boy version of the Scandinavian Leif, which actually means “heir.” Joaquin Phoenix was given this name as a newborn. Leaf is the perfect option for parents who love econames and desire to celebrate nature. We expect this name to explode in popularity over the next decade.
Director M. Night Shyamalan certainly has an appealing middle name. We love the mystery a name like Night brings to a moniker. The name is occasionally found as a surname, but we think it has great potential in the middle.
King has been a popular given name in the US since records started in 1880 and today, it’s more popular than ever before. King is a strong name with offbeat style and a full court of rich associations, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to King Floyd there’s no shortage of inspiration. This English name means “monarch.”
Peace is an admirable sentiment to convey in a child’s name. It also has the added benefit of sounding like the established name, Reese. Peace would be an excellent option, but if you would like something a touch more subtle, check out our next middle name.
Pax is a word with Latin origins that means “peace.” Many new parents are living for names with “X” in them, causing the majority of them to explode in popularity over the past several years. Pax is a great choice and would make for a most wonderful gift to give this world.
Sage debuted on the top 1000 for boys in 1991 and it continues to be a very favored option for both boys and girls. Sage refers to the tasty herb, but also has origins as a Latin word for a person who is “wise and knowing.” You can’t go wrong with this one!
Today, True is much more popular as a middle name than a first, but it was mildly popular in the 1890’s, appearing in the top 1000 way back then. True works similar to other virtue names like Justice and feels fitting for a boy thanks to the mainstream name Andrew or Drew.
Win is an upbeat, can-do name that can be a short form of one of the buttoned-up British choices Winslow, Winthrop, or Winston. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara named their son Win Harrison. Obviously, this name has a winning reputation and would be a perfect option as a middle name.
Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson, CBE was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas. While this might seem like a musical invention, the name has deeper meaning for many Aussies. We love it for a middle moniker or nickname.
While Champ might seem too on-the-nose for many parents, the name has been featured in the top 1000 for many years of the 20th century. For most of us, Champ is an endearing nickname. That’s why the perfect place for it could be right in the middle. It’s a winner!
Jazz sounds like a big hit as a middle name. It’s long been a nickname for Jasper and we think it sounds lively and unique. We think this would be the most dazzling option for lovers of music.
Fortune is a Latin name that’s become more popular for girls in recent decades, but it has, historically, been a gender-neutral option. The name means “luck” or “fate” and it would certainly impart hope for prosperity and good fortune.
The only year you will find the name Friend in the top 1000 was way back in 1880. The name was popularized by the Quakers. Friend certainly feels amicable. English actor Rupert Friend is the rare example of someone with the surname. This one is truly best.
Future is a hopeful and forward-looking word name that has been increasingly seen as a possibility for progressive parents. Future has tons of potential along with its cousin, Forever. Both work well and are showing up on more birth certificates these days.
Chance peaked as a first name back in 1992, but it has stayed on the radar as a distinct and meaningful option. Chance started its time as a name when it was used as a shortened form for the French surname Chauncey, which means “chief secretary.” We’d give it a chance.
Saint made its return to the top 1000 in 2018 after not appearing on the charts since 1897! It’s emerged as a popular choice for celebrity parents in recent years. Saint is an American invention as a name. We find it a most attractive option as a middle name.
River shares the peaceful feeling of all the water names, and seems to have pretty much escaped its past strong association with River Phoenix and his unfortunate fate. The name landed in the top 1000 for the first time in 1994 and has only grown since then.
Sky has emerged as a nature name that appeals because it is not as hippyish as similar names that were favored in the sixties and seventies like Rainbow or Starlight. This name sounds like a limitless horizon. Sky comes from a word that means “scholar.” All-in-all, a really great middle name idea.
There you go! 25 marvelous, meaningful, middle names that offer inspiration and sound distinguished as part of a name. While many of these options certainly work as firsts, we find them best suited as a colorful ornament sandwiched in the middle of a name. We hope you feel creative and inspired and will consider one of these options for your baby boy!
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.
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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.