You might think that the United States and Britain share a lot of baby name trends. But, if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that there are hundreds of names that are popular in either country that are basically unheard of in the other. For instance, if you compare the top 10 most favored names for boys in the US and the top 10 in England and Wales, you’ll find that both love Noah and Oliver. The trend continues out of the top 10 and more broadly for the top 1000 in both. So, there’s a little common ground but still many more names each place can learn about.
Let’s take a look at some popular British names that aren’t so popular here. For the most part, the names that you’ll hear there but not here are nickname names, vintage British names, and native British names (that can come from England, Wales, Ireland, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe). This means there’s an abundance of unique baby names that Americans aren’t exposed to because of cultural differences. Let’s change that! Here are 25 undiscovered British names for boys that we think will have you chuffed to bits!
In England and Wales, Albie is a top 100 name. It’s a nickname that parents love so much that they’re choosing it as the first name for their child. Albie is a shortened form of Albert, Alban, or Albus. Which means you can take it to means a number of things. Albert means “noble.” Alban has Latin roots and means “from Alba.” And, Albus means “bright.” It’s so good no matter how you slice it.
While Easton is popular stateside, Aston is the preferred name for boys in the UK. This very English name means “eastern settlement.” The two names are very close, but Aston has a sophisticated James Bond quality to it.
Welsh name Bryn is often dismissed as sounding “too feminine” for a boy in the US. This is due to the popularity of Brynn for girls. However, Bryn is a strong handsome name that means “hill.” This name has fallen from the top 100 in England and Wales, but we think it’s fresh enough for Americans to start a trend with it.
Pronounced, K-eye-oh, the name has a joyful meaning: “rejoice.” Caio has long been popular in Wales and it is a name with Latin roots, a variation of Caius. Caio is a perfect, undiscovered British name that parents should really be getting into in the US. Yes, people will confuse it with Kylo, but we believe it’s worth correcting a few people.
Where Caio is a form of Caius, Cassian is a form of the Latin clan name Cassius. There are a few St. Cassians, but chances are the name is new to you if you’re in the US. Cassian has a gorgeous sound that belies its meaning: “hollow.”
If you’re looking to bring a little Gaelic charm into your son’s life, consider the name Cillian (or you can spell it Killian so people will properly pronounce it). Cillian is pronounced KILL-ee-un and if you’ve heard the name, it might be due to the popularity of actor Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Peaky Blinders). The name means “war strife” or “church.”
In the US, the preferred Em- names for boys are Emmett, Emiliano, and Emilio. All fine names, but the casual and cool Emil is the preferred Em- name in much of Europe and that’s especially true for Englan and Wales. Emil has Latin origins and means “rival.” However, we don’t foresee it causing interfamilial strife down the line. So, if you like Emmett but want something with a bit more zest, consider Emil.
Eren is a Turkish name that has worldwide appeal. In Turkey, the name is in the top 50, and in England and Wales, the name ranks in the top 1000. Virtually unheard of in the US, the name benefits from sounding similar to well-known Aaron and Erin. Eren means “saint” or “holy person.” We foresee this name becoming a thing in the US, so get ahead of the trend parents.
If you’re an American you have probably not come across the name Gethin often. However, you probably know its modern cousin, Griffith. Gethin is a Welsh name that means “strong ruler.” If you’re after an alternative to Griffin, both this name and the next are going to be great options.
Another form of Griffith, Griff shares the same Welsh roots as Gethin. Griff, however, is a nickname name that has a cool and breezy quality to it. Unfortunately, this name sounds similar to “grift,” but we don’t think that should keep you from choosing it.
In English, the preference is Hugh, in German, Hugo, and Welsh (and also English), Huw is also a great form of this antique name. If you love the name Hugh (which is in the top 1000 in the US) but are after a fresh spelling for it, Huw could be the perfect choice for you. The name means “intellect.”
Ioan is a popular alternative to John beloved in Romanian, Welsh, Russian, and Sardinian. After Polish immigrants, Romanians are the second biggest EU27 nationality in the UK. This might explain why a name like Ioan, with its broad appeal, is so popular in England and Wales. The name is pronounced yo-ahn. It means “God is gracious.”
You’ll find Jay in the top 1000 baby names in the US, but you don’t see Jai on its own. Jaime, Jairo, and Jair are common, but not the simple, Jai. Jai has origins that can be traced to Latin and mean “jaybird.” Or, the name means “victory” in Sanskrit. The name is simply pronounced Ja-ee or like Jay.
If you somehow missed actor Kit Harington‘s rise over the past several years, you might not be familiar with this name. We’re not sure why this name hasn’t crossed the pond as it’s short and bold. Kit is an English shortened form of Christopher and means “bearer of Christ.”
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If you’re after a soft-sounding name with a strong meaning, we’ve got just the moniker for you. Laith is a name with Arabic origins that means “lion.” With other Arabic names popular in the US like Muhammad, Ali, Amir, and Omar, we’re surprised parents aren’t also branching out to other possibilities.
Macsen is a storied name in Welsh tradition. You’ll find the name in Arthurian legend and commonly used in place for Maximus. For instance, Macsen Wledig is the Welsh form of Roman emperor Magnus Maximus. The name would be a happy alternative to Maxon or Jackson. As with Maximus, Macsen means “greatest.”
Pronounced o-SHAN, Osian is a popular name in England and Wales. In Ireland, you’ll find its cousin, Oisin. Oisin was a mythological warrior-poet and so the name carries significance. It means “little dear.” We love Osian even though most Americans will probably pronounce the name like ocean.
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Owain is a beloved Welsh name you’ll hear across the UK. Owain was a knight of the roundtable in Arthurian legend. The name also belonged to the last Welsh Prince of Wales. You’re probably more familiar with the French form, Owen, but Owain has its own attractions. The name means “young warrior” or “well-born.” Owen is sitting just shy of the top 20 names in the US. So, Owain would make for a welcome alternative.
Rafe is a friendlier spelling of the classic English name Ralph. Because Americans do not pronounce Ralph correctly (RaLLFF), it would be wise to choose the spelling, Rafe which is also popular in the UK. Pronounced RAYF, the name is completely charming in every way. The name means “wolf-counsel.” This very Brit name is a winner, folks!
Not just your favorite Duran Duran song, Rio is an exceedingly popular name for boys in England and Wales. You’ll find River in the US, but the Spanish form Rio has yet to break into the top 1000 in the US. If you’re after a subtle nature name that means “river” and also sounds like a blast, Rio would be an excellent choice.
The name Rory is currently trending for both boys and girls in the US. It’s an excellent gender-neutral choice. This spirited Gaelic classic can also be found in the form, Ruairi. We love the ROH-ree pronunciation of this name. But, you can just as well say it as you would Rory (Ror-EE). The name has a storied Irish tradition and means “red king.”
If Macsen didn’t do it for you earlier on in the list, consider the even bolder Saxon. Because of the popularity of Jackson, we feel that American parents can easily adopt the name Saxon (and we foresee that happening). Saxon means “people of the dagger” and has Germanic roots.
The phonetic spelling of Shea, Shay has taken off in England and Wales. The variation of an Irish name that means “dauntless one” is a gender-neutral option that’s both bold and daring. This beautiful name deserves more love in the US.
Yes, you’ll find Simon and Gideon as top names in the US, why not Simeon? Simeon is the preferred Greek form of the Hebrew name and it means “God is listening.” The name has become a popular alternative for Simon in England and Wales. In recent years, there’s been a huge influx of Russian immigrants to London. Simeon is a popular name in Russian as well and the worldwide appeal of the name is probably part of the reason it’s on the rise in the UK.
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You’ll find Zane, Zain, and Zaid on the list of most popular boys’ names in the US. However, in England and Wales, another Z-name is trending: Zayan. Newly popular in the UK, Zayan or Zayyan are beloved Quranic names found throughout the Arabic world. The name means “graceful.” Pronounced, Zuh-yuhn, it would make for a welcome alternative to Zane.
There you have it! 25 undiscovered British names that need to cross the pond and become widely used by American parents. These wonderful options reflect the diversity of England and Wales and the UK’s preferences for both antique, as well as, casual nickname names. We hope you enjoyed this list and feel inspired to choose one of these names for your son!
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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