20 Boy Names That Hit The 'Sweet Spot' Between Unique And Trendy

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 

Every year since the 1880s, the U.S. Social Security Administration releases its list of the 1000 most popular girls’ and boys’ names from the previous year. The top slots fluctuate a little (Liam has been #1 for the past two years on the boy names chart, and before that, Noah reigned supreme), and some names — like John, James, and William — are unsurprising mainstays that literally never go out of style.

But toward the bottom of the chart is where the most action happens. Every year, several names drop out of the top 1000, replaced by a fresh wave of newcomers. At last ranking, there were 45 new boy names making the chart, and here are our favorites. Will these names have what it takes to make the climb to the top? Only time will tell.


It’s no secret why this one is gaining traction, and will undoubtedly continue to do so: It’s the name of the newest member of the British monarchy, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (a.k.a. Harry and Meghan). But beyond that, it’s got that adorable vintage feel that is becoming increasingly trendy too.


It doesn’t matter what zodiac sign your little guy is born under if he’s an Aries! Besides, Aries isn’t the only star-sign name gaining in popularity — look at Leo, which has climbed every year since 2007 and has now reached #50 on the charts!


Like favorites Mason and Carter, Baker is an occupational name. But though everybody loves a baked good, the source of this name’s popularity is probably less brownies and more Browns: as in the NFL team the Cleveland Browns, for which Baker Mayfield is the quarterback.

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Not only is this the surname of a rock icon, but it contains the “Bo” sound people are loving these days (like Bodhi and Beau, which are both coming up the charts). Combine the two and you’ve got a recipe for an easy spot in the top 1000.


Creed’s spot on the charts likely owes to the one-two punch in popularity it gained from the movies Creed and Creed II, which were both spinoffs of the Rocky franchise. Adonis Creed is the name of Rocky’s protégé.


This variant of the African name Dakarai (it comes from the Shona language, spoken in Zimbabwe) means “rejoice,” which is absolute perfection for the much-celebrated arrival of a baby boy. Why it made a sudden surge into the top 1000 is still unclear, although it may have something to do with Zimbabwean music producer Dakari, or pro basketball player Dakari Johnson.


Though it’s popular in Israel, this name’s top 1000 debut can probably be traced to entrepreneur (and founder of Tesla!) Elon Musk. It’s actually an Old Testament Hebrew name which means “oak tree” — so though it doesn’t exactly fit into the hot trend of nature names, its meaning comes close.


This is a truly gender neutral baby name, because it’s climbing the charts for boys and girls alike. It’s more popular for girls at this point, but this one’s a strong choice no matter what kind of baby you’ve got.


Place names have always been in vogue, and it’s a big world, so there’s no shortage of places to draw inspiration from. Harlem is one of the new crop of place names, the more contemporary picks taking the place of older favorites like Dallas and Dakota.

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This Arabic name is on the rise; could it be because it’s the name of the main antagonist in the video game “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare?” There are a lot of gamer parents out there, and believe it or not, a lot of video-game inspired names. But this name was in the Quran first.


Josiah, Isaiah, and Elijah are all the in top 100 most popular boys’ names, so it’s no wonder that this very similar choice (which is likely a spelling variation of Josiah) is gaining ground.


Milo! Theo! Bruno! Leo! America is currently obsessed with boy names that end in O, and this Japanese name is among them. It doesn’t hurt that it’s associated with luxury fashion brand KENZO Clothing.


It’s a character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s an ancient Roman military leader. And an NFL player. Oh, and a character in Pulp Fiction. And now, Marcellus is a resident of the top 1000 most popular boys’ names too.


Gemstone names are on the come-up, and while Onyx is a unisex name, it feels more boyish than some of the other choices like Ruby and Jade. And its X-ending only helps its status, placing it among current favorites like Felix and Jax.


These days, you don’t have to be canonized to be a Saint — just ask Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, whose choice of this name for their son in 2015 no doubt heavily influenced its entry into the top 1000. (But don’t try to use it if you live in New Zealand, where it’s banned; read more about that, and other global baby-naming taboos, here.)

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We’re suckers for a good Irish name — it’s why Aidan, Ronan, and Finn are so well-received. Torin is poised to be the next shining star in this category.


Occupational names have been a hit for hundreds of years. They weren’t all worthy of becoming first names — we don’t know anybody named Lum Swooper or Nimgimmer, thank goodness (and yes, those were real occupations) — but names like Cooper and Hunter have gone mainstream. Turner is the next wave!


This one fits in perfectly among the other popular “-son” names like Addison and Emerson. While those tend to be gender neutral, this one leans toward the masculine side. It got some exposure from “Teen Mom” star Chelsea Houska DeBoer, who gave the name to her son in 2017.


Though there are lots of popular girl names that were once boy names, there aren’t many boy names that used to be for girls … but this name is an exception. In the Bible, Yael is a woman. Its sound isn’t exactly feminine, though, which is probably why it’s made the crossover (it’s pronounced ya-ell).


What do Kai, Max, Leo, and Ari have in common? Exactly the thing (or should we say three things) that makes Zev popular: three short and sweet letters. These may be mini-monikers, but they have a ton of personality. And Zev boasts the cool and “unique” letters Z and V, which may turn out to be the new X.


We’re classifying this one as a “bonus name” because Gus hasn’t been seen on the popularity charts since 1974 — but surprise! It’s back! Much like Archie, Gus is a retro charmer that was in the top 200 at the turn of the 20th century. It has historically been used mainly as a nickname for Augustus, Gustav, or Angus, but much like Leo and Max have become more popular than Leonardo and Maxwell, it seems to be thriving in its own right.

These interesting new additions to the top 1000 most popular boy names hit the “sweet spot” between trendy and underused … which makes them the perfect choices for your own new addition.

Naming a baby can be scary. We can help! For thousands of baby names, inspirational lists and more, check out Scary Mommy’s baby name database!

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