Some names are just plain preppy, right at home in a blue blazer and rep tie.
Then there are names that are buttoned-down, but only just. Think Hunter, Hudson, Chase.
They split the difference between preppy and rugged, names that are at home in Brooks Brothers bow ties or L.L. Bean duck boots. Or maybe they scream trouble-with-a-trust-fund.
I’d argue that the first quality is good. The second one? Not so much.
Call them the preppy hellraiser names. As Hunter and company have become mainstream, parents are looking for the next wave.
Which names make the list?
Miller isn’t quite preppy. Harley and Jax are flat-out hellraiser.
Paxton might be one, but Axton, Maxton, and Daxton are not.
They have to be names, typically surname names, that sound like they could be handed down along with the family silver. Some feel vaguely Southern, while others are more at home in New England. And there has to be a hint of something daring and devil-may-care about the name, too.
Some names have those qualities, like Powers. But Powers sounds a bit too much like the leading man in a prime time drama.
Let’s take a look at the eight most promising preppy hellraiser names of 2015!
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Brooks
Henry Brooks opened up his haberdashery in New York City back in 1818. Thirty-two years later, his four sons took over the enterprise and renamed it Brooks Brothers.
The store has quite the history. It’s outfitted most of the United States presidents, a long list of Hollywood notables. And – for our purposes – the cast of Gossip Girl, the television series that gave us the 21st century version of a preppy hellraiser. Ralph Lauren started out as a Brooks Brothers salesman, and literary references abound, including a mention in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.
So – polished and preppy. Check.
But where does the hellraiser come in?
Nashville gives us Garth Brooks and Brooks & Dunn, two associations that take this name in a Southern, musical direction and balance out Brooks’ buttoned-down qualities.
Brooks ranked #245 in 2014, and was climbing quickly.
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Crosby
Crosby is a surname name that works on many levels. It has some of the sound of Henry, a name that’s always felt at home in a bow tie.
But unlike some surname names, Crosby isn’t exclusively preppy. How could it be, with singers Bing and David, and ice hockey player Sidney all answering to the surname?
Crosby is borrowed from places in England and Scotland, and the name’s roots are ultimately Norse. While names like Kelly and Riley are Irish, and have become mainstream, Crosby still feels a little bit off-the-beaten-path. A little bit buttoned-down, but also with an appealing edge.
The name ranked #613 in 2014, and has climbed significantly in the last few years.
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Hayes
Hayes is a respectable surname name, an English place name or maybe an Irish cousin to Aidan.
Aidan means fiery, so that might fuels Hayes’ devil-may-care vibe.
Hayes also sounds like the word haze. Hazing is a bad thing, but there’s something appealing about hazy – a hazy shade of winter, hazy memories of long days sailing in Nantucket. And the ‘z’ sound is incredibly stylish in 2015.
Blaze is an action hero, but Hayes? It’s an easy- to-wear name for 2015 that feels preppy and bold at the same time.
Hayes charted at #545 in 2014, and is rising fast.
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Macallister
Mac is a tough guy. He’s a boxer, a cabbie, the bartender in a rough part of town.
Longer Mac names are many, but not all of them fit this list. McCoy is Southern. McKay is just plain preppy. But a few of them seem to hit the right note. Alasdair feels like a name that is to-the-manor-born. Macallister puts a rakish spin on that buttoned-down name.
Just 14 boys were named Macallister in 2014, making this one of the less common names on this list. But Macallister has been in the news more, following the birth of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer’s son in 2012.
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Pierce
Piers looks like an import, but it’s actually medieval and literary, an older form of Peter. Pierce is a surname derived from Piers.
Despite these classic roots, I think Pierce is a preppy hellraiser name extraordinaire. Like Hayes, Pierce sounds like a word. And it is! Pierce comes from the Latin – to drive or force through. It almost has the aggressive, weapon-inspired flair of Remington.
Speaking of Remington, the 1980s television staple Remington Steele starred Pierce Brosnan – who went on to play James Bond.
It could be an interesting way to honor a loved one named Peter. It’s also more subtle than naming your son Arrow.
Pierce ranked #469 in 2014.
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Royce
Bentley is associated with luxury cars, but doesn’t seem terribly preppy.
Royce, on the other hand, feels like the kind of name that you might find toting a tennis racket or maybe rowing crew. It’s just as much a luxury car name, thanks to Sir Henry Royce, one of the co-founders of the legendary Rolls-Royce.
Nehemiah Royce was an early settler of Connecticut. The house he built still stands in Wallingford. It’s been part of the campus of elite prep school Choate Rosemary Hall, and now belongs to the Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust. George Washington slept there not once, but twice.
All together, it makes Royce feel like Reid’s less predictable cousin. Royce came in at #475 in 2014, and is climbing.
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Saxon
Once upon a time, Saxon referred to someone from Saxony – modern-day northwest Germany. And the original Saxons were a Germanic tribe, as in the Anglo-Saxons who settled England. The name comes from a kind of knife they favored, so that’s a fierce meaning.
Saxon has been borrowed by a heavy metal band and a Doctor Who bad guy. And today Saxon might feel like a spin on fast-rising names like Jaxon.
But in the first spot, I think Saxon still strikes the right note for a preppy hellraiser baby name: rooted in history, but with an unexpected sound.
Saxon was unranked in 2014.
Preppy Hellraiser Baby Names: Wilder
I first thought of the phrase “preppy hellraiser” when I was going through 2014 celebrity baby names. Simon Helberg of The Big Bang Theory and wife Jocelyn Towne welcomed baby #2 – Wilder, a little brother for Adeline.
Wilder makes me think Thornton Wilder and Billy Wilder – powerfully creative, part-literary, part-Hollywood. But Wilder is also, well, wild. And that’s the essence of a preppy hellraiser baby name – civilized, but only just.
Wilder has yet to crack the US Top 1000, but the name was given to 128 boys in 2014 – a new high. I think we’ll be hearing more of this name in the coming years.
I’m dying to know what you think – do these names fit the ‘preppy hellraiser’ mold? What other names would you include in the category?