Single syllable names for boys are a huge category, from the faithful stand-bys like Mike and Jake to nouveau picks. Kai or Dax, anyone?
It’s a tall order, but I’m going to choose my favorite short names, for every letter of the alphabet.
For this list, I’m excluding names like Charles, Miles, and Kyle. They show up on some lists of single syllable names for boys. But not with my accent. All three of those names are absolutely two syllable if I’m pronouncing them.
Happily, that still leaves oodles and oodles of great names to choose – and yes, I’ve got one for every single letter of the alphabet, even U!
Yes, Jessica Simpson named her baby flyboy Ace. Part of me finds Ace too obvious, too much to live up to. But there’s a fascinating history behind this name. So while I’m still partial to Asa, Ace gets my vote for best single syllable name starting with the letter A.
He’s a Southern gentleman in a seersucker suit or maybe a football jersey. I’m fond of the spelling Bo, too, but bestowing a mere two letters on a child seems like too little name.
Chase, Cade, Cole, Cash – so many great single-syllable names start with C. I can’t imagine using any of them. Croix rhymes with boy, and wouldn’t be on my radar except that Cedric the Entertainer has a son named Croix. (And a daughter called Lucky Rose.)
My son Alexander’s sometimes-nickname, a compelling serial killer, and Cary Grant‘s handsome ex-husband in The Philadelphia Story all combine to make Dex my favorite of all the single syllable names for boys. No contest!
If Kimye can use North and everyone else can embrace West, why not East?
Yes, there’s the whole Shades of reference that could be a bit awkward. But Gray was on the upswing before the novels were everywhere, and names like Grayson and Greydon aren’t falling out of favor – actually, the opposite is true. I think he’s just as wearable as Scarlett or Blue, a color name that works well in 2013.
I like Ike. No, I love Ike. As a short form of Isaac or maybe Iker or even Ichabod, or just as a name on his own, a brother for Max and Gus.
Blame it on stellar character namer Joss Whedon, but I’ve fallen for this one. Whedon’s full name is Joseph, and Joss is such a surprise, a stand-out compared to all those regular Joes. He would also work for Josiah, as well as Justin, Julian and maybe a few other J names I’m not thinking of right now.
I almost put Kai in this spot, but Kai is huge in my ‘hood. Keane, on the other hand, is almost unused. He’s as charming as Finn, as Irish as Riley.
There are great names for this letter – the leonine Lev and the villainous Lex. But it’s this striking Viking appellation that makes my personal shortlist for a second son. Traditionally it is pronounced layf, but in the US you might want to warm up to the idea of life with Leif called leaf.
With all of the M names, would you believe I’m not a big fan of any? I almost had Max here, but it really was a place-holder – the kind of name I love on someone else’s child, but doesn’t do anything for me. So let’s toss Milt in here instead, in honor of my awesome 70-something Pilates teacher, who manages to make this one feel lively.
I’m a huge fan of Nick names, but if we’re talking single-syllable, my heart belongs to Ned. He’s boyfriend to girl detective Nancy Drew, short for the evergreen Edward. How, you ask? Like Nell and Nan, it comes from affectionate phrasings like “mine Edward” or “mon Anne” in French. He’s a preppy retro pick that I like better than Gus or even Max.
I was stumped for a great O name until I thought of trees – tall, sturdy trees. Oakley is catching on for boys, but the spare Oak wears well, too.
Young actor Penn Badgeley took this one from tennis equipment to given name possibility. But it also conjures up William Penn, the man who founded Pennsylvania – Penn’s Woods – with the promise of religious tolerance.
I had a friend in high school called Dave Quinn – always both names together, never just Dave or Quinn. Then there’s pioneering MTV veejay Martha Quinn. All together, I like it quite a bit. It feels friendly – if the tiniest bit feminine.
There’s Ray Charles and Ray Davies, plus rays of sunshine. Plenty of reasons to like this friendly, upbeat name.
I like Sage for either gender, but this is the spelling I prefer for a son. A mix of nature name and virtue one, I find Sage unexpected and handsome – a softer version of another single-syllable favorite, Gage.
Yes, just Tom, not Thomas or Thompson. I’m blanking on where I’ve seen it, but I’ve stumbled across at least one boy named Tom, no formal name required.
Am I scraping the bottom of the barrel? I didn’t want to leave a letter blank, and Ulf isn’t so crazy – it’s a Scandinavian name meaning wolf. And I almost picked Wolf for the letter W.
I like this surname name, worn by Vince Vaughn and plenty of other notables.
I’m a huge fan of Watson, as in Sherlock‘s sidekick. Watson comes from Wat, a medieval nickname for Walter. Watkins has the same origins. Wat Tyler led a peasants’ revolt in the fourteenth century. It’s a bit brief as a given name, but I like the sound of Wat anyhow.
There’s a six year old British aristocrat called Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden. He’s 23rd in line to the throne – wait, probably 24th by the time this post goes live! His full name is Xan Richard Anders, and his dad is Alexander – I assume that’s the inspiration for his name. There’s something a little Wonder Twins about Xan, but I’m charmed by this one anyhow.
It’s very French – think of Yves St. Laurent or Yves Montand – but might be wearable in the US.
Part of me thinks it would be madness to have a young child named Zen. Can you imagine anything less enlightened than a screaming toddler or a surly teenager? But Zen sounds like a name in 2013. Just like you probably stop thinking of the contradictions when you say “Patience, wait a minute!” or “Amity, be nice!” I think any virtue name eventually becomes more about the child than the meaning.
What are your favorite single-syllable names for boys? Can you list one for every letter of the alphabet?