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?
I’m fond of Fred and Finn, but Flynn shares their stellar qualities, plus adds in the swashbuckling flair of Hollywood’s Errol. The only name that might be able to bump off Flynn? Fox.
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 almost went with Hale. Hale’s downright wearable, a mix of colonial cool and modern bravado. But no. Huck could be short for Huxley or maybe even Henry, and I love his Mark Twain, Americana vibe.
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?
Ash – As either a nature name or short for Asher.
Bram – By far my favourite one-syllable B name for a boy.
Cael – Was torn between lilting Irish Cael and nature-y Clay. I think Cael wins… but it was very close.
Dryw – Andrew leaves me cold, but Dryw, Dryw has appeal. wikipedia: “the word is cognate with the later insular Celtic words, Old Irish druí (“druid, sorcerer”) and early Welsh dryw (“seer”).” And if I can’t have Dryw, it’d be Dan.
Ez – I can’t think of any E names I like that are whole at this length. So here’s Ez, short for Ezra. Or you can have Em, for Emmett. Or Eli. Eli’s not long…
Finn – Can’t use Flynn, Errol ruins it for me. Fox is cool. I like Finn’s long forms though, especially Finnian.
Gage – All the G names I like are long! This hurt. I like Gabe and Gil too but only as nicknames.
Heath – One of my favourite names. Calm, unpretentious, not really popular OR obscure.
Ives – Preppy. Lacks Yves pronunciation issues (I say this one EYEvs, like to rhyme with ‘wives’ in the nursery rhyme) and has the same amount of history.
Joel – I’ve just always loved this name. It feels classic. I don’t think it’s ever been out of the US Top Thousand. And I like Biblical names.
Kirk – A bit jagged, a bit swaggering, but not implausible.
Leib – ‘heart.’ And I, well, heart it. Family name for me.
Moss – I love a few. Mick came close but purely as a NN. Max is nice but sooo popular. Moss has a cool green forest vibe and I could see using it either alone or short for Moses/Moshe.
Noam – This is a lie. I like Noam best no-AM. But I like it enough to deal with the people who say it like ‘gnome’ and more than I like any N- name that’s actually one syllable.
Oak – I can’t think of another.
Pax – Peaceful and a bit modern. And damn it, I’m stealing this one for the boys.
Quaid/Quade – I can’t decide how to spell it, but I know there’s only one Q name this short I’d use.
Rhys – I think I like Rhett more but I hate GWTW. I like Rex, but it’s a bit canine. Rhys won by being the the next-nicest.
Saul – I love Saul. A tall, handsome name. Shane came close to winning this one though with it’s ’50s retro cowboy vibe, but Saul has my heart.
True – OK, it’s a lot for a FN, but as a middle? I like it. Ty is OK too but feels very ’80s to me somehow, along with less-loved cousins Troy and Trent.
Ulfr – Even more stark and dramatic than Ulf. Because why not, at that point.
Vin – I went back and forth between Vin and Ving, I think Vin could have more flexibility in long forms – Vincent, Calvin, even Donovan if your accent is like mine.
Wolf – My brother’s middle name. I love it. I think of him though so he informs my image of a strong, quiet, intellectual man.
Xanth – A colour name.
York – Preppy, but I could see it working.
Zane – A bit cowboy, a bit Arabic, smooth and simple and yet not truncated. Zane feels as complete as its cousin John, but with just a bit of an edge, too.
kiira taylor says
You know, I like the sound of Zen.
He could be Wilde’s brother, another unlikely choice that nevertheless appeals.
i shall contribute some! (irresistible)
G: Graham. Just thought of this one. My 8 y.o. has a friend name Graham – love that name. Despite the number of letters, it is a one syllable name.
love this list! Some of my favorites include: Shep (Shepherd), Cal (Calvin), Cam (Cameron), Gil (Gilbert), Abe (Abraham), Ollie (Oliver).
All nicknames, but fun one syllables ones!
I admit I smiled a little when I read “Fred and Finn”. Those are my boys. 🙂
Croix rhymes with boy? (I’m not being facetious, I’m genuinely curious.) I would pronounce it krWAH.
You’re right – la croix, the French word for cross, is pronounced as you say.
But I’m thinking of St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands – and they pronounce Croix like boy. It would be confusing, though – hadn’t really thought of that.
Love these! I also like Walt better than Wat. Huck is fine but Hank is divine. I wish I could convince someone I know to use Flynn. It’s just so adventurous.
My son’s middle name is Tom – just Tom not Thomas. During his Baptism, the priest looked at us like we were insane when we said his full name. My grandpa is a Thomas who has always, always, always gone by Tom. It felt more personal to name my son with the name that my grandpa uses everyday.
Sara A. says
I prefer Walt to Wat. In my NE American inflection the ah in Wat sounds like an exasperated “what.” Plus Walt Whitman and Walt Disney that both make it a wearable firstname.
Oops, I obviously missed where you said you don’t consider Miles to be a single syllable in your introduction.
I like the suggestion of Wynn – Win Butler of the band Arcade Fire has made this name seem much more usable to me. I also am acquainted with someone who has a son named Whit, but that I’m not as enthused about.
U – no idea
No mention of Clark? It’s seriously underused, and I love the crisp, clear sound. Plus there’s the Superman reference.
Oh, I love Clark! He’s on my shortlist – it was my dad’s nickname. Not sure why I left him off, but he didn’t come to mind …
Zena Eve says
I chuckled when you would slide in other short names for boys when you were suppose to be talking about the 26 highlighted names.
Yes – it is TOUGH to choose just one! 🙂
Instead of Ulf you could do the Swiss Urs (“bear”.) There’s also Utz, a German nickname for Ulrich… but Utz is also a brand of chips, so I’m not sure its usable.
I like Ray, but I *love* Roy! Roy Campanella, Roy Rogers, Roy Halladay… It’s one of my favorites.
I love Roy, too! I also like Sid for a boy – Sage doesn’t really appeal to me, even though I like the herb. 😉
American Girl has a new doll and movie called “Saige”. (Kind of appealing: Paige with an S). I see Sage/Saige going over to the girls.
I’m hearing Saige everywhere – I wonder if she’s going to take off?
Sid is one of my all-time favorites for boys!
Sara A. says
Sidney was on my boys list, but my husband nixed it due to all the girl Sydneys.
I heard Sid and immediately add “Vicious” and “Nancy.” Ups the cool factor, but the tragic factor, too. Still, I like Sid for a boy.
Roy is great!
I like Joss, too – it could be a nickname for Joscelin, but I think many people feel Jocelyn in all its forms has “gone to the girls” too much to be used for a boy nowadays. I think Joss as a nickname for Joseph is a great compromise.
I guess Miles doesn’t appeal to you? Marc? Mads?
Tom is popular as a given name in France, just Tom. I prefer it as a nickname only, although many Thomases do wind up being called Tom 99% of the time.
I think most people in the US have heard of Yves St-Laurent so the pronunciation of Yves wouldn’t necessarily trip them up, but it is quite an old-fashioned name. What about something slightly more current like Yann?
I have two relatives named Zenon, both of whom go by Zen most of the time. It can work!
I know a French Yves: his name is pronounced like “Eve”.
And according to behindthename.com, that’s the only correct pronunciation of the name:
I think this name might not work well for a boy in an English-speaking country.
L: There’s also Luke (or Luc) and Lou. Abby, you know I love any name that results in the nickname Lou!
I do, don’t I? 🙂 And yes, I like Luke and Luc quite a bit, but I think my heart belongs to Lulu …