It’s quite the popular initial, second only to the letter J, slightly ahead of L and M.
Asher has been one of the hottest boy names in recent years, a fast-rising favorite that didn’t even crack the Top 1000 before the 1980s.
And, of course, it’s impossible to talk about A boy names without thinking about Aiden. Irish Aidan wasn’t on anybody’s radar before 1990. But it quickly became the go-to name for a generation, just add a J, H, C, or maybe a K, Br, or even Z in front of the upbeat syllables. While many of the Aiden names are falling today, their impact on twenty-first century trends is undeniable.
Boy names starting with A feel nicely international, too. Intriguing choices like Alvaro and Arjun rank in the current US Top 1000, along with Atreus and Azariah. American names, all.
BOY NAMES STARTING WITH A IN THE US TOP 500
Traditional Alexander has always been in the Top 1000, but it’s never been more popular than in recent years. With a commanding sound and a strong meaning – defender of men – it’s a modern favorite with a classic vibe.
Aiden defines a generation. Countless rhymes-with-Aiden names have caught on. But it remains a traditional Irish name with a great meaning: fiery.
It’s new discovery, but not a new name. Asher followed surnames Ashley and Ashton into wider use. It comes from the Old Testament, and carries an auspicious meaning: happy.
Countless Anthonys have automatically shortened their name to Tony. But when used in full, Anthony is rather dashing. Marc Antony reminds us that the name has ancient roots; it picked up the ‘h’ sound in the Middle Ages, probably thanks to the Greek word anthos – flower.
Andrew was such a 1980s favorite that it’s easy to overlook the name’s classic status. From the New Testament apostle to Andrew Lloyd Weber, it’s a name that has featured in the history books across many generations.
Saints and popes answer to Adrian, to say nothing of the original Roman Emperor, Hadrian. But in the US, it’s really only caught beginning in the 1990s.
One of many Old Testament names that came into wider use following the Protestant Reformation, Aaron feels like a near-classic.
Axel sounds like Alexander’s edgier cousin. Or maybe a noun name straight out of Motor City. But it’s none of the above. Instead, Axel is the Danish take on the Biblical Absalom, long used in Scandinavia, and increasingly familiar in the US, too.
Americans have long named their daughters Angela, but Angel makes the US Top 100 thanks to Spanish speakers. Beyond the celestial overtones, it has a great meaning: messenger.
It’s the name of a Texas city, borrowed from Stephen Austin, the state’s founder. But long before anyone set a cowboy boot in the Lone Star State, Austin developed as a contracted form of the venerable Augustine.
It’s the first name in the Book of Genesis, so Adam? It’s been around. Following a long history of use, it took off in the 1970s, peaked in the 1980s, and remains in steady use today.
Widely-used throughout the Arabic-speaking world and beyond, Amir started out as a title. It means prince.
Another spelling of Aiden, visually closest to popular Jayden – hold the J.
A late 1990s style star, following the rise to fame of actor Ashton Kutcher.
An Old Testament name that sounds a little like an Adrian-Gabriel mash-up.
August sounds like a summery word name, but actually it started out as a title granted to Octavian, the first Roman emperor. We know him as Augustus, and it’s filtered into use in a variety of forms since then.
A sharp surname name, Archer owes much to the success of Hunter and Carter.
Worn by a legendary king, and plenty of real-life notables, too, Arthur has slowly left hibernation. Jason Momoa’s star turn as Aquaman Arthur Curry helped, as did the kind-hearted patriarch of the Weasley family in the Harry Potter series. But mostly it was just plain time for this timeless name to feel fresh once more.
A romance-language take on Anthony.
It comes from the Hebrew word for breath, the name of Adam and Eve’s younger son in the Book of Genesis. But it also brings to mind our word able, as in capable.
For parents who prefer to skip the formal name, Alex is a brother for Theo (not Theodore) and Charlie (not Charles).
A giant book of maps, named for the Greek god who carried the heavens on his back, Atlas means “enduring.” It’s gone from a wait-what celebrity kid name to a fast-rising favorite.
One of many names the Normans brought to England, Alan topped popularity charts mid-century, but has since faded to a traditional, but not terribly common, choice.
One of many epic boy names rising in use in the 2020s, Ace offers plenty of swagger in just three brief letters.
An Old Testament patriarch name that’s instantly familiar, but not too common.
The Spanish form of Alexander, complete with a Lady Gaga song.
More popular for girls, but still in steady use for boys, too, Avery probably started out as a surname form of Alfred.
A modern name with uncertain roots and a stylish sound.
Yet another international form of the classic Andrew.
Friendly and approachable, Arlo is among the hottest of the boy names starting with A.
A name borrowed from Greek myth for a legendarily handsome youth.
When Aidan first hit the US, this spelling dominated – just like in Ireland.
The French form of Andrew, Andre had a good run in the 1970s and 80s. That makes it a little bit of a dad name in the 2020s, but it still fits right in with so many vowel-ending names today.
A literary hero, many feared this name would be tarnished by a late-arriving sequel to the enduring To Kill a Mockingbird. But the name has weathered the storm.
A surname name in the key of Harrison and Jackson, boosted by CNN journalist Anderson Cooper.
The Italian form of Angel.
A global name, brief in sound with a powerful meaning – sublime. Familiar to anyone who’s ever read Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves or seen Disney’s version of Aladdin, it also brings to mind boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
A surname borrowed from an Italian fashion label, Armani is actually based on the far more humble Herman.
Either a Hebrew name meaning lion, or a Scandi one meaning eagle. Either way, Ari is fierce.
Another name in the Charlie-not-Charles vein.
A twist on Top ten favorite Elijah.
Another name borrowed from Greek myth, this time from their god of the sun, as well as poetry, prophecy, music, healing, and more.
A Hindi name meaning path or perhaps gift, Ayaan is clearly an A-centric name for our sons.
Another take on Alan.
Sweet Archie is short for grandiose Archibald – but today it’s just Archie that’s racing up the popularity charts.
Possibly an alternate spelling of Aiden, or maybe the Spanish form of Adam.
An edgy, modern take on ancient Visigothic German names by way of Spain. Kings of both Portugal and Spain answered to the longer Alfonso.
Long before Dynasty gave the world Alexis Carrington, this masculine name was used in bigger numbers for girls in the US. But it skews more masculine in plenty of places.
A fast-rising newcomer of a name, Aziel means “God is my strength.”
INTRIGUING A NAMES FOR BOYS
It might sound a little invented, but Abdiel is straight out of the Old Testament. Milton borrowed the name for a strong-willed angel in Paradise Lost. It’s more popular in the Spanish-speaking world.
The Italian form of Alexander feels every bit as classic as the more familiar version, but the bright o ending takes it in a different direction.
The Spanish form of a Germanic name, Alvaro endures partly thanks to Alvaro in Verdi’s tragic romance Force of Destiny.
An Old Testament prophet, Amos spoke out against the excesses of the wealthy. While it was far more common in the nineteenth century than it is today, nearly any Biblical name has a chance of a comeback.
As in Anakin Skywalker, whose story we know so well. Some say that George Lucas borrowed the name from a colleague’s surname.
A muscular, mythological name, Ares is the Greek god of war.
A name borrowed from a warrior in Hindu myth, Arjun means clear.
The name of a king from Greek myth, Atreus sounds stylish and means fearless.
We love a good mini name. Just ask the parents of Leo and Max. Avi, with the middle ‘v’, has recently entered the US Top 1000, borrowed from the Hebrew – my father.
A rare Old Testament name with a razor-y, cool, current sound.
COOL CLASSIC A BOY NAMES
If Arthur is back, why not Abner? It has a great meaning: “my father is light.” The Hebrew name is also spelled Avner, which could be a stylish alternative among boy names starting with A.
Abram became the patriarch Abraham in the Old Testament. Either version works, but there’s something especially appealing about spare Abram.
Alaric sacked Rome in the 400s, a Visigoth king whose name meant “ruler of all.”
A Top 20 staple into the 1920s, this classic has long been overlooked.
It’s the given name of the original Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sir Alec Guinness. Fellow actor Alec Baldwin might be the best known bearer today. There are others, but it’s far less familiar than Alexander, and likely to be misheard as Alex again and again. Still, there’s something neat and complete about Alec, a name that’s just a little bit different.
Alfred might not seem cool at first, but consider nicknames Alfie and Freddie. It’s the kind of grandpa name that’s implausible on a child … until you meet the kid, and then it’s just perfection.
The Scottish answer to Alexander feels very wearable in the US.
Yes, it’s the name of a mischeivous fictional chipmunk. But fellow singing mammal Theodore hasn’t held that name back, plus Alvin offers the stylish middle V of Everett and Oliver.
The name of a fourth century saint, as well as a handful of notables like writer Ambrose Bierce. It’s got a great meaning: immortal.
There’s something dashing about Asa. Maybe that’s because it was long associated with soap opera billionaire and leading man, Asa Buchanan on One Life to Live. It’s an Old Testament name with a thoroughly modern sound.
SURNAME STYLE BOY NAMES STARTING WITH A
A surname name in the key of Emmett and Beckett.
A unisex surname name with a confident sound, Adair may have evolved as a Scottish form of Edgar.
A German name meaning eagle, and a perfect fit with so many -r ending favorites right now.
We hear it as a surname today, but Alden started out as a given name meaning “old friend.”
An English place name also used as a surname, Alston fits right in with Easton and Weston.
Friendly and upbeat Ames takes James and Brooks in a slightly different direction.
A sometimes-cousin to both Emery and Henry, Amory came to England with the Normans, but has never caught on in the US.
A place name related to an Old English given name, Atherton isn’t such a stretch in our age of Harrison and Jameson.
A poetic surname name, just a little different from Austin and Aiden.
Made famous by the late race car driver Ayrton Senna, this name remains rare, but still familiar.
RARE A BOY NAMES
An ancient hero name, Achilles shares lots of qualities with Atticus. But while Atticus sounds serious and studious, Achilles sounds a little more swaggering.
It looks like an Aiden-Eric mash-up, but Aidric has roots as a medieval saint’s name.
Another ancient name, well-known but seldom used for our children.
A Greek name meaning strength – and the name of a werewolf from HBO’s supernatural smash hit True Blood.
Made famous by television chef-scientist Alton Brown, this surname name would fit right in with so many favorites.
A superhero name with a serious virtue vibe, Arrow seems like it’s ready to break into the mainstream.
Speaking of immortal, this Sanskrit name shares the same meaning.
A mythological creature from the Inca, Amaru might be familiar thanks to a very different reason. It’s the middle name of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Shakur, in turn, was named for the late Tupac Amaru II, the eighteenth century Peruvian leader of an uprising against the Spanish colonizers.
It’s another surname name, almost certainly related to the Germanic Anselm. It brings to mind photographer Adams, or possibly young actor Ansel Elgort.
German author Michael Ende created this name for the boy warrior in The NeverEnding Story. Adapted as a movie in 1984, it’s been a long-time favorite. According to the author, Atreyu means “son of all.” It’s been used in small and growing numbers ever since.
Golden Aurelio is heard in Spanish and Italian. Americans have embraced feminine form Aurelia, but this ancient Roman name remains obscure for our sons.
It sounds like an invention, in the key of Davion. But Avion is the French word for airplane, so this possibility is every bit as high-flying as Jett.
What are your favorite boy names starting with A?
First published on July 6, 2020, this post was updated and expanded on August 23, 2021.