B names rank ninth out of the 26 letters of the alphabet. That’s not exactly J or A, but it’s well ahead of choices like H, W, and Z.
Despite that relative popularity, only Benjamin makes the US Top 50 … and only Benjamin and Banks rank in the Top 1000.
Overall, a handful of popular sounds dominate. There are all of the Ben names, and the Bo/Beaus. Brian has faded, but Bry- names remain in heavy rotation.
From surname names to noun names, the most popular to the nearly unknown, there are boy names starting with B to appeal to every style. Classic Benjamin, cool Bowie, and well-why-not Bronx are just a few of the possibilities.
A surprising number of surname name and word name options make the list of B boy names, too.
BOY NAMES STARTING WITH B IN THE TOP 500
A rock solid, Biblical classic of a name, Benjamin has history to spare. Ben Franklin makes it a Founding Father choice. Actors from Affleck to Whishaw make it familiar. Layer in athletes, politicians, writers, and more, and everyone knows a Ben.
Take a blue-buttoned blazer straight from Brooks Brothers, pair it with the cowboy boots of country music’s Garth Brooks, and you’ll understand why this name appeals to so many parents. It’s the original preppy hellraiser name, and it’s also a recent arrival in the US Top 100.
The second of many Ben names on this list, Bennett takes the sound in a twenty-first century surname direction. Strictly speaking, Bennett evolved from Benoit, the French form of Benedict. It’s the most popular of the ending-with-ett boy names, not too far ahead of Barrett and Beckett.
Literally the French word for handsome, Beau reads like a strong, capable name. Maybe that’s because early fictional Beaus like Geste (who joined the French foreign legion) and Beau Maverick (one of several cousins on Western television staple Maverick) made it so. It’s hard to pin down the popularity of Beau, thanks to so many Beau/Bo names, and the popularity of both spellings as a nickname, but it’s clearly rising.
A member of the Aiden club, Brayden claims authentic Irish roots. But, like the rest of the rhyming names, Brayden peaked a few years ago and is slowly declining. Still, the surname status of Braden might keep this one in use longer.
Speaking of surnames, Bryson has become more popular than you might guess. Bryce followed Brian up the popularity charts. Bryson feels inevitable.
Another English surname, Braxton has raced up the charts thanks to our love of the letter X. Just ask Paxton, Jaxson, and Daxton.
So many Ben names! Bentley leans a little bit lux, thanks to the high-end British automotive manufacturer. But it’s also down-home, thanks to country music’s Dierks Bentley.
An Old English surname, Brandon was a favorite in the 1980s and 90s, along with Brendan. Today Brandon fits with modern traditionals, well-established choices for our sons – even though they were barely heard in the US before the middle of the twentieth century.
Yet another surname name, this time originally from a Scottish place name. It’s a likeable choice, bright and upbeat. The spelling Brodie also ranks, possibly due to Ultimate Disc League champ Brodie Smith.
A surname name with multiple possible origins and meanings, Barrett brings to mind figures like poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett, and fictional Oliver Barrett IV from Love Story.
File Beckett with Barrett – and Emmett and Everett, too. The name combines a stylish sound with strong literary and historical references – there’s medieval English saint Thomas Becket and Irish author Samuel Beckett, too.
Polished Blake offers a strong sound and more literary ties, thanks to poet William Blake.
Bradley meets Brandon and Brent in this surname name.
Brice traces it back to Saint Bricius, who served as Bishop of Tours in the 400s. But it’s the Bryce spelling that dominates today.
A surname name made famous by an international soccer star and general celebrity, David Beckham.
An alternate spellings of the impeccably Irish Brian.
Once a chart-topping favorite, Brian has fallen in use, but retained much of its charm. It recalls Brian Boru, a tenth century Irish king whose success has become the stuff of legend.
A surname name favorite of the 1970s and 80s, still in the public eye thanks to figures like actor Bradley Cooper.
A Buddhist term for enlightenment, and a spiritual favorite for a son.
Upbeat and energetic Brady owes its success to both television’s baby Brady of Sex and the City fame and towering football quarterback Tom Brady.
A surname name originally meaning “son of Owen,” Bowen’s success owes much to the rise of Bo/Beau names.
Rugged surname Briggs’ stylish s-ending makes it a contender for parents looking for the next Wells or Hayes.
A Texas university named for one its founders, Baylor is familiar to many. It also followed former favorite Taylor into wider use.
Robert the Bruce makes this name impeccably Scottish; musician Bruce Springsteen takes it an all-American direction. This midcentury favorite is fading today, but will almost certainly be back in another generation or three.
A Brayden-meets-Jaylon invention, with a thoroughly modern sound.
SURNAME NAMES FOR BOYS BEGINNING WITH B
An unusual English surname, Ballard sounds unexpected – but just on the right side of wearable.
The NFL’s Baker Mayfield helped put his unusual occupational name on the map. But it also helps that we’re so wild for ends-with-r boy names.
A little bit money, a little bit river bank, Banks appeals to parents for lots of reasons. It’s a recent arrival in the US Top 1000.
An o-ending name possibility that’s far less common than Arlo or Monroe.
Surname name Bellamy seemed like a possibility for a daughter. But then sci fi series Teh 100 gave the name to a hero played by Australian actor Bob Morley, and everything changed.
It means son of Ben, but the original name was often Benedict, not Benjamin.
The California town makes this name feel slightly counter-cultural, and rather intelligent, too.
A Scottish surname meaning yellow, borrowed from an early saint.
A surname name that shares the stylish Bo sound, and brings to mind fashion brand Boden, too.
Bonham comes from the French phrase bon homme – good man. It brings to mind legendary rock drummer John Bonham, of Led Zeppelin fame.
Born enslaved, Booker T. Washington became the founder of Tuskegee Institute. Grammy Award-winning musician Booker T. Jones was named for Washington.
Another name linked to a frontiersman – Daniel Boone – the name comes form the French word bon – good, ultimately from the Latin.
A common surname turned place name, with ties to Downton Abbey’s Tom, as well as a popular Missouri tourist destination.
A tough guy name, but also a nature one – breakers are heavy sea waves that “break” on shore.
A surname name possibly borrowed from Irish first name Breccan, popular with early saints.
Another Irish possibility.
Cousin to Briggs, but with an added dimension. Mountain man Jim Bridger is a folk hero in much of the American West. Accordingly, this name has reached the Top 100 in several states, including Utah.
A surname name meaning brown, the late actor Charles Bronson played tough guys – and lends some edge to this possibility.
A last name take on Brian.
From an Old English place name meaning “fort town,” Burton leans a little daring, thanks to the world’s first manufacturer of snowboards.
A poetic surname, as in Lord Byron.
UNUSUAL B NAMES FOR BOYS
Cuddly and fierce, an animal name gaining in use.
The Spanish form of Benedict, made famous by actor Benicio del Torres.
Fiery Blaze ranks higher, but saintly Blaise strikes a balance between boldness and tradition.
Just plain fiery.
A Scandi name meaning bear.
Olympic skier Bode Miller made this name famous. While it’s pronounced like Bodhi, it has separate roots.
A storied place name that works well for a first, too.
Saintly and Irish, Brendan means prince.
A nature name that picks up on former favorite Brian.
Originally a place name, Brixton succeeds because of that stylish ‘x’ in the middle.
A name used across Europe, Bruno means brown.
RARE B NAMES FOR BOYS
Every one recognizes Balthasar – or Balthazar – but no one is using it. Actor Balthazar Getty is one notable.
The name of the 44th president of the United States, this Arabic name means blessing.
A New Testament name, sometimes Barnaby in English – but seldom heard in the US either way. With names like Atticus and Benedict rising, Barnabas feels more mainstream than in earlier generations.
Despite several high profile uses of the name, Benedict remains beyond the US Top 1000 – at least for now.
It brings to mind crooner Crosby, and Kate Hudson’s middle child, son Bingham.
Borrowed from jazz great Bix Beiderbecke – born Leon Bismarck Beiderbecke – it feels right at home with Jax.
An Old Testament name, Boaz benefits from the zippy letter z. It also has a great meaning: swift.
Legendary musician David Bowie could put this name in the same category as Lennon and Hendrix.
To brace is to support; as a surname, it likely was given to those who made armor. It fits right in with other short, strong names like Case, Chase, and Jace.
Short for Abraham, this name brings to mind Dracula author Bram Stoker in the US. In the Netherlands, though, it’s a long-time favorite, recently ranking in the Top Ten.
A seaside resort in England inspired the name of Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. Chances are that neither place explains the name’s appeal; instead, that’s about the “bright” sound.
The New York City borough became an unlikely candidate for a child’s name when Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz welcomed Bronx Mowgli in 2008. It’s gained steadily in use since then.
WORD NAMES BEGINNING WITH B
An edible name with roots in the Greek word for king.
A nature name as reasonable today as River.
A shining light, and a sound that fits right in with Brandon and Bryson.
Like Rowan, a tree name that seems wearable for a son.
Blue is the color most strongly associated with boys, making this a natural possibility for a first – or perhaps an unexpected middle.
It’s a lot of name to live up to, but in our age of Legend and Maverick, Bravery might be more wearable than ever before.
First a nickname for a reliable person, Tennessee Williams used it for a character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Paul Newman played the role in the 1958 movie adaptation.
The brink is the very edge. While it’s a noun – in foreign relations, there’s brinkmanship, and we talk of being “on the brink of” things. But it’s not quite everyday speech, and that might work well for a word name.
Like Bear, Bronco is an animal name – though this one is a little more specific. It refers to an untrained – or perhaps strong-willed – horse.
What are your favorite B names for boys? What would you add to this list?
First published on August 3, 2020, this post was updated on September 25, 2020, and again on July 19, 2021.