B names rank eighth 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.
Then again, the letter B is trending. It’s up from ninth most popular spot in 2020, and the number of B names for boys in the US Top 100 has doubled, from two to four, in just a single year.
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 catching on quick.
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.
Speaking of surnames, Bryson has become more popular than you might guess. Bryce followed Brian up the popularity charts. Bryson feels inevitable.
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.
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.
A surname name made famous by an international soccer star and general celebrity, David Beckham.
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.
Bradley meets Brandon and Brent in this surname name.
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 Buddhist term for enlightenment, and a spiritual favorite for a son.
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 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.
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 Brayden-meets-Jaylon invention, with a thoroughly modern sound.
Combined, Braylen and Braylon make this name more familiar that it initially appears.
The phonetic alternative to Beau, a true mini name.
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 that’s surging up the popularity charts.
Another take on Bodhi, with a more phonetic – and maybe less spiritual – spelling.
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.
Originally a place name, Brixton succeeds because of that stylish ‘x’ in the middle.
Another name linked to a frontiersman – Daniel Boone – the name comes form the French word bon – good, ultimately from the Latin.
It means son of Ben, but the original name was often Benedict, not Benjamin.
A storied place name that works well for a first, too.
Surname name Bellamy seemed like a possibility for a daughter. But then sci fi series The 100 gave the name to a hero played by Australian actor Bob Morley, and everything changed.
A name used across Europe, Bruno means brown. Will Encanto make this traditional name a fast-rising musical favorite?
Bryce meets Bryson.
A nature name that picks up on former favorite Brian.
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 poetic surname, as in Lord Byron.
Saintly and Irish, Brendan means prince
Just Ben, instead of Benjamin or Benedict, is every bit as valid as just Jack or just Joe.
A Scandi name meaning bear.
An English surname, Brock has fallen sharply in use in recent years.
Just plain fiery.
The Spanish form of Benedict, made famous by actor Benicio del Torres.
A last name take on Brian.
Another take on the more popular Brody.
Olympic skier Bode Miller made this name famous. While it’s pronounced like Bodhi, it has separate roots.
Cuddly and fierce, an animal name gaining in use.
A surname name that shares the stylish Bo sound, and brings to mind fashion brand Boden, too.
A surname name meaning brown, the late actor Charles Bronson played tough guys – and lends some edge to this possibility.
Another Irish possibility.
It’s been eclipsed by the spelling Brayden, but Braden fits right in with all of the Aiden names. Spellings Braydon and Braeden are even less common.
A mix of modern sounds, a little bit Brian, a little bit Brayden.
A surname name possibly borrowed from Irish first name Breccan, popular with early saints.
A common surname turned place name, with ties to Downton Abbey’s Tom, as well as a popular Missouri tourist destination.
Legendary musician David Bowie could put this name in the same category as Lennon and Hendrix.
A Scottish surname meaning yellow, borrowed from an early saint.
Hollywood A-lister Benedict Cumberbatch helps explain some of this name’s popularity, but it’s also down to our love of Ben names, as well as a preference for longer, gentlemanly names for our sons, like Julian and Sebastian.
A surname name sometimes heard as a first.
Fiery Blaze ranks higher, but saintly Blaise strikes a balance between boldness and tradition.
RARE & UNUSUAL NAMES FOR BOYS BEGINNING WITH B
An unusual English surname, Ballard sounds unexpected – but just on the right side of wearable.
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.
An o-ending name possibility that’s far less common than Arlo or Monroe.
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.
Originally the English form of Barnabas, Barnaby feels old school, but approachable, today.
Probably still a little too deadly-wedded to the once-popular purple dinosaur, Barney could be revived in another generation or two.
A title borrowed for a first, just like Earl or Duke.
Once a Gaelic charmer and trendy favorite, Barry now feels a little dated. And yet, it’s not so different from other Irish favorites.
It could be short for longer name, but Bart stood on its own, especially during the late 1950s and 60s. Credit to Bart on TV Western Maverick, as well as Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr, a football Hall of Famer.
A New Testament name with a long history of use, Bartholomew is rare in the US today, though a Dr. Seuss character helps keep it familiar.
An edible name with roots in the Greek word for king.
Short for Sebastian, this name was made famous by Neverending Story hero Bastian Balthazar Bux.
An old-school surname name with that cool middle X.
A nature name as reasonable today as River.
In medieval French legend, Bayard was a powerful horse. Bay is also a color name, referring to a horse with a reddish-brown coat. It might’ve started out as a nickname for someone with reddish-brown hair, but it’s since become an established surname.
A cool, edgy nature name that brings to mind Louisiana.
A shining light, and a sound that fits right in with Brandon and Bryson.
One of many Beau- surname names, including Beauregard and Beauchamp.
It might be short for Beckett, or an independent name with a brisk, upbeat energy.
Like Rowan, a tree name that seems wearable for a son.
The California town makes this name feel slightly counter-cultural, and rather intelligent, too.
A place name with possibility.
One of many Germanic names brought to England by the Normans, Bernard combines a strong meaning – brave as a bear – with a polished vibe. Politician Bernie Sanders takes it in a different direction.
Once short for any name ending with -bert, both Bert and Burt can stand on their own. Bertie is currently stylish in England.
Another Bert name, used by Shakespeare but made famous by another literary figure: PG Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster.
A Ben name that’s rarer than you might guess.
The most casual form of classic William, sometimes given as an independent name, too.
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.
Inspired by Marvel Comics’ half-vampire superhero, Blade rose in use following the 1998 movie starring Wesley Snipes in the title role.
Blue is the color most strongly associated with boys, making this a natural possibility for a first – or perhaps an unexpected middle.
An Old Testament name, Boaz benefits from the zippy letter z. It also has a great meaning: swift.
A traditional nickname for classic Robert, Bobby and Bob were once very common B names for boys. Today, though, Robert is more likely to be Rob.
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.
A Scottish surname, Boyd ranked in the US Top 1000 for boys’ first names from 1880 right into the early 1980s.
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 Maxwell alternative. The only Bronte brother was named Bramwell.
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.
A tough guy name, but also a nature one – breakers are heavy sea waves that “break” on shore.
The masculine equivalent of Brittany, Brett became a 1970s and 1980s favorite.
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.
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 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.
A surname name that can have Welsh or Norse origins.
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.
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.
A surname name, actor Burgess Meredith made it famous. You might know him best as Mickey, the coach in Rocky. He was nominated for an Oscar for that role, as well as earlier parts.
As in Burl Ives, immortalized through Christmas carols like “Frosty the Snowman.”
From an Old English place name meaning “fort town,” Burton leans a little daring, thanks to the world’s first manufacturer of snowboards.
More nickname than name, Buzz was made famous by astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
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; July 19, 2021; and July 18, 2022.