When it comes to boy names starting with C, the list ranges from the most classic of picks to new and original choices.

For every Charles, there’s a Colt. And for every Cameron, there’s a Callahan.

C tends to read more traditional – even when it comes to trending names. There’s a subtle, but significant, difference between Kayden and Cayden, Kannon and Cannon. That’s true, despite the fact that K is the more traditional spelling in plenty of languages.

And while K names can make a big splash for boys, C remains the fifth most popular first initial for our sons’ names, behind only J, A, M, and L.

As with so many boys’ names, surnames dominate the boy names starting with C. From the most popular C name for boys – Carter – to rarities like Caldwell – the style appeals to plenty of parents.

But it’s not all last-names-first. Bold word names range from Chase to Caliber, while storied picks like Cyril can’t possibly be called novel – even if they’re relatively rare today.

Read on for some of the best boy names starting with C!


CARTER (#48)

Polished and preppy Carter has eclipsed classic boy favorites to take the top spot for the most popular boy names brought to us by the letter C.

CALEB (#51)

A Biblical boy name with a strong and distinctive sound, Caleb has ranked in the US Top 100 since 1989, making this a modern staple.

COOPER (#52)

A working man’s name with a casual, cool vibe.


A series and substantial given name, Charles comes with nearly a dozen ready nicknames – including cuddly, upbeat Charlie.


From the 1960s well into the early 2000s, Christopher was the quintessential cute boy name, almost always shortened to Chris. While it’s fading in popularity today, it retains its traditional status.


Scottish surname Cameron ushered in an era of longer surname names for boys, but also fits with brief, one-syllable favorites from Jack to Max.


Despite a clearly religious origin and meaning, Christian feels like an every-guy name, accessible and nicely balanced between chart-topping Christopher and trendier, two-syllable n-ending names.

COLTON (#94)

A surname name with a lot of Old West swagger.

CARSON (#111)

A substitute for Carter, and a surname name that rose around the same time. Carson, of course, is also a Downton Abbey name.

CONNOR (#126)

An Irish heritage pick, Connor’s big boost came from the immortal warrior at the center of 1986 film Highlander. But American parents have never needed much encouragement to embrace an Irish name.

CARLOS (#139)

The Spanish take on Charles, every bit as classic and enduring.

CALVIN (#152)

From designer denim to a baseball legend, Calvin dots recent decades. Today it feels like a cool, vintage revival pick.

CHASE (#154)

High energy surname name.

COLE (#155)

Strong, solid Cole is either an update to a forgotten English name – think of Old King Cole – or a short form of Nicholas.

CHARLIE (#175)

The casual take on Charles, and a white-hot unisex favorite.

CAMDEN (#181)

A place name with a current vibe, two-parts Cameron and one-part Caden.

CADEN (#198)

A concise take on so many Aiden names, Caden looks a little more like a traditional surname than Kayden.

CALLUM (#222)

Originally a Scottish name honoring Saint Columba, whose name means dove.

COHEN (#247)

Controversial surname name.

CREW (#260)

It’s a prep school sport and a gang of ruffians – but Crew’s big boost probably comes from design couple Chip and Joanna Gaines.

COLT (#264)

An animal name, Colt is a little bit like Fox or Bear. But it’s also a firearm, a malt liquor, and the fictional hero in The Fall Guy, which makes this name lean a little dangerous.

CADE (#279)

Both a surname name and a take on Caden and company.

CASH (#288)

As in musical legend Johnny, or cold, hard cash.

CYRUS (#297)

Ancient name borrowed from a Persian king.

CODY (#306)

Early 90s sensation Cody carries a great meaning: helpful.

CLAYTON (#312)

Surname name Clayton fits in perfectly with recent trends, but feels a little more traditional.

CASEY (#316)

Cheerful Irish surname, back in favor lately.

COLTER (#321)

An even more energetic spin on popular Colton.


Another spelling of Christian, midway between Christian and Cristiano.

CAYDEN (#326)

Another spelling of Caden, then one more in line with Jayden and other chart-toppers.

CRUZ (#328)

A spiritual name – Cruz means cross in Spanish – with that edgy ‘z’ ending. Ties to California’s Santa Cruz, famous for surfing, lend it a coastal vibe.

CAIRO (#333)

Yet another place name that parents borrowed from the map.

COLIN (#334)

Originally a Nicholas nickname, polished Colin has long stood on its own.

CALLAN (#338)

A surname with Irish roots, or perhaps just a longer form of Cal.

COLSON (#345)

A fresh alternative to Colton, Colin, and Cole, with a literary vibe thanks to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead.

CESAR (#368)

A name originally borne by Roman emperor Julius Caesar, it became a title, and then a given name, too.

CHANCE (#378)

A name that suggests fortune and fate – hopefully all good.

CLARK (#437)

Once a surname for one working as a clerk, Clark is now a little bit Gable, a whole lot Superman.

CALLEN (#448)

Another surname name option, and a slightly different spelling of Callan.

CORBIN (#454)

Corbin means raven. It makes a nicely under-the-radar nature choice for a son.


An energetic Irish surname name that shortens to easy nickname Cal.

CAMILO (#481)

We’re wild about Camila, so why not the masculine form? Both come from ancient Latin name Camillus.

COLLIN (#486)

Double the Ls, and Collin remains a handsome, slightly-less-expected choice.

CAIDEN (#495)

Another spelling for Caden/Cayden.

CASSIAN (#533)

A Roman family name related to Cassius – as in Muhammad Ali – as well as the given name of Star Wars universe hero Cassian Andor. The latter gets credit for this name’s hyperspace-style leap in popularity.

CONRAD (#539)

Germanic first name with a long history of use in the US.

CASSIUS (#576)

The birth name of Muhammad Ali, and another favorite from the ancient world.

CLAY (#580)

A short form of Clayton, or noun name borrowed from the natural world.

CILLIAN (#593)

The name of a medieval Irish saint, it’s more popular in English when spelled Killian. Actor Cillian Murphy’s Oscar-winning performance in 2023’s Oppenheimer helped boost this name.

COLBY (#604)

Norse-meets-English for this surname related to the word for coal, suggesting that it started out as a nickname for someone dark.

CONOR (#619)

The single-N spelling of this name remains far more popular in Ireland.

CANNON (#636)

As a surname, it could refer to a wolf or a servant. In twenty-first century English, it brings to mind either the weapon, or – on a scholarly note – the body of work representing the best in a given area. Though that’s spelled canon.

CHAIM (#637)

A Hebrew word meaning life, with history to spare.

COREY (#642)

Most often an English surname, Corey surged in popularity in the 1960s. Also spelled Cory, it’s now graduated to dad name status.

CASPIAN (#665)

The name of an inland sea, Caspian became more name-like thanks to author CS Lewis. Today it fits right in with Julian and Adrian.

CHOSEN (#671)

A purpose name, equal parts spiritual and ambitious, Chosen is a fast-rising word name for the 2020s.

CREED (#678)

A meaning-rich name with lots of currency thanks to the character from the Rocky movies.


An occupational surname, Chandler originally referred to a candlemaker. In more recent decades, it’s all about Friends, and the character played by the late Matthew Perry.

CASE (#709)

Casual and current, Case is somewhere between Casey and Chase – though it remains less common than either of those names.

CAL (#714)

A short name for at least a dozen choices on this list.

CLYDE (#719)

A formerly fusty Scottish river name, now retro and cool.

CRUE (#729)

Another spelling for Crew, a little less Ivy League and slightly more Motley.

CARMELO (#738)

A romance language name made famous by Carmelo Anthony.

CONNER (#739)

An alternative take on Connor.

CASEN (#746)

Another Cayson/Casen option.

CHRIS (#774)

A short form of Christopher or Christian.

CASON (#787)

A sparer spelling of Cayson.

CAYSON (#793)

Jason, Mason, why not Cason and Cayson? It coincides with an actual English surname and place name, too.

CHOZEN (#813)

A take on Chosen, powered by a Cobra Kai character and a rapper’s new son. The latter is spelled ChoZen.

CALUM (#886)

Callum with a single L.

CURTIS (#904)

A traditonal favorite with a lovely meaning: courteous.

COLESON (#917)

Colson is more popular, but Coleson is also trending.

COLTEN (#921)

Colten with an E.

CASTIEL (#924)

An angel’s name, CastIel was boosted by long-running series Supernatural.

CAIN (#925)

A Biblical boy name with a cool sound – and implications of serious sibling rivalry.

CARL (#961)

A traditional form of Charles, back in the US Top 1000 after a brief departure.

CULLEN (#998)

A surname name with several possible origins, including Irish … and Twilight.

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A word name that sounds like it could leap from the dictionary to the baby name book.


A name from Welsh legend with a ferocious meaning: glory in battle.


An Irish import, sometimes Anglicized as Keelan.


Caio most likely comes from the Latin Gaius – rejoice, but reflects a romance language spin.


Caio’s cousin.


Saint Gaetano lived in the sixteenth century, but his name’s roots trace back the Latin Caietanus, meaning from Caita. The coastal town has been a resort destination for millennia; it’s now known as Gaeta. As for the names, the first is English; the latter, Spanish.


A surname name that brings to mind ice hockey and modern art.


Like Callahan, a surname name that shortens nicely to Cal.


It might be a firearms reference. But Caliber can also imply something of high quality.


A short name for the modern favorite Cameron, but possibly an alternative to Max and Gus, too.


A nicely Scottish surname that’s just a little different.


Sometimes given in honor of St. Edmund Campion, this name comes from the French word for champion.


An Old Testament name made famous by an Oprah Winfrey interview.


An enduring virtue that sounds quite name-like.


A nature name with a nicely on-trend sound.


A name that dots Welsh history and legend, and also appears in some tales of King Arthur as one of his Knights of the Round Table.


A surname name with multiple possible meanings, Carden seems like a twist on Carson and company.


The original form of Charles, now used mainly in German.


A surname borrowed from an English city, Carlisle could also be spelled Carlyle, among other, more phonetic, possibilities.


An Italian take on Charles, with that spirited O ending.


A Scottish place name meaning rocky.


Luxury brand-inspired surname that’s close to the popular Carter.


There’s something potentially aggressive about Carver, but we do love those middle V names.


Cary Grant makes it dashing; so does Cary Elwes. Despite this name’s status as an Irish surname import, Americans tend to hear it as a Caroline nickname. But in our age of Rory, ti could be time for Cary’s comeback for our sons.


Traditional Slavic favorite, worn by four kings of Poland. It’s often spelled with a K and a Z, but Casimir is the blends-in English equivalent.


Alexander is a classic favorite, and Evander is on the rise. Could Cassander – the overlooked masculine form of Cassandra – have a moment, too?


A classic with centuries of use throughout Europe, Casper – and Caspar – have languished in the US, possibly thanks to the comic book ghost. Their cousin Jasper, on the other hand, is a fast favorite.


A word name that implies knights in shining armor.


The constellation Gemini features twin brothers – Castor and Pollux.


Borrowed from an ancient Roman philosopher. Appropriately enough, Cato means “wise.”


An Irish import far less familiar than Kevin.


A polished, gentlemanly name, Cecil belonged to a third century saint. It’s eclipsed by feminine form Cecilia today, but could appeal to parents after something vaguely British.


A Sir Walter Scott invention for Ivanhoe in 1819, made famous by Hogwarts student Cedric Diggory nearly two centuries later.


An Old English name that trended in the 1960s, today it’s easy to dismiss Chad as a stereotype. (Credit to Saturday Night Live, particularly the character played by Pete Davidson.) But it has history to spare, and it will surely return around the same time Todd and Scott return.


As in the late, legendary Chadwick Boseman.


A vintage surname name, big in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, complete with jazzy nickname Chet.


Borrowed from Irish myth, Cian comes with a great meaning: enduring.


Another Irish surname name with a buttoned-up style and a ferocious meaning: red warrior.


Gentle Clarence started out as a name – and title – in the British royal family. (There’s no Duke of Clarence at present, but royal watchers may recognize Clarence House as a royal residence in London.) Americans might think of it as the angel’s name in Christmas movie classic It’s a Wonderful Life.


The French form of ancient Claudius, a classic thanks to notables like Claude Monet and Claude Debussy, as well as actor Claude Rains.


Clay meets Wayne in this unusual name worn by actor Clayne Crawford. (He was born Joseph; the name in, in part, an homage to his hometown of Clay, Alabama.)


Clement means gentle, and was used by saints and popes over the years. We’re wild about feminine form Clementine, but among baby boy names, Clement remains underused.


One of many names derived from the Greek word for glory – kleos.


A nature name, possibly short for longer choices like Clifford and Clifton, or maybe strongest on its own.


A typically British name, Clive shares Cliff’s meaning and origins.


Originally a Jacob nickname, and now another spelling of the late, great Kobe Bryant’s name.


An occupational surname, often for someone who mined or sold coal.


An Irish name, ultimately derived from the Latin columba – dove.


A name from Irish legend, derived from the Irish word for wolf.


Once a Barbarian, now a late night television host, Conan means little wolf.


A cousin to surnames Connell and Connelly.


A grand and ancient name with a virtuous meaning: steadfast.


Originally a last name given to one who sells rope – or cord.


From a Spanish surname meaning “lamb.” Nickname Cord is a bonus.


Probably borrowed from the Sabine (and later Roman) god Quirinus, ultimately from their word for spear.


Another upbeat import from Irish legend.


A Roman family name, and later a New Testament one, too. Americans might think of ninteenth century business magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt.


A surname name with a gentlemanly vibe.


A space-aged o-ender associated with the storied Medici family … and Seinfeld. 


A Southern-fried mini name that means shy.


A favorite from the 1960s, Craig refers to a rocky outcrop.


An ancient saint’s name, Saint Crispin’s Day was immortalized in a speech given by Henry V in Shakespeare’s play. Don’t recognize it? It’s the source of the phrase “band of brothers.”


A surname name mixing athleticism – think Sidney Crosby – with twenty-century musical cred – think both Bing and David.


Another Irish surname, Curran comes with a sharp meaning: little spear.


A seriously old school English name, worn by a sixth-century saint.


A Roman family name – and saintly one – related to the island of Cyprus.


Another names worn by several early saints, Cyril has never been common in the English-speaking world, but remains nicely international.


Also spelled Tsar, this title once used for Russian rulers comes from the ancient Caesar.

What are your favorite boy names starting with C?

First published on November 16, 2020, this post was revised and re-published on August 2, 2021; October 31, 2022; July 3, 2023; and May 23, 2024.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My son’s name is Casper. He’s still a baby but I love that it has both vintage and modern vibes.

  2. Fun story: my son Conrad has a classmate named, you guessed it, Conrad! Zero Caydens or Connors though.

    1. HA! So true. In my kids’ elementary school, the names that repeated were NEVER Ava and Mason. (Well, one class had an Aiden and an Aidan.) But it was usually completely unpredictable – two Londons, a boy Micah AND a girl Micah, a Leyla and a Lila …

      Two Conrads, though!

  3. Have loved Caspian since reading Cronicles of Narnia as a child, but could never use it for the same reason. Caleb and Callum are nice too. C names aren’t generally my favorites though.

    1. I keep wishing Caspian had more of a meaning. I love the sound, though. Surely it meant something when they named the Caspian Sea, right? I keep thinking, it’s got to have some meaning!

      1. Here’s what I found when I did some digging: The name comes from an ancient tribe living on the neighboring shores. The Greek historian Herodotus mentioned them by name in the fifth century BC. Some sources suggest it means white, but that’s far from certain. The Iranian city of Qazvin may come from the same root. You can read the post here. Wish there was more!