There’s Kevin, of course, a name that helped define a generation, from classic Christmas movie Home Alone to Kevinism, a term for the German (and elsewhere in Europe) dislike of so-called American names.
More recently, Kayden (and Kaiden and Kaden) dominated K names for boys. Plenty of choices on this list are more popular when spelled with a C, making K feel creative … or at least slightly different.
Now brief and breezy Kai, with Hawaiian roots and international appeal, is the rising K name to beat.
K is also the letter of classic choices from another era or language, like the Scottish Kenneth or the Persian Kian.
It’s the seventh most popular letter for boy names, behind J, A, L, M, C, and E. That means a big percentage of our sons answer to boy names starting with K.
Let’s dive in!
MOST POPULAR BOY NAMES STARTING WITH K
This name means ocean in Hawaiian. But it coincides with many similar names, including a Knight of the Round Table and the little boy in the original Snow Queen fairy tale.
Irish surname Caden is far more common spelled with a K – and a Y, too. Kayden’s rise tracked with the popularity of Aiden; now, the names are slowly falling in use.
The capital of Jamaica, regal Kingston caught parents’ attention after Gwen Stefani named her firstborn Kingston nearly two decades ago.
Another possible spelling of this popular name.
In the US, Kevin has transitioned to a dad name. (After all, Home Alone came out in 1990. That means Kevin is now in his 40s.) Back in the 1920s and 30s, it was leaping up the US popularity charts, only to become a staple from the 1950s well into the early 2000s.
As in Fort Knox, the home of the US Bullion Repository – where we keep all the gold. Knox simply means “hill,” from an Old English word.
Preppy and presidential surname name Carter is sometimes spelled with a K.
Some will see King as regal and grand. Others might think of it as spiritual – a reference to Christ the King – or a hero name, as in Martin Luther King, Jr.
The phrase Kyrie eleison means Lord have mercy, from the Greek kyrios – lord. That makes Kyrie a name a little bit like King. But it owes much of its popularity to basketball’s Kyrie Irving.
Cash with a K. Though it’s also sometimes heard as an Indian name, or a short form of longer names with Sanskrit roots. One example: early seasons of Shameless included a character named Kash.
From storied Egyptian city Cairo.
A Kyle-Tyler mash-up, Kyler fits right in with so many surname choices for our sons. Spelling Kylar adds some influence from popular unisex name Skylar.
Old Testament Caleb, too, is occasionally spelled with a K.
As Scottish as Malcolm, Kenneth was popularized by Sir Walter Scott’s 1825 novel The Talisman. In our post-Barbie moment, is Ken ready for a comeback?
One more entry in the Kayden/Kaiden contest.
Kayden meets Mason.
An accessible Arabic choice, Khalil means friend. Author Khalil Gibran makes it even more familiar.
Preppy surname Carson hits a little different with a K.
A surname name with multiple origins and meanings, Kade feels like a very twenty-first century name.
Following Kai and Noah, Koa is a Hawaiian tree name meaning warrior.
Cain engaged in the original case of sibling rivalry. But Kane is an Irish surname name, straightforward and strong. Spelling Kain is also sometimes seen.
More often spelled Cillian in Ireland, the K version is the Anglicized form.
Add a K to stylish sound Amari, and you’ll arrive at Kamari. The names might come from Ammar, an Arabic name meaning long life.
Kash meets Ashton.
The tragic 2020 death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant sent his name racing up the popularity charts. His name ultimately comes from the Japanese city.
An 80s and 90s favorite, Kyle is another K name for boys with Scottish roots.
Another possible spelling for popular Scottish surname Cameron.
Borrowed from Star Wars’ Kylo Ren – though the name’s popularity has continued to rise long after the movies have left theaters.
Either a Persian name meaning king or a name right out of Irish myth.
A surname name meaning royal power, Kendrick got a boost from rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Native American name Koda briefly popped into the US popularity data following the release of 2003’s Brother Bear. It quickly fell out of use, but re-entered the rankings in 2016. This time around, it’s probably more about the sound and our growing love of boy names ending with -a.
A take on sometimes-controversial surname Cohen.
A cousin to Kayson.
Take the Ky- from Kyle and Kai and add the popular -son ending.
Another Irish option, Kieran means – roughly – little dark one. It’s more typically Ciaran in Ireland, but this is the preferred English spelling.
A Japanese import, Kenzo is familiar to many thanks to Japanese designer Kenzo Takada. It’s gaining in use, just like Italian favorite Enzo.
Another K take on a popular surname-style choice.
A mix of stylish sounds, but this spelling is potentially ambiguous. Is it Kyson or Kayson?
Kyle plus Ryan = Kylan.
The fast-rising French form of Killian, one that sidesteps the first syllable of KILLian.
Another possible spelling for Kason.
Another spin on Kason.
A Irish surname name, and distant cousin to the wildly popular Aiden.
A Casey/Case cousin, boosted from obscurity to the spotlight, thanks to Yellowstone.
A Hawaiian name made famous by actor Keanu Reeves.
Inspired by place name Camden, but spelled with a K.
Crew is more popular, but Krew is gaining in use, too.
As a surname, it can refer to a church official or a piece of artillery.
From an Arabic name meaning noble, this spelling was made famous by basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
A cousin to Kyrie.
This name spiked in the middle of the twentieth century, putting it solidly in dad – and grandpa – name territory right about now. But with impeccable Scottish roots and a bright sound, just give it another forty years and it could be ready for revival.
As in Ben. And Shacklebolt. The first is a celebrated, Oscar-winning actor; the second, a hero from the Harry Potter world. The name surged in use following Shacklebolt’s first on-screen appearance in 2007, but it fits right in with so many King names we loved for our sons.
Caesar started out as a title and became a name. (And a salad.) In German, it’s Kaiser – and the Kaiser was the title worn by the Austrian and German emperors during the nineteenth and even twentieth centuries. American parents might think of it more as a type of roll, but it’s also an on-trend sound for a child’s name.
An accessible Japanese name, one of Kenji’s possible meanings is strong.
A streamlined spelling of Cairo, or maybe a play on the Chi Rho – a Christian symbol for Christ. The spelling might owe a little something to Kylo, too.
Kian with another A.
Another spelling of Kareem. It means “noble,” making this an auspicious choice for a son.
Khari means king-like in Swahili. And while it looks a lot like the feminine Carrie, it also feels distinctive and masculine.
A tailored surname name with unclear roots, Keaton will make fans of 80s television think of one thing: Family Ties. The sitcom launched Michael J. Fox’s career.
Almost certainly a slimmed-down spelling of Kohen. Worth noting: it’s also a Dutch name, derived from Conrad. In that case, it’s pronounced with one-syllable, and rhymes with dune and tune – problematic in English.
Another spelling of surname name Kellan.
An Arabic name meaning treasurer, boosted by a song.
A German surname name, this spelling owes its popularity to actor Kellan Lutz.
Another spelling of Case.
Another spin on popular Kai.
Kai meets Rye.
A spin on fast-rising surname favorite Colson.
Kyle with an N.
In the world of business, Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “continuous improvement.” In naming, it’s a mash-up of Kai and Zen, one that’s close to favorites like Kyson.
A Kaizen cousin.
An update to Calvin, but also a scale to measure temperatures, named for nineteenth century physicist William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin.
A take on luxury brand Cartier.
A French surname related to the raven, fans of 1997 sci fi cult classic The Fifth Element might think of Bruce Willis’ character, Korben Dallas.
Christian with a K, and the typical spelling in Scandinavia.
An Arabic name meaning eternal, producer DJ Khaled raised the name’s profile.
An Arabic name meaning great.
While Kamryn is sometimes seen as a feminine form of Cameron, it’s used for boys, too.
Cooper with a K.
A Sanskrit name meaning forest.
It looks a little like Khalil, but it’s actually Kal-El. That’s the birth name of Superman. Nicolas Cage gave the name to a son in 2005, and it’s slowly gained in use over time.
RARE K NAMES FOR BOYS
Traditional Calvin with a K.
Long before everyone was naming their sons Charlie, Karl was a favorite among Germans and Scandinavians, probably closer to the original form of the name. It’s strong and a little bit old-school, a reliable choice with history to spare.
The name of a Hawaiian island, and a possible successor to Koa and Kai.
A name meaning cliff, Kaya is traditionally masculine in Turkish, but is more common for girls in the US.
Another Irish surname, possibly meaning battle. Drop the ‘e’ and Kean works, too.
A poetic pick, thanks to English Romantic writer John Keats.
It looks like another spelling for surname name Keane, and it might be. But Keen is also a word name, a modern virtue pick meaning sharp or eager.
Another Irish import, surname name Keenan comes from the saintly Cian. Comedian Keenan Ivory Wayans made it a household name.
Brief, brisk, and effortlessly Scottish.
This German surname might’ve signified low social status – a peasant. But today, Kemper sounds friendly and approachable.
An Alaskan place name, Kenai became a sometimes-first following the 2003 animated movie Brother Bear. Kenai is brother to Koda in the film.
An English place name turned surname, Kendall shifted from masculine to feminine following a soap opera character on All My Children. Now, of course, Kardashian family member Kendall Jenner keeps the name in the headlines. But Kendall has a long history of use for both genders, and could easily be considered unisex.
A surname name of uncertain origin, Kendry sounds like a mix between the Ken- names of an earlier era, and surname names parents love now.
Kenyatta honors the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. The surname might mean musician.
A place name with a bright sound, Kincaid is also a Scottish clan.
Kindred is a word name. It can refer to relatives – like the word kin. Or it might mean similar in spirit. Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s middle initial stands for Kindred.
Another English place name turned surname, Kipling was also made famous by an author. Rudyard Kipling is remembered for The Jungle Book, The Man Who Would Be King, and Kim.
A Sanskrit name meaning sunbeam, and a very current sound for a child’s name.
A nickname for Christopher (or Kristopher), actor Kit Harington makes Kit broadly familiar.
An Alaskan place name, Kodiak is also the name of a bear native to the region.
Another take on Christopher and Kristopher, made famous by Frozen’s Kristoff.
This brief German given name is a cousin to Conrad, and was a favorite in the US during the 1960s.
A phonetic spelling of Kaiser.
What are your favorite boy names starting with K? What would you add to this list?
First published on January 25, 2021, this post was revised and re-published on May 2, 2022 and again on October 23, 2023.