Parents love the letter M. It’s one of the most popular letters for boy names, not far behind favorite first initials J, A, and C.
Michael dominated the top spot on US popularity charts from the 1950s into the 1990s. Everybody likes Mike, and we grew up with him, too. From television dad Mike Brady to sports hero Michael Jordan, it’s a rock solid choice for a son, a Biblical classic that stands the test of time. But it’s not the only classic M option, and it’s not even the most popular M name for boys at the moment.
There’s a choice that represents every style, from buttoned-down Matthew to modern Mason. The religious and culturally significant Muhammad – choose your spelling – shares the same chart as celebrity-fueled surname Maddox.
Read on for more boy names starting with M, from the most popular of the moment, to the rarities you might consider for a son.
MOST POPULAR BOY NAMES STARTING WITH M
These are the most popular boy names starting with M, based on births in calendar year 2018. (Check the full list for yourself here, at the Social Security Administration’s name site.)
A surname name that rocketed up the US popularity charts beginning in the 1990s, Mason feels like a modern staple.
Despite falling from a long-time perch at the very top of the charts, Michael remains used in big numbers. It feels every bit as classic as William or James. And despite Biblical roots, it doesn’t feel especially Christian compared to new Old Testament favorites like Elijah and Isaac.
Speaking of New Testament names with broad appeal, Matthew fits that description. too. The ill-fated Downton Abbey hero – gone, but not forgotten – lends this name a little bit of dash, as does leading man Matthew McConaughey. Both are always Matthew, as are many boys given the name today.
It’s not just Matthew. Mateo, the Spanish language form of Matthew, is a white hot favorite, too.
Top Gun put Maverick – the call sign of Tom Cruise’s character – on our radar. With a long-awaited sequel due in December 2020, the name could fly higher still. But is Maverick still an original, independent pick when it gets this popular?
It’s a little bit Plymouth Rock (think Myles Standish) and a whole lot jazzy (think Miles Davis). Chrissy Teigen and John Legend named their son Miles Theodore with the legendary musician in mind.
You could view Micah as an update to Michael, but it’s a separate Biblical name. The Old Testament appellation does split the difference between more conventional picks and rising favorites like Isaiah and Ezra nicely.
A surname name, Maxwell came from Mack’s stream. The Beatles recorded “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” in 1969. Murderous Maxwell seems like odd inspiration for a child’s name, but it rose steadily after the song’s release, picking up steam with all of the Max names in the 1990s.
Speaking of Max, it’s a mini name that feels brainy and brawny. For every Max Planck or Weber, there’s a Mad Max.
Angelina Jolie brought Maddox to our attention when she adopted her son back in 2002. It comes from a Welsh name meaning fortunate. It immediately caught on, and parents have continued to choose it ever since.
HOTTEST BOY NAMES STARTING WITH M
Milo, Miles, Matias, Mateo, and Maverick were all among the fastest rising boy names in terms of actual number of births, from 2017 into 2018.
These five M names gained the most in the US Top 1000 for 2018:
A few years ago, Marley screamed “I named my baby for a dog.” A loving, unforgettable dog from a bestseller, but still. As the memoir fades from our pop culture memory, Marley reverts to its previous image: the surname of a music legend. That makes Marley masculine and oh so very cool.
The Matt names are all over the boy names ending with M list. But it was Mathias – traditionally a German and Scandi form – that gained most dramatically in the most recent data set.
Most Max names boast history galore. Maximus and Maximilian stepped right out of history and literature. Maximo comes from the Spanish form of Maximus, but it feels like a modern Max names. If you like your names with plenty of bravado, Maximo takes mini Max and turns it up to eleven.
A place name borrowed from an ancient Egyptian city, the exact meaning is lost to time. Some claim it comes from a river goddess. Others say it means “enduring and beautiful.” Either way, it’s a significant Southern city, known especially for its contributions to music.
The Arabic form of Moses, Musa has been rising in use along with lots of similar names. It’s catching on quickly for two reasons: first, we’ve warmed to boy names ending in a. If Noah and Joshua can hold the top spot in the US, why can’t we call our sons Musa? But more critically, this is part of the rise of Arabic language names throughout the English-speaking world. Muhammad grabs headlines, but it’s not the only name gaining.
TRENDS TO WATCH
Mat and Max dominate boy names starting with M. The Maxes seem to be slowing down, while the Mats feel freshly unstoppable.
Muhammad – pick your spelling – is a world-wide phenomenon. Long traditional in the Arabic speaking world, it’s heard more and more often in the UK and US in recent years, thanks to growing immigrant populations. The name means “to praise” and belongs to the religious leader and founder of Islam.
The numbers bear out the success of Mat/Max and Muhammad, but here’s a trendlet that’s early stage: the return of Mac names for boys. By the late 1900s, Mackenzie, Makayla, and McKenna were favorites for girls. But lately parents seem to be exploring Mcs and Macs that work best for our boys.
TEN RARE BOY NAMES STARTING WITH M
None of these names appear in the current US Top 1000, but all of them could wear well on a son.
Long tied to the Roman god of war, Mars might’ve felt too bellicose. But now Mars feels as smooth as chart-topping, Grammy-winning singer Bruno Mars. It helps that parents have embraced celestial names, choices borrowed from mythology, and, of course, -s enders like Miles.
Artist Maxfield Parrish makes this slightly more familiar. It’s a sophisticated spin on so many Max names, one that feels distinctive, even in a crowd.
Back in the nineteenth century, Maceo Grajales led the fight for Cuban independence. It seems likely his name inspired the parents of Maceo Pinkard, who became a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Haven’t heard of him? You’ve heard his most famous composition: “Sweet Georgia Brown.” And then there’s current musician and saxophonist Maceo Parker. It’s an undiscovered gem.
An Irish surname name, nothing else sounds quite like Maguire. Alternate spellings abound, but this seems like the most common.
Speaking of surnames, McCoy is one of those Mc/Macs that might trend for boys. If something is “the real McCoy,” it’s the real deal. The feuding Hatfield and McCoy families put the name in the history books. And the original Star Trek crew included Dr. McCoy. It’s a quirky collection of ties, but it could lead to a rising favorite boy name.
This is the Biblical long form of Micah; it’s unisex in the Old Testament. That potentially puts it in the company of Isaiah and Elijah and so many similar Biblical boy names parents have embraced in recent years.
Merit means worthiness; we earn merit awards. You can “merit” consideration or a promotion. Merritt, however, is an English surname, probably referring to a boundary gate. Despite the unrelated origins, the surname picks up a virtue name sheen thanks to the vocabulary word. And that makes Merritt a very modern possibility.
Miro comes from the Latin mirus – wonderful. Sculptor Joan Miro makes it artistic. With so many o-ending boy names finding favor, Miro isn’t such a leap from Milo.
A place name, Montana feels rugged and strong. An earlier generation might have heard this and automatically thought Hannah. Their parents probably heard it and thought Joe. But with the Nickelodeon series and the football hero receding, Montana might make a great place name possibility.
Polished and sophisticated, Montgomery sounds like a little gentleman. Or a grown-up one; after all, Montgomery Clift had a successful Hollywood career, earning four Oscar nominations. Monty makes the name friendly and approachable. With long boy names like Sebastian and Everett in the Top 100, Montgomery could fit right in.
What are your favorite boy names starting with M?