Boy names starting with Y aren’t exactly common.

In fact, Y ranks 23rd out of 26 in terms of most popular first initials. It’s not dead last, but that’s still a far cry from letters like A, M, and J that offer so many options you could name a dozen children without missing a beat.

Multiple boy names beginning with Y do appear in the current US Top 1000, though they’re all ranked above 500.

That said, if you want a really distinctive name for your child, starting with a neglected first initial isn’t a bad strategy. And some stylish Y names do make this list, in popular categories like surnames and nature names, too.

YUSUF (#569)

The typical Arab form of Joseph – and the most popular of the boy names beginning with Y.

YOSEF (#666)

One of several international forms of Joseph, this one Hebrew.

YEHUDA (#773)

Also spelled Yehudah, this is the Hebrew form of Judah.

YAHIR (#836)

A Spanish name boosted by a Mexican celebrity. It might be derived from Old Testament name Jair, meaning “he shines.”

YOUSEF (#906)

Another form of Joseph, heard in Persian.

YAHYA (#938)

Yet another of the many international forms of John, this time used in Arabic as well as Persian.

YISROEL (#970)

The Yiddish form of Israel. The I spelling remains far more popular.

YAEL (#993)

An Old Testament name, Yael is typically feminine, including is Israel. American parents prefer it for boys.

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A Hebrew form of Jacob.


The Spanish form of a Hebrew name, Yadiel means “praise of God.”


A preppy surname name inspired by an Ivy League institution.


Yet another surname derived from John, this time via the Dutch Jan or Yan.


The Greek form of John.


Also spelled Yanik, this also comes from John. It’s also spelled Yanik.


As a place name, Yardley originally referred to a clearing good for gathering lumber. Today it sounds like a polished and unexpected surname option.


A possible nature name, borrowed from the herb.


File Yates with Brooks, Hayes, Wells, and other stylish surnames ending with s.


A place name whispered down the alley from its original form, York likely first referred to yew trees.


An Alaskan place name borrowed from a native phrase meaning “great river.”


Slavic Yul comes from Julius, while Yule simply refers to Christmas Day.


A traditional medieval French name known from saints and a fashion designer, Yves also refers to yew trees.

What are your favorite boy names starting with Y?

Originally published on May 3, 2021, this post was revised and updated on October 8, 2022 and again on April 22, 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. I once had a coworker named Yakup, which I assumed was a form of Jacob. I believe he had some Turkish ancestry but I’m not sure where it comes from.

  2. I know a little boy named Yale- though he pronounces it as ya-lay which I find intriguing. He also has a brother named Yanick so that could be another addition to boys’ name starting with Y. I’ve also become a fan of the name York over the last few years, and Yuval.