Bear names for boys make a surprising category. They range from the mainstream to the completely unexpected. Odds are that the list includes a name or three that you might consider.
Fuzzy Wuzzy didn’t make the list, and neither did Yogi. (Though fans of Yogi Berra – who got his nickname from a teammate – might argue that one works.)
But here are eleven bear names that wear well for a son.
Bear Names: Names that Mean Bear
Arthur – Regal Arthur waited in style limbo for years. But now this name feels fashionable and vintage. Selma Blair chose it for her boy, Arthur Saint, in 2011, not long after Courteney Cox’s character mentioned it as a favorite for a future son on Cougar Town. Now the name has returned to the US Top 300 for the first time in twenty years, and promises to rise even farther.
Bernard – The Germanic bern means bear. Plenty of saints answer to this name, and lately Bernadette seems to be on the verge of a comeback. But is Bernard ready for revival? Maybe … after all, Arthur seemed stuck in the attic just a few years ago.
Benno – Benno sounds like a cousin to Biblical Benjamin, but that’s not quite right. Instead, Benno comes from the same family as Bernard. If Milo and Leo (another animal kingdom favorite) are white hot, wouldn’t Benno fit right in?
Berlin – The city’s name may – or may not – come from the German word for bear. But since a bear appears in the city’s coat of arms, and the Goldener Bär – the Golden Bear – is bestowed during the Berlin International Film Festival, it’s safe to say that Berlin fits with bear names for boys. Or possibly girls, since Jeremy Renner’s daughter is Ava Berlin.
Dov – Dove is the bird of peace, but Dov is the Hebrew word for bear. Other Hebrew animal names, like Zev – wolf, have also seen some use. We love that letter v, and short names for boys, like Jax, are having a moment.
Orson – Orson Scott Card and Orson Welles make this name familiar. Orson started out as a surname, derived from the French ors, ultimately from the Latin ursus. It saw sparing but steady use in the late nineteenth century, but we’ve overlooked Orson for years.
Bear Names: Names of Famous Bears
Teddy – Teddy could be short for Edward, but is most often associated with Theodore – a classic name rising rapidly today. Teddy makes this list of bear names thanks to former President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. When Roosevelt declined to shoot a defenseless bear cub, it prompted a political cartoon. A sharp-eyed toymaker spotted the cartoon, crafted a bear – and the rest is history.
Aloysius – In Brideshead Revisited, Aloysius was the beloved bear of Sebastian. An obscure form of Louis, this name was used in steady numbers through the early twentieth century.
Barney – An animated bear from a 1930s and 40s series, sleepy Barney looked everywhere for a good spot to nap. Today parents will almost certainly think of Barney Rubble, the big purple dinosaur, or How I Met Your Mother, which makes this less of a fit for our bear names list.
Rupert – A British comic strip staple, Rupert also appears in books and television. He also inspired the name of Stewie’s teddy bear on Family Guy. In the US, the association isn’t well known. Though Rupert Grint, the young actor who played Ron in the Harry Potter franchise, might make this name feel more wearable.
Bear Names: How ’bout Bear?
Bear – Legendary football coach Bear Bryant – born Paul William – might inspire some parents. Alicia Silverstone named her son Bear Blu, Jamie Oliver opted for Buddy Bear Maurice, and Kate Winslet’s Bear followed in 2013.
While animal names might be dismissed as out-there, the best qualities of animals have inspired parents for millennia. Bears bring to mind positive qualities, like strength and confidence. They symbolize places from Germany to California.
Whether you prefer the traditional Arthur or the bold Bear, these eleven bear names could be just right for your little cub!
Would you consider any of these bear names for a son?
This post was originally published on January 27, 2012. It was substantially revised and re-posted on August 26, 2016.