Consider this: in 1940, none of the Top 100 names for boys born in the US ended with ian. By 1950, there was just one – Brian, and he doesn’t quite have today’s favored sound.
In the 1990s, things started to change. By 2012, six ends with ian names ranked in the US Top 100, including Ian himself.
The ian names fit with our growing preference for boys’ names that are longer (or shorter) than two syllables. Choices like Sebastian manage to be less expected than Aiden but not too out there, either.
Of course, not all ian names share the same spelling or sound.
Christian and Sebastian share a shan or chan ending, while many others sound like Ian – two syllables.
The French ien spelling is another variation, seen in Julien and Lucien. There’s also eon, as in Gideon. You might also find ean, yon, or even yan, especially in names of recent coinage.
Regardless of the spelling, the ian names have an interesting sound – rooted, with a long history of use, but very current and twenty-first century read, too.
Read on for an exhaustive list of ends with ian names for boys.
Popular Ends with ian Names for Boys
Adrian – Saints and popes have answered to this name. Talia Shire wore the name as Rocky Balboa’s wife in the successful film franchise, prompting a brief spike in girls answering to this name, in various spellings. But Adrian has been solidly established for boys in recent decades.
Christian – He can be an expression of faith as obvious as Nevaeh – or not. With Shades of Gray’s Christian much in mind, the name has something of a different connotation in 2013, and with a film adaptation en route, that could intensify.
Damian – Damian has saintly associations, but spelled with the ien ending, he was the creepy child in The Omen. But the movie hasn’t damaged the name’s popularity – in fact, he may have given it a boost. Damian entered the US Top 100 in 2012.
Sebastian – When The Little Mermaid kept company with a red crab called Sebastian back in 1989, the name was fairly uncommon. That’s changed in recent years, and Sebastian has been a Top 100 pick since the year 2000.
Maximilian – His ian ending sounds more like yen in some pronunciations, but this Roman name is part of the cluster of Max names. On his own, Maximilian ranked just #464 in 2012, but any Max name has a familiar, friendly sound.
Familar, but Uncommon Ends with ian Names for Boys
Bastian, Bastien – If Alexander gave rise to Xander, why shouldn’t Sebastian’s popularity inspire the use of Bastian? The Neverending Story features a boy by the name. The -ian spelling is huge in Chile.
Caspian – C.S. Lewis‘ prince shares his name with a sea in The Chronicles of Narnia. Neve Campbell chose the name for her son in 2012, and he’s been on the radar of fashionable parents in recent years.
Cillian, Killian – An Irish saint’s name with an aggressive sound.
Darian – He first ranked in the US Top 1000 back in the 1960s, the age of Darren. There’s also Darien, as in the town in Connecticut, which was named after a Central American settlement in a bid to find a distinctive name.
Dorian – Dorian Gray is the superficial young man who sells his soul for eternal youth in Oscar Wilde’s enduring tale. Wilde was the first to use the name, but he’s seen some wear since. He fits nicely with this cluster of names, but I’ll admit the fictional figure gives me pause.
Deon, Deion, Dion – You might associate this name with the ancient god Dionysus, he of wine, women, and song. But I think mostly of song, thanks to 1950s pop sensation Dion DiMucci, better known as just Dion. Don’t recognize the name? You would probably recognize his hit singles, like “The Wanderer” or “Runaround Sue.” Deon and Deion are either re-spellings or modern innovations. Deion brings to mind NFL Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders.
Elian – Do you remember Elian Gonzalez? The six year old was rescued along with other Cuban refugees headed for Miami. But Elian’s mom perished in the escape attempt – and after the legal proceedings dominated headlines for weeks, Elian went home to live with his dad in Cuba. I assumed Elian was another variant of Elias and Elijah – and sometimes he is. But Gonzalez received the name in honor of his parents – Elizabeth and Juan, making it one of the cleverest smoosh names ever.
Fabian – Fabius was a Roman general. Fabian was pope in the 200s. Both names come from faba – bean. It was the name Shirley claimed she’d name her baby in an episode of Laverne & Shirley – possibly a reference to teen idol Fabian, born Fabiano Forte. He’s more popular than you might guess, ranking #298 in 2012 in the US, and with solid use throughout Europe, too.
Gideon – Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka gave this name to their son, born in 2010. The Old Testament hero would fit right in with boys called Noah and Isaac, but at #390 in 2012, he’s still far behind many of those choices – for now.
Leon – One of the fustier of the Leo names, Leon is having a moment in Europe. He’s popular from Norway to Croatia to Austria. In the US, Leon is on a gentle upswing, too, ranking #357 in 2012.
Lucian, Lucien – Luke is among the most popular of Biblical boys, boosted by Star Wars and Cool Hand Luke. Lucian and Lucien veer in another direction, adding the ian ending to get a name that is more elaborate, slightly softer, and more evocative of the ancient world.
Rare Ends with ian Names for Boys
Aurelian – The golden girl name Aurelia has attracted some attention in recent years, and seems poised to re-enter the US Top 1000. 39 baby boys were named the ancient Aurelius in 2012. But Aurelian, despite his use in the ancient world and early Middle Ages, remains obscure. An Aurelian Society was an old-school term for a group of butterfly enthusiasts, a reference to golden hue of the chrysalis right before a butterfly emerges.
Cassian – Usually pronounced cash AN, he could serve as a formal name for the oh-so-cool Cash. Filmmaker Cassian Elwes has been responsible for some truly spectacular films in recent decades, from The English Patient to The Butler.
Cian, Kian – A borrowing from Irish myth, it sounds like Ian with a K sound in front. If you’re disappointed that everyone else is using Aiden, Cian makes for a distinctive alternative. Respellings like Keon and Kyon take the name farther from his Irish roots.
Cleon – The given name of an ancient Athenian statesman, Cleon shares a meaning with his cousin Cleo – glory. He’s a little bit clunky, and a whole lot out of use, in 2013, but if Leon and Cleo can be stylish, is Cleon really off limits?
Davian, Davion – Almost certainly a nouveau coinage based on David and Darian, this name has seen some use since the 1970s. Believe it or not, he’s ranked in the US Top 1000 since 2004.
Dashian – Okay, this isn’t exactly a given name. In fact, it’s never been given to more than five boys in any single year in the US, and you won’t find him in reputable baby name guides. But it came up during speculation about Kim and Kanye baby names. And while the headline-grabbing couple went with North, I found myself in love with the sound of Dashian. (Pretty sure it was first mentioned on Facebook by Nameberry.)
Napoleon – We’re calling boys Elvis and Romeo. Is there any reason Napoleon is off limits? The name has deep roots – either Italian or Germanic, depending on who you ask. Maybe he’s hamstrung not by the former French emperor, but by the proto-hipster, Napoleon Dynamite.
Octavian – Yet another ancient name, this time related to the number eight. It’s a name with serious historical oomph. The first-ever emperor of Rome is known as Augustus, but he was born Gaius Octavius. It’s had a lot history of sparing use, and could make a good alternative to Julian today.
Savion – I’m almost certain that Savion Glover was the first person to wear this name, and that makes it proof that some modern inventions work. Glover is widely considered the greatest tap dancer of our time, and the name’s rise coincides neatly with his career. Savion peaked in 2002 when his Tony Award-nominated Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk musical was on national tour. In 2012, 139 boys received the name.
Simeon – A more elaborate form of Simon, always less popular than the two-syllable alternative.
Valerian – Another ancient name, worn by an emperor and a handful of saints.
Are there any ends with ian names for boys that I’ve missed? Which are your favorites?