UPDATE: We went for it! Baby Bo – Boris Andrew – is here, and we’re calling him Bo 100% of the time. My mom cried when I told her, and even though she was against the name at first, she’s so happy that we decided to use her dad’s name now. He’s a big chunk of a baby – almost 10 pounds! – and super chill. The name is perfect for him. Thanks for all the input. It helped so much!
Can we talk about Boris?
It was my grandpa’s name.
I know it’s old fashioned and Boris Johnson and so on.
But I kind of want to use it if this baby is a boy anyway.
My boyfriend wasn’t into it, but then he came up with the idea of calling him “Bo” for short.
Now I’m pretty set on it.
Other people, including my mom, are trying to talk me out of it.
Should I listen to them, or stick with Boris?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new baby!
The first thing that comes to mind is this: it’s amazing how often a fusty antique name feels fresh and new as soon as we meet a baby or toddler with that name.
Seriously. I’ve met toddlers named Harold and Edmund and lots of grandpa names. It makes me do a double-take, and then immediately move the name into my “yes please” column. There’s no reason to think that Boris wouldn’t be exactly the same.
It’s equally true that many of these children are named after important figures in their parents’ lives. Style is fine, but meaning outweighs style. If naming your son Boris brings back memories of your beloved grandfather, then odds are you won’t mind the occasional stunned reaction or snarky comment.
But let’s focus on Boris and Bo for a minute. Because I think that nickname really does make a difference. On a playground filled with kids named Beau and Bodhi and Boden, Boris-called-Bo will fit right in. It’s the best of both worlds – meaningful given name, contemporary short form.
All that said, let’s try to think of reasons you might want to avoid naming a son Boris.
Could it make it harder to name future children? Do you have a list of other names you might use for future children, or if this child is a girl? Does Boris feel like a style outlier? How about Bo? Boris and Everly seems a little awkward, though Bo and Everly seems perfectly reasonable.
Will you feel obligated to continue with family names? This can get tricky. While you are not obligated to name any child after anyone – ever – that doesn’t change the possibility that another loved one might be hurt but what she perceives as a slight.
Are there other reasons your mother might object? Families are complicated. It’s hard to know if your mom is reacting to the name, to a particular emotion, or to some combination of both. 99 chances out of 100 that’s completely her issue. But I mention it only because it might help explain her reaction – and possibly help you frame your response, too.
Lastly, I’m assuming you’re not in the UK, so Boris Johnson is not nearly as much of an issue. But I suppose that would sway my feelings, too – meeting a baby Boris in London would immediately make me wonder if he’d been named for the politician?
All of that said, I think I’m very much Team Boris. It’s a meaningful, unexpected choice with a cool, fits-in nickname. But let’s get some more feedback.
Readers, what do you think of the name Boris, with the nickname Bo?
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What about something like BOlivar RISe?
If you’re not in the UK, then I think Boris is doable (especially with Bo for short). If you ARE in the UK then unless you’re a diehard fan of him… then it would be a hard no from me. So many associations which are, for lots of people, extremely negative.
I used to work with a young man named Boris. He is firmly in the millenial age range, which is my somewhat elaborate way of saying I am very much team Boris. Then again I have a great love of names referred to as Grandfather name as well as Grandmother names. Boris, nicknamed Bo is an adorable idea for your future little one.
Ooh. Boris and Frederick… Bo and Fritz!
I’m on board! I love the special history and meaning of the name for you, and Bo is such a perfect nickname for a little Boris.
Among other associations, it makes me think of the author Boris Pasternak, who wrote the novel Doctor Zhivago and won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
I had a coworker some years ago whose husband was named Boris (pronounced “bohr-EES”). He was roughly my age (millennial), so I don’t think of it as a particularly old-fashioned name – just an uncommon one.
It’s a delightful choice!
Honestly, I kind of love it. The nickname is perfect. It’s a name everybody recognizes but few of his peers will share. And it means something important to you. Can’t beat that.
My kids are of an age where they’re starting to do more group activities and I’ve been struck by how heterogenous boys names have recently become. There are so few repeats, even among the top-of-the-chart names, among their friends, and so many names that in a vacuum might make someone question giving to a baby, but that seem absolutely *perfect* on a real-life kid running around and giving that less-common name life.
In one class my kids attend, there’s a little Gus, an Achilles, a Leif, a Remy, a Harold, a River, and a Lincoln. Only one Liam- a complete outsider to our culture would have no idea from most attendance lists of the activities we frequent that Liam is any more common a name than Achilles. And we do NOT live in a cutting-edge place, but a small, fairly conservative southern city.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think that it’s increasingly the case that modern kids are accustomed to their friends having a wide variety of names and meeting kids with names they’ve never heard before, and that Boris nn Bo will fit in absolutely fine on a playground with Achilles, Harold, and Leif.
Why not? Your mom will get over it. If anyone you know raises an eyebrow, you can just say it’s a family name and you call him Bo and move on.
Go for it!
The name Boris has strong sounds it is easy to say and spell.
Love the family link for you.
Sure it’s an outlier and slightly unusual in today’s field but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work extremely well among other granddad chic names.
The nick name Bo sounds extra modern.
Just make sure you last name isn’t starting with M. As nobody wants the initials BM.
Middles.. love to know where you are going with that!? For example:
Boris James… classic
Boris Xavier funky x factor
Boris Ulysses historic
Boris Theodore long
Boris Grey word name
Boris Arlington surname style
Boris Hugo regional similarity
Boris Percival Wulfric Brian… Hee hee
Add my vote for Boris nn Bo. It helps that I know a young Morris (nn Moz, but mostly called Morris) and that name now feels very usable to me. I agree with Abby’s point that once you encounter an old-fashioned or unexpected name on a baby or young child, it completely freshens it up.
Another Team Boris vote 🙂
Alison Doherty says
I’m team Boris! It’s cute, meaningful, and you have a great nickname. And 99.9% of kids aren’t going to know who Boris Yeltsin is, so I wouldn’t worry about that association. I say, go for it!
I think I would use Boris as a middle name with a classic, familiar, three syllable first name. Right from the start I would establish the nickname, Bo, based on Boris, the middle name. For example…
Known by nickname Bo
As soon as I read the title, I thought Boris was an amazing name. Go for it! I’d love to meet a little Boris.
Lauren Steenkamp says
If your really want to use Boris as a way to honour your grandad then why not use it as a middle name (just don’t use Alexander as a first name, that’s Boris Johnson’s actual first name)
When I read the title of the article, I thought Boris might be a bit hard pull off but by the end (what 1.5 minutes later) and I’m completely sold! It is adorable and your reasons for picking it perfect and the nickname brilliant. You aren’t doing this to be hipster, but because it is special to you. And Bo is fabulous.
If you meet skeptics (other than Momma) give them a minute to process. Chances are they’ll love it too, especially if they are meeting your adorable son in the interim! And Moms find every name hard to love at first — they used their favorite names on you!
Go forth with confidence!
Boris nn Bo is clever as an honor name and is cute for a baby.
I think its works with siblings with a wide range of names. I can picture:
Boris and Wyatt
Boris and Frederick (Bo and Fred)
Boris and David
Boris and Mia
Boris and Violet
So if your mom’s concerns are purely about style, I don’t think there is an issue here.
C in DC says
Boris (bore-is?) nn Bo is adorable. It has that so old fashioned it’s new again sort of vibe. I can see Boris with a brother named Oscar (Ozzy) or Theodore (Ted more than Theo) easily. Natasha/Natalie would be off the table for sister names (from the Bullwinkle cartoon) but most anything else from clunky Edna to vowel-heavy Amelia would work.
Ha! Now that song is in my head AGAIN 😉
I’m usually 100% into family names, especially something fusty. I think it’s amazing that it’s a name you love, and your bf figured out a nickname he loves.
Abby has great questions to ponder. I also wonder if it passes your “Would I want to wear the name my whole life?” test. Picture yourself as Boris. Are you more often introducing yourself as Bo?
My first association is Yeltsin. To me it’s a singular association, but I didn’t grow up with a grandpa Boris.
I was looking up the name to check the pronunciation – I didn’t know there are a few options. Obviously your grandfather was Beau-riss if you’re getting Bo from it. In Russian it’s more like bo-REES (kinda rhymes with Maurice) which is kinda neat cause that could get you Bo or Reese as nicknames.
If you’re serious about Boris and your partner is on board, I’d just stop talking about it with people and if you have a boy and Boris feels right – then just do it and people will stop commenting after he’s here (hopefully – especially if you throw them the Bo nickname.)
Love to hear what a sister for Boris would be!