In 2007, more than 5,600 girls were called Destiny, over 4,000 were named Faith and nearly 3,000 were christened Serenity. No doubt about it, noun names – both the old-fashioned and the newly-minted – are fashionable for girls. But are there any options for our sons?

Thanks to Annelise for suggesting the intriguing Reason as Name of the Day.

At first glance, Reason looks like he could be a Puritan appellation. And maybe he was.

It’s tempting to imagine pregnant Puritans sitting around in their austere maternity smocks inventing outrageous names. “What do you think, dear? Is Flee-Fornication too difficult to spell?” But records suggest that these were rarities – the modern equivalent of that one kid named Peanut or Annakin. Even tame virtue names like Charity or Faith were probably worn by well under a quarter of the population.

Yes, there was one fellow in Plymouth called Resolved. And 22 men named John.

And yet Reason is not the novelty that he might appear. He charted in the US Top 1000 in both 1881 and 1885. Ernest – and Earnest – also ranked, as did Royal, Pleasant, Ransom, Fleet and North. Census records confirm that men named Reason were not unknown. One was even married to a woman named Charity.

Some parents might have hoped for a little philosopher when they chose the name, but there’s a simpler explanation. Nineteenth century Americans frequently bestowed family surnames on their children, and Reason is not so rare in the last spot. (In 2000, there were about 2300 Americans with the last name Reason.)

As a surname, Reason has two likely sources:

  • Raison can be found among English, Scottish and French immigrants;
  • Reisen was worn by some German families.

While Riesen’s origins are debated, Raison is apparently from a nickname given to the sharpest fellow in the village. Just like you might end up being known for your ancient ancestor’s Brown hair, if he was a smarty pants, you might’ve ended up the Raisons.

The word reason comes from the Latin rationem – meaning understanding – and has been used in English since the 1200s.

Of course, the NBA’s Allen Iverson is dubbed The Answer. Reason risks sounding like a nickname, too. Or perhaps it feels like tempting fate – would a boy called Reason be wildly irrational and risk-taking?

But Reason could also make for a nicely modern virtue name – Grace’s brother. Like Deacon, he’s a two-syllable, ends-in-n choice that remains novel – unlike familiar moderns Kaisen or Brycen, so easy to mistake for Braylon and Kyson.

Just make sure you have a healthy appetite for irony. It’s tough to be a klutzy Grace. And it is impossible to imagine a reasonable toddler – whatever his name might be.

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 find Reason very interesting! I love virtue and word names anyway, and male appropriate names seem hard to come by. I also love True and Prosper. I possibly wouldn’t have the guts to use it up front, myself, but I’d be intrigued to meet one!

    1. I guess my feeling with Reason is this: it would be a thrill to find one on my family tree. We’ve got mostly the usual suspects: Anna, Elizabeth, John, George. Fine names all, but it is always the crazy ones that make me curious. Finding a Reason dangling from a branch? That would make my day. And I’d cheerfully tuck him in the middle somewhere.

      But short of that, I keep thinking about how flat-out illogical my children are – most of the time anyhow – and really couldn’t tempt fate with this one. But I do like his sound.

      Bizzy, Prosper is a truly intriguing one. Have you ever met a Prosper?

  2. I don’t care much for virtue names on either gender, myself, but I can’t think of many (or any?) that are masculine. Plenty of girls’ names, but not too many boys’ names. So when I saw Reason listed on Nameberry as a male name, I was intrigued. Still not convinced that I like it, but at least now I’m enlightened! So thank you for doing this one!

  3. Lola, just had to tell you that you made my husband laugh this morning. He’s a HUGE Zelazny fan as well. 🙂

    I like some virtue names, but I’m a bit picky… And Reason is one I definitely don’t like.

  4. Reason’s not for me, at all. His strong virtue vibe just doesn’t appeal to me – probably because I cannot take to any virtue name! 🙂

  5. I don’t like it. It’s too over the top for my taste. It sounds more appropriate for a stripper or pole dancer than a baby or child. I can’t imagine a child being reasonable either so I definitely would never name my child Reason. He will get teased for it. Raison isn’t much better. People are gonna call him Raisin and Reisen reminds me of Riesen, which is a candy produced by the same company that makes Werther’s caramel candies. lol

  6. Still looking for a reason… 😀 Nah, Reason’s not something I find attractive. Now Random, I sort of like that in a huge GP sort of way. HUGE Zelazny Fan here. I could happily have a boy/girl set named Flora & Corwin, I’m that big a fan. But Reason? nah. My brain starts rhyming: Breeze-on, Searson, Tease-on… I couldn’t do that to a kid.

    I could see Reason in the middle with some lovely classic up front, but as a first name? Nope. So put me firmly in Emmy Jo’s camp. 😀

  7. I definitely don’t get a stripper vibe from this — quite the opposite, really.

    To me, odd word name choices seem best tucked away in the middle slot, but this could be a very appealing middle name, especially for parents who are into unexpected virtue names, like Justice, Honor, or Truth.