W surname namesW surname names are some of the best. And while a few of them rank in the US Top 1000, many more remain undiscovered.

They make great first names, and work beautifully in the middle spot, too. The W. of George W. Bush is for Walker, which feels a little more interesting than handsome, but predictable, William.

Read on for some wild, wonderful W surname names.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity rank: unranked

Originally a place name, Walden grew famous thanks to Henry David Thoreau’s writings at Walden Pond. He went there to live simply and pen a manifesto that still resonates more than 150 years later. Complete and nickname-proof, Walden feels serious, too. It conveys a respect for the natural world and a focus on intellectual pursuits.


Current US popularity rank: #230
2017 US popularity rank: #315

Walker put the Dubya in George W. Bush, a middle he shared with dad, inherited from George H.W.’s mother, Dorothy.  (It was her maiden name.)  It fits right in with Carter and all of those ends-with-r names for boys.  Back in the day, “walking” was part of the cloth-making process. Today, though, it feels active and energetic.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Long before Sam Walton made Wal-Mart a household name, Americans were captivated by a simpler life on Walton’s Mountain. The series was a television staple in the 1970s.  The surname feels gentle and homespun, but also very wearable. It might be a great way to honor a grandpa Walter, too.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Ward means to keep guard. A ward of the courts is protected by the legal system. And we can ward off evil spells. As a surname, it originally referred to someone who worked as a watchman. The same is true of Warden, though I hear “prison” attached to warden, too.  Ward Cleaver was Beaver’s dad on the long-running television series Leave it to Beaver.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

In the Legally Blonde series, Warner was Elle Woods’ not-so-nice boyfriend. It shares roots with Ward and Warden, but while those names are rough-and-tumble, Warner feels polished and preppy. Ivy League. That puts it in the same category as Carter and Parker and Hayes, popular choices all.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

It’s an Old English place name, and while Warrick begins with war, it’s more gentlemanly than aggressive. Actor Warwick Davis played Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter franchise, as well as the Ewok Wicket in the Star Wars universe. Warren has appeared in the US Top 1000 every single year, so why not this similar-but-different choice?


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

With apologies to George, I’m not sure if Washington makes for the most wearable of surname names now. It’s not that presidential surnames are out of vogue – on the contrary, we love Kennedy and Taylor, Harrison and Ford. Lincoln has been among fastest-rising boys’ names in recent years. And not so long ago, Washington qualified as a patriotic staple, right into the 1920s. Today, Washington is among the rarest. Still, the name has too much history to exclude from a list of W surname names for boys. And Hamilton might work its magic yet …


Current US popularity rank: #694
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

We’re in the midst of a Sherlock renaissance. In recent years, we’ve seen at least three re-boots and updates, with three very different Sherlock Holmes – and even more different John Watsons, including one that was re-invented as Joan. Now the crime-fighting Dr. Watson has helped his surname return to the US Top 1000. Watson comes from Walter, via the medieval nickname Wat. There’s something zippy and energetic about Watson, an unexpected choice that’s also instantly familiar.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Some occupational surnames immediately bring to mind the associated craft: Carpenter, Shepherd, Mason. Others feel more obscure, poetic even. I’d say Weaver manages to be both. We can picture a Weaver weaving, but it’s bigger than a simple task. It implies creativity and union, both positive concepts. Like Bridger and Ranger, there’s a lot of meaning behind this simple surname choice.


Current US popularity rank: #735
2017 US popularity ranking: #915

Wells recently arrived in the US Top 1000, a preppy name that brings to mind the natural world. And, because we think of words like wellspring and well-being, there’s a subtle virtue vibe to this choice, too. Maternity concierge Rosie Pope named one of her sons Wellington, but he answers to Wells. Initial credit for the name’s rise in popularity almost certainly goes to television series The 100 and The Flash, but now I think it succeeds on style alone.


Current US popularity rank: West unranked; Weston ranks #103; Westin ranks #823
2017 US popularity ranking: West unranked; Weston ranks #109; Westin ranks #839

Directional names seem rather stylish. So if Easton makes the Top 100, Weston can’t be far behind. And indeed, that’s true. To Americans, the West often symbolizes freedom and adventure, making the name even more meaningful. The Westin spelling brings to mind the hotel chain; West shortens things up, but would wear every bit as well.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

If Weston evokes the freedom of the American frontier, might Wheeler carry a similar vibe? To be freewheeling is to operate without constraints.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Whitaker refers to either a wheat field, or perhaps a white field. Actor Forest Whitaker lends the name some Hollywood sheen. Like so many names on this list, it feels a little bit buttoned-down, even preppy. Nickname Whit has appeal, too.


Current US popularity rank: #486
2017 US popularity ranking: #573

This is a fast-rising boy’s name, and a frequent favorite here at Appellation Mountain. Legendary writer-director Billy Wilder won Academy Awards for movies like Double Indemnity, Sabrina, Sunset Boulevard, and Some Like it Hot. Wilder feels daring, but maybe less so as it gains in use. It mixes a rugged outdoorsy can-do sensibility with a certain prep school vibe.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett pined for her neighbor, Ashley Wilkes.  Wilkes could come from a name meaning wolf, or it might be from a diminutive form of William. Today, Wilkes feels like a possible surname to promote to the first spot.  Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker have a son named James Wilkie, another possible variation of the name.


Current US popularity rank: #646
2017 US popularity ranking: #638

Honoring a grandpa Bill? Wilson is another surname derived from the evergreen William. Despite the boom in ends-with-son boy names, Wilson languishes well behind Jackson and Harrison, though still within the Top 1000. Dozens of famous Wilsons come to mind, from The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson to former US president Woodrow Wilson. While some of the -son names feel a little bit rough-and-tumble, like Lawson or Stetson, Wilson feels polished and preppy, a brother for Emerson.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

If you’ve ever caught a re-run of 1970s television staple M*A*S*H, you might connect this name with the privileged Major Winchester, called almost exclusively by his surname on the show. But that’s almost certainly forgotten. Today, Winchester fits in with our affection for names borrowed from the gun cabinet, thanks to Winchester firearms. If you’re crushed that Remington is rising, Winchester might be your name.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Winslow’s first syllable is the same element we know from Edwin- wine, friend.  With an upbeat -o sound at the end, Winslow feels like a friendly possibility, especially in our era Leo, Arlo, and Mateo. Nineteenth century landscape painter Winslow Homer lends this name an artistic vibe, and a vintage one, too. And I can’t help but think of Winslow, Arizona, the tiny town immortalized in the 1972 Eagles hit “Take It Easy.” It’s a gentle name, but one with a lot of style and strength, too.


Current US popularity rank: Winston ranks #370; Winton and Wynton are unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: Winston ranks #405; Winton and Wynton are unranked

While Winston almost inevitably brings British statesman Winston Churchill to mind, he’s not the only one. There are characters from Pulp Fiction, 1984, and Degrassi: The Next Generation, to name a few. And it’s appeared in the US Top 1000 most years, dating back well before World War II. It’s hard not to love the Win- syllable, and the name sounds capable and accomplished. Plus, it’s a place name, as in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Drop the ‘s’ and you’ll arrive at Winton, or, as jazz musician Wynton Marsalis spells it, Wynton. They’re both Old English names with similar roots, but Winton is far more rare.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Fox makes the current US Top 1000, so why not Wolf? Yes, it feels a little wild kingdom. But it’s a legit surname name, too, spelled with or without the final ‘e’. And traditional German choices like Wolfgang nudge it closer to first-name status still. CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer proves that the name wears nicely on a grown-up, and he’s not alone. It’s more popular than ever before, even though it’s still relatively uncommon.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Wyatt is right at home in the current Top 100. Wyeth sounds almost the same, but I can’t find a connection between the two. Instead, Wyeth brings to mind the family of artists – illustrator NC, and son Andrew. Artist surnames are rich with potential, from Matisse to Avedon to Kahlo. So why not Wyeth? With the ‘Th’ sound trending in names like Theodore, I think it’s a winning choice.


Current US popularity rank: unranked
2017 US popularity ranking: unranked

Is this too much like naming your child Marriott? It shares the upbeat first syllable win with Winston and company. While it’s rare, I’ve found a handful of men by the name. It’s also spelled Windham.

I’ve yet to write about Wyndham. Check back and I’ll update when I do.

Which W surname names do you like?  Are there others that should be on this list?

Originally published on March 28, 2014, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on October 8, 2018. Another update followed on September 20, 2019 and January 27, 2021.

W surname names for boys

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. My favorite Surname name for boys isn’t on this list. Whitman. Nickname Whit. I’m a writer and Leaves of Grass is extremely important to me. We considered it for our son, but it just wasn’t right. I will definitely be putting it on the table again for kid no. 2 whenever that happens.

  2. Friends of mine have a baby boy named Willett. I adore it and him. I’m also a big fan of the name Willoughby for a girl — it’s so whimsical and pretty.

    1. First thing I thought of when she said “Wilkes”!
      Ashley may have been attractive in fiction, but in real life John Wilkes Booth was the man who assassinated Lincoln, and like many famous killers is always referred to by his three names.
      I suppose it might work outside the US, but I’d question the choice here.

      1. Interesting. I don’t think of John Wilkes Booth at all … and yet maybe that’s a more common first though than Gone With the Wind …