66 Fresh Masculine-Sounding Surnames

Oct 8th 2015


Why is Addison now a girl's name while Harrison is still all male? The answer is in the nicknames. Addison trims down to girlish Addie, Harrison to boyish Harry.

In the new unisex world of surname baby names, a name's root can be destiny. Names like Jefferson and Finnegan are anchored to the male side by the familiar nicknames Jeff and Finn. Even without nicknames, a hard-edged start can make a name like Braxton distinctly male.

If you like surnames with a classically masculine sound, check out the names below.  All are familiar as surnames but uncommon as baby names, and are built off roots that signal "boy." Those roots set the names' style for today, and make them likely bets to keep that style for the long term.

Axton
Bartlett
Benton
Bowman
Bradshaw
Brigham
Brockman
Cabot
Clarkson
Clifton
Colson
Danson
Davison
Decker
Edgerton
Edison
Fielding
Fordham
Garrison
Gibson
Hampton
Hardison
Harriman
Harrington
Hawkins
Hobson
Hodges
Jackman
Judson
Kennison
Kirkland
Lockwood
Manning
Markham
Maxfield
Mitchum
Nicholson
Nixon
Packard
Peterson
Pierson
Richmond
Robinson
Rockwell
Rodman
Rossiter
Ruston
Sampson
Spellman
Standish
Stanton
Stevenson
Stockton
Strickland
Thompson
Thornton
Tillman
Timlin
Timmons
Tompkins
Walton
Watkins
Watson
Whitman
Wickham
Wilton

 

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Surnames that still sound like surnames

Comments

1
October 8, 2015 2:42 PM

The vast majority of these names feel right on the money.  I can imagine babies with nearly all of these.  Nixon jumps out.  I feel like that name has all the right surname qualities, but has far too much baggage for an infant.  I confess, I was far too young to remember the scandal, but the name Nixon just stands out as presidential in a way "Carter" doesn't.

2
October 8, 2015 7:39 PM

Megan, that makes sense to me too but surprisingly Nixon is the most popular name on the list!

3
October 8, 2015 8:38 PM

There were 22 girls named Nixon last year, too!

4
October 8, 2015 11:07 PM

I don't get it. Is there a pop culture reference I'm missing? Is it the Mad Men effect? Funny aside: my first political memory is from the day Nixon resigned. The news came over the radio and my mom made my brother and me stop talking. We asked what had happened and she told us the president had quit. We asked why and she turned around (we were in the car), gave us a stern look, and said, "Because he lied." I realize that most people naming babies are at least a decade (or two!) younger than I am, but I am surprised that Nixon's image is such that people think the name is a good choice. I guess that stylish 'x' is really powerful!

5
October 9, 2015 9:15 AM

Elizabeth, we must be the same age because my earliest political memory is of a bunch of grownups talking about "Watergate" while I tried to imagine what a gate for water would look like! So no, no Nixon for me, either.

I'm pretty confident that the use of the baby name is totally apolitical, just like the way the name Kennedy is most popular in red states. It's familiar 2-syllable -n name with an x in it, that's enough for many parents.

6
October 9, 2015 10:48 AM

I would expect that it helps that there are just a lot of other people with the surname Nixon, too. I don't have relationships to any of them, but I expect usage of Nixon as a given name started out with reasoning of "not like the lying president; like Great-Aunt Erma's surname." -- and now that there is an increasing pool of first-name-Nixons out there, that further dilutes the association, too.

7
October 9, 2015 12:35 PM

One of my cousins named his baby Oliver earlier this year and my mom wrinkled her nose and said, "That's an old man's name!" It's all relative, but I'm still surprised about Nixon. 

8
October 9, 2015 1:01 PM

The reasoning behind why these might skew heavily male makes a lot of sense.  Aside from Nixon, the only one that stands out to me as having a potential usability problem is Brigham.  You would have to use it advisedly, because it shouts "Mormon" - which might be perfect if you are Mormon, but otherwise could lead to a lifetime of incorrect assumptions.

9
October 13, 2015 3:38 PM

'Brockman' is Lionel Richie's middle name and I have a stuffed animal called 'Richmond'. Most of these names can be shortened to Rick, Ken and similar.

10
By mk
October 14, 2015 1:31 PM

Nixon isn't as surprising when you consider that Watergate occurred in the early 1970s and he resigned in 1974. Anyone under the age of 41 was not alive then and probably did not learn about it in history because it was "too recent." So they probably have some vague idea of a hotel and a scandal but no real connection to it. That plus it is not that uncommon of a surname.

11
By mac
October 14, 2015 2:32 PM

I personally know young boys named Brigham, Gibson, Pierson, and Nixon (which surprised me, because of the political connection. I wasn't born yet, but it's still the first thing I think of when I hear Nixon!) Nixon is like Ivan for me--hits all the right style notes, but has a negative historical connotation that ruins the "baby" potential. 

Anyway, I also know sisters named Remington and Brixton, which I think could fit on this list. Can you tell I'm from the hyper trendy baby name West?

12
October 14, 2015 3:39 PM

Am I the only one who doesn't like this surname trend? It just seems so meaningless to me. Like, I'd assume that a baby with a surname-as-firstname is named after a last name in his/her maternal line. But, no, in these cases it's just "we liked the sound of it." Beyond meaningless, actually, because a lot of these names have meanings, many of them occupations, many of them occupations that aren't particularly glamorous. Am I just a spoilsport?

13
October 14, 2015 4:33 PM

Dorit, no, you're not the only one, but we're definitely in the minority, and it's a trend that's been going on for centuries, so it's a totally losing battle.

Someday, someone will explain to me the appeal of calling a child "barrel-maker" or "stone-worker"; personally, I just don't get it. The placename-names are generally further removed from their origins, so their appeal as "label for this person" is more understandable, though still not my style. But don't even get me started on "so-and-so's son", especially for girls....

14
October 14, 2015 6:07 PM

"But don't even get me started on "so-and-so's son", especially for girls...." Hear, hear!

15
By mk
October 15, 2015 1:00 PM

Personally, I think chosing a name because you love the sound is meaningful and more important than whether it means "son of" or "stone-worker". I love learning about etymology but not everyone does.

Exceptions are if the name is offensive to a particular culture. I do think people should be aware of that.

16
October 27, 2015 9:31 PM

Glad to see my married surname on the list because it means if our daughter chooses to change her last name she could use it as a child's name to connect to her maiden name. I always think it's sweet when mothers do that. I nearly did that with my maiden name, Kirby. Surprised it's not on the list because it seems pretty masculine to me.

All that being said, I'm not a surname namer by any means, but at least it's available for my kids if they want it :)

17
October 28, 2015 12:27 PM

As we know, even with male nicknames, it doesn't stop the girls. Finnegan Biden is the daughter of Hunter Biden, granddaughter of VP Joe Biden, named after his mother's maiden name. My son is named Field, but we know of a girl named Field, too. I know of a girl named Garrison and one named Coleman. There's a female reporter named Harris Faulkner...and so on.  Regardless, I love surnames-as-first-names on boys and girls, and I do think most work for both. But I prefer that a masculine-sounding surname-as-first-name be paired with a more feminine-sounding middle name on a girl. Soleil Moon Frye's daughter's name Jagger Joseph Blue gets under my skin for that reason!

18
October 30, 2015 5:27 PM

Holey, I dont agree with you in the "Brigham" name area. My son Brigham is seven years old, and my family is a very proud Anglican-Catholic believer. Me and my husband Joshua love our naming choice for our first son, and i dont think i will ever regret it. I do agree with the rest of your comment, though.

-Avion and Josh, a couple with 3 baby boys, Troy, Lachlan and Brigham with two beautiful girls on the way!(Josepha and Christianne)

R.I.P To our three sons who didnt make it after three, Cameron, Jesse and Emmanuel. 

19
November 4, 2015 12:51 AM

I think is funny that you mentioned the name 'Braxton' is distinctly male, I have only ever met one Braxton in my life and it was a young girl who recently turned 10. I honestly didn't know that it was used for mostly just boys, but then again, I didn't know that people named their daughters names like James and Michael. 

20
November 10, 2015 4:30 PM

Last name as first name for girls and boys is very popular where I live (Texas.) I know a family of girls named Clayton, Chapman, and Hollings. Their cousins are Ligon and Barrett. I know brothers named Forbes, Baxter, and Tinsley. I always thought Tinsley sounded more like a girl's  name. I could make a long list of last names, occupation names, and "son of"  names that are popular here but maybe not widely-used in other states (Wells, Hill, Knox, Ford, Pierce, etc.)

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About 10 years ago, I met someone whose young son was named Nixon. He was kind of a "junior" -- his dad was Nick. Get it? Nick's son! 

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