More Names Like Miles and Brooks: The Search for Alternatives

Jun 21st 2017


Some baby names have a special spark. They hit a style bullseye and make us wish, "If only there were more names like that!"

Our "Alternatives" series looks at these objects of desire, the baby names that send waves of parents to the Internet searching for more of the same. In reviewing the more-like-that names I noticed two with a lot in common, Miles and Brooks. They're both fashionable boys' names with some obvious similarities, but also key differences that give each a unique impact.

First, the common ground. Miles and Brooks are:

1. One-syllable names ending in S;

2. Formal, sophisticated names with no obvious nicknames;

3. Not -S extensions of classic male names (a la Williams, Adams);

4. Familiar with a traditional but uncommon feeling, thanks to long histories of occasional use with a few prominent examples;

5. Enjoying a new level of popularity today.

That's a lot for any pair of names to have in common. I'm sure that many parents who like one of the names are also drawn to the other. Yet no two names are alike, and even these two diverge in surprisingly significant ways:

1. Surname style. While Miles exists as a surname it is an age-old given name, a form of Milo. Brooks is a transferred surname, and that origin is front-and-center in its style.

2. Miles Davis vs. Brooks Brothers, aka jazzy vs preppy. Legendary clothier Brooks Brothers roots the name Brooks firmly in the world of blue blazers and blue blood. Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis pulls Miles in a more artistic direction.

3. All-American vs. more global. Brooks has mostly been used in the U.S. and Canada. Even its blue-blood image is of the American variety; note that Brooks Brothers bills itself as "the original authority on American style." The name Miles has a more global style, and is as much English as American.

4. Smooth vs. crisp. Miles is all smooth, worldly elegance. Brooks is crisp, crackling and precise.

Together Miles and Brooks lay out a spectrum of style, all within the narrow realm of classic, formal one-syllable male names ending in s. In hunting for names with similar appeal, I've divided the prospects into three groups: the smooth, artistic international given names; the crisp, preppy American surnames; and the cross-appeal names that could lure in parents coming from either direction.

SMOOTH, ARTISTIC, INTERNATIONAL GIVEN NAMES
Blaise
Giles
Graeme
Ives
Jules
Niels/Nils
Piers
Rhys

FLEXIBLE CROSS-APPEAL
Ames
Clemens
Davis
Eames
Gaines
Gray
Haines
Hayes
Hobbes
Keats
Mills
Pryce
Reeve/Reeves
Rhodes
Travers
Welles/Wells

CRISP, PREPPY, AMERICAN SURNAME
Banks
Barnes
Collins
Gates
Jenkins
Jennings
Oakes
Parks
Stiles
Wilkes
Yates

 

Read More: More Names Like Scarlett: The Search for Alternatives

 

 

 

 

Comments

1
June 21, 2017 9:00 PM

Am I missing something? How do Graeme, Gray, and Reeve fit into the category of classic, formal one-syllable male names ending in -s?

Not to mention the bunch of two-syllable names: Davis, Clemens, Jennings, Travers, and so forth.

So exactly what is the category under discussion?

2
June 21, 2017 10:27 PM

Miriam, the target isn't a category per se so much as a style/feeling match.

In general, categories are easier for parents to research. If you know that you're looking for, say, an Irish saint's name, you can just look up a list of Irish saints. The search for "more names like X" is trickier, especially since people have a lot of trouble articulating exactly what appeals to them about a name. (Inevitably they fall back on "it sounds strong.")

3
June 22, 2017 11:20 AM

If so, then why write "a spectrum of style, all within the narrow realm of classic, formal one-syllable male names ending in s," and then list a bunch of names not on that narrowly drawn style spectrum? Perhaps the style you are suggesting should have been more broadly drawn or, conversely the examples listed been chosen to conform to the description as narrowly drawn.

4
June 22, 2017 11:59 AM

@Miriam, consider the sibling naming case. If parents already have a son named Miles and are looking for a second boy's name, they're likely to look for "more names like Miles" -- but they'll want to match the style and NOT the sound. A name like Jules will usually be rejected as too close or "matchy-matchy," whereas a non -s name like Graeme could be a better fit.

When I put together match/sibling/"more like this" lists I purposely try to include a range of options that match different aspects of the starter name. It may make the list look less thematically pure, but it's more helpful for these real-life family situations. (For example, my current computer model says that the best matches for Jayden are Brayden, Kayden, Jaylen, Cayden and Aiden. That may be accurate, but not very helpful in terms of idea generation!)

5
June 22, 2017 12:42 PM

My issue is that Miles and Brooks are *very* different names - they have nothing in common other the superficial "one syllable ending in s". Even the one syllable part is debatable - the way I say it, Miles has 1.5-verging-on-2 syllables. Thus, to me, the names listed as "flexible cross-appeal" don't. Appeal, that is.

I do get that "more names like..." can be Hard, especially if you can't quite articulate what it was about the first name that you liked. The Name Matchmaker tool can be useful, although it, too, will suggest Brayden and Aiden if you ask for names like Jayden, which - as you said - is hardly helpful.

6
June 22, 2017 3:17 PM

Laura, I get that. My issue is that you set up a very specific and by your own admission narrow set of criteria, and then proceeded to ignore them. If you had omitted all that business about one-syllable, formal, ending in s and just stuck to your three types of"feel,"there would be no contradiction or confusion.

7
June 23, 2017 8:37 AM

Huh. Brooks, to me, has nothing to do with Brooks Brothers, and EVERYTHING to do with Herb Brooks, the head coach of the "Miracle on Ice" hockey team. If you look at NameVoyager, there's a distinct bump the year of their victory. He remained a prominent hockey coach the rest of his life, and literally everyone I know, or know of, with this name is named after him. This includes well-known NHL players Brooks Orpik and Brooks Laich.