Give us more boy name ideas!

Please lend me some inspirations, name enthusiasts! We need a lot more potential names for our son due in 8 weeks or so (!!!).

Instead of thinking of these as requirements, we're thinking of ideals or goals. We'd like a potential name to accord to some or a few or at least one of them. Some are mutually exclusive or at least close to, so according with all of them is likely not possible. They're listed in order from most to least important

1) We like names that are as international as possible. Ideally recognizable in Europe, Middle East AND South Asia. We particularly like northern European names that can travel well.

2) We like boys' names that are slightly feminine in some way. Polysyllabic, melodic, botanical, end in an A sound, or at least not aggressively male.

3) I don't like names that strike me as very British. 

4) Celtic names are nice for others but really aren't us.

5) Husband would rather not have an Old Testament or at least not very strongly associated with exclusively Jewish naming culture. This is because he, I, and daughter all have Old Testament names, so we might really sound religious, which we're not, with a fourth OT name. 

6) That said, I don't love New Testament names or at least those that would sound odd on a kid with Askenazi heritage

7) Not too popular and ideally not abiding by the -en name trend.

8) Intelligent/intellectual sounding would be great.

9) Doesn't inadvertently allude to or honor a man who is a jerk (subjective, but we mean no dictators, famous sexual harassers, right-wingers, etc. We're lefties, feminists, pacifists and travel/live abroad a lot, so we worry about names of powerful, oppressive men in other countries too). 


Names we like but can't use:

Elliot (Kinda perfect but taken by close friend)

Asher (I like in theory, but don't like trendiness and pronunciation difference between well-known Hebrew word and American name [i.e. ah-SHAIR vs. ASH-er. Just a pet peeve]).

Lawrence (sounds dignified and intelligent but maybe a bit British and too staid??).

Adrian (nicely international, polysyllabic and close to a girl's name, but a little... normal, especially in the context of the -en trend. Also taken by close friends).

Also, how would you react to a blonde white kid named Omar? It's one that's potentially quite international but may strike some as smacking of cultural appropriation or at least a bad fit.

Please give us names! Even if they only fit some of our goals. Even if you think we won't like them, please, please we need LOTS more ideas.


January 12, 2018 3:20 PM

I worked in Tanzania during graduate school. One of my favorite men's names there was Amri (AHM-ree). Also Issa and Juma (both with emphasis on the first syllable). These are unusal and international but easy to pronounce! 

January 12, 2018 3:26 PM

Issa is the Arabic form of Jesus. I don't think that's what the Dorit family is looking for. Rather than Amri, perhaps Omri which is a biblical name, but not a well-known and obvious one.

January 12, 2018 7:45 PM

Miriam, you're spot on. I love the name Issa for various aesthetic reasons and like it on others' kids, but am definitely not naming my son after Jesus! And Omri, Miriam, you're psychic. It's a name that's very dear to us. I find it friendly and sweet. In fact, I think of it as the Hebrew Henry.--better than Henry because it's not British sounding to me. Sadly, it's so dear to us in part because it belongs to a friend we really love and respect. It would be very, very weird if we were to use his name. In addition, I'd rather not use a name that's uncommon outside of Israel. I assume Omri is, but am not certain. Anyway, it's pretty much out, although you're reminding me of my deep affection for the name.

January 12, 2018 8:00 PM

Omri is the name of the child protagonist in the popular children's book and film The Indian in the Cupboard. The name is not in much use in the US, but should be familiar from the book and film.

January 12, 2018 8:19 PM

Oh yeah! I forgot about that. Just makes me love the name more. Sigh...

Are there useable variations on Omri? Omari? 

January 12, 2018 9:13 PM

There is an African-American actor named Omari.

January 18, 2018 6:21 PM

That's cool. I'll look into him!

January 12, 2018 3:22 PM

 In place of Elliott, perhaps Ellis which, like Elliot, is also a form of Eliyahu/Elijah.

January 12, 2018 7:57 PM

Thanks Miriam. Somehow Ellis just doesn't have the appeal. Not melodic and multi-syllabic enough. 

January 12, 2018 7:41 PM

I think it would be nice to have another OT  name - it would be nice to match

what about Eli instead of Elliott,  pity you have issues with Asher - its lovely

Omar I dont think would work

Ethan, Aaron, Jared, Jesse, Josiah, Joel, Levi, Michael, Noah, Reuben, Zachary, Micah, Noah, Tobias, Nathan, Zachary, Seth, Simon, Adam, Daniel, Joshua, David, Ariel, Benjamin, Ezra, Dathan, Jadon, Jarah, Joash, Jonah, Jonathan, Lemuel, Micaiah, Samuel, Shiloh, Simeon, Tobiah, Zion Gabriel


January 12, 2018 8:03 PM

Thanks Suzanne. 

So you don't think all of us having OT names would be too much? I know OT names travel outside religious circle, obviously, but I feel like with me having Ashkenazi background and all of us having OT names, people would assume we were religious. But maybe I don't care. 

Can you tell me why Omar doesn't work for you? Too non-Caucasian or some such?

Thanks for the OT name suggestions!

January 12, 2018 9:09 PM

My association with Omar is Gen. Omar Bradley fwiw.

January 13, 2018 11:52 AM

Yes, I also thought of Omar Bradley. The other one that came to mind was Omar Sharif.

January 12, 2018 11:10 PM

No I dont think it would be too much all having OT names.  Yes I just think it too non-Causasian

January 13, 2018 12:00 PM

I agree, I don't think it would be too much having all OT names.  I can think of a family with all OT names, and they are not religious and do not have any Jewish background-and nobody seems to think much about it or make any assumptions.

I think the trick is finding the right OT names.  Several have moved into such common usage that I don't think they scream "religious" to most people any more.  So long as your kids names are on-trend and reasonably part of the Biblical revival group of names, my guess is most people won't make assumptions.  

January 12, 2018 8:46 PM

I think Gabriel came up before, and I know it's an OT name, but I was thinking that the variant Gavriel might tick some of your boxes: lyrical-sounding, doesn't end in -n, no bad associations that I know of (the only namesake I can think of is Guy Gavriel Kay; the only bad thing I know about him is that I find some of his books kind of boring), strikes me as kind of intellectual-sounding (the kind of name my faculty colleagues might choose), not British-sounding or Celtic. I think in the US it probably doesn't scream "Old Testament" the way a name like Elijah or Zechariah would, but that might be different in Israel. I'm also not sure how different the Hebrew pronunciation is from the default American pronunciation (I'm guessing at least the vowels are a little different). I don't know how well the full name would travel in Asia, but I think the nickname Gav would be pretty portable, especially if you're flexible about how the vowel is said.

I think to some extent the OT issue is going to depend on the names in question. If you're talking about John, Sarah, and Hannah, I doubt most folks would even notice the connection, and you could safely go with even Ezekiel or Jedidiah or whatever and most folks would just think it was a stylistic mis-match. To me, names that are a bit out-of-step generationally sound the most "religious", like maybe if you're a Ruth and your husband is Elijah and daughter is Esther. That's my perspective as someone outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition, living in the US, so maybe this would be different in the Jewish or Christian communities.

Along the same lines as Gav, perhaps Kaz? It's not very common as a given name, but as a nickname it's very international (it can be short for Casimir and variants, a whole bunch of Japanese Kaz- names, and various Kaz- surnames; Wikipedia also says it's a variant form of the Ashkenazi surname Katz). (Somewhat ironically, it appears that the origin of Casimir is a couple of name elements that mean something like destroy + peace/world where the Kaz- part is the destructive part, while Kazu in Japanese names usually means either "first" or "peace".) I recently re-read a sudsy British novel where a key plot point turned on an off-stage character named Kaz being female, so it feels a little more unisex to me now than when I think of it mainly as a name for elderly Japanese Americans :).

I think we had a discussion about the ethnic associations for the name Omar, which turned out to be all over the map for folks here (my first association is a Pilipino American friend, second is the Persian poet, third is the Egyptian actor, and fourth is the Anglo American general). I don't think it would be a problem.

January 12, 2018 10:44 PM

Thanks nedibles! Gabriel is pretty great. And I agree it would travel pretty well and isn't too tied to the Old Testament. Added ot the list. 

Kaz is interesting but not too appealing to me. Right idea.

I must have missed the previous Omar discussion. Or I've forgotten. I swear my memory is wonky, especially on this whole naming thing. I do like that the association is so international. 

January 15, 2018 1:54 PM

Another along the lines of Gabriel/Gavriel is Gael! 

January 18, 2018 6:25 PM

Is that a Catalan name? 

January 19, 2018 9:54 AM

Behind the Name says it's French (Breton). It is popular throughout Spain at the moment. I looked at the Spanish statistics and the average age of holders of this name is 5 (!) so I expect its popularity comes from Mexican actor Gael García Bernal. 

January 12, 2018 9:04 PM

I’m going to be the middle ground between Suzanne and your concerns. I don’t think 2 OT children names are necessarily too religious, but it really depends what names you’re using. I know Asher’s out, but I think that’s a good example of a name that‘s “OT but not too OT,” because it also has origins as an English surname. I also think 2 parents + 2 kids registers differently than 4 (or even 3) kids. 

If you choose an OT name with a reasonably “in style” sound, I think it could still work. If you choose a particularly unusual OT name, then yeah, I’m going to assume you’re religious.

I do think Omar reads as non-white, and I’d be pretty surprised to see it on a white, blonde-haired boy. Also, the first thing that pops up for me online (Siri) with just “Omar” is the Pulse Nightclub shooter. To me that’s a huge no, but you might feel differently.

Suggestions: Lucas (too NT?), Solomon, Zachary, Alexander, Miles, Jasper, Harrison. 

January 12, 2018 10:46 PM

Thanks NoakQuade. I guess I don't think the Pulse shooter association will be too strong, since Omar's such a widely-used and well-recognized name. But it is something to keep in mind. Can't get much worse than that association. 

Lucas I do like aesthetically. I don't think of it as NT, although Luke, yes. But it's a bit too trendy for me. 

January 13, 2018 7:10 AM

Oh, I agree the Pulse shooter isn’t a strong association for the name, and that there are many more Omars to counteract that. I don’t think I worded that as well as I should’ve. I wouldn’t immediately think of the shooter upon being introduced to an Omar (unlike Dylann, that spelling). It’s just you mentioned not wanting negative associations, so I thought I’d bring it up. I think it’s a name where it doesn’t have to be an issue if you feel comfortable with it (which it sounds like you do).

By EVie
January 12, 2018 10:16 PM

The name that really jumps out at me is Alexander. It doesn't fit the "not too popular" criterion, but it hits most of the others. Highly international and recognizable, especially across Europe and the Middle East. Polysyllabic. I wouldn't describe it as feminine (especially given the Greek meaning), but it's not aggressively masculine; I find the full name has a decidedly intellectual tone, and Alex as a nickname is pretty androgynous these days. If you want to go even more androgynous, there's Sandy. My preferred nickname, Alec, has a more British vibe, but on the flip side, it also has a softer, more bookish feel. It's not Celtic, nor New Testament, nor Old Testament, but it's on the list of acceptable names for observant Jews, so would fit in no problem with your heritage. And while I'm sure there are many jerk Alexanders somewhere out there, it's one of those names with such a long history of use that it isn't irrevocably associated with one of them. 

Other thoughts: If you like Lawrence but aren't sure about the English-ness, how about the French Laurent? Riffing on that, there is also Florent, which sounds even gentler due to the floral derivation, or Florian/Florien. I feel in general, French names come across as softer/more feminine to English speakers, so maybe that's an area to explore? Etienne, Alain, Camille, Clement, Corentin (a Breton name that I really like and always forget exists), Corin, Cyril, Eugene, Gilbert, Isidore, Jerome, Josselin/Joscelin (I really like this as a very androgynous choice for a boy!), Jules, Lucian/Lucien, Marcel, Martin, Pascal, Remy. 

I'll also throw out Ambrose. And I think we may have discussed this in your last thread, but many of the OT -el names seem like they would fit the more gentle style you're looking for. Ariel in particular comes to mind, but also Gabriel.

I'm honestly not sure whether a white kid named Omar would be judged as cultural appropriation. Behind the Name tells me that it's Hebrew and in the Old Testament in addition to the more familiar Arabic usage & derivation, so in my opinion, you are more than entitled to use it. However, as recent discussions elsewhere on the forum have demonstrated, people sometimes make judgments about cultural appropriation etc. without all the background information at their disposal, and reasonable people disagree on to what degree we should accommodate those potential (mis)judgments and sensitivities in our naming decisions. To make things more confusing, different cultures seem to have different attitudes toward appropriation, and borrowing from one culture may be seen as appropriation while from another it's seen as homage/respect.

January 12, 2018 10:54 PM

Thanks EVie!

Yes, Alexander is pretty perfect. Talk about a name that has literally travelled from West to East across Europe, the ME and South Asia! Yes, it gets translated into Iskander in India, (and I don't love Iskander), but I still think it's extremely widely known. I also love that it's ok in terms of observant Jews (they have a list? I'll have to Google).

French names are a great idea. I like Florien a lot. Etienne is pretty great too (It's Ethan, right? So OT). Corentin is awesome as is Corin. Marcel is great. Martin too. Hmmm... 

Did we talk about -el names before? I swear I'm losing it. And Omar too. Hmmm.


By EVie
January 12, 2018 11:17 PM

I thought the -el names came up before, but maybe I'm mixing up my posts.

Etienne is Stephen, so technically New Testament, of Greek origin.

I know Miriam has mentioned Alexander as being one of the rare non-Hebrew names on the list of 150 or so allowable Hebrew names. I googled and found this nice explanation of the history behind it:

January 13, 2018 2:38 AM

I have a whole bunch of bones to pick with the website EVie notes. First of all, Jewish names fall into two categories, shem kodesh (holy names) and shem kinnui (vernacular names), not the mish-mash that author invents. Every male Jewish infant should receive a shem kodesh, selected from the roughly 150 accceptable names, at the time of his circumcision. Not all biblical names are accceptable--pre-Abrahamic names and the names of "bad" characters were not used.  Shortly after the founding of the State of Israel, people started to use names like Yuval and Nimrod, because it was felt in some quarters that Yitzhak and Moshe were literally too ghetto. Then the child could receive a shem kinnui, a vernacular name, if the family interacted with the broader non-Jewish culture. Female children could be named anything, since female names do not have religious significance.

Then there are errors in the discussion of specific names. For example, John is the English form of Yohanon and is just as suitable as Solomon for Shlomo. Mary/Maria are used for Miriam: remember it doesn't much matter what girls are named. Jews in the medieval Islamic world did use the name of the Prophet as a shem kinnui. That, of course, would not fly today.

However, the explanation of Alexander is correct. The article could have noted that among Ashkenazim Alexander usually appears as the Yiddish Sender, as in the surname Senderowitz, and of course there is Bernie Sanders.

By EVie
January 13, 2018 9:42 AM

Thanks for clarifying, Miriam. It seems the rules of Jewish naming are widely misunderstood, even among rabbis. I have heard it expressed elsewhere (e.g. among Jewish friends) that names like John, Mary and Christopher are inappropriate choices for Jews, so I suspect there are some modern cultural mores creeping in there that aren't actually Jewish law. I was also a bit confused by his labeling certain names as "pareve"--I understand the term as it applies to food, but when he says that Cynthia and Martin are *not* pareve, does he mean they're even worse because  they refer to heathen gods? (Which clearly is not a concern for all Jews--Karyn, I'm thinking of you). 

January 13, 2018 10:54 AM

Yes, there is a lot of confusion, even among those who should know better. I once had an online exchange with someone purporting to be a rabbi. We were discussing an article about father and son,  both named Haim. The rabbi claimed that the article must be bogus because father and son cannot have the same name. Um, they were Sephardim, and Sephardim name their children after the living. The rabbi didn't know that.

in general, assimilated American Jews have a vague notion of Jewish naming customs. If they are Ashkenazim, they know that children are named for the deceased family members, and they have the idea that "naming after" means choosing a name with the same initial. In fact, the son should be given the shem kodesh of the deceased forebear and if needed, a shem kinnui that usually refers to the shem kodesh by sound or by meaning. Girls can be named for the deceased or really anything at all. For example, there was a medieval woman named Licorice (yes, like Twizzlers) of Winchester, not exactly biblical.

There is no reason to boycott John and Mary while accepting other Greek variants of Hebrew names (James, Joseph). I would certainly not use Christopher or Christian. In fact, Christian/Chretien was a name given to converts during the Middle Ages. OTOH my classmates who were born in Europe during WWII were given names like Anthony and Patrick as camouflage. 

Names are not pareve. I gather the author means names that are not English variants of Hebrew biblical names on the one hand or specifically associated with another religion OTOH. He apparently means that names derived from pagan gods are in the same no-no category as Christopher. To put it mildly, he is not well informed. Mordechai, the name of a major character in the Book of Esther and a popular name to this day, is derived from the name of the god Marduk. Presumably Mordechai had a shem kodesh, but AFAIK it hasn't been preserved. OTOH we know that Esther, an Indo-European "star" name, had a Hebrew name as well, Hadassah, the word for the myrtle plant.




January 13, 2018 12:35 AM

yes Daniel, Samuel, Gabriel, Ezekiel Lemuel, Nathaniel Zuriel Michael Joel Adiel Abel Amiel Jahzeel Jemuel  Hillel Azarel Abiel Uriel Reuel Azriel Abimael Azel  Immanuel Jahleel  Jehiel Kemuel Othniel Penuel Uzziel


Jamin Areli  Cyrus Dan Elah Elam Elon Enoch Gideon Haran Hiram Hirah Jabin Jachin Jared Javan Jeconiah Jedidiah Jeriah Jesse Jethro Joktan Jotham Judah Kenan Levi Mahlah Malachi Matthan Abidan Abijah Achan Adino Allon Amal Ami Amnon Amos Moses Anan Anath Aran Arieh Azariah Cain Caleb Canaan David Nahum Nehemiah Nekoda Neriah Noah Nimrod Obed Obediah Perez Phinehas Samson Saul Seth Shemer Tekoa Teman Tiras Tobiah Uri Uriah Uzziah Zaccai Zachariah Zadok Zalmon Zebediah Zebulun Zechariah Zedekiah Zephaniah Zerah Zimri Zion Ziba Oren

January 13, 2018 1:13 AM

It appears in the New Testament, but those characters are massively overshadowed as namesakes by Alexander the Great, a non-biblical historical figure (the biblical folks probably would not have been named Alexander if not for the Great), so I would not think of it as a biblical, New Testament name. (Except for someone who is specifically looking for a New Testament connection, in which case it totally counts.)

January 14, 2018 3:25 AM

If you like Asher, you might like Archer. In place of Omar, Amir?






















January 14, 2018 1:24 PM

Interesting ideas! What's their derivation?

January 14, 2018 1:26 PM

How about some European boy names that transcend ethnic and religious communities?

January 14, 2018 1:50 PM

I think there are two large categories of names that meet those criteria: the old Roman Latin names and the bithematic Germanic names which have variants in most/all European languages. E.g., Julius, Jules, Julio, Julian and William, Willem, Wilhelm, Guillaume, Guillermo, Liam, etc.

January 15, 2018 12:29 PM

Miriam, I think you're onto something. Can you suggest a few more examples to prompt my continued searching? 

Edited to add another question: Some Roman names feel a little odd on a part-Ashkenazi kid. The whole destruction of the temple and all. Am I being silly? Especially since we're not at all Jewish in a religious sense, and in fact are atheists. My mom is Ashkenazi (raised Jewish, named appropriately etc.) and I feel like honoring that as an ethnic/cultural heritage and at least leaving the option open to my kids to identify as Jewish if they choose too. (I always say I'm Jew-ish, emphasis on the -ish) 

January 15, 2018 1:48 PM

The Julius family of names is probably the most popular group of Roman names among Jews. Think Groucho Marx.

Roman names were common among the women of my family. My grandmothers chose Cecilia and Celia and my mother was Sylvia.

January 15, 2018 2:59 PM

Thanks. The Groucho ratification helps a lot! 

January 15, 2018 6:49 AM

I'm going to ignore your religious criteria as I have no religious background whatsoever and focus on the rest (so apologies if you have to filter out undesireables).

First, my favourite suggestion you've received has probably been Florian, which is unambiguously male but sounds very female in English, which could be a nice middle ground for you. I also really like Gabriel and Marcel.

Favourite soft-sounding male names are Vincent, Emmanuel (too religious?) and Clement. In that vein, I also quite like Clarence, which sounds as though it should be a virtue name. Among the botanicals, Juniper was gender neutral for most of its history, although it leans firmly girl at the moment. 

I think I suggested Theodore last time and you felt it was maybe too British? I can't help but feel it's a great, soft, dignified male name... would losing the h or the final e or both, to arrive at another European variant, help?

Gilbert to me is British in sound but Anne of Green Gables in connotation (a fairly feminist character), and I feel like Gil could be an easy international-use name.

Other short names (often really good for international portability, although there is an extra risk that they mean something in another language): Dev (an Indian name that I think sounds perfectly at home in Western contexts; Dev Patel is my main reference and I've always found him fairly charming), Bram (popular in the Netherlands, has always sounded soft and pleasing to me), Merle (soft, and as the French word for blackbird, coincidentally nature-related).

Randoms that strike me as intellectual, non-macho: Balthasar, Melchior (can you tell I just finished celebrating Kings day?) Francis, Anton, Milan.

January 15, 2018 7:29 AM

I don't know much about Jewish/Middle Eastern names, but I'm going to zero in on a few other points.  Particularly on the Europe/South Asia front: how do you like Kiran?  Indian name which is pronounced identically to the Celtic name Ciarán.  Yes, I know you said Celtic names are not your vibe, but Kiran is an outstanding boundary-crossing name. Then there is Ashwin: an Indian name that sounds vaguely English and blends into our naming landscape seamlessly.  Distinctive, but not entirely foreign-sounding becasue of similarity to Asher, Edwin, etc.   Another boundary-crosser.

Another vote for Alexander which hits all your points!  And while Middle East names are not my forté, Abraham/Ibrahim nickname Bram might hit all your sweet spots. 

And on more (USA) familiar ground..... David?



By EVie
January 15, 2018 10:58 AM

Ashwin actually IS an English name! And I've always loved it as a cross-cultural choice. It's the modern English form of an Anglo-Saxon name (originally spelled Æscwine, meaning "ash-tree-friend") that belonged to a couple of 6th/7th century kings. (Miriam, you may correct any mistakes here as usual). It has survived in the modern form as a surname.

January 15, 2018 11:38 AM

Great ideas!!! Kiran and Ashwin!! Amazing cross-over names. And Kiran is gender neutral (see novelist Kiran Desai, a woman). Ashwin is so close to Ashwini, the female version of the name. 

Bram rocks. I think I'm going to seriously consider it.

January 15, 2018 11:41 AM

Thanks Emily!

Yes, I'm loving Florian. Gabriel and Marcel are great too. Others I like are Gilbert, Bram and omg Merle!!! That's a pretty awesome name. I've seen it on a girl--pronounced more like Mayr-luh. Balthasar I like a lot too.

Francis--My nearly three-year-old daughter is actually very adamant that this is the new baby's name because she had a friend (a little girl) named Frances from her preschool. I'm a sucker for my daughter's wishes (the number of times we let the kid make decisions about what we do in a day is truly alarming), and I like Francis well enough. My question on this one is, doesn't it scream Catholic? 

Anton also sounds Catholic to me. If it weren't I'd be into it. Milan I like, as long as people don't think of it as a place name (shudder--another personal no-no). 


Edited to add: Dev means God, straight up. We're actually atheists, so that would be odd. 

January 15, 2018 1:19 PM

How about Alexander nicknamed Sasha? Francis does read Catholic to me, but Anton doesn't.

January 15, 2018 3:02 PM

I love Sasha. (Or Sascha). It's European and also very gender-neutral. That's very, very high on our list!

January 15, 2018 4:48 PM

I know two male Sashas in their 30s (one short for Alexander and the other a birth certificate Sasha) and it works very well for both of them.

January 17, 2018 12:33 AM

This was my first thought for you as I read through your post, so glad it was mentioned. I also loved the suggestion of Marcel.

January 18, 2018 6:24 PM

OK, I know that this question has been asked a million times over on here, but... My husband strongly dislikes the nicknames for Alexander other than Sasha. He would be in favor of just putting the latter on the birth certificate, but I like the leeway the full name would give our son. Do you think we could strongly encourage the kid to be basically named Sasha --at least during childhood--if Alexander were his official name? 

January 19, 2018 3:20 PM

I think that you'd have a fair chance of Sasha sticking through childhood if you call him by it all the time and introduce him as Sasha when you meet people, because if everyone's calling him that then it's likely to be what feels like his name and the other Alexander nicknames won't. Of course there's no guarantee (which you seem to realise).