Autumn-Inspired Names for Boys

Sep 19th 2016

The fall season is upon us, full of changing colors and dynamic weather. With the change outdoors, let’s turn our attention to names, new and old, that reflect this lovely time of year. Some are inspired by colors, some by natural elements, but each name is a timely choice for any autumn baby boy!


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Crispin. One of the most-recommended autumn baby names, Crispin hits all the right notes. First and foremost, its sound is crisp, like fall winds and ripe apples. St. Crispin’s Day, immortalized in Shakespeare’s Henry V, takes place on October 25th - another timely connection. While the name has never been recorded in the top 1000, Crispin’s n-ending and two-syllable cadence fit in well with popular boys’ names of today.

Jorah. An uncommon Biblical name, Jorah is a great alternative to similar-sounding Noah or Jonah. It means “early rain” in Hebrew - hence its addition to this list - but isn’t too difficult for English-speaking audiences. Jorah has gained pop culture credibility recently through its use in mega-hit Game of Thrones; unlike Khaleesi or Daenerys, however, Jorah is historically strong enough to stand the test of time.

Cedar. Another natural choice, Cedar is both pleasantly scented and visually stimulating, calling to mind pretty fall leaves and attractive wooden creations. Like Ash, Oak, or Birch (mentioned below), it belongs to a category of names now rising through the ranks - boyish, environmentally-friendly choices. Cedar has been used since the early 1970’s, and may hit the top 1000 soon, with over 150 Cedar’s born last year.

Ambrose. Visually, Ambrose reminds one of shining amber or bubbling ambrosia. But this classic boy’s name is more than just handsome - it ranked on the top 1000 from 1880 to 1954, and there have been five saint Ambrose’s recognized by the Catholic Church. It also has distinct literary integrity via Evelyn Waugh and Brian Jacques. Ambrose may be a unique choice compared with today’s trends, but it has a kind of substance and poise all its own.

Brock. Rugged and boyish, Brock is popular enough to be in the top 500. Prevalence aside, the name has an autumnal energy augmented by the apple variety - “a modern American apple” - and its etymological meaning of “badger” (which reminds me of Wind in the Willows, personally). It’s also a “modern American” name, having only been recorded in the last century.

Sylvan. While feminine Sylvia has long been a favorite of American name records, this masculine option has yet to make such a mark. Sylvan - “of the woods” - is both classic in its historicity and modern in its trendy ends-in-an sound. It offers cute nicknames Sly or Van, and could be a unique way to honor a familial Sylvester.

Copper. The most famous Copper may be the pup in Disney’s The Fox and the Hound, but as a name, Copper is fit for human attire. The metallic orange hue fits in with trendy names like Scarlett or Jasper, and the friendly cadence mirrors Cooper or Carter. While “copper” can also be a slang term for policeman, it’s rarely used that way today. If you’re looking for a name that’s recognizable but quirky and unique, Copper is an excellent choice!

Leif. Another name that feels eternally autumnal, Leif is light but substantial enough for any little one. The name ranked briefly from the 1960’s through the 1980’s, yet it was never ubiquitous enough to seem dated today. Namesakes abound, from explorer Leif Erikson to heartthrob Leif Garrett, making this a great choice for all kinds of personalities and backgrounds. The Leaf spelling may be a bit outside the norm, but it’s also been used on and off since 1971.

Auburn. The girls may have claimed Aubrey, but colorful Auburn works well for the boys. The “burn” ending has a fiery, masculine energy, and sounds a bit like classics Bernard or Burnell. The handsome “Au” beginning fits in with August and Autry - a bit Southern, elegant, and strong. Auburn is also a great place-name inspired by many cities and neighborhoods across the United States.

Birch. Short and sweet, boyish and spirited, Birch is a bright choice for an active child. While it’s never been a popular pick, it has been recorded for boys for over 100 years - not bad for a nature name! Birch trees are associated with adaptability and stability in Celtic mythology, and they have long been celebrated in Western cultures for their strength. Last year, only six boys were given the name - could that number go up with the rise in botanical picks?

Rory. The most popular name on this list, Rory has been rising for both boys and girls in recent years. Meaning “red king” from Old Irish, Rory is boisterous and friendly, accessible but not overly common. Its ruddy meaning comes through in its sound, and it’s a fantastic alternative (or complement) to Riley or Rowan. Dozens of Rory’s, from kings to athletes to musicians, have made the name their own over time - your Rory will be in excellent company.

Zephyr. While this name has long been considered ethereal and other-worldly, Zephyr may be a more understandable option with names like Zander, Zayden, and Zion in the top 1000. Autumnal in meaning - from the Greek for “west wind” - its zippy tone and eccentric vibe help cement its status as a name for a dynamic little one. Variations Zeferino and Zephyros are other exciting choices.


September 19, 2016 1:12 PM

Sorry, Brock is all Turner for me, and therefore screams Rapist and White Male Privilege. 

Less problematically, Crispin is all Glover for me, and therefore says (rather than screeming), Creepy! Artsy! Problematic or empowering work with Downs Kids!

I'm with you on the rest of the suggestions, though. Russell would be an obvious (too obvious?) addition.

September 20, 2016 8:25 AM

Great post! I also think Ember/Amber would fit well on this list.

September 20, 2016 6:37 PM

yes. what dorit said. It's irresponsible for you to suggest the name Brock. The name is now inextricably linked to rape.

September 20, 2016 8:11 PM

I too cringed when I saw Brock on the list.  The association may well fade in time, but in this particular cultural moment, Brock = Rape Culture.  I can't imagine who would choose that name for a baby boy right now, or why this website would advocate it.  

September 21, 2016 1:11 AM

I know parents who chose Brock early this year -- for their daughter. I don't know how they feel about their choice now. (When I asked about their motivations, they answered that they like Irish names. I did not try to enlighten them that it's not at all Irish.)

September 21, 2016 6:14 AM

I must have missed "Brock", but Birch sound like "john Birch Society" to me: Another name to be avoided.

September 21, 2016 6:43 PM

Brock also has the Pokemon association.

September 22, 2016 10:50 AM

This site has always been an excellent resource for a modern cultural context of a name. There are plenty of sites that give the historical meaning, but I come here to find how a name will be received today. Please don't ruin that with these poorly researched lists. i understand why you create these themed lists to draw traffic to the site. You owe it to the site to put effort into them. There was a reason only 6 boys were named Birch last year, as this site's Namepedia points out, it is one substituted letter away from a derogatory slur against women. Brock means "rapist" in a modern cultural context. Please be responsible or you will lose your audience.

By mk
September 22, 2016 12:40 PM

I am familiar with the case, but my first thought was the Pokemon character, then sports.

I like Crispin best, I have a definite association with the apple cariety.

September 23, 2016 3:34 PM

"Another name that feels eternally autumnal, Leif...."  And precisely what is autumnal about Leif?  There is nothing about it by way of derivation or association that is autumnal.  Hint:  it is pronounced to rhyme with safe.  It is not pronounced like the tree appendage that in some climates turns color in the fall.

Ms. Cardoza, I am with caseydilla.  Do a better job or quit.  I have lost count of the times I have had to correct your errors in the name of having an accurate site that people can use with confidence.  And I am not the only one who has pointed out your howlers.  Most of the name sites are terrible--this is one site that isn't, and I'd like to see it kept that way.

September 23, 2016 11:33 PM

I'm chiming in to say that as soon as I saw Leif, I thought "Oh God, she thinks Leif is pronounced like leaf." 

As a poster my knowledge and grammar may not be the greatest (and I do detest grammar trolls), but people who claim to be writers should do their homework.

September 24, 2016 1:00 AM

In Ms. Cardoza's defense, every elementary and high school history teacher I encountered pronounced Leif Erikson as "leaf".

September 24, 2016 1:07 PM

HNG, we can make a long list of things that every elementary and high school teacher gets wrong.  Just yesterday my first-grader grandson had a homework exercise on long and short vowels.  Modern English does NOT have long and short vowels, even though every elementary and high school teacher says it does.   This causes confusion when people learn languages which do have long and short vowels, or when speakers of languages which have long and short vowels learn English.

Frankly, both teacher preparation and school textbooks here in the US leave a lot to be desired.

September 27, 2016 12:44 PM

To echo HungarianNameGeek, not only do most teachers pronounce Leif as "Leaf," but most Leifs I have met do as well.   None of them are of Scandinavian origin, and their parents probably picked up the name from their history class.  Nevertheless, it is quite common to pronounce it that way, and discussing "Layf Erikson" in many contexts would be seen as affected and snobby.  I see it as somewhat similar to the Kate-Lynn pronunciation of Caitlin.  I know how it should be pronounced, and the derivation, but if I have a student named Caitlin on my roster in rural California, I know pretty much for certain how she will pronounce it, and I wouldn't waste my time calling out "Cahtch-leen".

As for Brock, I don't think anyone would assume a baby named Brock was named after Brock Turner.  I would certainly avoid it right now, as the story is still very much in the public awareness, but I suspect it is a little too common to maintain those associations for very long.  It seems to have peaked in 2007.  Thus, a lot of Brocks are out there who will be coming of age in future years, and probably some of them will do things that are notable which might help the associations of the name.  Brock Turner is probably older than many other Brocks, and thus can't be thought of as the "last word" on the name.  

That said, I think something about the pre-existing "feel" of the name dovetailed quite easily with the story: it has a sort of "rich frat boy" sound to it, which might lead to a closer association between the name and the currently most (in)famous bearer.  However, like I said I think a lot will depend on what other Brocks do with their lives.

September 28, 2016 4:34 AM

No Rhodes Scholar here; but Leif is pronounced "laif." I have a weird name that absolutely should be pronounced with an "a", not an "e", yet my mother decided that an extra "gh" was just too much. She was 32 and I was three when she died, so I forgive her!

I worked for a nonprofit retired teachers organization for years and know that many retired and current teachers aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Anyway, Leif in no way makes me think of the fall season. 

And for what it's worth Leif Garret is my reference; totally "a" and not "e."

September 28, 2016 7:55 PM

To be honest, when I hear Brock, I think of Pokemon before Turner- maybe that's just me. Concerning the Leif thing, there's a kid in my school named Leif, and he pronounces it like leaf :/

October 3, 2016 5:19 PM

Phew, just weighing in as an expectant parent who had Brock at the top of the list prior to Brock The Rapist.  Fwiw, my mother who speaks English as a 3rd language and loves to play with words, said "hmm, but what if he's not athletic? Brock is a jock who likes to fock." <<--- and this was before the national news story. Even younger friends who thought of Brock from Pokémon say that his character is stereotypically a jock / not smart. 

I'm interested to hear that Brock sounds elitist, too, like maybe Biff or Carter used to sound. 

Beyond our frustration with recommending Brock in 2016 is sadness, at least for me, is the change in quality of these articles since they were just Laura. I do think BNW is in danger of losing / alienating its community, name-nerds such as we are. Emily, it's always your byline I see when I think, well that was a good post, but surely it wasn't Laura. (As opposed to just not liking the post and not bothering to check who wrote it.) Please hang in there with us. Do you have access to be able to crunch BNW numberd and write wonky data driven articles? I bet a lot of us would participate if you or others asked in forums about what we'd like to know from the database. Just a suggestion :)

January 26, 2017 7:32 PM

I'm pretty sure we do have long vowels in English. At least in Standard Australian English words such as car, with the r at the end are pronounced just by lengthening the vowel. Or the word fleece which lacks the issues of the rhotic pronunciation difference that car does.