Thoughts on a boy name (And: does popularity really matter?)

I'm just into my second trimester with a baby boy. We have a 20-month old daughter whose name I just love: Iris Zigrida.  (Zigrida is my late mother-in-law's name--she was Latvian.) I love that Iris is old fashioned, yet feels modern and simple, AND it's a nature name.

We've had a boy name picked out for several years: Oliver Harvey (Harvey is my dad's name, and I'm very keen on it for the mn). I still really like it, but Oliver is currently the #1 most popular name in Australia, where we plan to move in a few years, and it's very popular here as well. Although I always thought I'd avoid the most popular names, I'm starting to wonder how much that matters to me. I know a couple of young Olivers (and my SIL's cat bears the name!), but it seems unlikely that he'll be the "Jennifer" of his time.

We're still open to other ideas.

Here are some contenders:
Angus (love the nn Gus)
Rowan (love that it's a nature name, but our surname starts with R and I'm not a big fan of alliteration)
Griffin (my husband is taken with this, but it feels a little trendy to me)
Augustine (nn Auggie, Gus)

Names we like style-wise
Arlo (the difference in pronounciation between US and Australia makes this a no-go for me)
Ezra (A long time favorite of mine, but the ending -ra sound is awkward with an R last name)
Seamus (he may be red-haired and freckly, but we're not particularly Irish, so this might be an odd choice)

Please share your opinions and suggestions! I prefer names with at least 2 syllables, since our last name is a single syllable.





April 16, 2019 6:38 PM

yes Oliver is currently popular here in Australia,  but I wouldnt rule that out,  Your right about he'll be the Jennifer of his time.  I only know 2 Olivers - one 7, one 2.  If you love the name use it.  Great name and popular for a reason

Angus is ok, Rowan is ok,  but since you dont like RR I probably wouldnt.  Griffin is ok,  but if you arent on board with it, I wouldnt. 

Felix, Theo and Leo are ok,  I probably would use Theodore though.  If you use Augustine - I would spell it Augustin, less feminine,  not really liking that one though

I like Arlo.  Ezra is nice,  but if it awkward with the surname I wouldnt. Seamus is nice,  but I wouldnt worry about not being Irish and red-head etc,  most people wont know,  I would worry more re spelling and pronouciation. 

My boys both have single syllable first names with a single syllable surname,  so I wouldnt rule out one syllable names

other names

Owen, Hugo, Marco, Mateo, Andrew, Andre, Anton, Anthony, Aaron, Jonah, Leon, Nolan, Quinton, Simon, Grant, Finley, Peter, Thomas, Timothy, Todd, Tristan, Max, Edward, William, Jonathan, Nathan, Matthew, Seth, Nathaniel, Callum, Daniel, Elias, Elliott, Ezekiel, Levi, Lewis, Elijah, Franklin, Lucas, Malcolm, Silas, Samuel, Mitchell, Malachi, Michael, Nicholas, Austin, Ashton, Justin, Martin, Jason, Charles, George, Edgar, Zachariah, Jeremiah, Zachary, Jeremy, Marcus, Harrison, Jamison, James, Thomas, Jackson, Corbin, Dominic, Jacob, Micah, Malachi, Scott, Jake, Jack, Joshua, Shane, Sean, Simeon, Stephen, Tobias, Wesley, Samuel, Daniel, Seth



April 16, 2019 9:58 PM

Thanks Suzanne! Appreciate the vote of confidence in Oliver!

Re Arlo: My husband is currently telling me it won't be a big deal that I say "Arrlo" and he says "Ahhlo", and he's probably right. I still like that one a lot too.  Thanks for all your suggestions.

April 16, 2019 8:07 PM

I would really love Angus for you, except that "Iris and Angus" seems like a lot of -iss.  Augustine is my favorite overall, but also stands out a little from the list in both length and style.  That's maybe relevant if you plan on future children after this one.  Other ideas: Oscar, Linus (but same ending), Caspar, Arthur, Walter (apparently I'm all about the -er names for you), Milo.  Maybe Judah or Jonah?

April 16, 2019 9:41 PM

Oh yes - that's a big negative on Angus (and even Gus)...and you do end up saying your kids' names together so often! We don't expect to have any more after this, so that won't be such an issue. You have some great suggestions! I like Oscar and Linus is actually my husband's middle name, which we've got on our longer list. Thank you! I like the -er sounds too...will have to think more on that.

April 17, 2019 12:40 AM

I'm smitten with this list.  There's not a name on it that I wouldn't at least consider. Augustine was on our list for a bit. 

I really think the popularity question is up to each individual person.  If Oliver's the name that makes you happy, that's the name you should pick.  It is stylistically perfect with Iris.  It's interesting that it's so popular where you are.  My husband's sister has an Oliver, and he's literally the only one we know personally.  We do have friends who used Oliver as a middle name for their son Rowan, but I honestly don't see very much of it around here.

I honestly don't think you can go wrong with ANY of the names you've listed, but we've got an Atticus, a Malakai, and an Isaias and the fourth is a boy, we're probably down to some combination of Gideon, Raphael, and Otto, if those help at all.  

April 17, 2019 9:54 AM

Aww, thank you! What a nice comment to start my day. I think you're right...I don't see us being unhappy with Oliver (even if we hear it somewhat frequently), and I love how it goes with Iris (and with Harvey).

I like your name choices too! Can't wait to hear what you come up with...Gideon is lovely, and Raphael is so warm and has nice nickname potential.

April 17, 2019 5:45 PM

I think ultimately only you can decide if the popularity of a name matters. I would say it's worth also considering if you will regret not using Oliver, especially if you expect this to be your last baby, as it sounds like you really like it. You are right that even the most popular name out there now has nothing on the most popular names of 30-40 years ago. Yes you will likely bump into a few other Olivers, and he may not be the only one in his class but that is not a massive deal (and could actually happen even if you choose a name much further down the popularity scale). If it helps I am in the UK where Oliver has been very popular for a lot of years and it doesn't feel like there are Olivers everywhere (I work as a nanny so I spend a lot of time at toddler classes/playgrounds/schools and while it's definitely a name you hear around it's not like I know 10 of them). 

Oliver Harvey is a great name and sounds lovely with Iris (and I love that your daughter has a mn from your husband's side and your son would have one from yours) but I do think you have a really solid shortlist there so you can't go wrong really! 

April 18, 2019 10:18 AM

That's a good point--the risk of regret of not using a name I love might be higher than the risk of regret of using a popular name. Thanks for your perspective on not actually meeting that many Olivers in real life..that's kind of what I expect too. I love that we have middle names from both sides of the aisle too...and I just adore my dad and love that my son and Dad will have this little name connection.  Thanks for your encouraging comment!

April 19, 2019 8:39 AM

Just to put some numbers on things: the most popular names of 2017 in the U.S. (Liam and Emma) were about one-fourth as common as the most popular names of 1977 (Michael and Jennifer). The specifics differ in Australia, but I'm sure the general trend holds there, too: "most popular" means fewer babies by a factor of four.

When the range of choices is this varied and this "flat" (i.e. there isn't really a choice that's appreciably more common than the others), statistics becomes essentially ineffective at predicting everyday experiences. Randomness plays a bigger role than the trends. The most-repeated name in a school or classroom may be ranked nationally at number 20, or even number 200.

If Oliver is the name you like best, name your child Oliver. It will serve him well throughout his life.

April 20, 2019 10:42 PM

Oliver Harvey is very sweet! I doubt Oliver will ever reach the popularity of Jennifer, mostly because the most popular names now are far less popular then the most popular names of the 1980s, if that makes sense. Because people are so focused on unique names, the “popular” ones really aren’t very popular at all.

Many Olivers go by Ollie or Olly, or even Ol, Leo, or Ovie, which helps Oliver M., Oliver P., and Oliver A. become Ollie, Oliver, and Leo.

Angus is cute but I’d beware the beef connotation if that bothers you. August, Augustus, Magnus, and just Gus could also work.

Rowan is sweet but in order to avoid alliteration, you could try Logan, Dylan, Reuben, Ashby, or Ocean/Oisin.

Griffin feels cute and rugged, but Dashiell, Porter, and Macallister make great alternatives that aren’t yet popular or trendy. Timeless alternatives include Gideon and George.

Felix is sweet! You might like Nolan, Frederick, Charlie, Lorcan, or Benedict as well.

Theo is super cute, and I actually prefer it by itself as opposed to Theodore. You might also enjoy Harris, Thomas, Matteo, Fletcher, or Solomon.

Leo is also super cute, and I’d suggest Rory, Luca, Abner, and Nico as possible alternatives.

Augustine is beautiful! Similar names: Abraham, Oleander, Ignatius, and Thaddeus.

Alternatives to:

ARLO - Arthur, Carlo, Lowen, Bowie, Bo, Logan, Sam, Rio

EZRA - Asa, Ezekiel, Zaccai, Zachary

SEAMUS - Ronan, Emmett, Owen, Rylan, Aidan

Hope this helps!!

April 21, 2019 9:11 PM

Just want to make sure that you've tried saying Oliver and all the other -r names you like with the surname, since the -r R- transition may not be ideal. In fact, I'd personally prefer both names beginning with R to the given name ending with r. However, the good thing is that unlike some ambiguous names, nobody is going to think that his name is Olive, but they may mishear the surname if it isn't a familiar one and a large enough pause is put between the names.

April 22, 2019 12:21 PM

If they move to Australia, then there will be no 'r' in Oliver and it will not matter what sound their surname begins with. :-)

May 1, 2019 3:53 PM

Ha!! Touché!

April 22, 2019 7:55 PM

Rowan is definitely really cute 

Rowan and Remi were my top two boy names if bab #2 (due in August) was a boy 

May 13, 2019 9:37 AM

One name that popped into mind was Roscoe! Roscoe Harvey has the same style as some of the other names you mentioned, whilst it still has the quirkyness of names like Ezra. It also beautifully combines the o sound in Theo and Leo that you liked. Iris and Roscoe sound beautiful together! If you like oliver and nobody’s pinched it yet, go for it as it is gorgeous with iris and harvey as a middle name. If I were to choose one from your list of contenders I would go for augustine, but maybe just go for August? I don’t know if the US is important to you (arlo pronounciation) but it is newly popualr over there and would suite fine.

goodluck! Xx

May 14, 2019 6:19 AM

Oliver is a popular name in many countries now, especially in Australia, but I don't think the popularity should put you off using it- if you love it, go with it! Oliver Harvey is beautiful combination - I love it! Iris & Oliver is super sweet too :) If you decide to go with a less common name, I think Felix is gorgeous.  

June 20, 2019 12:31 AM

I think Iris and Angus is too singsongy.

From your list, I like Griffin, Felix, Leo, and Theo.

Other ideas:









October 13, 2019 10:15 PM

I love Oliver! Don’t worry too much about popularity as it will dwindle over time. Im Also a fan of Rowan, Leo, Augustine, and Ezra