75 unique boy names with meanings and origin

This comprehensive list of unique baby boy names with meaning goes back to the 19th century, peruses the Old Testament, and scours the universe for strong, cool, and even nature-themed names – you're sure to find at least one you like.

A baby sticking their tongue out
Photo credit: Anna Palma for BabyCenter

Looking for a unique name for your baby boy? For our list, we only used names that didn't appear in the top 500 baby names in 2021, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Old-fashioned unique boy names

Our old-fashioned, unique boy names didn't appear in the Social Security Administration's top 500 baby names in 2021, but they were in the top 100 names between 1879 and 1950.

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Clarence harkens back to Shakespearean times. It's thought to come from a Latin word meaning "bright and clear," though its origin could also be as an Irish name for someone who lived near the River Clare.

Clyde is the name of a Scottish river and means "cleansing."

Dewey is the Welsh form of the name David and means "beloved."

Erasmus also means "beloved," though it derives from Greek. This name has never made the Social Security administration's top 1,000 list.

Ernest comes from a German word meaning "serious." A popular name for boys in the late 1800s, its most notable bearer is the iconic American novelist Ernest Hemingway.

Gordon is a Scottish name with uncertain origins. It could come from a Scottish surname meaning "spacious fort," though it could also be derived from names of regions in France, Belarus, and Spain.

Lyle is a Scottish surname that means "island."

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Lloyd is a Welsh surname meaning "gray," which was coopted into a once-popular given name.

Luther has a couple of origins. As a German name, it's a combination of the words liut, meaning "people," and heri, meaning "army." Luther also derives from a Greek name that means "free."

Milton is an English name meaning "from the mill town."

Murray is a surname with Scottish and Irish roots. It means "sea settlement."

Rodney is thought to have originated as a surname for people from a region in England.

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Roy comes from an Old French word meaning "king"; it's also a variation of a Gaelic word that means "red."

Virgil is an ancient name that's most recognized as that of the venerated Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil), writer of the epic poem Aeneid.

Willis comes from William via the German name Wilhelm – meaning "protector."

Thaddeus, as a variant of Theodore, means "God's gift." Another origin theory traces this name to the meaning of "courageous."

Cool, unique boy names

Alonzo is a variant of Alphonse. It's a Spanish name of German origin that means "noble and ready."

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Angus is an anglicized version of a Gaelic and Irish name meaning "one choice."

Caius, an alternate version of the Latin name Gaius, is Julius Caesar's first name. All those vowels are one thing, but the strongest feature of this name is its meaning: "rejoice."

Crosby is an English surname name that conjures an image of rural life. It comes from the word "cross" and is most likely a place name for people who lived at or near a junction.

Crawford is another rural geographical name likely derived from a Scottish place. It breaks down to "crow ford."

Dion is a Greek name that may mean "follower of Dionysus," the Greek god of wine and festivities. But it could also derive from Greek words mean "of Zeus" or "god."

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Duncan comes from Scottish and Irish Gaelic and translates as "dark-haired chief" or "brown noble."

Eben is a shorter, softer variation of Ebenezer. From Hebrew, this name means "stone of help."

Evander is an anglicized version of a Greek name meaning "good man."

Garrison is a strong English surname meaning "son of Gerard," which itself is a Germanic name meaning "strong spear." While the surname and the noun are not one and the same, it's impossible not to also look to the word that means "fortified stronghold."

Hopper is an English surname with a few origins: It could have been an occupational surname for someone who was a dancer, or it could have been the last name of someone who lived in a remote area surrounded by marsh.

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Leroy is a Norman word that means "the king."

Kermit is a vintage name with Gaelic roots. It means "son of Dermot," an Irish given name that may mean "without restraint" or "without envy."

Neo comes from the Greek word for "new."

Roscoe is an English name that derives from Old Norse words meaning "doe wood" or "roebuck copse," referring to the roe deer.

Rufus started out as an ancient Roman nickname and comes from the Latin word for the color red.

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Ryland is an English surname for someone who lived in an area where rye was grown.

Uriah is a Hebrew name that means "God's light."

Theron is an old name with tangled roots. Once a surname of Occitan origin – a region of Europe that encompasses parts of France, Spain, and Italy – it may also derive from the Greek word for "hunt."

Turner is an English occupational name for a lathe worker. A lathe is a machine that used for woodturning and pottery shaping.

Strong, unique boy names

Ambrose has roots in a Latin word that means "immortal." Yes, it's related to ambrosia – the mythical food of the Greek gods.

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Ares is the Greek god of war, and means "ram" in Latin.

Burke is derived from an Old English word burg, meaning "fortification."

Cedric means "chief," and is a name that owes its existence to Sir Walter Scott, the author who created the name for a character in his romantic novel Ivanhoe.

Dustin is an English surname that is thought to derive from the Old Norse name Torsten, meaning "Thor's stone."

Brando is an Italian surname that was derived from the ancient Germanic name Brando, which itself was a nickname of longer names including Aldobrando and Ildebrando. It means "sword."

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Fergus is a Gaelic name that means "strong" or "masculine."

Helm is an Old English word that means "protection" – also the root of the word "helmet."

Magnus means "great" in Latin and was the name of a Roman emperor, numerous Scandinavian kings, and a German saint.

Niall is an Irish name so ancient its original meaning has been lost to time, but modern scholars have connected it to an Old Irish word meaning "champion."

Osiris is the Egyptian god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, and resurrection. His name could mean "mighty one."

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Idris means "strong leader" in Welsh, while in Arabic it's the name of an Islamic prophet and means "smart."

Galen means "calm." An ancient Greek doctor bore this mighty name and his work was groundbreaking.

Oak is a botanical name, and oak trees are a universal symbol of strength and resilience. Oaks and their sturdy hardwood have been seen as sacred in many cultures for centuries.

Ramsey is an English geographical surname meaning "wild garlic island."

Rudyard is a surname that derives from an Old English word meaning "a yard where rue is grown."

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Unique biblical boy names

Absalom is the son of David, a king of Israel. The name translates as "father of peace" in Hebrew.

Barack is an Arabic name that means "blessing." In Hebrew, this name without the c (Barak) means "lightning."

Boaz is an ancestor of King David. The name has several potential meanings in Hebrew: "swiftness," "strength," or "of sharp mind."

Ephraim is a son of Joseph and a founder of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The name means "fruitful."

Hiram is the name of a biblical king meaning "high-born" in Hebrew.

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Gilead is the name of a region in Israel east of the River Jordan. It means "heap of testimony."

Jedediah means "beloved of God" or "God's friend" in Hebrew.

Job is a biblical family man who remains devout in spite of great hardships. It means "persecuted" in Hebrew.

Lael means "belonging to God" in Hebrew.

Lazarus is a biblical figure who Jesus raised from the dead. It's derived from another Hebrew name meaning "God has helped."

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Lemuel is biblical king whose name means "devoted to God" in Hebrew.

Obadiah was a servant to a king of Israel. The name means "servant of God" in Hebrew.

Phineas is the name of a priest in the Bible. It's a Hebrew name but is thought to derive from Egyptian, and means "bronze-colored."

Reuben means "behold, a son" in Hebrew and is the name of Jacob's eldest son.

Simeon is a relative to the name Simon, though far less popular. It means "listen" or "he has heard" in Hebrew.

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Uriel means "God is my flame" in Hebrew. In the Bible, Uriel is an archangel of knowledge and wisdom.

Zebulon (also spelled Zebulun) was a son of Jacob and a founder of one of the 12 tribes of Israel in the Bible. The name could derive from the Hebrew word for "gift" or the Hebrew word for "honor."

Nature-inspired unique boy names

Acer is the Latin genus name for the maple tree.

Bear is not a name you hear, outside of a nickname, every day. There are plenty of mainstream names that mean "bear," like Arthur and Bjorn, but why not cut to the chase?

Clay comes straight from the earth and conjures strong hands throwing ceramic pots.

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Oren means "pine" or "ash" in Hebrew.

Orson comes from an Old French word for "bear."

Cedar is as natural as it comes. The Greek-inspired name for an aromatic coniferous tree symbolizes resilience and strength.

Lev means "lion" in Russian and "heart" in Hebrew.

Mead is borrowed from an English surname that means "meadow." Mead also happens to be the name of an ancient alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey.

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Moss, the rootless, thick green ground cover can double as a unique, nature-themed name for the earthiest of baby boys.

Hamilton is a place name with roots in Scotland, and comes from Old English words meaning "crooked hill."

Heath was once an Old English surname given to people who lived on or near the British heath: wild, open land covered in coarse grass, heather, and gorse.

Heron derives from the Greek word for "hero." This name gets the nature nod in reference to the gangly yet graceful wading bird.

Geo is a Greek-rooted, word-forming element meaning "earth." While this name could be seen as a short form of Giovanni, it also stands alone just fine.

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Rush, when referring to the plant that grows in marshes, is sort of, an onomatopoeic name that sounds like the very thing it describes. The peaceful -sh ending conjures the sound of wind blowing across the rushes.

Sylvan is a variation on Sylvanus, the name of the Roman god of the forest. The name Sylvan means "of the wood or forest."

Walden, once an English surname, means "wooded valley."

Wiley means "of the willows." This Old English surname name can also be traced to the River Wylye.

Check out our list of unique girl names, too!

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Betsy Shaw
Betsy Shaw has contributed to BabyCenter as a writer and editor for more than 10 years. She authored the popular Babes in the Woods series, and now edits articles from parent contributors and writes about baby names. 

Baby Names A-Z