Unique, Strong Boy Name Needed

A reader named Kristy is expecting her first baby, a little boy, in mid-May. Kristy writes:

[W]e are now on the hunt for a baby’s name that is unique – it has to be paired with Johnston,* after all – but not so unique that it is unpronounceable! Also, being a romantic traditionalist, I am not interested in any “fad” or trendy names (i.e. No names in the current top 100 or even rapidly rising through the ranks). I am looking for a good, strong, perhaps “classic” name that will withstand the test of time without being shared with millions of others. (My husband and I both had to share our first names with many classmates growing up! I would like to avoid that plight for our child.)

*The surname isn’t Johnston, but it’s close.

My husband’s current favorite is Felix Milo. While I really like the name Felix – it’s unique and full of character, while being classic enough that there are a few notable Felix-es throughout history – it lacks the “romantic luster” that I somehow have my heart set on…

My current favorite is Zedekiah. It’s from Hebrew meaning “Jehovah/God is just”. I just love the way it sounds and that it’s Hebrew-based. He could go by nicknames of Zed, Z, Kiah, or even Zeke. Zedekiah Michael sounds lovely to me…

We also both like the name Raphael, but are really struggling with a good nickname (Rafi?) and a fitting middle name, for that matter…

They’d also like to include some family names, “but it’s been tough to get the names to mesh quite right.” Here are the family names they’re considering:

Michael Douglas
Terry Milo
Douglas Edward (see below)
Clarence Moore (he went by “Bud”)
Woodward Jay (he went by “Tom”)
Lester Raymond
Otis Clifford

Note that Edward is already taken by another grandchild, Tom’s my brother’s name, and the name “Douglas” sounds terribly dismal to me… which leaves us with a rather questionable lot… (but family’s family ;-))

Michael Douglas? :)

I really like the current shortlist. Zedekiah, Felix, Raphael…names with a lot of personality. Very cool.

I think I’d shorten Raphael to Raph, à la the Ninja Turtles. Just seems like the most logical nickname option to me.

As far as name suggestions go, the first to come to mind was Zephaniah, which is a lot like Zedekiah but has an internal ph like Raphael. Here are some other ideas:


It’s not easy to choose a middle without a first already in place, but, of all the family names, I’m partial to Michael. You can pair Michael with nearly any first name and it will sound good. It’s like the boy-name equivalent of Marie.

Which of the above names do you like best? What other names would you suggest to Kristy?

13 thoughts on “Unique, Strong Boy Name Needed

  1. I’ll suggest Holden and Theo (Theodore) because they’re my sons’ names and I think they are very strong. (: I also think Abel/Abraham nn Abe is very masculine and strong. Eli and Leo (though they might be in the top 100) could work. I like Hadrian but what would his nn be? Haddie? A little feminine sounding to me. Evander, Cade and Asher would also sound good. And I love Samuel, that was the first thing that popped into my head, but unfortunately it is very popular at the moment.

  2. My DH liked to joke that we were going to name our boys Jedidiah, Zachariah, and Ezekiel. (We had girls.) I also throw out Ezra, Woodrow (combining Woodward with Milo and/or Otis), Habakkuk. I’m assuming the last name begins with a J, otherwise I’d suggest Jethro.

    Woodward, Clifford, and Milo all work for me as MN for Raphael.

    I have a friend who’s name is Ward, too.

  3. Raphael nicknamed Rafe is my favorite, but Ray could also work and then it could be in honor of your family member.

    Other ideas:

  4. love Felix and Raphael, especially Raphael.

    Before I saw your list “a good, strong, perhaps “classic” name that will withstand the test of time without being shared with millions of others” made me think of Julian or Julius. But that probably gives you the initials/nickname JJ, which doesn’t seem your style.

  5. Seeing such words & phrases as “romantic traditionalist,” “classic,” and “romantic luster,” I grabbed a book off my shelf and am now going to select some names from its Table of Contents.

    The book is The Portable Romantic Poets. The names, therefore, are names of romantic poets. Here are some suggestions for Kristy:

    Blake (William)
    Coleridge (Samuel Taylor)
    Cullen (William Cullen Bryant)
    Bryant (ditto)
    Landor (Walter Savage Landor)
    Byron (duh)
    Percy (Bysshe Shelley)
    Leigh (Hunt)
    Winthrop (Mackworth Pread)

  6. Hi everyone! I’m the original poster and just wanted to thank you all for your great suggestions! While our previous favorites are still high on our shortlist, I also really like Theodore (nn Theo or Teddy), Ezekiel (nn Zeke), Abel/Abraham (nn Abe), Damian, Lucian/Lucius (nn Lucky — one of my dad’s favorites :)), Tobias (nn Toby), Simon, and several others from your lists. I thought Ray was a clever family nn for Raphael as well. Thanks so much for the ideas!

    We have a few more weeks to decide, so let me know if you come up with any more fun suggestions in the meantime! What a fabulous site!

  7. Hi all! Felix Milo was born on May 20, 2011! (Sorry it took me so long to write! I read Nancy’s posts daily via email, but I just forgot to update this post!!) Thank you all for your suggestions. Despite my early reservations, I was very excited about the name Felix Milo by the time our little one arrived, and now I love the name more than anything! I can’t imagine naming him anything else (but I’ll certainly be in touch when the next wee one comes around, I’m sure ;))
    Many blessings to all, and thanks again to Nancy for such a great blog!

  8. I know a young boy named Christopher but is referred to a “Topher” (pronounced toe fer). Clever and unique and not trendy.

  9. hi, i’m in the same boat as you, i want a good strong male name for my baby boy :) not a fad popular name but one that will always be a solid name. i like Gabrial (shortening to Gabe that i love as a name) Christian, tho he may end up getting chris wich is not so nice. Raife, Ryan, Caleb & Calum are also all strong contenders. :) i hope you like some of these :)

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