The Fastest-Climbing Boys Name of the Year Has a Major 'Yellowstone' Connection

When deciding on a baby boy name, tons of factors come into play. You might want to honor your family or heritage. There may be letters and initials you feel you have to use, or know you want to avoid. You probably have preferences for certain styles of names over others, or you might have your heart set on a nickname already.

But one thing you should be mindful of when choosing a name is its popularity, since choosing a name that's too common (or too unusual) might lead to baby name regret. And to see what names are becoming more or less popular, it's worth looking at the baby boy naming trends of 2023.

For starters, even the concept of "boy names" is becoming moot. "The main thing we're seeing is names moving away from stereotypical and outmoded gender polarities," says Pamela Redmond, CEO of Nameberry, a baby-naming website that keeps track of baby name trends. "That doesn't always mean that boys and girls are getting the same names, though there are plenty of hot new gender-neutral and nonbinary names around. Rather, we see girl names becoming stronger and more heroic while boy names are becoming less conventional and less traditionally masculine."

For boy names, that means "instead of Christopher we're seeing Kit, instead of Charles we've got Royal, instead of Tom we've got Huck or Sawyer," Redmond says.

What other baby naming trends are ruling 2023? Let's take a look.

Baby boy names are headed West.

Redmond also sees a rise in what Nameberry calls "neo-cowboy names," which have a "rugged, outdoorsy, back-to-basics style." These include names like Briggs, Dutton (hello, Yellowstone fans, this is the fastest-climbing boy name of the year), Ennis, Rhodes, Truett, and Wyatt.

BabyCenter, another site that tracks baby names among its users, has also seen this western shift. Its 2023 name trend report noted the name Stetson moving up 187 places in its baby-name rank, and Walker jumping up 59 places. BabyCenter also noted a rise in another cowboy-ish name — Maverick — but that could also be due to Tom Cruise.

a boy in a flight suit in front of a marquee for top gun maverick maverick could be a popular baby boy name in 2023 fitting in with the neo cowboy name trend
Will Maverick be the boys’ name of 2023?Paras Griffin - Getty Images

There's a trend toward names from "dark academia."

Nameberry also spotted this trend in its list of the top names of 2023 so far. These names are long, weighty and maybe even a little bit sinister, like Alistair, Caius, Ignatius and Lysander. According to Nameberry, these names "hail from history, literature and legend, and have their roots in ancient languages and cultures."

Boy names are also all over the map.

BabyCenter also sees a trend in baby boy names inspired by maps and map-reading, like Atlas (up 23 spots), Legend (up 27 spots) and River (up 31 spots). This is an outgrowth of a trend we've seen for a few years now, where baby names inspired by nature, be it animals (Wolf — Kylie Jenner's one-time name for her son — Fox, Bear); from outer space and constellations (Leo — which cracked the BabyCenter Top 10 this year, Orion) or the wilderness (Forest, Cedar, Wren — which BabyCenter says is up 161 places for boys). This proves these eco-cool names aren't just a passing trend, and if anything they're only growing.

Think back to the Roaring '20s.

When The Bump came up with its list of the baby names of 2023, names from the '20s came roaring back. The top five boy names from the '20s are those solid, tried-and-true names that never seem to go out of style: John, Robert, William, James and Charles, which are all still around today. (William and James are in the top 10, in fact, and John, Charles and Robert are in the top 100.) But quirkier '20s names are also in vogue, with names like Theodore, Henry, Conrad, Edison and Harlan circling back around again.

X marks the spot.

Sometimes, a letter or a combination of letters has that alchemical mix that makes the names rise. For girls, it was (and still is) names that end in an -a sound, like Olivia, Mia and Sophia. For boys, for a while it was names that ended in -ias, like Silas, Amias or Elias.

Now, all our experts see an increase in a single letter: X. Nameberry notes that it doesn't matter if the X is in the beginning, middle or end of the name. The "X factor" is helping all names no matter where it is, in names like Xerxes, Abraxis, Lexington, Huxley, Pax or Ajax.

BabyCenter saw a similar rise, with Jaxton rising 94 spots, Onyx up 53 spots and Maddox up 31 spots. Angelina Jolie was ahead of the curve when naming her son!

zahara jolie pitt, angelina jolie, and maddox jolie pitt
Names with an X, like Maddox Jolie-Pitt (on right), are on the rise.Christopher Jue - Getty Images

These are the 20 current most popular names for boys — and the names that are rising fastest.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) tracks the 1,000 most popular names for boys, but the top 50 should let you know which ones are currently in vogue. The SSA uses birth records to determine their data, which means these are the baby names that were most often used in 2022. So these may not be as up-to-the-minute, but they reflect the final choices of real parents.

  1. Liam

  2. Noah

  3. Oliver

  4. James

  5. Elijah

  6. William

  7. Henry

  8. Lucas

  9. Benjamin

  10. Theodore

  11. Mateo

  12. Levi

  13. Sebastian

  14. Daniel

  15. Jack

  16. Michael

  17. Alexander

  18. Owen

  19. Asher

  20. Samuel

Those last three — Owen, Asher and Samuel — are the only ones new to the top 20 this year. They replace Jackson, Mason and Ethan, which all fell in rank, which may say something about the names that end in the -son sound.

The SSA also keeps track of the fastest-risers — the names that took the biggest jump in rank from 2021 to 2022. The 20 most up-and-coming baby boy names were:

  1. Dutton

  2. Kayce

  3. Chosen

  4. Khaza

  5. Eithan

  6. Waylen

  7. Asaiah

  8. Karim

  9. Kaizen

  10. Zen

  11. Kylian (the fastest-climber of last year, still making leaps)

  12. Ezrah

  13. Eren

  14. Amiri

  15. Jrue

  16. Kolson

  17. Kanan

  18. Colter

  19. Teo

  20. Koa

Will we see TV names top the charts in 2023? Only time will tell.

Looking for more baby boy name inspiration? Check out our list of top Indian/Hindu boy names, Irish boy names, Hispanic boy names, long boy names and short boy names, along with baby girl names and gender-neutral names.

You Might Also Like