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Old School Boy Names (You Can’t Go Wrong with a Classic)

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Inside: Searching for old school boy names that deserve to be brought back? For a classic baby boy name, choose from one of these traditional boy names. These old-fashioned, strong boy names are actually starting to stand out again, especially you see all those trendy names topping the popularity charts.

I’m such a sucker for anything classic, traditional or ‘old school.’ To me, there’s something so special about objects or ideas that have stood the test of time and survived all the trends.

And when you’re thinking of names for your baby boy, you can’t go wrong at all when you choose a classic name.

To be honest, with all the trendy baby names these days, an old school boy name will probably end up being even more unique.

My twin boys are named Michael and James, both after their military great grandfathers, and I always feel like the odd one out when I tell people their names.

And can I tell you’?  It’s the best. feeling. ever.

I love that by going old school, we’ve actually chosen a name that seems fresh and new compared to the other names in the pack.

Pick a name from the list below, and I guarantee, you’ll feel the same way.

Related: 50 Vintage Boy Names That Are Truly Timeless

baby boy with old school boy name

50 Old School Boy Names: Old-Fashioned, Traditional Classics


1. Adam

Is there anything more old school than the name of the first man?

This Hebrew name literally means “man, of the earth,” a reference to the Genesis account of creation.

2. Albert

This is traditional English boy name that means “noble, bright.” Famous men with this name are the brilliant physicist Albert Einstein and Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.

You could go with “Al” or “Albie” as a nickname, or even “Bert”, although my kids will chime in here to say that Bert is a character on Sesame Street…

3. Alex 

Typically short for Alexander, this is a classic name with English origins that means “defender of the people.”

A famous Alex in our time is baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

For a more modern day reference, tough guy Alex Karev from Grey’s Anatomy is the perfect example of the least liked guy turning out to be one of the best, a redemptive story if you will. Although he is seriously rough around the edges, he eventually wins the heart of those closest to him and loyal Grey’s fans everywhere, of course.

4. Alton

Another English name, this one means “old town,” which is kind of perfect if you’re looking for an old school name.

Did you know that iconic musician Glenn Miller’s first name is really Alton? There’s a strong, traditional boy name paired with a more trendy middle name.

5. Anthony

Anthony is a classic and regal English name that is a variation of the Roman name Antonius.

Most notable from the past is Marc Antony, from the Roman noble family. In recent times, actor Anthony Hopkins is another with this old-fashioned name.

6. Benjamin 

Another traditional name with origins in the Bible, Benjamin dates back to early Old Testament times. It was the name of the Jewish patriarch Jacob’s youngest son and means “son of my right hand.”

A most famous American with this name is the jack of all trades inventor, write, statesman and patriot, Benjamin Franklin.

7. Bruce

This is an English/Scottish name that means “from the town of Bruis in France.”  It also goes back to Robert the Bruce, who achieved Scottish independence from Britain and became king.

Modern-day Bruces with this name are actor Bruce Willis and singer Bruce Springsteen. If they can pull it off, so can your son.

8. Chester

An English name that means “fortress or camp,” it is also the name of the 21st American President, Chester Arthur.

I could see “Chess” being a good nickname for this classic choice.

9. Clayton

Meaning ‘clay settlements’ in Old English, this old-fashioned boy name has appeal still today. Baseball pitcher MVP Clayton Kershaw has brought this name back into the spotlight again.

“Clayton” is a great alternative to the more modern day version “Clay”.

10. Curtis

If you have character goals for your child, this Old French name means “courteous.”

It also has athletic potential as many football stars and Olympic athletes have had this name, such as linebacker Curtis Lofton.

11. Dale

A German name that means “valley,” this classic name probably has the most recent recognition due to Nascar great Dale Earnhardt.

12. Emil

Another German name, this one means “to excel, strive or rival.” Rarely used today, 1920s actor Emil Jennings is probably the most prominent person to use this name.

13. Eugene

Meaning “well born,” this English name has Catholic connections to bishops, priests, and also saints.

14. Ernest

Sort of a no-brainer, this English name means “earnest,” which immediately brings to mind the classic British play by Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.

15. Elmer

An English name that means “noble, famous,” it is also attributed to a long list of stellar athletes during the 20th century. You could easily shorten this to “Elm” for everyday use.

16. Felix

If you want a self-fulfilling prophecy in temperament, this Latin name means “happy, prosperous.” Who doesn’t want that for their child?!?

A long list of actors, athletes, composers and more have shared this name over the years. You can see the full list HERE.

17. Frederick

Meaning “peaceful ruler,” this name is probably most associated with Frederick Douglas, a former slave who helped lead the abolition movement.

Easy shortened to “Fred” or “Freddy” as a nickname, this is a great baby boy name option that is rarely used today.

18. George

A Greek name that means “farmer,” this old school name has a ton of famous allusions:

  • president George Washington,
  • scientist George Washington Carver,
  • musician George Michael,
  • actor George Clooney.

That’s just to name a few!

19. Gene

Often short for Eugene, it’s an English name meaning “well born.”

Actors Gene Wilder and Gene Kelly have made this old-fashioned name well-known.

20. Gordon 

Meaning “from Gordon, Scotland,” this name has English origins and is most recognized due to TV chef and host Gordon Ramsay.

21. Gus 

Forms of Augustus or Gustav, Gus means “great.” You could always go with Augustus, if you want a potentially stronger, more old-fashioned version of the name.

This time-honored name was chosen by Dixie Chick Emily Robinson for her son.

22. Harold

A Scandinavian name that means “army ruler,” this name is often shortened to Harry, which is a nod to the ever-popular Harry Potter series – as well as to the other famous Harry from England, former Prince Harry.

23. Hugh

Meaning “bright in mind and spirit,” Hugh is a German name that is often associated with the dreamy British actor Hugh Grant.

24. Ivan 

A Slavic form of the name John, it means “God is gracious” and is a unique alternative to its more common cousin (see below).

25. James

A traditional name that has held appeal throughout the decades, this Hebrew name means “supplanter.”

A long list of famous people with this name are actors James Dean, James Earl Jones, and author James Joyce.

26. Jay

Meaning “a bird in the crow family,” this Latin name is sometimes used as a shortened version of Jason. However, TV personality Jay Leno and the infamous Jay Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby have proven it can also stand alone.

27. Jeffrey

This English name means “God Peace,” and while it has a familiar feel, it is not as common as one would suspect. According to Baby Center, it ranked #532 in popularity in 2021 (source).

28. Jeremy

Meaning “God will uplift,” this Hebrew name from the biblical character Jeremiah has tremendous meaning. Staying with the Christian motif, Christian singer Jeremy Camp is an inspiring namesake.

29. Jesse

Another name with Hebrew roots, this one means “God’s gift.” In the Bible, Jesse was the son of Ruth and Boaz and the father of David, King of Israel.

A modern day Jesse is Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens.

30. John 

An even more classic boy name compared to “Ivan”, this Hebrew name means “God is gracious.”

The list of famous Johns is long and diverse, including:

  • American President John Adams (just 1 of 4),
  • actor John Travolta, and
  • football star John Elway.

31. Joseph

If you’re still in the market for a biblical name that’s legit old school, throw Joseph into the running.

Joseph is another timeless Hebrew name that means “God will increase.” Probably the most famous Joseph in history is Jesus’ earthly father, with the coat of many colors Joseph a close runner-up.

See more famous “Joe’s” at IMDb HERE.

32. Kelly

An Irish name that means “bright-headed,” it’s often seen as a girl name, but it has gained popularity for boys as well.

33. Karl 

A Germanic form of the name Charles, this name means “free man.” A famous man with this name is basketball star Karl Malone.

And here’s a fun fact for you as well: four Nobel Prize winners have been named Karl. Who knew?

34. Kenneth

Meaning “handsome,” this name originates in Scotland. On two ends of the spectrum, we have the first king of Scotland and then there’s Barbie’s eternal boyfriend, of course.

Many singers named Kenneth go by the shortened version of Kenny: Chesney, Loggins, and Rogers.

35. Lawrence

Probably most famous in Lawrence of Arabia, this is an English name that means “laurel.” Then there’s “Laurie” from Little Women, so this old school boy name has a ton of potential!

36. Lee

Short, sweet, and classy, this baby boy name has English roots and means “field.” It has attracted recent attention due to actor Lee Majors, country singer Lee Brice, and Harry Potter character Lee Jordan.

37. Lowell

Meaning “little wolf,” this is another name that has strong masculine appeal.

Though it used to be a first name, it is most recognized as the surname of Romantic American poet James Russell Lowell.

38. Luther

Meaning “army of the people,” this is an English name with strength. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. immediately comes to mind, and he certainly lived up to his name. 

39. Maurice

From the Moor people, this French name means “dark-skinned.”

Some fun nicknames built in are “Mo” or a more trendy “Reece”.

40. Nathaniel 

A Hebrew name that means “gift of God,” it was brought back into the spotlight by 19th century American author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Musician Nat King Cole has also given this name an artistic edge.

41. Otto

A strong German name that means “wealth,” it has connections to Otto the Great, founder of the Holy Roman Empire.

42. Oliver

A name that has gained a ton of popularity in recent years, this classically old school name is Latin and means “olive tree.”

Famous namesakes include:

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes,
  • Oliver North, and of course,
  • Dickens’ beloved character Oliver Twist, in the novel by the same name.

Related: Plant Boy Names That Are Actually Legitimate Options

43. Paul

A Latin name that means “small,” it’s most often associated with the apostle Paul in the New Testament, as well as British ‘60s heartthrob Paul McCartney of The Beatles.

44. Peter 

Another name with biblical appeal, Peter is a Greek name that means “rock,” and it was given to the disciple Simon by Jesus.

Fun fact: baseball great Yogi Berra’s given name was Peter.

45. Raymond

Meaning “wise protector,” this name has German roots.

A more familiar Raymond in our times is actor/comedian Ray Romano, star of Everybody Loves Raymond.

46. Roy 

This is a Celtic name that means “red-haired.”

Roy is the main character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Rob Roy. Other famous Roys are Roy Rogers and Roy Orbison.

47. Theodore 

A Greek name that means “gift of God,” in 2021, it is probably still most associated with Rough Rider President Theodore Roosevelt (nickname “Teddy”).

And Theo is a pretty modern-sounding nickname that you get for free!

48. Thomas

This name has been popular for decades, making it an obvious choice if you’re considering traditional boy names. It’s an Aramaic name that means “twin.”

Some famous Thomas’s you would recognize?

  • Thomas Jefferson,
  • Thomas “Tom” Hanks, and
  • Thomas “Tom” Cruise.

49. Walter

A German name that means “army ruler,” it has noble associations with the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Walter Scott.

While very popular in medieval England, there have been well-known Walters in our generation such as Walt Disney and Walter Kronkite. “Walt” is definitely a winning nickname!

50. Wayne

This name has English origins and means “maker of wagons.”

It gained notice with cowboy hero John Wayne and still remains a cool choice if you prefer ice hockey great Wayne Gretsky as your namesake.

Related: Cute, Unusual Boy Names More Parents Should Consider

sleeping baby boy in traditional classic clothes with boy tie holding a stuffed animal

Traditional Boy Names Remade for Today

There is so much potential in this list of old school boy names!

While there really is nothing new under the sun, bringing back a traditional boy name can actually offer an original choice that’s a little out of step with the mainstream trends. And at least in this mama’s, that’s a good thing.

Whatever name you go with for your baby boy, a mama always knows what the perfect name is once she sees that precious face. By some mysterious mama intuition, it’s just obvious.

Whatever you end up naming him, one thing is for sure: that sweet boy will forever steal your heart.

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