The 51 Stylish Yet Unique Baby Boy Names That Define Each US State

Ashley Austrew | Feb 16, 2018 Pregnancy
Image: SbytovaMN


SbytovaMN

Usually, when we look at the data for baby name trends, we focus on numbers that cover the most popular picks in the entire United States. But while popular baby boy names may take top honors across the country, each state has its own defining style and unique flavor that dictates individual name choices for the parents who live there. In some states, certain boy names are chosen much more frequently than they are in others. And certain states even have unusual baby boy name trends that are all their own.

The names on this list represent the rugged and handsome baby boy name picks that uniquely define each state in the US. Laura Wattenberg, the naming expert behind Baby Name Wizard, used national naming data and her expertise to pinpoint the exact baby names that each state chooses at a rate far above the national average. These names give the state its distinct "local style," as Wattenberg puts it, and highlight specific regional trends people won't find anywhere else in the country.

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"Most of the names below will be familiar, but some may be new," Wattenberg writes on Baby Name Wizard. "If so, chances are there's a local story behind them. Paxson and Hatcher, for example, are place names in Alaska as well as perfect fits for Alaskan name trends. And for a trivia challenge, look for at least two names below that honor their states' college football stadiums." While some of these names are new and trendy, others are favorites from way back when. Click on to see which boy name picks represent the defining name choices for little guys in each state.


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  • Alabama: William

    1

    William is a classic favorite with true staying power. The name, which is derived from both French and German, means resolute protector. Other defining names in Alabama include Karson, Brantley, and John -- a clear split between modern and classic.

  • Alaska: Paxson

    2

    Paxson is probably not a name most people have seen before. That's because it actually comes from a city in Alaska. Other unique favorites in the state are Hatcher, Logan, and Kyler. Hatcher, it should be noted, is also a place in Alaska. They love their state!

  • Arizona: Jesus

    3

    Is there a more well-known name than Jesus? Probably not. And Arizonans don't seem to mind the popularity. But for parents who want a slightly less famous pick, Arizona's other defining names include Santiago, Jose, and Julian.

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  • Arkansas: Rhett

    4

    Arkansas parents love names with a charming country vibe: Grayson, Case, Bentley, the ultra-unique Rhett. The name calls to mind Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind, but that's not the only Rhett in town anymore. Since the '70s, the name has jumped from number 670 on the most popular US baby names to number 215. And it's on the rise!

  • California: Mateo

    5

    Mateo, meaning gift of God, adds some regional flair to California. The name is familiar to most of us, but has seen a huge spike in popularity in the past decade, jumping from number 251 to number 85 on the top 1,000 most popular US baby names. Other California favorites are Sebastian, Damian, and Julian.

  • Colorado: Brecken

    6

    Brecken sounds like the name of a future Olympic snowboarder, so it makes complete sense that it's a regional favorite in Colorado. The name just appeared on the top 1,000 US baby names in 2011, but it's been on the rise ever since. Other Colorado-approved names are Theodore, Orion, and Wyatt.

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  • Connecticut: Nicholas

    7

    Nicholas is a name that proves classics never go out of style -- at least not in Connecticut, where the defining names for the state also include Ryan, Cameron, and Connor. Nicholas reached peak popularity in the '80s, coming in at number 19 on the most popular US baby names. But even today it's still in the top 100.

  • Delaware: Michael

    8

    What do Michael, Ian, Logan, and Caleb have in common? They're all defining names for the state of Delaware. Michael, meaning he who is like God (no pressure), is a classic name with a sophisticated, masculine vibe that will never go out of style.

  • Washington, DC: Henry

    9

    Henry used to be a "grandpa" name. Now, it's trending all over the country, and especially in DC. The name, which means ruler, joins Alexander, Max, and Samuel as the state's defining boys' names.

  • Florida: Jaden

    10

    Jaden saw a boom in popularity in the early 2000s, after pop superstar Britney Spears chose it for her son (though she spelled it Jayden). The name is still in favor all over the US, and enjoys lots of attention in Florida, where other faves include Jeremiah, Lucas, and Thiago.

  • Georgia: Messiah

    11

    Georgians are certainly fans of exalted baby names -- both Messiah and King make the list of regional favorites. Bryson and Ashton also make the list. Messiah means anointed one and is the perfect choice for a future leader.

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  • Hawaii: Ezekiel

    12

    Ezekiel, meaning God strengthens, joins Keanu, Kanoi, and Kai as a defining name in Hawaii. The name has been popular in the US throughout the past several decades, only slumping for a short time in the 1950s. 

  • Idaho: Bridger

    13

    Bridger was originally a surname, though it's also the name of a mountain range in Montana. That makes it a perfect fit in Idaho, where defining names like Weston, Lincoln, and Range also stand out. Bridger is a good fit for parents who want something utterly unique that still feels recognizable.

  • Illinois: Theodore

    14

    The 2010s have put Theodore back on the map, mostly because millennial parents can't get enough of the nickname Theo. Illinois parents apparently love it a little more than the rest of us, as it tops their defining titles, along with Jack, Henry, and Leo.

  • Indiana: Lincoln

    15

    Lincoln was originally a surname derived from a town in England, but it's made the jump across the pond to join Braxton, Graham, and Nolan as defining names in Indiana. Though Lincoln is most often used as boys' name, it does have gender-neutral appeal -- Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell used it for their daughter.

  • Iowa: Owen

    16

    Owen is crazy popular in the US, coming in at number 36 on the top 1,000 US baby names in 2015. In Iowa, It's even more of a favorite, and it beats out Kinnick (yes, like the stadium where the Iowa Hawkeyes play), Harrison, and Emmett as the regional fave.

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  • Kansas: Hudson

    17

    Hudson is most often a last name but parents in Kansas and elsewhere are changing the status quo. Since the 1990s, the name has appeared on the most popular US baby names as a first name for both boys and girls. In Kansas, Hudson joins Rhett, Hunter, and Lane as the state's defining favorites.

  • Kentucky: Brantley

    18

    Brantley is believed to be derived from the German "brant," meaning fire. Maybe that's why this name is burning up the charts. The name has jumped almost 600 spots on the top 1,000 US baby names since 2011. It certainly fits in with other Kentucky favorites Waylon, Jaxon, and Colton.

  • Louisiana: Kingston

    19

    Kingston, like the capital of Jamaica, is a unique name that's been on the rise since Gwen Stefani chose it for her son in 2006. In Louisiana, it joins forces with Karter, Luke, and Cohen to round out the state's defining titles.

  • Maine: Finn

    20

    Finn, an Irish name that means fair, burst onto the top 1,000 US baby names in 2007 at number 387, and it's been trending ever since. Originally the name was a nickname for Finnigan or Finnley, but now it stands alone -- along with Wyatt, Silas, and Owen -- as a favored pick for Maine.

  • Maryland: Dylan

    21

    Most parents probably remember Dylan as the bad boy from Beverly Hills, 90210. The name, which many believe comes from the Celtic word for sea, has actually remained crazy popular ever since. Now, it's trendy as a boys' name and a girls' name, and in Maryland it ranks with Cameron, Chase, and Nathan as a regional top pick.

  • Massachusetts: Benjamin

    22

    Derived from Hebrew, Benjamin is a classic name that parents still love. The name is popular all over the world, and in Massachusetts it's chosen often, along with the other preferred boys' names Jack, Thomas, Colin.

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  • Michigan: Carter

    23

    Carter is a last-name-turned-first that takes center stage in Michigan. With other local top picks including Blake, Nola, and Brady, the name is in good company as a state favorite.

  • Minnesota: Bennett

    24

    Bennett is thought to be a variant of Benedict, which means blessed. It seems to follow a trend of sophisticated-sounding baby names in Minnesota, where other defining titles include Henry, Calvin, and Oliver.

  • Mississippi: John

    25

    John is a classic favorite with true staying power. The name is derived from both Greek and Hebrew and means gracious. Other defining names in Mississippi include Kingston, Princeton, and Carter -- a clear split between modern and classic.

  • Missouri: August

    26

    August, meaning great or venerable, is one of those names that manages to sound both regal and effortlessly cool at the same time. With cute nicknames like Gus and Auggie, it's no wonder August hit number 195 on the most popular US baby names in 2015. It's a perfect complement to Missouri's other defining names, Henry, Hudson, and Easton.

  • Montana: Ryker

    27

    Ryker is a rare boys' name that seems to have a foothold in Montana, where rugged names like Bridger, Owen, and Lincoln are also local favorites. While no one would call Ryker a popular name, it is on the rise. It cracked the top 200 most popular US baby names in 2014.

  • Nebraska: Braxton

    28

    Braxton teams up with Ryker, Barrett, and Cooper to round out Nebraska's defining boys' names. The name, which calls to mind Braxton-Hicks false labor contractions, appeared on the top 1,000 US baby names in the '80s and it's been a mainstay ever since.

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  • Nevada: Sebastian

    29

    Sebastian is a refined name that fits perfectly with surprisingly elegant Nevada defining titles like Adrian, Damian, and Leonardo. The name was slow to grow in popularity throughout the '80s and '90s, but now it's a global favorite.

  • New Hampshire: Wesley

    30

    Wesley, a variant of Westley, is a popular boys' name with an air of sophistication that suits New Hampshire perfectly. Other defining names for the state include similarly preppy names like Owen, Parker, and Jackson. 

  • New Jersey: Matthew

    31

    Another classic, masculine name that never goes out of style. Matthew, meaning gift of God, is a popular name all over the globe, and has a special charm in New Jersey, where parents also pay special attention to Moshe, Joseph, and Nicholas.

  • New Mexico: Santiago

    32

    Santiago comes from the Spanish san (saint) and Diego (James), so it means St. James. People in New Mexico seem to have a penchant for these bold, powerful names. Elijah, Ezekiel, and Josiah also make the list of the state's defining picks.

  • New York: Moshe

    33

    Moshe, a Hebrew name that means drawn out of the water, is a unique name that fits into the mix of religious and traditional boys' names favored by New Yorkers. Nicholas, Chaim, and Ryan also make the list.

  • North Carolina: Bryson

    34

    Bryson is a modern variant of Bryce that's been on the top 1,000 US baby names since the '80s. In North Carolina, it seems to be part of a trend of boys' names that end in -on: Grayson and Landon are also defining titles. Only William breaks the trend. 

  • North Dakota: Easton

    35

    Easton, Oliver, Beckett, Ashton -- no, it's not a boy band; these are the defining names in North Dakota. These picks have a feel that's rugged yet refined, and Easton, a gender-neutral name that's been on the top baby name charts since 1990, certainly fits the bill.

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  • Ohio: Grayson

    36

    Grayson sounds hipster chic, but it's actually been on the top 1,000 US baby names since the 1980s. In Ohio, it's the one defining boys' name that isn't a former presidential surname -- their other favorites are Carter, Lincoln, and Grant.

  • Oklahoma: Jaxon

    37

    We all remember the "Jackson" boom of the late '90s and early 2000s. It's still going, only now parents are using creative spellings, like Jaxon. The name is a preferred pick in Oklahoma, as are ultra-masculine names like Ryker, Cooper, and Jett.

  • Oregon: Miles

    38

    Miles is believed to be derived from the old German word Milo, meaning peaceful or calm. The name has been a mainstay on the most popular US baby names chart for decades, but it's more popular than ever in the 2000s. It's no surprise, then, that Oregon parents have taken notice of Miles, and similarly trendy names Ryder, Henry, and Ezra.

  • Pennsylvania: Connor

    39

    Connor, also spelled Conner, is a trendy name with classic vibes. The name peaked on the top 1,000 US baby names in 2005 at number 52. But it's still in heavy rotation across the US, including in Pennsylvania, where it joins Declan, Cole, and Chase as a defining name.

  • Rhode Island: Julian

    40

    As a modern spin on Julius, the name Julian has achieved global popularity. The name is well loved throughout Switzerland, Norway, Poland, and Germany, and the US is no exception. In Rhode Island, it's accompanied by Benjamin, Michael, Jameson as the state's defining boys' names.

  • South Carolina: Thomas

    41

    Thomas is a hugely popular pick for parents who love a name with old fashioned charm. The name saw an uptick in popularity in 2015, after a long slump. In South Carolina, it still sees more action than in the rest of the US, as do Kingston, Messiah, and James.

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  • South Dakota: Sawyer

    42

    Sawyer is a gender-neutral name that fits in perfectly with other South Dakota defining picks like Brooks, Hudson, and Lincoln. Thanks to Tom Sawyer, the name has an inherent air of mischief and adventure that makes it an appealing pick for a little boy.

  • Tennessee: Elijah

    43

    The defining names in Tennessee are all biblical, unique, or both: Elijah, William, Waylon, Neyland. Elijah is a mainstay on the top 1,000 US baby names, but it hit peak popularity in 2011 at number 13.

  • Texas: Jose

    44

    In Texas, names with a Spanish flair rule the defining titles. Jose, Juan, Luis, and Angel all make the list. Believe it or not, Jose has never ranked in the top 1,000 US baby names, despite being hugely popular in places like Spain, Portugal, Chile, and Paraguay.

  • Utah: Hyrum

    45

    Part of Utah's local flavor is unique names parents can't find anywhere else. Hyrum certainly fits the bill. The name, which means "my brother is exalted," comes from the brother of Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other defining Utah names are a little more predictable: Porter, Beckham, and Boston.

  • Vermont: Wyatt

    46

    Wyatt, meaning leader or guide, comes out on top in Vermont, where locals also like Owen, Sawyer, and Oliver. in 2015, Wyatt hit number 54 on the top 1,000 US baby names. It's also popular in Canada and Australia.

  • Virginia: James

    47

    James will never disappear, but the name has been on the decline for the past few decades. Celebrity parents Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds chose the name for their daughter in 2014. In Virginia, James joins Jackson, Charles, and Gabriel as unique picks of the region.

  • Washington: Emmett

    48

    Emmett is a male form of the name Emma, which means strength. In Washington, it's joined by Theodore, Henry, and Wesley to make up the classic boys' names that define the state.

  • West Virginia: Bentley

    49

    Bentley is a gender-neutral name that just burst onto the scene in the early 2010s. Some see it as pretentious, due it its association with the car brand of the same name. Others see it as rugged, which seems to match the vibe of other defining West Virginia names, like Easton, Colton, and Braxton.

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  • Wisconsin: Oliver

    50

    What do Henry, Oliver, Sawyer, and Jordy have in common? They're the defining boys' names in Wisconsin. Oliver, derived from the French word for olive tree, is a wildly popular pick in the US, as well as in Canada, Spain, Scotland, England, Sweden, Hungary, and Australia. It's got mass appeal.

  • Wyoming: Weston

    51

    Weston lends itself to cute nicknames, like West and Wes, and it rounds out the defining baby boy names of Wyoming, along with Corbin, Bridger, and Wyatt. Parents who pick Weston get a name that's familiar yet rugged and unique, which is probably why it's climbing the baby name charts as we speak.

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