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

Ashley Austrew | Jan 22, 2020 Pregnancy
The 51 Stylish Yet Unique Baby Boy Names That Define Each US State
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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.