Join me on a whirlwind trip through the the less-traveled lands of name style, via the Namerology Name Atlas. I’ve scoured the globe to find 22 hit boys’ names that show off their local roots with flair. Together they’re an introduction to the Atlas, and a reminder of how many fresh name possibilities we all have yet to encounter.
(I’ve done my best to offer an authentic pronunciation guide too. If you have native knowledge and can improve any of the listed pronunciations, please let me know!)
Sweden: Sixten (SIKS-TEHN)
Sixten is the ultra-new-looking version of the ultra-Old-Norse name Sigstæinn (“victory” + “stone”). It’s a contemporary hit in Sweden.
Scotland: Innes (IN-əs)
Innes is a Highland Scottish clan name. Like Angus, the name is an anglicization of Aonghas, a Celtic love god.
Czech Republic: Vít (VEET)
The Czech form of Vitus (from the Latin for “life”) packs all the vitality into a single syllable.
Spain: Izan, Neizan (EE-thən, NAY-thən)
I’ve paired these two names because together, they’re a phenomenon. Look at the pronunciations: Izan and Neizan are Castillian phonetic versions of the English names Ethan and Nathan.
France: Timéo (TI-MAY-oh)
The French hit Timéo was little known before the 21st Century, but it has ancient roots. It’s a form of the Greek name Timaeus, also known as the biblical Timon.
Bulgaria: Kaloyan (kah-LOH-yən)
Bulgarian Czar Kaloyan, “the Romanslayer,” ruled around the turn of the 13th Century. The name he is remembered by is a regal elaboration of John, from the Greek for “John the Handsome.”
Switzerland: Nevio (NEHV-yoh)
This Italian name is rare in Italy but popular in Switzerland, even the German-speaking regions. It comes from a Roman family name.
Denmark: Valdemar (VAHL-də-mahr)
This classic name of Danish kings is believed to have derived many centuries ago from the Slavic name Vladimir. (English speakers may hear “Voldemort,” though.)
Canada-Québec: Loïc (loh-EEK)
Trim little names with a pair of vowel sounds are a top global trend in boys’ names. (Think Liam and Noah in the U.S..) Loïc is Breton or possibly Provençal in origin, and believed to be a form of either Louis or Lucas.
South Africa: Lethabo (leh-TAH-boh)
A unisex name, Lethabo means “joy” and “good living” in Bantu languages such as Tswana and Sotho.
Spain-Catalonia: Biel (BYEL)
Biel is a Catalan short form of Gabriel, and an option for American parents who love Gabriel but aren’t crazy about the nickname Gabe.
Romania: Florin (FLOH-REEN)
This perennially popular saint’s name derives from the Latin for “flower.” It shares that derivation with the coins called florins, and most English speakers will pronounce the name FLOH-rin, like the coin.
Armenia: Tigran (TEE-GRAHN)
Tigran is the storied name of several ancient kings of Armenia, including Tigran (or Tigranes) the Great.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Daris (DAH-ris)
One of the hottest names in Sarajevo, Daris is of disputed origin but may come from Persian and be linked to Darius, the (Hellenized) name of ancient kings of Persia.
Finland: Toivo (TOY-voh)
A distinctly Finnish classic, Toivo means “hope” in Finnish.
Ireland: Senán (sehn-AHN)
This saint’s name is one of the most accessible Irish classics still undiscovered in America. As with many Irish names, you’ll hear various pronunciations in different parts of the country.
Norway: Håkon (HAW-KUWN)
The name Håkon comes straight from Old Norse, and has been borne by prominent Norwegians ranging from kings to a mini-Viking mascot of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. Haakon is an alternate spelling.
Spain/Basque Country: Unax (OOH-NAHSH)
Basque names like Unax are among the hottest trends in Spain, and among the most unfamiliar names outside of Spain.
Slovenia: Svit (SVEET)
The Slovenian word for “dawn,” Svit is a sleek modern hit, seldom heard before the turn of the millennium.
Wales: Macsen (MAK-sehn)
Western Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus was “Macsen Wledig” (Lord Maximus) in Welsh. Even without an x, this name has risen along with every other Max variant.
Hungary: Zoltán (ZOHL-tahn)
This age-old power Z name may be related to the title “sultan.”
Iceland: Jökull (YUW-kəlht)
Realistically, few English speakers will ever consider (or even properly pronounce) Jökull, which means “glacier”. But I thought you’d appreciate knowing that “glacier” is a top-ten Icelandic name.
Sixten is pronounced like 6-10 in English. I think that could potentially make it both more difficult and easier when presenting oneself? Difficult if someone doesn’t understand that your saying your name (and not your height), easier because it will be easy to explain spelling since it also is spelled like the numbers.
The version might be new-looking, but it’s old. Perfect for those looking for an old name that feels modern.
I’ve always been fond of the name Valdemar, but not as fond of the (in Sweden) natural nickname Valle.
I especially enjoyed Timéo, Nevio and Loic on your list.
Thank you, Eko! I’ve updated the pronunciation based on your advice.
In Irish an S followed by and e (or i) is pronounced ‘sh’ like in Séan and Siobhan. But possibly it is just a typo and you meant to put shen-ahn, instead of sehn-ahn?